I never knew a man escape failure, in either body or mind, who worked seven days a week.
I hold the Day of Rest to be the most valuable blessing ever conceded to man. It is the cornerstone of civilisation.
Tell me what the young men of England are doing on Sunday, and I will tell you what the future of England will be. The religious observance of the Sabbath is a main prop of the religious character of the country. From a moral, social and physical point of view, the observance of the Sabbath is a duty of absolute consequence.
The British Sunday is a great heritage which has strengthened the national character and sustained the life of the people. To reduce it to the continental pattern is to destroy an invaluable
national asset. The question of one day’s rest in seven (and by rest I do not mean recreation) is one of the utmost importance, not only to the physical but to the mental condition of our people. We are getting altogether too superficial and too thoughtless and, unless we pull ourselves up and get inspiration from the deeper silences that lie within us, we shall be unable to face the great problems that modern civilisation places upon us.
Sunday is a Divine and priceless institution, the necessary pause in the national life. It is the birthright of every British subject, our responsibility, privilege and duty to hand on to posterity.
The UK’s fertility treatment regulator has published a list of 116 genetic conditions for which doctors can destroy IVF embryos without seeking special permission.
The list compiled by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) includes a number of conditions which are considered minor, non life-threatening or medically treatable.
These include illnesses suffered by some of history’s highest achievers, but the HFEA list allows UK fertility doctors to routinely destroy embryos if tests show they are at risk of developing such conditions.
Thalassemia, a blood disorder which can cause mild anaemia, is on the list, even though having it did not hinder the career of seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras.
The HFEA’s list also includes Marfan’s syndrome, a condition which can lead to abnormal growth.
Former US President Abraham Lincoln and French leader Charles de Gualle are both believed to have suffered from this condition.
UK fertility clinics identify genetic conditions using a technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).
PGD involves removing cells from embryos and running tests on them, although some embryos may be harmed by this process.
After PGD screening only the ‘healthy’ embryos are implanted into a woman’s womb. The embryos carrying ‘defects’ are discarded.
Critics say screening embryos raises serious ethical problems and widens the door to the possibility of creating flawless designer babies.
Dr David King, the Director of Human Genetics Alert, said: “It contributes to a social climate in which even minor deviations from ‘normality’ are seen as unacceptable.”
The HFEA is responsible for licensing and monitoring UK fertility clinics and all UK research involving human embryos. It is currently considering adding a further 24 inherited conditions to the 116 it already lists.
Although the UK allows PGD to be used for screening embryos for inherited conditions it cannot be used to select the child’s sex.
Some British couples have travelled to America so that they can select the sex of their children.
However, last August a Chinese study conducted on mice revealed memory decline in adulthood, prompting fears that PGD testing could increase the risk of offspring developing neurodegenerative disorders.
Amidst international reports of the recent Christian-Muslim violence in Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State, Nigerian Christians are presenting a different and disturbing picture
According to local Christian sources, the violence began on Sunday 17 January in the Nasarawa Gwong area of Jos. Two hundred Muslim men gathered to renovate a house belonging to a Muslim and began chanting intimidating slogans. Muslim youths nearby interpreted these as a call to arms and attacked a church during a worship service. They destroyed the church and went on to loot and burn Christian homes, church buildings and shops. At one church the youths, dressed in military uniform, ransacked the pastor’s office and bedroom and “arrested” six young Christians. The theological college at Bukuru was reported to be under siege. Another Nigerian Christian source commented that, amidst the chaos, Christian leaders were being particularly targeted.
Although there has been no official figure from the Nigerian government, there could be around 300 dead. Thousands have fled their homes; some reports put this figure as high as 18,000. Church leaders have received distress calls from all over Jos from people fleeing the violence. The whereabouts of the Nigerian President, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia, is now unknown.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr Greg Ayanting, said in a media interview that the attack by Muslim youths on the church was unprovoked. Since then, however, Nigerian news sources have reported that Mr Ayanting has been redeployed. Christians believe he has been targeted because of his frankness.
The reports from Christians in Nigerian make three specific claims: that Muslim army commanders may have helped the rioters; that Muslim journalists have conducted a disinformation campaign; and that the attacks were premeditated by Muslims, perhaps as part of a plan to stifle Christians in Nigeria. They acknowledge that some Christians have retaliated and do not excuse their actions but they believe the principal blame for the unrest lies elsewhere.
Were the Muslim rioters helped by the military?
Many of the attacks on Christians were made by people in military uniform. Local Christians believe that they were Muslim youths whose uniforms were supplied by Muslim officers to facilitate their attacks on Christians. Reports indicate that the Muslims were “heavily armed with guns and sophisticated weapons” but the Christians “had only stones and the likes”.
Christians believe it is significant that the senior officers now in command in Jos are Muslims. It is also reported that the military sent to bring order to the situation appear to be splitting along religious lines.
Is the media being manipulated by local Muslims?
One Christian source indicates that the Muslims claimed they were reacting to the refusal of some local people to allow the rebuilding of the Muslim man’s house, which stands in a mainly Christian area and was destroyed in the riots of November 2008. But, says the source, the story has been “maliciously changed in the international media controlled by the Muslims” to centre on rebuilding a mosque. This, say the local Christians, may have been intended to gain sympathy from Muslims around the world.
A Christian leader in Jos states that Muslims manipulate the media locally and are now doing the same internationally in order to discredit the Church. He also says that Muslims have already carried false reports about the conflict.
Is there a “grand design” to smother Christianity in Nigeria?
As in the rioting of November 2008, Christians believe that the violence did not break out spontaneously. They believe there is evidence of premeditated attack and there are suggestions that some Muslims are working to foment trouble for Christians as part of a “grand design” to “smother Christians and Christianity” in Nigeria.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, comments,
“The voice of the Christians of Jos must be heard. Sadly, it seems that Christians have moved from defence to retaliation, and we cannot condone that. Our brothers and sisters have been victimised in what they believe to be a premeditated attack. Please pray for all who have suffered in this violence, and pray that Christians will cease to retaliate.”
Christians are striving to be heard and their plight should stimulate all Christians to prayer on their behalf.
I am glad to commend such a book at the present time for the following reasons.
The first and most important reason is that I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God. Yet alas! the whole idea of revival seems to have become strange to so many good Christian people. There are some who even seem to resent the very idea and actually speak and write against it. Such an attitude is due both to a serious misunderstanding of the scriptures, and to woeful ignorance of the history of the Church. Anything therefore that can instruct God's people in this matter is very welcome.
My second reason is that this particular book gives this instruction in an exceptionally fine manner. Dr. Sprague's own treatment of the subject is scriptural, theological and balanced. Then to supplement that there is an Appendix of twenty letters by such great saintly and scholarly men of God as Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, Ashbel Green and the seraphic Edward Payson dealing with their own experience in revivals. The result is a volume of outstanding merit and exceptional worth.
My third reason for commending it is that I do not know of any better preparation for the meetings that are to be held i 1959 in various places to recall the great revival of 1857-59, than the careful and prayerful study of this book.
My prayer is that as we read it and are reminded of "Our glorious God," and of His mighty deeds in times past among His people, a great sense of our own unworthiness and inadequacy, and a corresponding longing for the manifestation of his glory and His power will be created within us. His "arm is not shortened." May this book stir us all to plead with Him to make bare that arm and to stretch it forth again, that His enemies may be confounded and scattered and His people's hearts be filled with gladness and rejoicing.
D M Lloyd-Jones
I am particularly glad that he has clearly kept up this early interest and has continued his wide reading in, and study of the Puritans. This volume provides abundant proof of that.
He has chosen to concentrate attention on the preaching and pastoral activities of those remarkable men of the 17th century, while explaining in an introductory chapter that their original and primary interest was in the nature of the Church.
He thus provides an excellent foretaste of the rich meal that readers of the works of the Puritans can enjoy.
His arrangement of the matter - the brief biographical touches, the judicious selections threaded into a continuing theme etc. - is brilliant.
Here some of the leading Puritans are allowed to speak for themselves, and I am sure that many who read this book will be stimulated to acquire and read the read the works out of which these selections have been made. Nothing but great spiritual good can result from that, both in individual lives, and in the lives of the churches.
D M Lloyd-Jones
This is something which has been badly needed for years, and should be of especial value to people like myself, who were too young to remember the revival itself, but who have known those who had been prominent in the revival and the many who had benefited by it.
I am particularly pleased by the way in which this study has been written; for it is not a mere recital of facts, but truly a study. This is good because certain features of the revival had always posed problems - theological and psychological.
Dr. Eifion Evans has dealt with all this in a thoroughly satisfactory manner, indeed, in a unique manner. What was needed was a writer who was a trained historian, able to take an objective view, and yet at the same time one who was able to deal with the subject theologically. Moreover, it called for a writer with spiritual insight, understanding, and sympathy. Dr. Evans combines these qualities in an exceptional way with a result that his book is invaluable, not only as a study of this particular revival, but also as a study of the phenomenon of revival in general.
This is particularly important at the present time for the following reasons:
First, the great need of revival in the churches. This is surely the only real hope; but it is essential that Christians should be clear as to the difference between revival and organised evangelism. Here is a reminder of what is possible, and especially for those whose whole doctrine of the Holy Spirit really leaves no room for revival.
Secondly, this book is most opportune because of what is known as the "Charismatic Movement" and a new interest in spiritual phenomena. It helps to show the danger of passing from the spiritual to the psychological and possible even the psychic.
There are undoubtedly many problems in connection with the Revival of 1904-5 - certain tendencies to extreme mysticism in Mr. Evan Roberts himself, the general difference in character between this revival and previous revivals, and the and the lamentable failure of the preachers to continue preaching and teaching during the revival, etc. All these are dealt with in a most judicious manner by Dr. Evans. All revivals have produced problems - life always does so - and the danger is to dismiss the entire phenomenon because of certain excesses that often accompany it.
No one can read this book without coming under judgement. It will reveal whether our ultimate faith is in "the power of God" or in human ability and organisations". It is my prayer, and my hope, that it will lead many so to realise anew and afresh the the glory and the wonder of the former that they will begin to long and to yearn and to pray for another "visitation from on high" such as we experienced in 1904-5.
Eva Van Assche, a bilingual psychologist at the University of Ghent in Belgium, and her colleagues recruited 45 native Dutch-speaking students from their university who had learned English at age 14 or 15. The researchers asked the participants to read a collection of Dutch sentences, some of which included cognates - words that look similar and have equivalent meanings in both languages (such as “sport,” which means the same thing in both Dutch and English). They also read other sentences containing only noncognate words in Dutch.
Van Assche and her colleagues recorded the participants’ eye movements as they read. They found that the subjects spent, on average, eight fewer milliseconds gazing at cognate words than control words, which suggests that their brains processed the dual-language words more quickly than words found only in their native language.
“The most important implication of the study is that even when a person is reading in his or her native language, there is an influence of knowledge of the nondominant second language,” Van Assche notes. “Becoming a bilingual changes one of people’s most automatic skills.” She plans to investigate next whether people who are bilingual also process auditory language information differently. “Many questions remain,” she says.
As with Bach, you're spoiled for choice but I thought the Moonlight Sonata would be good. This is the first of the three movements and the one that attracted the moonlight epithet about 30 years after composition.
Westminster Chapel, London
I hadn't forgotten. This is the first movement of J S Bach's second Brandenburg Concerto - as intended I believe and performed by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. It's hard to imagine what western music would be like without Bach's contribution.
So, up I go to the University library at the top of the hill. I dropped Sibyl off at her first exam and made my way there. I’d been instructed to ask at the front desk and that I would be taken from there. I imagined that perhaps they’d take me into a small room and ask me to do all sorts of interesting academic poses. I’d also had the night before considering that all important question; ‘to beard or not to beard’. I decided against the clean shave as I definitely wanted to stick with the learned look.
I got to the front desk and spoke to a little lady who looked a bit like a hungry hedgehog. She didn’t have a clue what I was on about and walked around asking all the staff what it was that I could possibly be going on about. Eventually she got back to me and referred me to Susan who’s got a really nice camera and she’d deal with me. Surely Susan was Aberystwyth’s very own Annie Leibovitz.
“Hi apparently I’m meant to come to you because I’m errm, I’m meant to have my photo taken cos errm cos I won a competition? Yeah errm, I won this poetry art competition thing.” I mumbled.
“Right! Sure, okay Mr!” She replied enthusiastically. I assumed this was the moment she’d lead me to the brightly lit photo room. I followed her out of the office and she led me to probably the widest open space in the entire library, right next to the entrance and where they keep the newspapers.
“So, errm you want me to errm, just sort of sit here? Like errm, next to this table?”
“Okay… Well, what sort of pose do you want? You know I’m used to having my photo taken, the paparazzi are always after me.”
I realised we had a gullible lack of a sense of humour on our hands.
“We’ll try a few.”
“Shall I try my serious face?”
“Yes go on.”
I put on my most academically studious expression.
“Actually that’s a bit frightening.”
“Oh. Well, errm, shall I look out the window? Or shall I put my hand on my chin?”
“Oh. How about I read this book!”
“You’re going to need to look up.”
“You will be!”
“Okay. Can I go now?”
“One more, give us a smile now eh?”
I smiled widely desperately hoping there was nothing stuck in my teeth, or any bogies protruding from my nose.
I was delighted it was over, quite frankly. I don’t think I’m cut out for this whole celebrity thing. It’s too stressful and there’s too much expected from us A-listers. I won’t sleep at night.
I’ll keep you posted on my competition process.
The very fact that I have made the suggestion shows in itself the value that I attach to it. I have long felt that those who cannot read and understand the Welsh language should be given the opportunity of reaping some of the benefits and blessings that I have enjoyed from reading this book.
Let me introduce its contents.
It is not a complete biography of Howell Harris. It concentrates in great detail only upon the first three years of his spiritual history. There are two or three full biographies of him in book form (out of print alas!) and also articles on him in certain larger works on Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.
But the object of Richard Bennett, the original author, was to allow us to see the working of God's Spirit in the soul of Howell Harris in the detailed manner recorded in Harris's own Diaries, in these first formative and thrilling years. Bennett therefore rightly felt that his own remarks should be reduced to a minimum, and that all that was required of him was to supply the connecting links in the story so as to enable the reader to understand the various allusions to actual events. He does not attempt to comment upon, still less to apply or to enforce, what is revealed in the extracts from Harris's diaries. He was too sensitive spiritually to do so, and probably felt the ground was so holy that he could but take off the shoes from off his feet and be silent in awe. I have always been most grateful to him for this.
No! Here we have Howell Harris himself making bare his soul and allowing us to read of God's dealings with him. As spiritual autobiography it is practically unrivalled. A more honest soul than Harris never lived. That was the testimony of all his contemporaries to him. There is a sense in which he was almost too honest and too sensitive. But who are we in this decadent, superficial and glib age to say that? At times we are privileged to look on at the struggles of a mighty soul and made to feel something of its agony. At other times we listen to the praises and thanksgiving of a soul virtually lifted up to the third heaven and knowing such outpourings of the Holy Spirit and workings of the love of God that he could scarce contain them.
Anyone who reads this book carefully will derive great spiritual benefit. He will be troubled and uplifted, corrected and encouraged. Some may well feel that they have never hitherto been Christians at all if this is really what is possible to the Christian. Others in self defence and resisting the Spirit, will feel that this is but "enthusiasm" and "ecstasy," the two things that a "moderate," formal, respectable, Laodicean Christianity always abominates.
But read it for yourself!
Quite apart from these considerations which are the chief reason for reading it, this book is quite invaluable from the historical standpoint. Howell Harris was an intimate friend of Whitefield, the Wesleys and the other leaders of the evangelical awakening in England in the 18th century. He frequently preached for Whitefield in London and acted as his deputy while the latter was in America.
As for the history of the same revival in Wales and the origin of what is now known as the Presbyterian Church of Wales what is recorded here is crucial and essential.
Ryle in his work "The Religious Leaders of the 18th Century" did not include Harris because he never became an ordained clergyman. The reasons for that are explained here and are of fascinating interest in and of themselves.
Nothing is more profitable, after the reading of the Bible itself and books that help us to understand it, than the reading of the biography or autobiography of a great Christian man. Howell Harris was a great man and a genius in a natural sense, a brilliant organiser and improvisor - a man who would have succeeded in almost any walk in life. He had a complex and fascinating personality which made him inevitably a prince and a leader amongst men. He takes his place naturally and as an equal in the distinguished company to which I have already referred.
He was not as great a preacher as Daniel Rowlands and George Whitefield, but as an exhorter he was probably superior to both. But what amazes us and humbles us and condemns us is his humility and his utter submission to our Lord at all costs. This is why God used him in such a mighty manner.
Would you know something of what is meant by the term "revival"? Would you know the real meaning of, "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God"? Would you know more of "life in the Spirit," and "prayer in the Spirit," and something of "the powers of the world to come"? Then read this book and remember that Howell Harris was but "a man of like passions with ourselves" and that Jesus Christ is " the same yesterday, today and forever."
The translation is faithful and clear. I pray that this book may be so blessed and used as to cause many to cry out saying, "where is the Lord God of Howell Harris?"
D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES,
Then after a break for coffee and yet more cake Richard Bewes spoke. Paul introduced him first, drawing two fine Luis Palau anecdotes out of him. Richard preached, again warmly and quite anecdotally, expounding Psalm 61. I guess it was similar to this audio here (look on July 12).
None of the sessions have been recorded. I think this has helped the speakers to feel freer in their delivery.
We had a break then and I went with Geoff to Barry Island - nostalgia! Geoff actually lived in Barry at one point.
Later on Vaughan Roberts spoke on evangelism and ministerial training a la Phil Jensen, which was okay but a little pragmatic perhaps.
I headed off to the lounge then and enjoyed the company of several men before bed.
Steve asked me to say what a brilliant conference this is and then sang a psalm in Gaelic playing the banjo (that bit's not true but Steve thought it would be a good way of testing whether anybody reads this).
I notice that Teddy Pendergrass has died. It was just a name to me (not my kind of music) but reading his obituary one recognised some of the things mentioned and this great break up song. As so often with these black soul singers religion is there in the background. It would be nice to know more. Any man who man can suffer paralysis and then call his autobiography "Truly blessed" has come to understand something worth knowing.
This volume is something for which I have been waiting for over forty years. It was then that I first read Luke Tyerman's Life of George Whitefield. Ever since, I have read everything that I could discover on Whitefield, and by him, and never have I failed to be thrilled as I have done so, and stimulated to become a better Christian and a better preacher. But I waited for something more, and felt that in some respects justice had still to be done. It is, therefore, with the greatest possible pleasure that I write a Foreword to this new Life of Whitefield, appearing on the bi-centenary of his death.
Justice has at last been done to Whitefield and without a trace of special pleading or injustice to his contemporaries. Of all the men of that century Whitefield was the most lovable. He radiated warmth and joy, and wherever he went he moved others to greater zeal and activity. Above all he was the greatest preacher - indeed one can say that he was the greatest preacher that England has ever produced.
More important than these things was the certainty with which Whitefield knew his message and how it should be applied to the human mind and heart of all classes. He was as much the favourite preacher of of the aristocracy that gathered to listen to him in the home of Lady Huntingdon as of the common rabble that listened to him in Moorfields or Kennington. His converts were numbered in thousands and competent historians are agreed that both in America and in Great Britain he was, as one of his biographers has described him, 'The Awakener'. He was the pioneer in open air preaching as in other matters; and though not to be compared with his contemporary and friend John Wesley as an organiser, he easily eclipsed him as an innovator and promoter. His mind was more original and fertile adn he wa sless bound by tradition and logic.
To read the wonderful story of his life is to be reminded again of what is possible to a truly consecrated Christian, and how even in the darkest and most sinful ages God in his sovereign power is able to revive his work and shower blessings upon his People.
God is still the same and is able to do again what He did in the eighteenth century through George Whitefield and others.
May the reading of this book produce in us the same spirit of utter submission, ready obedience, and unshakeable reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit that characterised his life and ministry. Whitefield never drew attention to himself, but always pointed people to his God and exalted his Lord and Saviour. May he, though now dead for nearly 200 years, do the same for countless thousands through the reading of this book!
London, February 1970
D M Lloyd-Jones
by J. C. Ryle
In his day he was famous, outstanding and beloved as a champion and exponent of the evangelical and reformed faith. For some reason or other, however, his name and his works are not familiar to modern evangelicals. His books are, I believe, all out of print in this country and very difficult to obtain secondhand.
The differing fates suffered in this respect by Bishop Ryle and his near contemporary, Bishop Moule, have always been to me a matter of great interest. But Bishop Ryle is being re-discovered, and there is a new call for the re-publication of his works.
All who have ever read him will be grateful for this new edition of his great book on 'Holiness'. I shall never forget the satisfaction - spiritual and mental - with which I read it some twenty years ago after having stumbled across it in a second-hand book shop.
It really needs no preface or word of introduction. All I will do is to urge all readers to read the Bishop's own Introduction. It is invaluable as it provides the setting in which he felt impelled to write the book.
The characteristics of Bishop Ryle's method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various Scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as "devotional."
The Bishop had drunk deeply from the wells of the great classical Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. Indeed, it would be but accurate to say that his books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.
Ryle, like his great masters, has no easy way to holiness to offer us, and no "patent" method by which it can be attained; but he invariably produces that "hunger and thirst after righteousness" which is the only indispensable condition to being "filled."
May this book be widely read, that God's name be increasingly honoured and glorified.
It is with pleasure that I write this foreword to Professor Klaas Runia’s book on the most urgent problem confronting the Christian church today. Ever since I read his book on the Creeds I believe in God ... (IVP), I have always read everything by him with the greatest interest. His articles in Trowel and Sword, of which he is the editor, are always stimulating and thought-provoking, and he has already established himself as one of the leading Reformed theologians in the world.
In this volume he brings his theological learning, with its Dutch overtones, and his acute mind to bear upon the vexed problem of the relationship of evangelical people in all the denominations to the ecumenical movement. In order to do so he gives a masterly description and evaluation of the various theological trends and fashions that have gained such popularity in this present century and shows their utter inadequacy as compared with the true gospel.
An outstanding characteristic of Professor Runia's writing is his scrupulous fairness to those with whom he disagrees and has to criticise. Some of us might feel at times that he carries this too far but at any rate it absolves him entirely of any charge of prejudice or ignorance.
He states the case of the ecumenical movement and then subjects it to the most fair biblical, theological and historical examination.
No-one can read this book without being compelled to face the evidence and to think again at a deep level about these vital matters.
It is my prayer that it might be used to bring all evangelical people to see the tragedy, and indeed the sin, of their present divisions and fragmentation and to heed his appeal for true and visible unity among them.
I urge all who are concerned about the lamentable state of the church and the urgent need of the presentation of our glorious evangelical message to the masses throughout the world to read this scholarly, incisive and most readable book.
D M Lloyd-Jones
Inspired Principles of Prophetic Interpretation
by John Wilmot
I was glad to hear that it was proposed to put these 'prophetic studies' by Dr. John Wilmot into permanent book form. I believe they will make a valuable contribution to such studies.
Some author (no great matter who,
Provided what he says be true)
Relates he saw, with hostile rage,
A spider and a toad engage:
For though with poison both are stor'd.
Each by the other is abhorr'd;
It seems as if their common venom
Provok'd an enmity between 'em.
Implacable, malicious, cruel,
Like modern hero in a duel.
The spider darted on his foe,
Infixing death at every blow.
The toad, by ready instinct taught,
An antidote, when wounded, sought
from the herb plantain, growing near,
Well known to toads its virtues rare,
The spider's poison to repel;
It cropp'd the leaf, and soon was well.
This remedy it often tried
And all the spider's rage defied.
The person who the contest view'd,
While yet the battle doubtful stood,
Remov'd the healing plant away—
And thus the spider gain'd the day:
For when the toad return'd once more
Wounded, as it had done before,
To seek relief, and found it not,
It swell'd and died upon the spot.
In ev'ry circumstance but one
(Could that hold too, I were undone)
No glass can represent my face
More justly than this tale my case.
The toad's an emblem of my heart,
And Satan acts the spider s part.
Envenom'd by this poison, I
Am often at the point to die;
But He who hung upon the tree,
From guilt and woe to set me free,
Is like the plaintain leaf to me.
To him my wounded soul repairs,
He knows my pain, and hears my prayers;
From him I virtue draw by faith,
Which saves me from the jaws of death:
From him fresh life and strength I gain,
And Satan spends his rage in vain.
No secret arts or open force
Can rob me of this sure resource;
Though banish'd to some distant land,
My med'cine would be still at hand.
Though foolish men its worth deny,
Experience gives them all the lie;
Though Deists and Socinians join
Jesus still lives, and still is mine.
'Tis here the happy diff'rence lies,
My Saviour reigns above the skies,
Yet to my soul is always near.
For he is God, and ev'ry where.
His blood a sov'reign balm is found
For ev'ry grief, and ev'ry wound;
And sooner all the hills shall flee
And hide themselves beneath the sea;
Or ocean, starting from its bed,
Rush o'er the cloud top't mountain's head;
The sun, exhausted of its light,
Become the source of endless night;
And ruin spread from pole to pole,
Than Jesus fail the tempted soul.
Good illustrations come from a preacher’s own background. Charles Haddon Spurgeon kept bees. Some of his richest illustrations had to do with honey—its sweetness, the way it drips through your fingers, etc.
Jonathan Edwards as a young man studied and wrote a book on spiders. When he preached his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, one of the most powerful moments in the sermon came when he spoke of a human being hanging, suspended by a single spider’s web, over the gaping pit of hell.
So, preacher, you don’t have to go to the illustration books where you’ll find mostly stale material. You don’t have to steal your examples from other preachers. Talk about what you know best. Barnhouse used to say that the whole material world is illustrative of the spiritual. All you need is the eyes to see.
Come on, now. What are some of your hobbies? Interests? Pastimes? There is a wealth of illustrations there. How about your travel, adventures? Oh? You’re not an interesting person; you don’t go for trips in exotic lands? So what? Are bees, or honey, or spiders, or their threads exotic? Of course not. They were just things that Spurgeon and Edwards knew something about and they framed illustrations around that knowledge.
You know something—or you’re dead! So start ransacking your brain about matters in your everyday existence to find those illustrations that are packed away just waiting for the light of day to shine upon them. They will possibly be the very best illustrations you could ever use. Why? Because you can speak most confidently about that which you know well.
by John Fletcher
Fletcher was one of that great and remarkable company of men raised up by God in the eighteenth century in connection with The Evangelical Awakening - a company which included George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, Daniel Rowlands, Howel Harris and John Cennick.
These men belonged to two main groups, determined chiefly by their views on the subject of Free Will and Sanctification. At times the controversy between them was acute and even bitter but at the first anniversary of the opening of the college at Trevecca in August 1769, the leaders of both parties were present and took part in the worship, the preaching and the partaking of the Lord's Supper at a great Communion Service.
What made this possible was their common experience of the grace of God, their doctrine of assurance, but above all their deep experimental knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what made them the men they were and gave them their evangelistic zeal; and this accounts for the authority which was such a great characteristic of their preaching. This is what brought them together, in spite of their differences.
Nothing is more important than this; and it is the theme of these six letters on The Spiritual Manifestations of the Son of God.
They have been so long out of print, and almost impossible to obtain apart from the rare copies of the Complete Works of John Fletcher. It is particularly good to have them as a separate volume in this way.
I shall never forget my first reading of these letters and the benediction to my soul that they proved to be. They are undoubtedly a spiritual classic.
At a time like this, when many are preoccupied almost exclusively with questions of ecclesiastical organisation and realignment and others are in danger of falling into a Corinthian and fanatical interest in spiritual phenomena and the majority perhaps are just practising formal Christianity, nothing can be more salutary than the message of this book. It points us to the one thing that finally matters, and without which all else is more or less vain. It also points us to the highway to revival - both personal and general.
May God bless it and use it to that end.
D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
Morning from the Peer Gynt Suite by Norwegian Edvard Grieg is a pretty well known piece (especially since that coffee advert years back). Plenty of other Grieg pieces are well known but none as much as this one, partly no doubt becasue it does what it says on the tin. This is one of the weird things about music though. If you called it, say, Night or The day we met, it would sound somehow slightly different.
Nothing has been sadder in the story of the last fifty years in the church, nor more significant, than the way in which George Whitefield has been neglected, and especially as one considers the very considerable attention that has been given to his contemporary, John Wesley. That was certainly not the position two hundred years ago, and it should not be the case now.
Of all the men of the eighteenth century whom God raised up to do that marvellous work called
But Whitefield was not only the greatest preacher and orator of the eighteenth century, he was also one of its most saintly characters, if not the saintliest of all. Certainly there was no more humble or lovable man amongst them. What can be more profitable, next to the Bible itself, than to read something of the life of such a man and to read his own words!
This volume provides an excellent introduction. The famous essay by Bishop Ryle is certainly the best short account of Whitefield that has ever been done, and it is good that it should be thus reprinted. At the same time this volume provides samples of the great preacher's sermons which serve to illustrate the points emphasized by the Bishop. It is a judicious and representative selection.
May God grant that, as we read of the man whom God made so mighty, and the things which he taught and preached, we may be led to long for and to pray for such a revival in our day and generation as God gave in His sovereign grace and mercy two hundred years ago.
D M LLOYD-JONES
Westminster Chapel London
BY ROBERT HALDANE
First and foremost is the fact that I have derived such profit and pleasure from it myself. I always find it very difficult to decide as to which is the better commentary on this Epistle, whether that of Charles Hodge or this by Haldane. While Hodge excels in accurate scholarship, there is greater warmth of spirit and more practical application in Haldane. In any case, both stand supreme as commentaries on this mighty Epistle.
However, that which gives an unusual and particularly endearing value to this commentary is the history that lies behind it. In 1816 Robert Haldane, being about fifty years of age, went to Switzerland and to Geneva. There, to all outward appearances as if by accident, he came into contact with a number of students who were studying for the ministry. They were all blind to spiritual truth but felt much attracted to Haldane and to what he said. He arranged, therefore, that they should come regularly twice a week to the rooms where he was staying and there he took them through and expounded to them Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. One by one they were converted, and their conversion led to a true Revival of religion, not only in Switzerland, but also in France. They included such men as Merle D’Aubigné the writer of the classic “History of the Reformation,” Frédéric Monod who became the chief founder of the Free Churches in France, Bonifas who became a theologian of great ability, Louis Gaussen the author of “Theopneustia,” a book on the inspiration of the Scriptures and César Malan. There were also others who were greatly used of God in the revival. It was at the request of such men that Robert Haldane decided to put into print what he had been telling them. Hence this volume. And one cannot read it without being conscious of the preacher as well as the expositor.
What a distinguished French minister Dr. Reuben Saillens says of what became known as “Haldane’s Revival” can be applied with equal truth to this commentary:
(1) it gave a prominent emphasis to the necessity of a personal knowledge and experience of grace;
(2) it maintained the absolute authority and Divine inspiration of the Bible;
(3) was a return to Calvinistic doctrine against Pelagianism and Arminianism. Haldane was an orthodox of the first water, but his orthodoxy was blended with love and life.”
God grant that it may produce that same “love and life” in all who read it.