Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One of Heaven's Jewels: Rev Archibald Cook #2

The second edition of this unique book has now been produced following the success of the first edition. The second edition is largely the same as the first with minor differences. This site posted a review of the first edition which does not need to be repeated. The second edition can be purchased here.

It is certainly worth drawing attention to Cook and his ministry afresh, however. The question was put to Archibald Cook on one occasion, ‘Which do you fear most, that which has gone past in your life, or that which is to come?’ He replied that it was what was past in his life. He was asked, ‘Why is that so?’ ‘Well, I mean this,’ he said, ‘if what took place in the past was right, I fear not what will come after.’

The preface to the book makes reference to one minister who reads a portion of Cook's sermons every day. The author also makes the following summary of Cook's influence. "Perhaps his major long-term legacy to Highland Christianity is that he reinforced the evangelical idea that people claiming to have been born again in Christian religious conversion should give up some parts of their previous life-style, including secular entertainments". In the following extract from a sermon, Cook speaks of coming up out of the wilderness of this world and away from its attractions.

The world is a wilderness literally, because it lost the beauty in which it was created. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake." God's curse wasted the original beauty of the earth. Again, the earth is a wilderness, because it is unable to satisfy the soul. The soul was created to be a dwelling place for God; and when God left the soul of man at the Fall nothing else could ever fill it. Because the Creator is robbed of the affection of the soul by the world, He is provoked to place a worm at the root of everything that is drawing the soul away from Himself. The Lord desires the soul's affection for Himself. When it is given to any creature and not to the Creator, He sees the extent to which He Himself is being despised in favour of that other object of affection. Even if it were to an angel that you would give your soul's affection you would thus be guilty of robbing God. When, for example, a man's worldly affairs prosper and take away his soul's affection from God, he is guilty of robbing God. Throughout eternity many will be cursing the day in which their worldly affairs began to prosper. You take care that the world does not draw your heart away from God.

...The world is a wilderness because it is under sentence of death. The day of judgement will usher in the end of the world. The sentence of death has been pronounced against it as a murderer. They are few in number whose souls are not being destroyed by the world. In the day that you come to a saving knowledge of God you will come to know that the world is a murderer, and in that day you will lose your love for it.

...In the day when the Lord comes into the soul, the world becomes an empty place it becomes a wilderness to that soul. Blessed is the man in whom this view of the world is maintained until the day of his death. In the day in which the Lord will come into your soul you will see no beauty in the creature but what is of God in it. This is what no hypocrite ever saw; but those who are the objects of God's love must see it, and do see it. Until they come to see this, any godliness they may have will be a half-grown godliness; and it is no wonder that they do not bear fruit. But when their eyes are opened they do not see any excellency in the world but what is of God in it. You who have not this view of the world, still have the world, and not God, as your portion.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

only a few days left...

...to download
The Next Story by Time Challies as an audio book for free. It is very insightful reading for anyone that uses a mobile phone, the internet and related technologies. He reveals the dangers of the digital revolution in terms of virtualism and how our engagement with this type of media is changing us. It has an engaging style especially in the use of various metaphors but has a crucial theological perspective upon its subject. The aim of the author is to provide the reader with a framework they can apply to any technology. Here is a sample to read.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

sin: the enemy of usefulness#2

Mortification prunes all the graces of God, and makes room for them in our hearts to grow. The life and vigour of our spiritual lives consists in the vigour and flourishing of the plants of grace in our hearts. Now, as you may see in a garden, let there be a precious herb planted, and let the ground be untilled, and weeds grow about it, perhaps it will live still, but be a poor, withering, unuseful thing. You must look and search for it, and sometimes can scarce find it; and when you do, you can scarce know it, whether it be the plant you look for or no; and suppose it be, you can make no use of it at all. When, let another of the same kind be set in the ground, naturally as barren and bad as the other, but let it be well weeded, and every thing that is noxious and hurtful removed from it, -- it flourishes and thrives; you may see it at first look into the garden, and have it for your use when you please. So it is with the graces of the Spirit that are planted in our hearts.

That is true; they are still, they abide in a heart where there is some neglect of mortification; but they are ready to die, Rev. 3:2, they are withering and decaying. The heart is like the sluggard's field, -- so overgrown with weeds that you can scarce see the good corn. Such a man may search for faith, love, and zeal, and scarce be able to find any; and if he do discover that these graces are there yet alive and sincere, yet they are so weak, so clogged with lusts, that they are of very little use; they remain, indeed, but are ready to die. But now let the heart be cleansed by mortification, the weeds of lust constantly and daily rooted up (as they spring daily, nature being their proper soil), let room be made for grace to thrive and flourish, -- how will every grace act its part, and be ready for every use and purpose!

John Owen - Chapter 4 Mortification of Sin

Thursday, May 05, 2011

sin: the enemy of usefulness

Sin "will take away a man’s usefulness in his generation. His works, his endeavours, his labours, seldom receive blessing from God. If he be a preacher, God commonly blows upon his ministry, that he shall labour in the fire, and not be honoured with any success or doing any work for God; and the like may be spoken of other conditions. The world is at this day full of poor withering professors. How few are there that walk in any beauty or glory! how barren, how useless are they, for the most part! Amongst the many reasons that may be assigned of this sad estate, it may justly be feared that this is none of the least effectual, — many men harbour spirit-devouring lusts in their bosoms, that lie as worms at the root of their obedience, and corrode and weaken it day by day. All graces, all the ways and means whereby any graces may be exercised and improved, are prejudiced by this means; and as to any success, God blasts such men’s undertakings...Keep alive upon thy heart these or the like considerations of its guilt, danger, and evil; be much in the meditation of these things; cause thy heart to dwell and abide upon them; engage thy thoughts into these considerations; let them not go off nor wander from them until they begin to have a powerful influence upon thy soul, — until they make it to tremble."
John Owen, Chapter 10, Mortification of Sin