Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Bristol

I made me a long promised trip to Bristol Baptist College yesterday. I set out nice and early in the sunshine and headed along the familiar route west. My grandmother (nee Hazleton) was born in Bristol and I still have relatives there but I don't know the city at all and have rarely been there. My AA directions were fine and I found the way across to the college easily enough. It is in leafy Clifton near Clifton College. This is not the building that I visited as a teenager on a "Greek class outing" to see the Tyndale Testament. That was sold to the British Library (1994) and they are now in premises new to them. Not an over large building, it has lecture rooms, offices, library, chapel, etc but no accommodation (I think). The students are down now but some youth ministry students were still around.
The purpose of my visit was to consult the Benjamin Beddome materials they have (see my Beddome blog for more on that). The librarian Shirley Shire was very helpful. It was good too to meet honorary archivist Roger Hayden, author of several items on Baptist history including his book Continuity and Change: Evangelical Calvinism among 18th century Baptist Ministers trained at Bristol Baptist Academy, 1690-1791. I was glad to meet him and chat a little and buy a signed copy.
I had to pay for the privilege but given what I was getting plus lunch, free parking and what I saved on the postage with the Hayden book I was quids in except for the petrol to get there. I'll probably need to go again but it was good to see what is actually there.

AHOCIA 100 Objects 15

We've probably jumped a little here but I want to get on with this series

A hundred sermons

Readers may be interested to know that there are now one hundred of my sermons on my Preached Sermons blog. This includes a series on Ezekiel and one on Job almost complete - just four sermons to add. Most of my sermons are on computer and so to put them up is usually the work of only 10-15 minutes (checking, reformatting and removing my illustration, application and similar personal prompts). I hope to have the last four sermons on Job up soon. Anyone contemplating a series on Ezekiel or Job would benefit I feel from a look at least. I'm not sure what to oput up next. I have lots of material.

LTS End of Term


It was good to be at the LTS end of term today in Finchley, a little later than usual in the month as the final term has now been extended. It was good to hear the principal's report from Robert Stivens and to hear the leaving students speak. There were 11 leaving. As one of my sons pointed out, they looked like a football team the way they were set out on the programme (4-4-2 formation) with Bernard Every in goal. Mainly from the UK, there were also one from France, two from South Africa and three from East Asia (Korea, Burma, Malaysia). A former solicitor, plumber, bankworker and engineers were in the diverse group. James Muldoon from Reading spoke - a Bible Study of 1 Peter 5:1-4. It was a great joy to sing the final Charles Wesley hymn "Give me the faith which can remove". All this was followed by the traditional tea on the lawn in the lovely sunshine. Numbers semed a little down but there were well over a hundred present.

Woody Allen

Woody Allen has a new film so there was an interview in the Times yesterday. As ever, Allen comes over as a cautiously optimistic humanist. He knows we can't escape the fact of death and so copes with the idea as best he can, distancing it for the idea of judgement. When tackled about his morality he offers no defence for his actions but clearly feels his conscience has been squared. The following quotations struck me.

"God forbid the people who have bad luck, or even neutral luck, because even the luckiest, the most beautiful and brilliant, what have they got? A minuscule, meaningless life span in the grand scheme of things."
*
"Ageing, death: these things intrude upon you. When you get out of bed you find, ‘Oh God my back hurts’ and ‘Oh God I’ve got a pain in the back of my neck’. You start to feel your age: it finds you. You’re aware of death your whole life, constantly sweeping it under the rug and eventually it happens — you just have to hope as painlessly as possible. I once said in a movie that the nicest thing you could wish for is to say goodnight to your loved one, say ‘We’ll go to the museum tomorrow’, then never wake up again."
*
"You reach a certain age and you come to the conclusion that greatness is not in you. You aspired to greatness when you were younger. but either through lack of industry or lack of discipline or simply lack of genius you didn’t achieve greatness. The years go by and you realise: ‘I’m this mid-level guy.’ I did the best I could.
"It’s not hard to accept. I didn’t compromise or sell out, but I’ve never achieved what I hoped to."

Brian Clough

So another football book finished. This time on Brian Clough the football manager, chiefly with Derby then Nottingham Forest. The book is full of expletives (that was Clough's style) and some will avoid it for that reason. If you know about Clough at all, however, it is a well written summary of those glory years from someone who had countless interviews with him and knew him well over a long period. Clearly a flawed character, Clough was also a genius in his own chosen area of expertise. As a Christian pastor, it was hard not to draw vague but interesting parallels between football management and the pastorate. From that standpoint the book is full of warnings, I guess.
Otherwise it is an interesting whole life story of a great man with many faults, keen to be liked but no compromiser, a man who had a way with words (as the collection below shows).

"If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there." On the importance of passing to feet.
"I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one." Looking back at his success.
"Rome wasn't built in a day. But I wasn't on that particular job." On getting things done.
"On occasions I have been big headed. I think most people are when they get in the limelight. I call myself Big Head just to remind myself not to be." Old Big 'Ead explains his nickname.
"The ugliest player I ever signed was Kenny Burns." A Clough complement for a talented player.
"Stand up straight, get your shoulders back and get your hair cut." Advice for John McGovern at Hartlepool.
"Take your hands out of your pockets." More advice, this time for a young Trevor Francis as he receives an award from the Master Manager.
"I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn't have hit him very hard." On dealing with Roy Keane.
"Walk on water? I know most people out there will be saying that instead of walking on it, I should have taken more of it with my drinks. They are absolutely right." Reflecting on his drink problem.
"Don't send me flowers when I'm dead. If you like me, send them while I'm alive." After the operation which saved his life.
"We talk about it for twenty minutes and then we decide I was right." On dealing with a player who disagrees.
"I'm sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job, I'd want to run the show. They were shrewd, because that's exactly what I would have done." On not getting the England manager's job.
"You don't want roast beef and Yorkshire every night and twice on Sunday." On too much football on television.
"I'm not saying he's pale and thin, but the maid in our hotel room pulled back the sheets and remade the bed without realising he was still in it." Referring to former Forest player Brian Rice.
"I want no epitaphs of profound history and all that type of thing. I contributed - I would hope they would say that, and I would hope somebody liked me," On how he would like to be remembered.
More quotes at Brianclough.com.

RRC by RSC


There was a meeting of the TSG reading group at the John Owen Centre yesterday. Mostyn Roberts of Welwyn was in the chair and we were looking at R Scott Clark's book Recovering the Reformed Confession. A group of six Reformed Baptist ministers, we were generally appreciative of the book (which is written for an American, chiefly Presbyterian audience) but far from sure that he's got it all right. What Professor Clark seeks to do in the book is to show where Reformed theology, piety and practice is going wrong.
As a professor of historical theology he knows his history well and gives many a fascinating insight. He is also scholarly and well read - though he knows it and that could be off putting.

I particularly appreciated his explanation of archetypal and ectypal theology (143-145) and of the various forms of confessional subscription that have prevailed down the years (Chapter 5).
He begins negatively by criticising QIRC and QIRE (the quest for illegitimate religious certainty and experience). In his sights are certain creationists, reconstructionist/theonomists and the federal vision people plus any form of pietism or revivalism. Jonathan Edwards, Dr Lloyd-Jones and most post-17th Century Christians are gunned down at this point. It is quite a blood bath.
Positively, he calls for a recapturing of the Creator/creature categorical distinction and a return to the confessions. Chapter 6 The joy of being confessional gives further arguments. The final chapters are on worship and the second service. It has an index which is helpful.
We really enjoyed discussing such an interesting book. One fun moment - when Jeremy Walker spoke quite unconsciously of standing in Clark's shoes - would we wear any other?
Next it's an old book, the Marrow, in September, and I'm leading. Clark's Heidelblog is here. You can find a long review by John Frame here.

Sherwood Screen Test

An article very similar to this one should be appearing in the July Evangelical Times.
If you are in the habit of sitting down of an evening to watch a DVD with family or friends then you may have come across one or more films produced by an American group called Sherwood Pictures (not to be confused with Sherwood Films, a quite different Edinburgh based entity). Three feature-length films have appeared so far – Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006) and Fireproof (2009). The third of these films features actor Kirk Cameron, a former atheist who made his name on TV in the comedy Growing pains (1985-1992) but is now working with the American evangelist Ray Comfort. The films' subtitles give some idea of the themes – “In every man's life there is a turning point”; “With God all things are possible” and “Never leave your partner behind”.
The films have been moderately successful. Each has been novelised. They are now available in a three box set with many extra features including Bible studies. A further film (Courageous) is expected next year. Whether you came across them by accident or design, you will have been pleased to sit through a heart warming evening's entertainment without having it sullied by some of the nonsense that can so often creep into the average film on general distribution today. (Having said that, do note that the second film is a PG probably owing to some of the themes, such as infertility).
The first film (Flywheel – a flywheel is a car part that is meant to serve as a little background parable) is a sort of modern version of the story of the New Testament character Zaccheus. The next film (Facing the Giants) makes college level American football the background with the focus on the coach, his failing team and the greater issues he has to face. The third film (Fireproof) is set in a small town fire station with the emphasis on how a man's marriage is saved, as well as the man himself.
It is not difficult to commend such films when they are so pleasant and so wholesome. Although they are clearly low budget films (Flywheel was made for $20,000, Fireproof for $500,000, whereas an average Hollywood film today costs over $100 million to make) the production values are high, the story lines decent, the tone engaging, the acting mostly of a good standard and the action fairly well paced, though the dialogue is sometimes rather poor. The projects are evidently bathed in prayer and executed with great integrity. There are some concerns, however.
The films are the brainchild of two brothers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick. Both are pastors on the staff of a large and prosperous Southern Baptist Church with many ministries, in Albany, Georgia - Sherwood Baptist Church. They say that the first film was prompted by a survey from the George Barna organisation suggesting that movies and television shows are more influential in American culture than the church. In light of that, says Alex Kendrick, they “decided as a church to step out in faith and produce a full-length feature film”. However, even if what Barna suggest is true (which is rather debatable) it is far from being clear that this is the right response. Certainly, it is hard to see how a local church has any New Testament mandate for such an activity.
Theologically, the church appears to be very much an evangelical one, of the Warren Wiersbe sort perhaps. In the first film the danger of preaching a health and wealth gospel is just about side stepped but all three films present conversion as something that happens quickly and definitely and perhaps betrays signs of a rather mechanical and decisionistic mentality.
Of course, the whole problem of how certain things are presented on screen is a major headache. Kirk Cameron is apparently unwilling to do on screen kissing. He is reported to have said that “In Fireproof, there is a romantic and touching scene where he (the character) kisses his wife. Because I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman, my wife Chelsea came in to the set and wore the dress my character’s wife wore. We shot the scene in silhouette, so when I kiss my wife, I’m actually kissing my wife and honouring our marriage.” One admires such thought through commitment but wonders what on earth the Christian actors are doing when they are supposed to be praying in a film – something that happens quite often in these films and that you almost never see in others. Are they praying or simply pretending to pray? Given that private prayer is to be a private matter, surely it would be better to avoid such scenes anyway?
If you are one for watching DVDs, these films will give you a few relaxing and thought provoking hours. If you look further into them through the internet (sherwoodpictures.com) or the enhanced DVDs, you will discover the ministry tools that Sherwood Baptist Church are making available to churches and believers for evangelisation, strengthening marriages and similar goals. Some will want to make us of such tools and one can see how in the context of an active local church they may prove very useful. Others will see such an approach as a distraction and not something they want to use as a tool.
D L Moody is said to have answered a critic of his evangelistic methods once by saying that he preferred his own way of doing things to the other man's way of not doing them. One is slow then to criticise what is clearly a sincere attempt to win the lost and to help God's people.

Love Remembered


Another youtube video - the beautiful "Love Remembered" from Focus 3, with footage from the 1996 film Romeo and Juliet.

Sul y tadau


It was father's day yesterday so it was nice to get cards and presents from my boys including a nice little hamper of things I like - maltina, fudge, coffee, nuts, ambosia rice, etc.

Deryn Du


My son Rhodri and his wife Sibyl are back in London, which is great. Inspired by Julie Fowlis he has done this Welsh version of Paul McCartney's Blackbird. Mwynhewch.

Julie Fowlis at Union Chapel

Went with Rhodri to see Julie Fowlis and her band last night at the Union Chapel in Islington. Great set of now familiar tunes. This is a much larger (and more expensive) venue than the Irish Centre where I saw them last six months ago (before the baby). Around 250 of us in pews this time I guess. The bonus features this time were a bodhran solo from Martin O'Neill (something I'd not only not seen before but had not realised was entirely possible) and an opportunity to meet the lovely Julie herself and her charming husband Eamon. Great evening.

Bobby Moore



We're all mad on football at the moment. The Times is giving away football books at certain stores this week. The first was on Bobby Moore by his first wife Tina. I read it straight through. It's more about Tina than Bobby but gives you the main (sometimes surprising) facts. It's quite a sad book in some ways - not just because Moore's managerial career was quite unsuccessful and he died young but also because of his adultery and drunkenness and the shallowness and superficiality here. Tina seems to remember what she was wearing on every major occasion of her life with Bobby and there is lots of name dropping (lost on anyone not sure of who was who in the sixties). For someone of my vintage, nevertheless, it's a fascinating read and a reminder of the sorts of things that dominate the minds of most.

Presbyterianism made simple


Continuing to sort I just came across this chart of Presbyterian Family Connections. Non-presbyterians may find it confusing. Presbyterians may have some surprises. The document can be accessed here.

Optimistic lyrics

Having a sort out, I found this scrawled on the back of an envelope. It must have been some time in Autumn 2007.

Just needs a good tune.

In the summer when the day
Is longer than the night
I know I'm gonna be alright.




In the winter when the night
Is longer than the day
I know I'm gonna be okay.

Roberts on Bonar


I've been a little slow reporting but it was good to hear Maurice Roberts giving the Evangelical Library lecture on Andrew Bonar last Monday. Bonar's dates were 1810-1892. He was the seventh son of a seventh son of good covenanter stock and had two brothers in ministry – Horatius and the lesser known John. After a summary of his life, Mr Roberts looked at seven things – his conversion and college life (1828-34) under Thomas Chalmers; his work in Jedburgh and Edinburgh (1835-38); his first ministry – at Collace (1838-56) which included a report on the 1839 trip to Palestine later written up in a lengthy book; his early years at Finnieston (1857-64); his ministry in Glasgow (1864-75); his “labours more abundant (1876-88) and the closing years (1889-92). The main source for his life is his diary (begun in 1828 and kept up almost to the end and written in Byrom shorthand) and letters later published by his daughter Marjory
He closed with four lessons:
1. A reminder that if we are to do anything worthwhile for our Saviour in this world we must be whole-hearted, entirely devoted to Him and jealous of our time, so that nothing be wasted. Men who are prayerful, spiritual and thirsting for fellowship with God in Christ will not live in vain. We cannot give ourselves the gifts which God has not given to us already. But we can use our talents to the utmost of our capacity. Bonar and M’Cheyne were in several ways different but in one thing they were identical men. They lived wholly for God and in the interests of eternal values.
2. Again, a lesson that comes home to us from the life of Bonar is that we should cultivate love one to another as Christians and we should have a sincere and a burning desire to see sinners saved and brought to Christ. Other things in the ministry may have their place. But there is no substitute in a minister for evangelistic zeal and passion to win the lost and to bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Bonar and M’Cheyne loved the Jewish people and sorrowed to think they were in darkness. Like Samuel Rutherford and many Puritans they cherished the confident hope that one day God would bring them to Christ as a nation. They would be grafted in again into their own olive tree, as Paul puts it. This prayer should be ours still today, and all the more so in that the Jews are now returning steadily to their ancestral homeland in Palestine and we have a still stronger hope that the day of their restoration is at hand. In that day, declares Christ, they will cry out, ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord’.
4. Life is short and death is sure. Those who are wise live well in the anticipation that very soon we must leave this scene of time and enter into eternity. Those who live well will die well. To live well means to live by the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His service. To die well is to be ready with Paul to say, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me in that day: and not to me only’. May God help to us all to hear these vital lessons so that we may all meet at last in that blessed land above.
Mr Roberts stayed with us that night. A real gentleman.

Bio14b Frank Jenner 02


Dr. Francis Dixon continued his tour, and when preaching in Perth he once again shared the stories. Afterwards, a young man came up to him and told how he too had been in the Navy, had visited George Street and had become a Christian after meeting the stranger with his compelling question. When Dr. Dixon finally arrived in Sydney, he was eager to find out more about this urban missionary, and he asked a Christian worker “who’s this man in George Street”, “I know him well”, “His name is Frank Jenner”. Francis Dixon was taken to a humble little house, where he was introduced to Frank Jenner. As Francis related the story of the four young service men who had come to Christ through his simple question, Frank began to weep; “I’ve never heard that anyone I had spoken to had gone on for the Lord”. Some made the decision when I talked to them at a Saturday night of witnessing, and then came home for breakfast on a Sunday morning (sometimes 30 people came home with me), but I never knew any more than that.” Frank had carried on this work for sixteen years and this was the first time he had heard of any lasting results. I would say he really had to be committed to show that sort of gratitude and love for Jesus, to do that for so many years and not hear of any results.
Over the next few years Francis Dixon preached around the world and he told the Frank Jenner story from time to time.
In the UK – at an evangelical convention where pastors came to him saying they’d been arrested by this stranger with his startling question.
In India – at a missionary convention where an Indian man had come to Sydney on one visit and been confronted by Frank’s question. He had received Christ and eventually gone into Christian ministry.
In Jamaica – at a missionary conference where a couple of missionaries had come to Jesus years before at Frank Jenner’s witness.
In the United States – at a naval chaplains’ conference he shared about the man of George Street and his witness. A chaplain stood and shared that he too had come to Christ as a result of Frank Jenner’s arresting question.
It is impossible to know how many lives were touched by that one line sermon, but it is safe to say Frank Jenner’s legacy is measured in terms more lasting than simple numbers can convey.
Frank recounted his own journey of faith which is every bit as remarkable as the lives of those he touched. “Before I knew Jesus” he said, “I lived the wild life of a sailor to the full and had become addicted to gambling. Then, in 1937, I met my saviour for the first time and my life was transformed – the addiction to gambling gone forever. In gratitude for his second chance at life, he pledged to serve God to the best of his ability. He said “Each day my aim was to speak to 10 people about Jesus, and I did so for 28 years until Parkinson’s disease took its toll. In wartime and in peace, good times and bad, I continued with the work that I had promised to do”.
It has been estimated that over the years Frank talked to more than one hundred thousand people. Actually more than most pastors would address in their lifetime. In later years, Frank’s health deteriorated and during his last days he prayed, “Lord, please take me home on a Sunday night”. His last request was granted. He died at a quarter to midnight just at the end of a Sunday night. The next morning a ray of sunlight shone through the open window; it fell upon his beloved well-worn bible and the solitary rose resting on it. No-one except a little group of Christians in Sydney knew Frank Jenner, but I tell you his name was famous in Heaven. Heaven knew him, and you can imagine the welcome he received when he went home to Glory.
Jesus said, “If you confess me before men I’ll confess you before my Father in heaven”. Personally, I think Jesus confessed Frank’s name very often to His Father in Heaven. (And conversely Jesus said, “If you don’t confess me before men, I won’t confess you before my Father in heaven”.)
Actually, that’s where it’s best to be recognised, you know – in heaven, by your Heavenly Father, rather than on earth, because that’s where our reward is too. Personally, I don’t think Frank Jenner’s face would ever have been published on the cover of any prestigious Christian publication or his story carry more than a few paragraphs in a Christian
magazine, but God has made sure that his story has been told to honour this man who honoured Jesus so much. God bless you and empower you to be a bold and unembarrassed witness for Jesus Christ.

Bio14a Frank Jenner 01


There are various often garbled versions of this story floating about. I think this one is accurate. It is in danger of being man-centred but is really an encouragement to all to do what they can. This updated version of the story of Frank Jenner is produced by www.personaltract.com and is based on the book "Jenner of George Street" by Dr Raymond Wilson.
This story started many years ago in a Baptist church in Bournemouth, England. One night the pastor, Dr. Francis Dixon asked a man named Peter to share his testimony. Peter got up and said, “This is how I was saved. I was in the Royal Navy. I was walking down George Street in Sydney, Australia and out of nowhere stepped a gentleman and he said to me, ‘excuse me, sir, but could I ask you a question? I hope that it won’t offend you, but if you were to die today, where would you spend eternity? The Bible says that it will either be in heaven or in hell. Would you think about that, please? Thank you. God bless you!” Then the man left. I had never been confronted with that question – I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I got back to England and met someone who took me to a mission and that’s where I became a Christian”.
Some while later they had a youth meeting in the same church in Bournemouth and Noel, one of the visiting team shared his testimony. “This is how I came to know Jesus Christ. I was in the Royal Navy and my ship was stationed in Sydney. One evening I was walking down George Street when out of nowhere stepped a man. He said to me, “Young man, I have a question to ask you. If you should die tonight where would you go? Would it be heaven or hell? Now don’t try to evade the question, it must be one or the other.” What he said bothered me for many months. I sought out a Christian, he helped me, and I gave my life to Christ.” My …
Baptists love testimonies like that!
The Baptist pastor from England was now very puzzled! Not long afterwards, he was preaching in Adelaide, South Australia, when he decided to tell the story of Peter and Noel’s separate encounters with the man in George Street. As he did so a man jumped up excitedly and said “I’m another! I’m another!” I was drawn to receive Christ the same way by the same man on George Street. This was Corporal Murray Wilkes, who had been in a hurry to catch his tram on George Street when a voice behind him called “Hey – Wait!” Murray stopped and turned around. The stranger in front of him asked “Soldier, if you were to die tonight, where would you go? Would it be Heaven or Hell?” “I hope I’d go to Heaven,” replied Murray. “Hoping isn’t good enough” said the stranger. “You can know!” The stranger’s question had exposed a raw nerve in Murray’s life. Although he was a good living, church going, married man he also knew he was a hypocrite and had never faced the question of eternal destiny. Two weeks later, Murray knelt in the army barracks and gave his life to Christ.
...

Focus III


This is Focus 3 from my Youtube collection.

AHOCIA 100 Objects 14

This is Chaucer's povre persoun of a toune or the parson as depicted in the late 15th century Ellesmere Chaucer containing the Canterbury Tales. The description by Chaucer suggests a Lollard preacher in the line of Wycliffe.

AHOCIA 100 Objects 13

We haven't quite given up on this. This depicts the martyrdom of Jan Hus in 1415 and is from the Spiezer Chronicle of 1485.

Spurgeon on Harvey


I came across this in the April 1883 edition of The Sword and Trowel
It is one of the disadvantages of the early preparation of monthly periodicals that notices must sometimes appear late. Friends must pardon the lateness of an in memoriam note concerning James Harvey Esq, of Hampstead. He was for many years one of the most liberal helpers of the work which the Lord has entrusted to us: and we hear that he has left a legacy of £500 to the Orphanage. We may not mention many of the things which were done of him in secret; but we may say that he was the donor of the house on the boys’ side of the Orphanage, which is known as "the Merchant’s House". This he gave without a request or even a hint from us.
He was a man of mark: independent, yet ready to learn; lenient towards doubt, but himself a firm believer. His views of truth were his own, and would not be parallel in all points with those of anybody else; but we always felt at one with him, and even where we judged him to be mistaken we were glad to love him just as he was. Our personal loss is very heavy, and, hence, we can the more tenderly sympathize with the esteemed mourners who have lost father and brother. We shall not soon look upon his like again. Are there not other merchants who love our Lord, and will be baptized for the dead, filling up the vacancies caused by these many deaths, and taking thought that the cause of Christ shall know no lack? We commend to all our readers an extract from Mr Brock’s admirable sermon - the sermon itself can be had of J. Hewetson, Hampstead: — "While in good health he was exemplary for punctuality at the service of God; and on very rare occasions was he absent from his place. ‘I am come,’ he said to me, the very Thursday evening before his fatal illness, when I expressed surprise at seeing him, ‘because I am able to go to business, and I do not think I ought to be absent from the church meeting.’"

Bio 13e James Harvey



In 1855 Harvey's only son was sick and it was thought better air would help. This led eventually to a permanent move to Hampstead in 1861. They began on Haverstock Hill, then, after moving up it once they took up residence in newly built Mount Grove on the then new Greenhill Estate in 1870.
The Baptist James Castleden (1778-1854) had laboured in Hampstead until his death but the only nonconformist chapel at that time appears to have been a high one in both senses - high in its Calvinism and high in its location - at the top of Holly Bush Hill. Harvey resolved, partly as thanks to God for his son's refound health, to build new Baptist chapel but the people of the area were poor and there was no place for it anyway. It was another four years before they obtained the land - used a former fruit and vegetable garden. A committee was formed to plan a building but it was too expensive and so the committee was dissolved. However, at long last, on June 4, 1860 Harvey signed a contract to a build chapel with other buildings at the cost of £4,800. It was not built at his sole cost, others did give, but he was a generous contributor. The Heath Street building opened in July, 1861 (see pic). Harvey became a member there and was generous provider for the work. They called William Brock Junior, the son of Dr Brock, to be their first pastor. Typically, the the intention was that the membership would be "open to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity" with true believers being baptised by immersion.
Soon there was also a West country born assistant minister there called William Rickard. He was instrumental in starting the Baptist work in nearby Childs Hill. Although not constituted as a church until 1877, they were able to put up a building in 1870. The inscription has long disappeared but it was Harvey who laid the foundation stone for the new building on July 28, 1870.
At the end of 1865 the London Baptist Association was formed. Unsurprisingly, Harvey was its first treasurer. He served for 16 years, until 1881. In 1870 he offered to help defray debts of many chapels. The idea was that if they paid one third by the end of 1871 he would give 10% of the remainder. He ended up parting with some £500 by this means.
An example of another cause that he helped was the Shoreditch Tabernacle, where William Cuff ministered, which was developed in the 1880s. The meeting on December 1, 1876 held in Harvey's Hampstead drawing room where it became clear that the new building could be financed was one of great joy to Cuff and the deacon who accompanied him.
Harvey felt a duty, according to his son, to give an example but also tried to conceal much of his giving. In 1867 Harvey's good friend C H Spurgeon wrote asking for contribution to Stockwell Orphanage, a work that had then recently begun. Harvey gave £600 to pay for the second house, which was called The Merchant's House.
A letter of July 16, 1867, acknowledges the gift. “You find it more easy to perform noble actions than I do to thank you for them” wrote Spurgeon. A similar sum was given by Harvey for the girls' orphanage 13 years later.
Another example of his kindness through Spurgeon was the way in the Summer of 1876 he sent him £100 to pass on anonymously to ministers in need of a summer holiday. Spurgeon wrote back, passing on the letters thanking Spurgeon himself and acknowledging where the thanks should have gone. In 1882 a gift for the Baptist work in East India Dock produced very thankful letter.
Harvey was also a great supporter of the Baptist Missionary Society. In 1881 he called on supporters of the mission to make 1882 a year of Jubilee. He urged each one to see himself as “the steward not the irresponsible owner of the manifold gifts of God”.
It was only a sort time into 1893 that, on February 9, after two days' illness he rather suddenly died at home, in his sixty-seventh year.
In his little book on his father and using his favourite turn of phrase Alfred Harvey wrote of his father “Never was there a man more naturally modest and unpretentious than he. His unassuming geniality and consideration for others was the same in whatever company he was ....”. he was a man of buoyant spirits. A writer in the Freeman of February 16, 1883 observed how Harvey “had a rare confidence in his own powers ...” taking up various pursuits, “singing ... preaching to the poor ...” and his apologetics work an mastering them. He was a “keen sportsman” “a jocund traveller”. The writer in the Freeman commented “I cannot conceive of Mr Harvey doing anything by halves”. He was paradoxically “devoid of personal ambition, and yet he was ambitious”. He sought “no satisfaction save success” and never rested on his laurels.

Bio 13d James Harvey

Harvey always loved reading and was very interested in the subject of Christian evidences or Apologetics as we call it today. He regularly read The Reasoner, “a journal of free thought and positive philosophy” and often wrote letters to it as "Inquirer".
On October 21, 1855 he went along to the Scientific and Literary Institution at 23 John Street in Fitzroy Square near Tottenham Court Road (John Street, interestingly enough, later became Whitfield Street for George Whitefield). This was a gathering place for so called free thinkers. There Harvey heard Robert Cooper (d 1868) "a distinguished advocate of secularism", author of an 1852 booklet ridiculing death-bed repentances and the editor of the secularist London Investigator on the subject of Miracles. "The time is approaching, gradually indeed but surely," he claimed "when this delusion — this imposition upon the understanding of mankind — will be consigned, as it deserves, to public contempt". Harvey entered into debate with him and felt able to trouble him with at least one argument.
On March 30, 1856, Harvey had opportunity to reply to Cooper at the same venue. He begins by identifying himself with his audience, a first rule of rhetoric. He tells then that he too is a free thinker and one with a good working class background. He is not an enemy as he is seeking exactly what they seek – the truth and the good of the people. He goes on to speak of the reasonableness of the evidence for the truth of Christianity and what it is that mankind wants. He argues that miracles are possible and the apostles are reliable, moving on to what is really wrong with this world and how it can be put right.
Having been able to say something worthwhile, he nevertheless resolved to give more time to reading and study in this area.
On January 11, 1857, he spoke at the John Street Institute one again, this time replying to a lecture by the free thinker, atheist and editor of The Reasoner, George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906) against Christianity as a system of morality. Holyoake called Christianity indefinite, inadequate and inoperable, whereas Harvey claimed it was definite, adequate and operative. Holyoake was allowed a rejoinder after Harvey's' message.
In September 1862 Harvey was asked to umpire a six day debate between Rev W Barker and the notorious freethinker and radical, later an MP and President of the National Secular Society, Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891). Until 1868 he would bill himself as “Iconoclast”. These debates were popular in the period. A similar one between Bradlaugh and another minister looked at subjects such as God's nature and attributes, creation and science, the flood and how reliable the Bible is.
In 1871 Harvey's only son, Alfred, only 16, made known his desire to be a minister of the gospel. Harvey Senior wrote that though he had “hoped for it and prayed for it and have expected it” for so long yet it “... seems almost to take me by surprise ...”.He had taken the policy, as many do, of never hinting “the matter to him”. Harvey Junior went on to be an Anglican vicar in the west country, in Shirehampton.
At the end of his little book on his father the son speaks of his father's catholicity. Harvey was an evangelical first. “Baptist though I am,” he wrote “yet I have ever objected to work especially as a Baptist; I prefer to do so on the much broader basis of a disciple and servant of Christ.” In his reading he was happy to read the Anglican Thomas Griffith. When his work Fundamentals or bases of belief concerning man, God and the correlation of God and men came out Harvey wrote offering to finance the wide distribution of the book. Typical of him was the way once on holiday in Southwold he saw a need and immediately sent 10 guineas to the vicar to help.

DMLJ 29 Forgotten foreword


Someone who listened to my lecture on forewords by Lloyd-Jones at the Evangelical Library recently kindly dug up this missing foreword for me. It is from the first edition of Peter Masters' Men of Destiny.


I welcome the publication of the articles, which have already appeared in the Evangelical Times, in this permanent form. I do so for many reasons. Throughout my Christian life I have found that, next to the Bible itself, nothing has given me greater help and encouragement than the reading of biographies of great Christians of various ages and countries.
Our danger is always to think that our problems are unique and our lot exceptionally hard. Thus we tend to become despondent and fearful. The finest antidote to that is to read the stories of great heroes of the faith of past ages. As we do so we are both shamed and also encouraged. That is what will happen to those who read this book.
At the same time it will serve what is a yet more important function, and especially at this present time. So many people today think ones attitude to Christianity is purely a psychological matter. If you belong to a certain type or group, or have a particular religious "complex", then you will be a Christian. They argue that it has nothing to do with objective truth but is purely a matter of our particular makeup.
Others fondly believe that it is purely a matter of intelligence and that no intelligent, educated, integrated person can possibly be a Christian. The simple answer to that is to be found, quite simply, in the history of the Christian church. Nothing is so amazing as the way in which people of every conceivable psychological type, and of all possible grades of intellect and knowledge have been found worshipping God together as Christians.
That is the thing that is brought out so clearly and unmistakably in the series of biographies found in this book. How different these men were on the surface, and by nature; but how united in their faith in the One Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Here, then, at one and the same time, is a challenge to the sceptic and a comfort for the saint. I wish it a very wide and large circulation
1968
D M Lloyd-Jones

Bio 13c James Harvey


It is hard for us at this distance in time to imagine how it was for the average employee in 19th century London. As an employer Harvey was keen to improve the lot of those under his care. As soon as he became head of his own firm he invited his sister Rachel to come from Suffolk and help him, not only at home but in bringing in changes in the work place. She was responsible for such changes as the introduction of table cloths, and with Harvey, a library of books and newspapers and similar amenities. He also encouraged monthly discussion classes.
From 1842 Harvey became involved in the early closing movement. The pattern when he first became head was that business would end at 9 pm (8.30 pm in winter). He got that down in his area first to 8 pm (7 pm in winter) and then in 1855 a unilateral decision was made to move to a 7 pm close all year round, closing on Saturdays at 5 pm. At this time Harvey made a number of speeches in favour of such moves. He was also involved in the work of the YMCA, which was begun in London by George Williams in 1844.
On August 12, 1851, Harvey's diary reveals that he made a long considered resolve to make the point of speaking to young employees words of Christian caution and advice as appropriate.
In his little book on his father Alfred Harvey has a chapter headed "The dread of wealth". There would appear to be no exaggeration in this phrase. Harvey was successful in business throughout his life. Nevertheless, his son comments “in spite of his success, there was never in the City of London, a man who set his mind on money making less than he.” Proverbs 28:20 was one of his watch words - “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent”. He hated all sharp practice in business. In an address to the YMCA at Aldersgate Street on February 28, 1878, having spoken of getting on in business, he said “Be careful, however, for what purpose you wish to get on.” Live according to your means. He quoted Proverbs 16:8 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” and urged fair play.
It was not simply that Harvey feared money but, more positively, he also had a strong sense of stewardship. On May 26, 1853 he made a remarkable resolution about his finances. He resolved not to spend more than one third of his income on himself and his family, not to save more than another third and to give another third of his income to religious and charitable purposes. He also resolved, perhaps unrealistically, never to be worth more than £20,000. He renewed these vows from time to time. Because of the continual growth of his business he found it impossible to keep to his resolution about not being worth more than £20,000. It caused him some consternation but he sought to keep to the resolution as best he could and even carried it over into the terms of his will. His son remarks that this lifestyle made people think that he was much richer than he actually was. In truth he was simply very generous.
In 1850 Harvey became a member at Bloomsbury (see pic of orioginal building before the towers were removed in 1951) and was very soon made a church officer. He was very involved in evangelism in the nearby slums of St Giles. In 1852 we find him writing “I desire a wife, if it will help me to serve God better, to discharge my private and official duties more efficiently, and by these means to honour my Lord and Saviour; and not else.” Ever a very practical man, by November 1853 he was married – to a Miss Benham, the daughter of the head of a company in Wigmore Street. The son describes her as being a woman of judgement like Harvey himself. They were very practical about the arrangement though the son insists “Never did man and woman love one another in holier and more devoted love than they.”
They came to live in 22 Bloomsbury Square, though their time together was to be tragically brief. On August 17, 1855, Mrs Harvey gave birth to their only son. By August 27 she was dead. Two years we find Harvey writing of his his continuing faith despite what was undoubtedly a severe blow. His sister Rachel had been helping an invalid since the marriage. With his death around the same time, she came to Bloomsbury Square to look after Harvey and his infant son and became the son's “almost mother”
The son also has a brief chapter on his father's civic life. In 1853 he became a Liveryman of the City Company of Lorimers. He soon gained the freedom of the City and then became a Common Councilman. He retired from this in 1861 but not before he had made a resolute and successful attack, including the launch of legal proceedings, on abuses of poor law administration that were going on in his ward of Farrington Without.
He was Chairman of the Board of Guardians for many years. In this connection a dinner was given in his honour on August 6, 1859. In this capacity he was involved in the erection of a new West London workhouse, although he had retired by the time it was completed. This was necessitated by the building of the Holborn Viaduct (1865-69) sweeping business premises, including his own, from the area. He moved to Gresham Street in late 1865.
He was also active jury service and even in the last 20 years of his life, which were spent in Hampstead he was active in civic life. His love of strict justice and individual liberty was reflected in one particular way – in his efforts to get the law on oaths changed. The new law allowed witnesses to simply affirm rather than to go on oath, something that atheists preferred to do.

Bio 13b James Harvey


Because he was employed by Henry Bardwell and had no fixed convictions of his own when he came to London, Harvey attended the old Surrey Tabernacle in Southwark along with Bardwell and so sat under the ministry of the leading Strict Baptist of his day, James Wells (1803-1872). Hampshire born, Wells had grown up a godless man but following an illness in his early twenties he came under deep conviction and was eventually converted through Hyper-Calvinist Christians. He himself was a gifted preacher and came to have a large and very loyal congregation (second only in size to Spurgeon's - with whom he tangled in the pages of the Earthen Vessel).
Harvey attended Surrey Tabernacle for some 15 years and became convinced of the doctrines of election and reprobation. He tried to convince others about these truths, says his son, but he himself did not think he was was elect. He was “unhappy and a stranger to the peace of God that passeth understanding”. He was clearly not finding Wells' ministry a blessing to his soul.
On December 5, 1848, the first purpose-built Baptist chapel in central London opened - Bloomsbury Chapel. The first pastor there was William Brock (1807-1885) the later abolitionist and biographer. Originally a watchmaker, Brock trained at the Baptists' Stepney College before spending 15 years working in Norwich. James had heard him there in the late 1830s and had not been impressed. However, he took the decision to attend for 6 months, to “give the minister and the doctrines which should be preached a fair trial”. “The first month had not passed away" he came to write "before I found what I had long been seeking in vain. I was able to rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He began to keep a diary and one of the first entries in it, made at 7 am on Saturday, December 30th, 1848, related his conversion.
He wrote these words

This has been the most remarkable night of my existence, and the most precious. Not one wink of sleep have I had during the whole time, from eleven o'clock last night till seven this morning. Last night, as has been my custom recently, I noted down the most important circumstances which occupied my mind during the day; and having had many very important and apparently difficult matters to arrange when I arose in the morning, which during the day were arranged in a way and manner much more satisfactory than my partner and I had been able to conceive of, I felt impelled to record my gratitude to God for so marked (as it appeared to my mind to be) a manifestation of His over-ruling all things to accomplish in the end His own purposes.
On retiring to rest I committed myself to God in prayer, with more freedom of speech than usual; and in pleading for the pardon of sins, and realising the bare possibility of their being forgiven and blotted out for Christ's sake, I felt overwhelmed and could not say another word. In bed, I desired the Lord to have mercy upon me and accept of my imperfect gratitude for His abundant mercies and from that time till 4 am my mind was occupied on matters of business with which I had been concerned during the day, and as I appeared to be at an end of my musings, knowing that today is our stock-taking, and that I shall be engaged in the warehouse till twelve o'clock at night, I again tried to go to sleep, and breathed a desire (which, if it be the Lord's will, may He grant) that He might enable me to be a benefit amongst those under our own roof both for their temporal and spiritual welfare. When in a moment I was arrested by an idea, and these words were fixed in my mind “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.' As a father! - 'as a father pitieth his children.' Never did I realise the pity and mercy of God in such a sweet and endearing light. I could but repeat, 'As a father pitieth'. Seest thou a father embracing his son? Seest thou a father whose son is in trouble, whose son is in danger? Seest thou a father bestowing his riches and honour on his son in all the love of his heart? So, even 'the Lord pitieth them that fear Him'. A man may pity a faithful dog, a favourite horse; but as a father pitieth his children.' While lost in admiration in the thought, came one more precious still. 'Because you are children, God hath sent His Spirit into your heart Crying, Abba, Father.' 'God my Father' in this sense, and with these endearing words, can it be to me? When, lo! 'If children, then heirs, heirs to God and joint heirs with Christ.' This was too much for my heart; my only language was, Oh, for faith to believe!' - and I could not possibly restrain my tears. I could only cry, 'Lord, help! Can it be my portion?' And I continued with this threefold text in my mind adoring its beauty though its blessedness seemed far too great for me; when again: 'Can a woman forget bet sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the fruit of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee.' I laid thus for some minutes, for my heart was full to overflowing, and enquired 'What does this mean?' Then came as an answer: 'The love of God shed abroad in the heart.' Then followed: 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' The words 'everlasting life' seemed fixed in my ears. There came as a climax: 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.' I could hardly repeat the words. Then came back the thought, 'As a father pitieth,' but I could not repeat the words;' God, my father, who hast loved me with such a love,' I could not say them for several times trying. The thought returned: 'The love of God shed abroad in the heart,' and 'God manifesting Himself to me as He doth not unto the world.' I remembered that I had pleaded with Him for this, and it appeared as an answer to prayer. I then enquired, and do so now I am writing, What is all this that is done ? Is it not to prepare one for some coming trial or difficulty? And my answer from my heart was Come sickness, poverty, peril or death, I can meet them all with the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I resolved to write it all down, if God enabled me, as soon as I arose ... If this which I am writing ever be read by any other being, I pray that he may experience the blessedness which I this morning, from the hours of four till seven o'clock, have been made to feel.

The fatherhood of God was one of the truths that he particularly warmed to and continued to emphasise throughout his life.

Bio 13a James Harvey

I first came across the name of James Harvey (1816-1883) in the records for Childs Hill Baptist Church. Harvey lived in Hampstead and was involved in providing funds for Baptist church there and the building we still use today in Childs Hill. In 1900 his son, a C of E Vicar, wrote a little biography which I have recently been consulting. Let me tell you his story.
Part 1
James Harvey was born in Badingham, in Suffolk (not far from Framlingham). He was the son of a farmer. He was born on May 16, 1816. Both parents were good living people if nothing more. James Harvey was the youngest of seven and the second son. He was known to the family as "Little Jems". He was educated first in the village dame school, then in Haveningham and finally in Framlingham.
Although his family was no doubt a good influence, sadly, the rector at the parish church (St John the Baptist, see pic) was hopeless and had no interest in teaching the way of truth. A new and better rector did come later on but by then Harvey was ready to leave for London where he was to make his fortune. His one positive experience of something better came when he was around 10 or 12 and a woman Methodist preacher came and preached on the village green.
On November 2, 1832, Harvey travelled to London on the Suffolk coach. He came to work in a warehouse at the bottom of the old Holborn Hill (where the Holborn Viaduct is now). His employer was a High Calvinist called Henry Bardwell. He dealt in woollen and cotton goods and such like, wholesale and retail. James started as a Junior assistant earning £12 per annum. That soon rose to £20 then £32 then £40. Back home his parents were in financial difficulties and he not only paid his outstanding school fees bu continued to send them help in their various needs.
After 5 years in London James became a Junior partner and then, when Mr Bardwell died in 1845, he became joint head of the company alongside his contemporary Joseph Bartrum. In this period James had saved up some £2,500 from his earnings. Bardwell also left him a thousand in his will.
Harvey's son later commented that the secret of his father's success was twofold. Firstly, James Harvey loved hard work. He had good health and did not take long holidays throughout his life. He was not obsessed with money. He was able to relax too. He liked to read "books of gristle" and liked foreign travel. He loved work for its own sake but was also driven by a strong sense of duty. The other factor was the high principles of conduct that he espoused even before he was eventually converted."Patient continuance in well doing" was his motto text often quoted (see Romans 2.7). Early on in message entitled "What traits of character are most desirable in a business man?" He spoke about these important character traits.
1. A proper degree of self-respect. Business is not all about profit and loss. Even tradesmen are capable of higher feeling.
2. Honesty. This must hold an important place. The golden law must be recognised. Honesty the best policy.
3. Persevering industry. He drew an interesting analogy from God upholding the universe to the need for business men to persevere in their task.
4. Clearness of purpose.
"Virtue and industry shall never go unrewarded" he said is one of God's laws.
Here was a very moral, church going man seeking to do what was right. However, as we shall see there was still more to learn and to experience.

British Library Visit


I spent much of today in the British Library. I've not used the facility before but there was a book I wanted to read and I haven't been able to get hold of it anywhere else. It's only a little book so I was able to read and make notes in a few hours. It was a satisfying read - more on that some other time. I also like the atmosphere in those big libraries. You don't really get that hush in an ordinary common or garden library (I was in Humanities 1 if that means anything to anyone). It seems to make me more disciplined, that atmosphere.
To put the cherry on the cake I ended up sitting next to Sir Jonathan Miller (we both chose places at the same moment - no angling by me). Of interest, firstly because I knew who he was (unlike all the others I saw there) but I also liked the irony that here I am a Christian minister reading about a 19th Century Christian - how he was converted and how he served the Lord in part by arguing with rationalists, etc, next to a man (he appeared to be reading about modern art) who is a notorious atheist. I wanted to point out the irony but resisted. (It also took a bit of self-control when he wandered off not to take his pencil and write inside his notebook There is a God or God is great or Eternity - those were the three alternatives I considered). Perhaps he'll read this or someone will point it out and he'll see how restrained we Christians are.

Welcome to the future


I had one of those nice moments tonight where I put the radio on and a song was just starting and was intetresting enough to listen to all the way through. It was the last track on Bob Harris's Radio 2 programme, which finished at 8 pm. It's rather naive, of course, but it's a thought provoking and positive song to enjoy.

These are the words:

When I was ten years old,
I remember thinkin' how cool it would be,
when we were goin' on an eight hour drive,
if I could just watch T.V.

And I'd have given anything
to have my own PacMan game at home.
I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade;
Now I've got it on my phone.

He-e-ey...
Glory glory hallelujah.
Welcome to the future.

My grandpa was in World War II,
he fought against the Japanese.
He wrote a hundred letters to my grandma;
mailed em from his base in the Philippines.

I wish they could see this now,
where they say this change can go.
Cause I was on a video chat this morning
with a company in Tokyo.

He-e-ey...
Everyday is a revolution.
Welcome to the future.

He-e-ey...
Look around it's all so clear.
He-e-ey...
Wherever we would go and well we...
He-e-ey...
So many things I never thought I'd see...
happening right in front of me.

I had a friend in school,
running-back on a football team,
they burned a cross in his front yard
for asking out the home-coming queen.

I thought about him today,
everybody who's seen what he's seen,
from a woman on a bus
to a man with a dream.

He-e-ey...
Wake up Martin Luther.
Welcome to the future.
He-e-ey...
Glory glory hallelujah.
Welcome to the future.

Hocus Pocus Acoustic


You may prefer this acoustic version (may be not).

Grace Assembly 2010 Mp3s

This is to confirm that the excellent messages from this year's Grace Assembly can be accessed here at the Assembly website.

Hocus Pocus


When I was a boy a brilliant piece of music was recorded by some Dutch musicians called Focus. They called it Hocus Pocus and it was a minor hit. As we approach the 2010 World Cup Nike have launched an advert featuring said song this has produced a flurry of interest and the track has even been played on Radio 1 again. The above video is how the guitarist Jan Akkerman plays it these days (without the yodelling). Many other examples can be found on Youtube. It's a dexterous and powerful but pretty humorous piece of prog rock that won't be to everyone's taste but is well worth a listen.