The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. 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.

Things seen #94

We haven't had a "things seen" for a while but I was in Golders Green recently when I heard a car hooter go. I turned to see what the issue was. I saw an old man shambling across the road against the red light. Reaching the other side of the road where did he go but into the betting shop.
It reminded me of conversations I used to have with my old dad about gambling. He was a keen though moderate gambler (I've often thought that if all gamblers were as moderate as my dad was it wouldn't be the problem it is). Those conversations would always include my dad saying "life's a gamble" or "crossing the road's a gamble". On the latter point I always used to feel it all depends on how you cross the road. The way this old man crossed was all of a piece with him entering the betting shop, going on to lose his shirt no doubt.

Plus ça change

I came across this remark in Jan Dalley's The Black Hole where she writes about the economic situation in 19th century India (which then included Pakistan and Bangla Desh). After describing the way the odds were stacked against the ordinary worker on the shop floor she says
"It was hardly surprising, given the number of people in this chain, each making a profit from the weaver's work, that the weavers themselves should be in terrible poverty."

Lord's Day April 28 2013

We were all sobered yesterday to think of the tragic death in Madagascar. We were a good number and there were quite a few there who haven't been for a while for one reason or another. We had a particularly large Nigerian contingent (at least 16) and nine children went through to Sunday School. In the morning we came into 1 Corinthians 3 and the matter of spiritual immaturity. I've preached through the book once before but I feel like I'm newly exploring what Paul is saying and seeing it so much more clearly. I think the congregation is with me. Our evening congregations are always smaller. We looked at Numbers 31:1-24 and the day of judgement.

Ravaka Rajo

We are deeply sorry to say that our good friend Ravaka Rajo*, pictured here with his wife Liz and the children Anna (9) and Jonathan (8) last year, has died. Ravaka who was a pastor and seminary head in Antsirabe, Madagascar, was hit by a motorcycle earlier this week and after a short time in hospital in Antananarivo was declared dead. He is with the Lord which is far better but we must pray for Liz and the children and the Baptist churches left behind.
Liz was a nurse in Madagascar, where she first met Ravaka. They came to London in 2002 and Ravaka trained in the London Theological Seminary and began studies in The John Owen Centre, transferring to WEST towards the end of his time. It was a delight to have them as part of the church at that time and to see God bless them with their two children, both born here. They had all hoped to be in England this Summer.
Ravaka was a gentle and intelligent man of God with a winning smile. It is hard to overstate what a loss he is to the Baptist churches of Madagascar. It is a reminder that all our days are numbered and that God sometimes moves in mysterious ways.
If people wanted to give to the inevitable financial need that will arise then I'm sure that the church here could see that gifts were passed on.
I understand that the funeral will be in Monday.
(Rahvak' Radzoo he would have said. In Madagascar they called him Doda.)

Atonement (Book)

Atonement is another in the series that includes Solid Ground reviewed earlier. This one on a very relevant subject  is assembled in the same way, using past sermons at the Philadelphia Conference organised by ACE and edited by Gabriel Fluhrer. The contributors are Packer, with an excellent message on the Necessity of the atonement, Boice (propitiation), Sproul (satisfaction), Gerstner (Limited atonement), Ferguson, De Witt (reconciliation) and Alistair Begg.

Giotto's Hand

Giotto's Hand by Iain Pears is a 1995 novel in a series* about Jonathan Argyll and his attempts to fight crime in the world of art. This one mentions a series of artists and is about uncovering a series of crimes over the years. It has a nice twist at the end. I enjoyed it for the most part though I've read better. The subject matter tempts me to look out for cheap copies of the others in the series.
*The Raphael Affair (1991) The Titian Committee (1992) The Bernini Bust (1993) The Last Judgement (1994) Death and Restoration (1996) The Immaculate Deception (2000)

You're so square

This is nice. Love those drums.

They all hate the Puritans

So I'm reading this book on the Black hole of Calcutta by Jan Dalley when suddenly out of nowhere she decides that a snide remark about the Puritans would be in order. She says in parentheses
"puritans were allowed spices, while other stimulants were prohibited"
What she could possibly be talking about I don't know. I know the Puritans banned a lot of things but I have never heard of them being against alcohol, coffee, tea or any other such thing. It's just a snide remark, unmissed by the publisher because anti-puritanism is so common.

Wandering sheep

A recent news report says that villagers in East Sussex have been left scratching their heads after the bizarre discovery of 56 sheep wandering around their country lanes.
Locals in the village of Chiddingly, near Lewes, are caring for the flock in their back gardens while neighbourhood police search for the owner.
The sheep were reported to the police after being found on April 13 but as yet no one has come forward to collect them.
I wonder if there's a bit of a parable lurking here. More here.

Richie Havens

I've posted this footage before but I heard yesterday that Richie Havens had died at the age of 72 and thought it worth putting up again. His claim to fame was opening at Woodstock in 1969.

Lord's Day April 21 2013

Strange day in some ways in that vast numbers of people were away (all my church officers and their wives, our two LTS students and their wives, etc, etc) yet somehow we filled the place, at least in the morning, with various visitors and occasional attendees (down to about 13 in the evening). As is often the case, it had quite an international flavour, with England, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Romania, Turkey, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong, The Philippines and Jamaica all represented. Some local kids turned up for Sunday School as they sometimes do. I preached from 1 Corinthians 2:10bff in the morning about what preaching is - namely what Paul calls earlier in the chapter a demonstration of the Spirit. In the evening we sat down to communion and then looked at Numbers 30, a chapter chiefly about vows.

Banner 2013 07

The final session of the conference was led by Sinclair Ferguson. He took us this time to Romans 16:25-27 (Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.) and spoke chiefly about how we are strengthened in the gospel. Paul says it is)
1. According to my gospel and the preaching of the gospel
2. According to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now disclosed
3. According to the command of God
It has been God's intention to strengthen us, we were told. The goal of this strengthening is the eternal glory of God in Christ. Like Jonathan Watson he drew attention to the phrase in Romans 10 usually translated of whom they heard but better taken as whom they heard. What a call to preaching Christ that is. There was a lot more of that sort as our minds were helped to correctly expound the text, to scale the theological heights and our hearts were warmed with the truth.
taffia session last night and the opportunity to speak with so many is always a great privilege.
The chief end of the minister is to glorify God.

Banner 2013 06

And so very quickly it seems we have come to the last day of the conference. First up today was Jeremy Walker who took us to 1 Corinthians 15 to speak on the resurrection and the security and hope of the church. He spoke about the vital importance of the fact of the resurection. If it is not so then preaching is pointless and so is faith. Because it is so, our resurrection is guaranteed. This is not only a promise but the setting of a pattern. He sought to encourage us to preach Christ.

Candlish on the resurrection

You see to what your notion about there being no resurrection leads you. It forces you to deny the resurrection of Christ. And if you deny that, you are landed, for yourselves and for those who have gone before you, in the cheerless and hopeless gloom of absolute despair.
Robert S Candlish on 1 Cor 15:20-23

Banner 2013 05

On Wednesday evening Mike Reeves spoke to us on the church father Augustine. Clearly in his element, Mike took us to the Confessions and got us under the skin of this great and influential man by describing his life.
Among the highlights were his drawing attention to Augustine's great humanity, for example his ability to describe sin.
One example is his reference to childhood sins "When I did not get my way, either because I was not understood or lest it be harmful to me, I used to be indignant with my seniors for their disobedience, and with free people who were not slaves to my interests; and I would revenge myself upon them by weeping."
He talks of a young friend Alypius who abhorred everything to do with the gladiatorial games, but was dragged along one day by some friends. He shut his eyes, but 'when a gladiator fell, there was a great roar from the whole mass of spectators and, overcome with curiosity, he opened his eyes'. He was, Augustine adds, transfixed. 'He saw blood, and gulped back savagery. Far from turning away, he fixed his eyes on it' and 'without knowing what was happening, he drank in madness, he was delighted with the wicked conflict, drunk with the lust of blood.' And from then on, he was hooked.
He also makes a point about creeping addictions by referring to his mother Monica's eventual alcoholism.
Other good quotes from Augustine
Love for God is the enjoyment of God for his own sake, and the enjoyment of other things for God's sake.
Too late came I to love you, O Beauty both so ancient and so new! Too late came I to love you - and behold you were with me all the time . . .
We also had references to Augustine's opposition to Donatism and Pelagianism (including his mistaken focus on Romans 5:5 that set up the Roman trajectory in his teaching that is undoubtedly there in his writings).

Banner 2013 04

Apologies that we are not keeping up very well. I was chairing the session this morning. We began with a helpful short piece first off from Andrew Swanson who, approaching 70 this year, reflected on the eternity of God and the brevity of life.
The first main address of the morning was from Warren Peel, who continued to looks at the gospel, which he had already noted is the A-Z not the ABC. He quoted Don Carson's warning that "a litany of devices designed to make us more spiritual or mature or productive or emotionally whole threatens to relegate the gospel to irrelevance, or at least to the realm of the boring and the primitive". Whereas yesterday he was reminding us about justification, he took us today to sanctification. First he quoted William Romaine who wrote that “No sin can be crucified either in heart or life, unless it be first pardoned in conscience; because there will be want of faith to receive the strength of Jesus, by whom alone it can be crucified. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.”  Warren commended a clearer grasp of the gospel in order that we may have our motives purified, our distrust cured, our desires satisfied and humbles our hearts. He had an excellent illustration from classical mythology referring to the sirens. Odysseus had the ears of his sailors blocked but Jason had Orpheus play. The point being that if we focus on what God offers we will not be drawn away to anything lesser.
After coffee, Jeremy Walker spoke from 1 Peter 2 on gospel character calling on us to mine the gospel deeply and widely, to present the Saviour winsomely, to apply the message faithfully and wisely, to deliver it easily and sweetly and to preach persuasively and prayerfully.

Banner 2013 03

This evening Sinclair Ferguson took us through the wonderful closing verses of Romans 8. Because of the gospel, he reminded us,
1. There is no opposition that can prevail against the Christian
(Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not Jews, for envy; but the Father, for love! - Octavius Winslow)
2. There is no accusation that can stick against the Christian
3. There is no accusation that can stand against the Christian
4. There is no separation from the love of God
Hallelujah! He is my Saviour.
Great stuff.

Banner 2013 02

On this opening morning at Banner we were addressed firstly by Warren Peel from Northern Ireland. He spoke helpfully on the life and liberty of the church from Romans again. The burden of his message was that in the gospel the believer has both an answer to his conscience and reason not to rely on his own performance. Describing both a typically good day and a bad one in a way that we all recognised, he encouraged us neither to despair at one or to put confidence in the other.
After coffee, Mike Reeves (pictured) spoke on God's glorious missionary heart. With liberal reference to Puritan Richard Sibbes, it was a delight to hear this stimulating and passionate call to understand God and act accordingly.
He spoke first of God's loving fatherliness and then of his glory.
Sibbes says "The sun delights to spread his beams and his influence in inferior things, to make all things fruitful. Such a goodness is in God as is in a fountain, or in the breast that loves to ease itself of milk. Would we be like our heavenly Father? Let us labour to have large affections, to have a spreading goodness."
He closed noting how Sibbes once said that a Christian singing God’s praises to the world is like a bird singing. Birds sing loudest, he said, when the sun rises and warms them; and so it is with Christians: when they are warmed by the Light of the world, by the love of God in Christ, that is when they sing loudest. The knowledge of the living God and his grace warms us so that we want to make him known and, as our understanding of his kindness deepens, we begin to share his passion for the lost. Good theology both informs and fuels good mission!

Murray on redemption

Dr Ferguson quoted John Murray in his commentary on Romans thus:
It should be noted in addition that the apostle conceives of this redemption as something that has its permanent and abiding tenancy in Christ; it is "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". The redemption is not simply that which we have in Christ (Eph. 1:7) but it is the redemption of which Christ is the embodiment. Redemption has not only been wrought by Christ but in the Redeemer this redemption resides in its unabbreviated virtue and efficacy. And it is redemption thus conceived that provides the mediacy through which justification by God's free grace is applied.

Banner 2013 01

Apologies for the slow start with reporting on this year's Banner at Leicester. I found it a little difficult to get set up. Good to be here though with the other men. We made a gentle start last night with Sinclair Ferguson and Jonathan Watson.
Dr Ferguson moved around his advertised sequence of addresses a little to begin with the greatness of the gospel's power. Going to Romans 1 and 3 he spoke about those three big words - propitiation (turning away God's wrath) – using the language of the Temple, justification (declaring us to be without guilt) – using the language of the court room and redemption (setting us free from bondage) – using the language of the slave market. One of the interesting questions he raised was why more space is given to Jesus trials than to the crucifixion. The answer being the need to see what is happening when he is crucified. Two charges are made – blasphemy (religious) and treason (political). They all declare him innocent (see Luke especially). Would that the therapists of the world knew of the power of the gospel to deliver from guilt, he said. He also reminded us that it is not commodities that we have from Christ but realities in him. Unless we are joined to Christ nothing is of any value to us. It is a plague in evangelicalism that we have the idea that we can have the blessing without Christ. The applications were to do with glorifying God, excluding boasting, universalising the message of salvation and upholding the law.
After the evening meal Jonathan Watson spoke from Acts 20 quite helpfully on the work of the ministry. Like others perhaps I was a little tired and didn't benefit from the message as much as I might.

Sahff o' th' rivuh

Our friends The Barns with their latest recruit
I  was south of the river twice over the weekend (got to be careful not to get the bends by staying too long). It really is quite different to north London. Not sure. A little poorer, a little more housing may be. I enjoy getting the new to London feeling that worte off years ago when I go down there.
First off I was in a car of church members who joined others in the newly refurbished Thornton Heath Evangelical Church where one of their younger members (Lucy) was marrying the son (Tom) of a former deacon here (the family moved to Sidcup 10 years ago). They met through the City University CU. It was a lovely day of seeing someone I've known all his life  both in the faith and marrying in the faith. It was also good to meet fellow ministers and others. Great day.
Then, as it turned out I was preaching in Grove Chapel, Camberwell on the Sunday. I went on my own on public transport and had a great day preaching and being entertained by a lovely family we know. Although there must have been over a hundred there it is a big (well kept) building. The church is without a pastor at present but they appear to be in good heart. I preached on Ezekiel 37 and Genesis 19.  More here.

Sankey and Bliss

I recently read the biographies of Ira D Sankey (1840-1898) and P P Bliss (1838-1876). They are both Ambassador reprints from a few years ago. The Sankey is quite brief, it is subtitled The Singer and his song. It is by Helen Rothwell. The one on Bliss is longer and is subtitled Songwriter. It is written for the British market and is by William Guest. Both men worked with D L Moody and were evangelistic singers, composers and compilers. Bliss also wrote words and I have listed some of these elsewhere. Many of their tunes are still in use. As a boy we still used Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos in our midweek meeting and so I am familiar with some of the hymns that these men and their contemporaries gave the Christian public. Both biographies are written too close to the time of their subjects to warrant any real analysis. I'm not sure what there is of a modern vintage on them and those around them. They were clearly men of faith and orthodox but they were also involved in innovation and I am not sure what I might have been unhappy about at the time. Things have moved on so much by this time it all seems very innocent and uncompromising at this distance. Perhaps things were inadvertently introduced, however, that we could well do without. The Bliss biography contains a surprise element that was not known to me regarding his early death.

Collector's Library

I have admired these books since they first began to appear some years ago. This is their home page.

Unusual words 20 Orotund

I think we'll make this the last of the series. It comes up in William Guest's biography of P P Bliss.
"The orotund is not your natural voice" (p 85)
It can be defined as
pompous and bombastic or full in sound; sonorous.
It also appears in J R Watson's Ancient or modern, Ancient and Modern: the Victorian hymn and the nineteenth century.
"Williams and Chandler were entering this field in different ways. Williams by stealth, printing translations that no one could sing; Chandler more boldly. In his orotund preface to Hymns of the Primitive Church he addressed himself to the Church of England with a kind of heavy playfulness ..."

Ten Hymns by Philip P Bliss

Bliss was the author of many tunes still used today (With harps and with viols, It is well, etc) and some of his words are still sung too such as these
1. Almost persuaded now to believe
2. Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone
3. Free from the Law, O happy condition
4. Man of sorrows (Hallelujah! What a Saviour)
5. I am so glad that Jesus loves me
6. More holiness give me, more strivings within 
7. I will sing of my Redeemer
8. Seeking to save, seeking to save
9. Whosoever will, whosoever will 
10. Wonderful words of life (Sing them over again to me)

Lloyd-Jones on depression

I just ordered the book referred to. This is from the Banner website here.
In August 1969 Dr. Lloyd-Jones was the principal preacher at the summer Institute of Theology in Pensacola. People today who were there still talk of the nine messages they heard him preach. They were the cream of his sermons, messages he had taken with him around the UK preaching to packed churches. They have now been reprinted, and the following is one of his memorable illustrations in a sermon on the road to Emmaus from Luke 24.

I remember preaching in my homeland of Wales one Sunday in the early 1930s. I was preaching in a country place at an afternoon and then an evening service. When I finished the service in the afternoon and had come down from the pulpit, two ministers came up to me. They had a request to make. They said, 'We wonder whether you'll do us a kindness.'

'If I can,' I said, 'I'll be happy to.'

'Well,' they said, 'we think you can. There's a tragic case. It's the case of our local schoolmaster. He's a very fine man, and he was one of the best church workers in the district. But he's got into a very sad condition. He's given up all his church work. He just manages to keep going in his school. But as for church life and activity, he's become more or less useless.''

'What's the matter with him?' I asked.

'Well,' they said, 'he's got into some kind of depressed condition. Complains of headaches and pains in his stomach and so on. Would you be good enough to see him?'

I promised I would. So after I had had my tea, this man, the schoolmaster, came to see me. I said to him, 'You look depressed.' He was like the men on the road to Emmaus. One glance at this man told me all about him. I saw the typical face and attitude of a man who is depressed and discouraged. I said, 'Now tell me, what's the trouble?'

'Well,' he said, 'I get these headaches. I'm never free from them. I wake up with one in the morning, and I can't sleep too well either.' He added that he also suffered from gastric pains and so on.

'Tell me,' I said, 'how long have you been like this?'

'Oh,' he said, 'it's been going on for years. As a matter of fact, it's been going on since 1915.'

'I'm interested to hear this,' I said. 'How did it begin?'

He said, 'Well, when the war broke out in 1914, I volunteered very early on and went into the navy. Eventually I was transferred to a submarine, which was sent to the Mediterranean. Now the part of the navy I belonged to was involved in the Gallipoli Campaign. I was there in this submarine in the Mediterranean during that campaign. One afternoon we were engaged in action. We were submerged in the sea, and we were all engaged in our duties when suddenly there was a most terrible thud and our submarine shook. We'd been hit by a mine, and down we sank to the bottom of the Mediterranean. You know, since then I've never been the same man.'

'Well,' I said, 'please tell me the rest of your story.'

'But,' he said, 'there's really nothing more to say. I'm just telling you that's how I've been ever since that happened to me in the Mediterranean.'

'But, my dear friend,' I said, 'I really would be interested to know the remainder of the story.'

'But I've told you the whole story.'

This went on for some considerable time. It was a part of my treatment. I said again, 'Now I really would like to know the whole story. Start at the beginning again.' And he told me how he had volunteered, joined the navy, was posted to a submarine that went to the Mediterranean, and everything was all right until the afternoon they were engaged in the action, the sudden thud and the shaking. 'Down we went to the bottom of the Mediterranean. And I have been like this ever since.'

Again I said, 'Tell me the rest of the story.' And I took him over it step by step. We came to that dramatic afternoon — the thud, the shaking of the submarine.

'Down we went to the bottom of the Mediterranean.'

'Go on!' I said.

'There's nothing more to be said.'

I said, 'Are you still at the bottom of the Mediterranean?' You see, physically he was not, but mentally he was. He had remained at the bottom of the Mediterranean ever since. So I went on to say to him, 'That's your whole trouble. All your troubles are due to the fact that in your own mind you are still at the bottom of the Mediterranean. Why didn't you tell me that somehow or another you came up to the surface, that someone on another ship saw you, got hold of you and got you on board his ship, that you were treated there and eventually brought back to England and put into a hospital?' Then I got all the facts out of him. I said, 'Why didn't you tell me all that? You stopped down at the bottom of the Mediterranean.'

It was because this man was dammed up in his mind that he had suffered from this terrible depression during all those years. I am happy to be able to tell you that as the result of this explanation that man was perfectly restored. He resumed his duties in the church and within a year had applied for ordination in the Anglican Church in Wales.

Now I tell you this story simply in order to show you the condition of these men on the road to Emmaus. There they are: 'We had thought . . . but, oh, what's the use of thinking? They tried him and condemned him unjustly. They crucified him. He died, and they buried him. And he's in the tomb.' They are so certain of this that they have become oblivious of everything else and blind to everything else. And I have a fear, my dear friends, that that is the trouble with so many of us. We are so aware of the problems, so immersed in them, that we have forgotten all of the glory that is around us and have seen nothing but the problems that lead to this increasing dejection. That is my analysis of these men on the road to Emmaus.

Published in Setting Our Affections Upon Glory: Nine Sermons on The Gospel and the Church, pp. 73-76 (Crossway Books, 2013).

CYSK 9 Mary Slessor

Mary Mitchell Slessor (1848 – 1915) was an Aberdeen born missionary to Nigeria, where she worked among Efik people in the Clabar. Her work and strong personality allowed her to be trusted and accepted by the locals while spreading Christianity, including the promotion of omen's rights.

CYSK 08 William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) was an English politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. Born in Kingston upon Hull, he went on to become independent MP for Yorkshire (1784–1812). Converted in 1785 he soon made major life changes and began a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787 he met Thomas Clarkson and other abolitionists who persuaded him to take on the cause. He soon became a leading English abolitionist, heading the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade 26 years until the final passing of the Slave Trade Act, 1807. He also championed things such as the Society for the suppressionn of vice, missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the CMS and the (later R)SPCA. He later supported the campaign to completely abolish slavery from outside Parliament. Abolition throughout the Empire became certain just three days before his death. More here.

The Girls of Slender Means

The Girls of Slender Means by Scots writer Muriel Spark has sat on my shelf for some time unread. It's a well known title by a well known author and so putting down my heavy theological tome last week I dipped in. It's not a long book and I had it read quite quickly. The title is quite a clever play on the word slender I guess although it is a straightforward enough story in its own way and worth reading. It was written in 1963 and takes place chiefly in 1945 in a ladies boarding house in London. Anthiny Burgess out it in his top 99 books and it was commended when pubklished by Auden, Waugh and Updike.

Solid Ground

Someone gave me a copy of Solid Ground edited by Gabriel Fluhrer and consisting of nine addresses given at The Philadelphia Conference for Reformed Theology. This third collection (the others are on the atonement and history) came out about a year ago and looks at matters to do with God's Word, its inerrncy and sufficiency, etc. With contribuitons by Packer, Dever, Sproul, etc it's the usual crowd giving very helpful addresses on important subjects and is very stimulating. I particualry liked the way that the point about the Word producing the people of God as seen all the way through came out more than once. Well worth getting hold of. It would have been worth including a small amount of biographical material as even though these names are familiar in Reformed circles not all will know that James Montgomery Boice died in 200 and Edmund Clowney in 2005. Even I was oblivious to the existence of Richard D Phillips who I discover is senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, S.C. (previously having been a pastor in Florida and minister of preaching at Tenth in Philadelphia). He also serves on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and as chairman of the Philadelphia Conference for whom these collected addresses are something of an advert. Next time, Mr Fluhrer, eh?

Lord's Day April 7 2013

I was slightly nervous about yesterday as my esteemed father-in-law was in the congregation and we had a novice pianist playing. We also had quite a few people away and the number of children present was in double figures, which is rare for us. Despite all this we had a good day beginning with communion and then carrying on with 1 Corinthians 2 in the morning and Numbers 29 in the evening. The first passage was full of good things but extraction was more difficult with the second.

Van Til on Scripture

“The prodigal is at the swine-trough but finds that he cannot as a rational creature feed himself with the husks that non-rational creatures eat. It is in this situation that the present volume goes out, beseeching the prodigal to return to the father’s house. In the father’s house are many mansions. In it alone will the “son” find refuge and food. The presupposition of all intelligible meaning for man in the intellectual, the moral and the aesthetic spheres is the existence of the God of the Bible who, if he speaks at all in grace cannot, without denying himself, but speak in a self-contained infallible fashion. Only in a return to the Bible as infallibly inspired in its autography is there hope for science, for philosophy and for theology. Without returning to this Bible science and philosophy may flourish for a while with his father’s substance. But the prodigal had no self-sustaining principle. No man has till he accepts the Scripture that Warfield presents.”
Cornelius Van Til in his foreword to Warfield's Inspiration and Authority

Novelists 26 Wilkie Collins

William Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889) was an English novelist, playwright and author of short stories. He was very popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and more than 100 nonfiction essays. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale, and No Name. I've only attempted the second of these I'm afraid. He was a lifelong friend of Dickens and a number of his works were first published in Dickens's journals All the Year Round and Household Words. The two collaborated on several dramatic and fictional works, and some of Collins's plays were performed by Dickens's acting company.

Unusual words 19 Rodomontade

In The Wilder Shores of Marx by Theodore Dalrymple on page 85 he says
At first I was amused by the palace, by its preposterous architectural rodomontade; then I was fascinated by it, for it seemed to me to raise in tangible ... Sometimes (I was told) the Securitate wish to intimidate you.
The word refers to pretentious boasting or bragging; bluster.
Other examples
James Fenimore Cooper, Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief
She admired Tom for his exterior, but the admiration of no moderately sensible woman could overlook rodomontade so exceedingly desperate.
Anne Bronte in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
She knows what she's about; but he, poor fool, deludes himself with the notion that she'll make him a good wife, and because she has amused him with some rodomontade about despising rank and wealth in matters of love and marriage, he flatters himself that she's devotedly attached to him; that she will not refuse him for his poverty, and does not court him for his rank, but loves him for himself alone.

Mrs Thatcher's death

There is a very interesting obituary to the late Lady Thatcher here.

CYSK 07 John Newton

John Henry Newton (1725 – 1807) was a British sailor who became an Anglican minister after his powerfulconversion while still at sea. He started his career at sea at a young age and was involved with the slave trade for some years. He himself was also enslaved for a period. He is remembered today chiefly as a preacher, writer abolitionist and the author of many hymns, including Amazing Grace. Do check out the John Newton project here.

CYSK 06 John and Betty Stam

John Cornelius Stam (1907 – 1934) and Elisabeth Alden Scott Stam, aka, "Betty" (1906 – 1934) were American missionaries to China with CIM (now OMF), during the Chinese civil war. The missionary couple was murdered by Communist Chinese soldiers in 1934. The story of their martyrdom was much publicised and inspired many to become missionaries.

10 Adam and Eve References

1. Adam's apple (man's throat exterior)
2. Adam's ale (water)
3. Adam's arm (shovel)
4. Adam's rib (woman)
5. Didn't know him from Adam
6. Would you Adam and Eve it (Cockney rhyming slang - would you believe it)
7. Adam and Eve [on a raft] (two fried eggs [on toast])
8. Eve's pudding (apple and sponge pudding)
9. Eve with a lid on (apple pie)
10. Daughter of Eve (woman)

CYSK 05 Frances Ridley Havergal

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836 – 1879) was a Worcestershire born poet and hymn writer born in an Anglican rectory. Take My Life and Let it Be is one of her best known hymns. She also wrote hymn melodies, religious tracts and works for children. More here.

Turretin on good works

This is helpful
"Works can be considered in three ways: either with reference to justification or sanctification or glorification.
They are related to justification
not antecedently, efficiently and meritoriously, but consequently and declaratively.
They are related to sanctification
constitutively because they constitute and promote it.
They are related to glorification
antecedently and ordinatively because they are related to it as the means to the end."
(See Turretin, 17.3.14)

Unusual Words 18 Matutinal

In his Road to Wigan Pier George Orwell uses the word matutinal, as in
"The matutinal tub divides the classes more effectually than birth, wealth, or education."
The word relates to or rfers to soemthing occurring in the morning or early in the day. Other examples
He was an imposing and sombre personage, before whom the choir boys in alb and in jacket trembled, as well as the machicots, and the brothers of Saint-Augustine and the matutinal clerks of Notre-Dame, when he passed slowly beneath the lofty arches of the choir, majestic, thoughtful, with arms folded and his head so bent upon his breast that all one saw of his face was his large, bald brow. Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
"Ata," explained So-ta, when I questioned her as to the purpose of this matutinal rite; but that was later.
The Land That Time Forgot by  Edgar Rice Burroughs

Bishop Reynolds on Satan

In his commentary on Hosea 14 Edward Reynolds (1599-1676) says
Satan hath three titles given in the Scripture, setting forth his malignity against the church of God; a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength. But none of all these can stand before prayer. The greatest malice of Haman sinks under the prayer of Esther; the deepest policy, the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David; the largest army, a host of a thousand Ethiopians, runs away like cowards before the prayer of Asa.

Ethan Frome

I've been reading Edith Wharton's novella Ethan Frome. It is a well told and powerful tale that reveals a story of passion and sadness in 19th century rural New England. Part of the story teller's art is to book end the piece with references to the then present and these give the main story a strength that it would probably otherwise not have. Only around 99 pages it is quite a work and well deserves the praise it has been given as Wharton's best selling work. Early reviewers though it too cruel but given a little distance one can cope with it easier by hoping nothing so dire would ever happen to me or those I love. It is quite a moral tale in its own way. It is crying out to be filmed. I notice that was done in 1993 with Liam Neeson (director John Madden), how successfully I don't know not having seen it.

Unusual words Special Ethan Frome

In the edition of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome I have just read a number of words are footnoted for comment. I mention two
Carcel lamps are oil lamps that made a bubbling noise, named for a French inventor
(In the "best parlour," with its black horse-hair and mahogany weakly illuminated by a gurgling Carcel lamp, I listened every evening ...) 
Huckabuck is an inexpensive absorbent cotton fabric
(I know there's a huckabuck towel missing; and I can't take out what you done with that match-safe 't used to stand behind the stuffed owl in the parlour.)

Novelists 25 Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819 – 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet. He is best known for his huge novel Moby Dick which I must confess never to having even attempted. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first Typee became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died he was almost completely forgotten. Only a "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century restored his reputation. In 1919, the unfinished manuscript for his novella Billy Budd was discovered by his first biographer and this I have read along with his Bartleby the Scrivener. He published a version in 1924, which was quickly acclaimed by notable British critics as another masterpiece of Melville's.

Lord's Day March 31 2013

It was great to have so many people in church yesterday. We were swollen chiefly by former members coming back to see relatives but there were others too and yet still some away as well. I never mentioned the word Easter once but all the hymns and readings and sermons were related to the subject of the resurrection. I preached on John 2:19-21 in the morning where Jesus speaks of them destroying the temple nad he raising it again in three days and in the evening on the Sadducees' question about the resurrection in Mark 12. It was good to be looking at central themes but from less obvious texts.

CYSK 04 David Livingstone

David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the LMS and an explorer in Africa. His meeting with H M Stanley 1871 gave rise to the popular quotation "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" A national hero, his fame soon gained mythic proportions. He was a Protestant missionary martyr, subject of an inspirational working-class "rags to riches" story, a scientific investigator and an explorer, as well as an imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader and advocate of commercial empire. More here.

10 famous apparenty creationist 19th century scientists

1. Humphrey Davy (1778–1829) Thermokinetics; Safety lamp
2. Michael Faraday (1791–1867) Electro magnetics; Field theory, Generator
3. Philip H. Gosse (1810–1888) Ornithologist; Zoology
4. James Simpson (1811–1870) Gynaecology, Anesthesiology
5. James Joule (1818–1889) Thermodynamics
6. Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) Genetics
7. Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) Bacteriology, Biochemistry; Sterilization; Immunisation
8. Joseph Lister (1827–1912) Antiseptic surgery
9. James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879) Electrodynamics; Statistical thermodynamics
10. John Ambrose Fleming (1849–1945) Electronics; Electron tube; Thermionic valve

10 famous apparently creationist early scientists

1. Johann Kepler (1571–1630) Scientific astronomy
2. Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) Hydrostatics; Barometer; Mathematics 
3. Robert Boyle (1627–1691) Chemistry; Gas dynamics
4. Isaac Barrow (1630–1677) Professor of Mathematics
5. Isaac Newton (1642–1727) Dynamics; Calculus; Gravitation law; Reflecting telescope; Spectrum
6. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646–1716) Mathematician
7. John Flamsteed (1646–1719) Greenwich Observatory Founder; Astronomy
8. Carolus Linneaus (1707–1778) Taxonomy; Biological classification system
9. William Herschel (1738–1822) Galactic astronomy; Uranus (probably believed in an old-earth)
10. John Dalton (1766–1844) Atomic theory; Gas law