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.

The Beatles - All You Need Is Love

Only a preview available now for sme reason.

Midweek Meeting January 30 2019

There were 13 of us last night which is good, although two of those head off to another country for a while next week. We were in James 1 again (verses 16-18). We continue to have more of a discussion set up which adds quarter of an hour to the meeting but people seem happy withe that. We had a good prayer time with stacks to pray for. These are encouraging days in soem ways. I'd forgotten to charge my kindle but managed with the laptop.

Day Off Week 5 2019

I started logging my days off last year and I want to get back to that. So far I haven't had a formal day off as the first week (30-05) was holiday, the second (06-12) I was at Carey, the third was the week of the memorial service (13-19) and the fourth I was in N Ireland (20-26). that is not to say that I've been working flat out, of course, I just haven't done it in a formal way.
So this time round Tuesday found me finding it difficult to get going. I felt physically and mentally drained. So I just headed out and managed to do my 10, 00 steps and grab a coffee. I headed into central London. After a bit of searching I found Giro's grave and another place (more on that another time) as recommended in the aforementioned Tired of London, Tired of life. I also caught up on Bible reading and read most of a book I enjoyed by Cornelis Platinga called Reading for preaching. So it was mostly good but I feel like  I could have been a lot more efficient with my time. (It didn't help that Eleri was out all evening).

Midweek Preview for Feb 3 2019

Ever eager to improve the blog it struck me that we could have a weekly feature previewing what is to come on the Lord's Day. It is good for me to try and decide early in the week so we'll see how it goes. I intend to preach on Acts 17:10-15 and Matthew 23:1-36. I may not cover all 36 verses in the evening.

Thoughts on Religious Experience

On Monday it was up to the Pastors Academy again (with Alffi the dog) for the Pastors Academy reading group. We like to read old books as well as new and I had suggested the 1841 work by Archibald Alexander Thoughts on religious experience. (The above image shows the original Banner cover. My copy was bought in 1980). Around six of us were present and we had a decent time. The book covers such a vast range of topics that it was difficult to cover everything and it was not easy to formulate questions for discussion but we had a stab at conversion, death and depression. So not the best time we've had but okay. In June we hope to tackle Mark Meynell's When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend partly prompted by the previous volume. (Best source ICM Books). Do join us if you can. Details will appear shortly on the Pastors Academy website.
Some quotations

Conviction, then, is no part of a sinner’s salvation - but the clear practical knowledge of the fact that he cannot save himself, and is entirely dependent on the saving grace of God.

In judging of religious experience, it is all important to keep steadily in view the system of divine truth contained in the Holy Scriptures; otherwise our experience, as is too often the case, will degenerate into enthusiasm. Many ardent professors seem too readily to take it for granted that all religious feelings must be good. They therefore take no care to discriminate between the genuine and the spurious, the pure gold and the tinsel. Their only concern is about the ardour of their feelings; not considering that if they are spurious, the more intense they are the further will they lead them astray.

There is no necessity for any other proof of native depravity than the aversion which children early manifest to religious instruction and to spiritual exercises.

Of two persons under conviction of sin, one of whom has had sound religious instruction, and the other none, the former will have an unspeakable advantage over the latter in many respects.

There is a common practical error in the minds of many Christians in regard to this matter. They seem to think that nothing has any relation to the conversion of the sinner but that which immediately preceded this event; and the Christian is ready to say, I was awakened under such a sermon, and never had rest until I found it in Christ; making nothing of all previous instructions and impressions. So, when a revival occurs under the awakening discourses of some evangelist, people are ready to think that he only is the successful preacher whose labours God owns and blesses; whereas he does but bring forward to maturity feelings and convictions which have been long secretly forming and growing within the soul, but so imperceptibly that the person himself was little sensible of any 

We know very little, however, of what is passing in the minds of thousands around us. The zealous preacher often concludes and laments that there is no impression on the minds of his hearers, when, if the covering of the human heart could be withdrawn, he would be astonished and confounded at the variety and depth of the feelings experienced. Those impressions which manifest themselves by a flow of tears are not the deepest, but often very superficial; while the most awful distresses of the soul are entirely concealed by a kind of hypocrisy, which men early learn to practice to hide their feelings of a religious kind from their fellow-creatures.

If there be a truth established beyond all reasonable question by uniform experience, it is that lovers of pleasure are the enemies of God.

Lord's Day January 27 2019

There was a good attendance last Sunday though the cold weather kept some away in the evening. We had a one or two old friends with us which is always good. We started on Acts 17 and the founding of the church in Thessalonica in the morning and then turned to the question Jesus asks at the end of Matthew 22 in the evening. With the children we looked at the final catechism questions (so I need to get something ready for next week) and church history wise we were in the 13th century so we are almost into the realms of the known at last (we sang Francis of Assissi's All creatures of our God and King which surprisingly is not in our hymn books. Good hymns all round once again.). For once the evening sermon didn't dip. In fact it was very brief and to the point.

Transporter Bridge Rivalry

As a Newport born man it always gladdens my heart when Newport do well. At the moment, having beaten the Met, Wrexham and Leicester they are on for a fifth round tie in the FA Cup with Manchester City. In order to get there they have to beat Middlesborough in the fourth round home replay next Tuesday. With teams like Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs already out, this is good going. The tie with Middlesborough also gives an excuse to add a bit of trivia about transporter bridges. The only two working models in Britain are to be found in Newport and Middlesborough.
A transporter bridge (or ferry bridge or aerial transfer bridge) is a type of movable bridge that carries a segment of roadway across a river. The gondola is slung from a tall span by wires or a metal frame. The design has been used to cross navigable rivers or other bodies of water, where there is a requirement for ship traffic to be able to pass. This has been a rare type of bridge, with fewer than two dozen built. There are just twelve that continue to be used today.
The Newport one was built in 1906 across the Usk because the river banks are very low at the crossing point (a few miles south of the city centre) a traditional bridge would need a very long approach ramp and a ferry could not be used at low tide. It is a Ferdinand Arnodin design. The Middlesborough one crosses the Tees featured in the 2002 series of the popular British TV show Auf wiedershen, Pet.
For more on this see here.

Aber 2019

The brochure for the Aber Conference 2019 is now out. See here.

Striking Andrew Fuller breakthrough

Fascinating news item here (thanks Jeremy Walker for the link). See here on the BBC site.

N Ireland

Eleri and I made a short trip to N Ireland last week. It is only the second time I have travelled there. We bussed from Golders Green to Stansted then flew Ryanair to Belfast International. The bus was an hour late but the plane was late too so we didn't need to panic. We had hired a car and drove 20 minutes west to an airbnb near Randalstown which was just tight for us. We had a little wander around the next day seeing Antrim Castle Gardens and walking along the River Bann as far as the massive Lough Neagh (biggest fresh water lake in the British Isles).
We then moved on to Magherafelt and a wander round there. We then called on our friends the Roks who settled last year in Magherafelt last year after being in the seminary for two years. Alexander has become pastor of the Reformed Baptist church in the town. It was lovely to enjoy their hospitality in their lovely new home.
That evening we went along to the attractive building the RBs have in town for the official induction. While without a pastor the church has been under the oversight of Maidenbower Baptist in Crawley. If that sounds a little remote one should bear in mind that in previous such situations over its 22 year in existence churches in America have taken that role and, anyway, Crawley is right next to Gatwick!
The service was led by one of the deacons and another gave the history of the call. The current lead pastor in Maidenbower, Jeremy Walker, preached and led in the laying on of hands. he was assisted in this by Robert Strivens (formerly elder with us and Principal at the seminary but now in Bradford on Avon), Austin Walker (now retired as pastor in Maidenbower) and myself. We prayed.
At the end of the meeting greetings were shared from churches in America and Wetzlar in Germany. A number of friends were present and it was good to have further fellowship over a lovely spread. I enjoyed talking to Reuben Saywell who had travelled as we had, Andrew Rycroft (Baptist pastor in Millisle), Ted Donnelly, John McDermott from the Baptist church, etc.
It was good to be there.The service can be found on Facebook here.

Library Lecture on the Lollards

Around 15 of us gathered last Monday (a typical number for the lunch time get togethers) at the Evangelical Library in London to hear Norman Hopkins speak on the Lollard leader Sir John Oldcastle (Lord Cobham) and some of his Lollard contemporaries and predecessors. As usual with Norman this was with special reference to the county of Kent. He also made a point, as he often does, of including plenty of visual fare to help us. That was appreciated. I must take a leaf from his book when I lecture on Coggeshall in Essex next month. It is on the 18th - do come and join us. Oldcastle had his obvious faults but he knew the Lord adn even in such dark times lived up to the light he had.

Lord's Day January 20 2019

Bit behind here. One encouraging thing Sunday was that most people were there at the beginning - always a good thing. There is a local character who sometimes attends and sometimes will attempt a dialogue with me from the doorway in. This time (something that has never happened before) he attempted this while I was praying - not ideal. We went back to our studies in Acts and Matthew today. Again the evening sermon, I felt, was inferior - not sure how it happened. We had communion in the evening. We weren't many at all.

Death of Quranic scholar Keith Small

I noticed that in The Times yesterday there was an obituary for Dr Keith Small who died on December 6 aged only 59. I did not know the name but he was clearly an evangelical scolar who made an importnat contribution to the debate with Muslims. An obituary by Julia Cameron can be found here.

Last Saturday

Last Saturday Eleri and I headed out to Primrose Hill, a short distance form home. We have this book at home that recommends buying a book at Primrose Hill Bookshop (on the 8th rather than the 19th but that is a nicety). Anyway I looked all around and I saw Bernhard Schlink's The reader in paperback. It didn't ring any bells at the time and Eleri had moved on to another shop. Anyway I don't like to read blurb and the first chapter was fine so I bought it. The first part is rather erotic and can't be recommended for that reason (I read it in tandem with three Christian books!). Once you get beyond that it is very interesting and thought provoking. Sadly, coming from the usual humanist point of view it is both immoral and rather depressing and offers no redemption that I could see. it is well written and has short chapters and so I finished it in a short time. I keep getting drawn back to books about the holocaust somehow. We went onto Primrose Hill and saw the Iolo Morganwg memorial (more on that here) and spotted the above plaques. I knew Rizal's name as I have been in the Philippines in the past. I bought a novel of his there (still unread sadly). We had a nice cuppa in Sweet Things.

The pastor's soul

When I was in Aber last I picked up a new little book for pastor's subtitled - the call and care of the undershepherd. Out of the Reformed Baptist stable it is written by two American pastors - Brian Croft and Jim Savastio. Only 154 pages long it is a helpful book in four parts. Jim starts with biblical commands concerning a pastor talking about taking heed to self, doctrine and flock and why it matters. Brian then contributes a short section on the need to be converted and called. It's back to Jim for part 3 and two chapters on the public and private means of grace. Brian's last section deals with six important topics - eating, sleeping, exercise, friendship, silence, rest (day off, holidays and sabbaticals). I heard Joel Beeke say last year that pastor's should read at least one of these books a year - so I'm okay for 2019. He also said (with tongue in cheek) that you cannot follow everything they recommend as there are not enough hours in the day. That is probably true of this volume although it tries hard not to be prescriptive. It would make a great book for a ministers' fraternal to discuss. Non-pastor's will find it very interesting too.

Norah Jones - Humble Me (w/ lyrics)

Just love this

Nicholas Saunderson

I came across this name in recent reading
Nicholas Saunderson LLD FRS (1682 – 1739) was a blind English scientist and mathematician. He may have been the earliest discoverer of Bayes theorem. He worked as Lucasian Professor, a post also held by Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage and Stephen Hawking.
Saunderson was born at Thurlstone, Yorkshire, in January 1682. When about a year old he lost his sight through smallpox; but this did not prevent him from acquiring a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and studying mathematics. As a child, he is also thought to have learnt to read by tracing the engravings on tombstones around St John the Baptist Church in Penistone with his fingers. His early education was at Penistone Grammar School, and he was introduced to Cambridge via meetings with the local gentry at Underbank Hall, near Penistone. In 1707, he arrived in Cambridge, staying with his friend Joshua Dunn, a fellow-commoner at Christ's College. During this time, he resided in Christ's but was not admitted to the University. With the permission of the Lucasian professor, William Whiston, Saunderson was allowed to teach, lecturing on mathematics, astronomy and optics. Whiston was expelled from his chair on 30 October 1710; at the appeal of the heads of colleges, Queen Anne awarded him an MA on 19 November 1711 so that he would be eligible to succeed Whiston as Lucasian professor. He was chosen as the fourth Lucasian professor the next day, defeating the Trinity College candidate Christopher Hussey, backed by Richard Bentley, when the electors split 6 to 4 in his favour. On 6 November 1718 Saunderson was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He was resident at Christ's until 1723 when he married and took a house in Cambridge. He was created doctor of laws in 1728 by command of George II. He died of scurvy, on 19 April 1739 and was buried in the chancel of the parish church at Boxworth near Cambridge. He possessed the friendship of leading mathematicians of the time: Newton, Halley, etc. His senses of hearing and touch were acute, and he could carry out mentally long and intricate mathematical calculations. He devised a calculating machine or abacus, by which he could perform arithmetical and algebraic operations by the sense of touch; it was known as his "palpable arithmetic", and was described in his Elements of Algebra. Of his other writings, prepared for the use of his pupils, the only one which has been published is The Method of Fluxions. At the end of this treatise there is given, in Latin, an explanation of the principal propositions of Sir Isaac Newton's philosophy. 

Midweek Meeting January 16 2018

Ten of us gathered on Wednesday (six men, four women) as we regularly do. It was a bit different in that someone else led tough I was present. This was because I had mistakenly booked two people to lead last week when I was away at Carey and it seemed a shame to waste that preparation. He used the study on Psalm 27 in Soul Songs by Tim Chester (see here) to lead an interactive Bible study in which all but one took part (their hearing is not too good). It was a useful and encouraging study but as is perhaps typical of such Bible studies it was a bit me centred and didn't really bring out Christ as is not difficult to do with that psalm once you ask how Christ may have used it. I led the prayer time. We prayed especially for former member now in ministry and other matters.

10 more Portmanteau words

  1. Internet (international/network) A global system of interconnected computer networks. 
  2. Malware (malicious/software): Computer programs that are designed to damage or disable computer systems
  3. Meld (melt/weld): Blend/combine
  4. Modem (modulation/demodulation): An electronic device that makes possible the transmission of data to or from a computer via telephone or other communication lines
  5. Motel (motor/hotel): Overnight accommodation designed for motorists
  6. Motorcade (motor/cavalcade): A procession of motor vehicles
  7. Oxbridge (Oxford/Cambridge): An inclusive term that is used to describe both Oxford and Cambridge universities
  8. Smog (smoke + fog): A form of air pollution that has the qualities of both smoke and fog
  9. Spork (spoon/fork): A hybrid form of cutlery
  10. Workaholic (work/alcoholic): An individual who works excessive hours. Cf chocoholic (chocolate + alcoholic): Someone who eats excessive amounts of chocolate

10 Portmanteau words

A portmanteau is literally a bag for carrying (porter) a coat (manteau). The term was first used by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:
“Well, ‘slithy’ means “lithe and slimy” and ‘mimsy’ is “flimsy and miserable”. You see it’s like a portmanteau - there are two meanings packed up into one word.” Sometimes we get so used to these words we no longer see them as blends (eg breathalyser - breath and analyser)

  1. Bionic (biology/electronic): Artificial body parts that have been enhanced by technology
  2. Bodacious (bold/audacious): Insolent or unrestrained, extraordinary or impressively large
  3. Chortle (chuckle/snort): Laugh in a breathy, gleeful way.
  4. Cyborg (cybernetic/organism): A human or fictional entity whose physiological functioning is enhanced by mechanical elements.
  5. Dumbfound (dumb/confound): Greatly astonish or amaze.
  6. Edutainment (education/entertainment): Games or other forms of entertainment that have an educational aspect
  7. Electrocution (electricity/execution): Death by electricity
  8. Flare (flame/glare): A sudden brief burst of bright flame or light
  9. Ginormous (giant/enormous): Large, huge. glamping (glamour/camping): Luxury camping
  10. Glitz (glamour/Ritz): Extravagant yet superficial

Word of mouth episode

A recent episode of Radio 4's Word of mouth with Michael Rosen featured Elis James talking about the Welsh language. See here.

Cassettes for the Charity Shop

I took these three cassettes to the Charity Shop recently. The first is a souped up version of Frank Ifield's She taught me to yodel, an old favourite; then there's After the break by Planxty which I now have on itunes; the third is a bouzouki album I bought in Cyprus years ago. I think this is it here. Cassette technology - really missed said no-one.

Throwback Thursday

I read - Throwback Thursday is a popular internet trend used among social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Users will often post nostalgic pictures of their past accompanied by the hashtag #TBT or ThrowbackThursday. This shot is from c 2002. I think this is my second son's first broken arm (two of other managed it too but only Dylan broke both arms - at different times).

Two new online resources for Reformed Baptists and others

The archive for the now defunct Grace Magazine (which I edited c December 1995-March 2001) is now available online in digital form (January 1981-December 2014) on the sbhs website. The search facility does not seem to be available for finding issues but once into an edition it can be searched throughly. The website is here.
Meanwhile, over at the Reformation Today website all the editions from 1970-1987 are available in digital format (issues 1-100). There appears to be no search facility. The websire is here.

A nice postcard

A friend in Germany sent me the above postcard at the end of last year. He had been in Switzerland and had found my commentayr on Proverbs among some other purchases. The book has a new cover these days and is in its second edition. I believe EP are committed to keeping the Welwyn seriees in print. it's good to be found in the company of Ryle, Spring, etc. Thanks Stefan.

10 Legal doublets

Many standardised phrases are used in English legalise. They consist of two (sometimes more) words that are near synonyms. The origin of the doubling - and sometimes even tripling - often lies in the transition from use of one language for legal purposes to use of another for the same purposes, (eg Germanic([Anglo-]Saxon or Old English) to Romance Latin or Law French or, within the Romance subfamily, from Latin to French). To ensure understanding, words of Germanic origin were often paired with words having equivalent or near-equivalent meanings in Latin (reflecting the interactions between Germanic and Roman law following the decline of the Roman Empire or later, Law French (reflecting the influence of the Norman Conquest), and words of Latin origin were often paired with their Law French cognates or outright descendants.

1. Aid and abet
2. All and sundry
3. Care and attention
4. Cease and desist
5. Fit and proper
6. Goods and chattels
7. Have and hold
8. Let or hindrance
9. Null and void
10. Will and testament


That last post was my six thousandth on this blog (this is 6001)
I began blogging here in November 2006.

Thanksgiving service for the life of Megan Franklin

Eleri and I have just returned from the packed thanksgiving service in East London Tabernacle for Megan Franklin who has recently and suddenly died. We did not know Megan personally but I know Brad and he has spoken for us here. One could not meet a more friendly man. We pray for Brad and their seven children and for St Giles Christian Mission in the months to come. The service was live streamed and can be seen at present here on Youtube. (The eulogy begins around an hour and five and the sermon on John 11 from Mike Gilbart-Smith at one hour and 19) It was good to spend time speaking with some of the hundreds present. The tone was rightly serious but hopeful.

Lord's Day January 13 2019

I preached from texts again this week as it is generally easier to prepare from a text than a passage. With these two (John 20:30, 31; Hebrews 2:14,15) I have now preached 83 of the one hundred texts recommended to workers by T C Hammond. (See here). As last week, I found the morning sermon went better than the evening one. This time I think I put in equal effort. It genuinekly was  aharder text to tackle I guess. We had lunch today as well, which was very nice. One of our members was celebrating her eightieth so we sang happy birthday to her. One or two friends and family joined her so it was nice to ahve them around and there were one or two other visitors. Once again there were people missing - some expected some I don't know. We sang some great hymns, including an 11th century one I found by Fulbert of Chartres

1 You choirs of new Jerusalem,
your sweetest notes employ
the Paschal victory to hymn
in songs of holy joy!

2 For Judah's Lion burst his chains,
and crushed the serpent's head;
he cries aloud through death's domains
to wake the imprisoned dead.

3 Devouring depths of hell their prey
at his command restore;
his ransomed hosts pursue their way
where Jesus goes before.

4 Triumphant in his glory now -
to him all power is given;
to him in one communion bow
all saints in earth and heaven.

5 All glory to the Father be,
the Spirit and the Son:
all glory to the One-in-Three
while endless ages run.

Carey Conference 2019 Day 3

There were just two sessions on the final day of the conference. Firstly, Dr Letham gave his third and final paper on the Trinity. This time on The Trinity, redemption, and worship. Neither of these second papers quite lived up to the first, I fear. This may simply be because we had half an hour extra for that first session and so plenty of time for discussion. It was all very good, however, and worth hunting down in recorded form. The same may be said of his book on the Trinity which is being revised and reprinted soon, and perhaps of the forthcoming 800 page Systematic Theology that Crossway are producing this year.
The final paper was from Jonathan Bayes on the subject of Zeal for God's glory. This took us through the many passages that deal with God's glory with the hope that it would stir us up to zeal. Perhaps this was not the best way to do that and if we had stuck with one epitomising text it may have been easier. The final day of a conference is never easy as people are tired and already in danger of overload.
Highlights remain then the first message on the Trinity, the message on holiness and the paper on Dort. We plan to meet again January 7-9, 2020. Once again the format and those present have been refreshing. A big thank you to organisers and speakers.

Carey Conference 2019 Day 2 Sessions 2-4

Robert Strivens, Jonathan Worsley, Bob Letham, Bill James
Bob Letham
Henry Dixon
We had three more sessions on Day 2 of the Carey, a further paper from Bob Letham on the Trinity, a Q and A session and a final paper on the Holy Spirit and prayer from Henry Dixon. As with the first session, our womenfolk left us for session son Proverbs by Ann Benton.
Bob spoke this time on The trinity, creation, and the world around us and although this is more difficult ground to cover he was again very helpful. Henry spoke first of how difficult prayer can be then of how the Spirit helps us and finally on the fact he prays for us. He spent most time on the second point suggesting ways in which the Spirit helps - giving power over sin, giving spiritual life, leading us, directing us into God's love and giving fervency of speech. Some of this, as Henry suspected, is controversial but widely held among even cessationist theologians. The question session was lively and far reaching and one of the best such sessions I have been involved in. Besides matters connected with the Trinity we got on to infant salvation, the authorship of Hebrews and fencing the table, etc. A good day, I also managed a trip to the nearby Denbyware factory shop in the afternoon with my son and his family. Haven't been there in ages.

Carey Ministers Conference 2019 Day 2 Session 1

Our first session of the second day was led by Robert Strivens and was on Baptists and the Synod of Dort.
It was a clear and very helpful session.

Factors leading up to the Synod of Dort
1. Theological: Arminius
Human will, origin of sin
2. Political: Johan van Oldenbarneevelt, Advocate of Holland
More state control, Looser interpretation and application of the Belgic Confession, foreign policy issues

After the death of Aminius (1609)
Johannes Uyttenbogaert provided theological leadership
Remonstrance of 1610 (five points) Counter-remonstrance 1611
Prinz Mauritius gains upper hand and backs counter Remonstrants, 1617
Oldenbarnevelt arrested and executed (May 13, 1619)

The Synod
Convened November 13, 1618 in Dordrecht
10 colleges of Dutch reps, plus delegations from Germany, Switzerland, Britain - 31 Dutch, 28 others

The Remonstrants at the Synod

Arrived, December 6, 1618
Presented their sententiae an expansion of the five points
Expelled January 14, 1619
Formal conclusion May 29, 1619 (180 sessions)

The canons of Dort
Latin English translation see
Five heads

Canons of Dort overview
Election unconditional not based on God's foresight and individual
Atonement sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect
Humanity totally lost in sin and unable to do anything towards salvation
All and only the elect are called irresistibly to saving faith in Christ
The elect unfailingly persevere in saving faith to eternal life

Closer analysis
Election unconditional not based on God's foresight and individual
1. God would be just in leaving all to perish in their sin - no obligation to save any
2. Out of love for the world God sent his Son to save those who believe
3. God sends preachers to carry this good news to all the world
4. Those who reject the good news perish while those who believe are saved
5. Responsibility for unbelief lies with the unbeliever; believer owes all to grace
6. Reason some believe and others do not rooted in God's eternal decree
7. Full, formal statement on election
Election is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:
Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. God did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation.
And so God decreed to give to Christ those chosen for salvation, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through the Word and Spirit. In other words, God decreed to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of the Son, to glorify them.
God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of God’s glorious grace.

8-11. Classifications
12, 13. Assurance
14. How to teach the doctrine
15. Reprobation
16. Comfort for the sincere seeker
17. Salvation of infants
18. Concluding doxology

Second head (atonement)
Remonstrance: Christ died for every individual, obtaining reconciliation and forgiveness, but conditionally.

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all the elect, in order that God might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation.
It was also God’s will that Christ should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

Third and fourth heads (sin and calling)
.. all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin. Without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.

There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in all people after the fall, by virtue of which they retain some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrate a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behaviour. But this light of nature is far from enabling humans to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him—so far, in fact, that they do not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways they completely distort this light, whatever its precise character, and suppress it in unrighteousness. In doing so all people render themselves without excuse before God.

Fifth head (perseverance)
Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and Satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end. Etc.
Four reasons Baptists should bother with the Canons of Dort
The canons
1. Provide a clear exposition of the doctrines of grace which we are in danger of forgetting
2. Address the hyper-Calvinist issue, a perennial one in any recovery of the doctrines of grace
3. Are pastorally useful and avoid our being theologically arid and unfruitful
4. Form part of our Particualr Baptist theological adn confessional heritage

In conclusion he spoke of the importance of taking seriously our Reformed and Puritan heritage. This involves a careful and sustained study of the writings of this heritage and careful attempts to pass it on to the rising generation. This needs to be something we are all involved in. The heritage belongs as much to Baptists as to others. lets be committed to exploring it.

Carey Ministers Conference 2019 Day 1

Bob Letham
David Campbell
It is good to be at the Carey in Swanwick once again. Numbers seem to be good (about a hundred or so?) and as always there is a good spirit.
The meetings began yesterday with three sessions from three different men. I missed the first session with Jonathan Worsley from Kew on worship, which looked helpful. We then had a session on the Trinity (the first of three) with Dr Bob Letham. This one "From biblical foundations to orthodox doctrine". It was an excellent clear introduction on a topic that we need to keep coming back to. We recited the Nicene Creed together. 
The highlight of the day perhaps was David Campbell on the beauty of holiness who took us to the Lord Jesus Christ, the holy servant of God and made us long to be holy like him. It was an excellent session.
He noted how after the death of the saintly Robert Murray McCheyne, a letter addressed to him, which he had not shown to anyone, was found responding to the last sermon he preacched in Broughty Ferry, Dundee. The anonymous writer testified that McCheyne had been the means of leading him to Christ, and concluded, ‘It was nothing you said that made me wish to be a Christian; it was rather the beauty of holiness which I saw in your face!’” So challenging.

Lord's Day January 6 2019

No reports on midweek meeting or day off because of the holiday. I was at the Alfred Place prayer meeting on Tuesday the first. There was a prayer meeting here in Childs Hill but I was still in Wales. The first Lord's Day of the year began with communion. We were not a great number but we were joined by a friend from Germany and his new wife on honeymoon in London. I preached morning and evening on texts again - 1 Thessalonians 2:13 in the morning and 1 Timothy 4:1-3 in the evening. I think the morning sermon was better than the evening one, partly because the second text is more difficult but I probably could have spent more time on the second one.
We had a good number in the morning meeting, including some people we hope might stick with us, but we were quite few in the evening. Two children were there in the second service.
We got back to our church history series. The tenth century is a real low point but we enjoyed singing an anonymous hymn from that period. We had to jig things about a bit but in the form below you can sing it to Michael Baughen's "Lord of the years".

1 Father most holy, merciful and loving,
Jesus, Redeemer, ever to be praised,
life-giving Spirit, Comforter most gracious,
God everlasting, everlasting God.

2 Three in a wondrous Unity unbroken,
one perfect Godhead, love that never fails,
light of the angels, succour of the needy,
hope of all living, of all living hope.

3 All your creation it serves its Creator,
you every creature praises without end;
we too would sing you psalms of true devotion:
hear, we beseech you,; we beseech you, hear!

4 Lord God Almighty, unto you be glory,
One in Three Persons, high above all.
yours, as is meet, be honour, praise and blessing,
now and for ever, for ever and now.

We were all sorry to hear of the death of the wife of a North London pastor during the day. Only a few of us know the Franklins but our hearts went out to them.

Lord's Day December 30 2018

I haven't reported on the last Sunday of the year yet. I decided to take two great new year texts - Philippians 4:6, 7 and Hebrews 10:23-25. I preached better in the morning than the evening but there will always be a difference one way or the other. At least two families were away but we had lots of visitors - mostly the family of one of my deacons (four of the five kids with spouses and seven granchildren) plus my own son and his wife and our three grandsons. I did the candy cane talk using the candy canes of our tree at home (bit sticky). Good congregations morning and evening then. We sang four of the five new year hymns in the book. We didn't do well with the one (to Endrys night) so we abandoned it and used the Amazing Grace tune. Amazing Grace is a new year song, of course, so we should have just sang that.

Holiday Books 2018 2019

As usual, I was given a variety of good books over the holiday. I particularly enjoyed the Hirameki book from my youngest son and am looking forward to the drawing book from my oldest and his wife (they also bought the Jeremy Walker paperback). My father-in-law gave me the sixties picture books and my second son and his wife Histories of the unexpected. My wife bought the history mag and the others were in the secret Santa, except for the book on accents (from my third son and his wife) and the perpetual disappointments diary from kind members who are beginning to understand my melancholy approach to life.

No longer under copyright

The new year means that certain times under copyright in America, due to Sonny Bono's law affecting items from 1923 forward are now in the public domain. These include Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening previously featured on this blog in 2007. See here.

The Highwayman

The Highwayman


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Alfred Noyes

I was walking through the streets of Aber today when I spotted this plaque noting that Alfred Noyes lived here  1881-1898. He was a minor poet and writer and the author of The Highwayman, which I remember doing in Junior School. In 1995 it was voted 15th in a BBC poll for Britain's favourite poem.

1964 The Honeycombs - Have I the right?

Best little female drummer in the world! Amazing Kanade Sato age 11

10 Female drummers

1. Karen Carpenter
2. Caroline Corr
3. Cindy Blackman (Santana, etc)
4. Meg White (White Stripes)
5. Honey Lantree (Honeycombs)
6. Sandy West (The Runaways)
7. Gina Schock (The Go gos)
8. Debbi Peterson (Bangles)
9. Palmolive (The Slits)
10. Evelyn Glennie

(This list was prompted by the recent death of Honey Lantree)