Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of The King in His Beauty

The King in His Beauty: the Piety of Samuel Rutherford.  Ed. Matthew Vogan. 184pp. N.P. Pbk. ISBN 978-1-60178-125-3. 
This selection from Rutherford’s writings conveys to the believing reader a sweet savour of the loveliness of Christ. Whether counselling suffering saints or exposing this world’s vain glory, he always leads us to Christ as the only resting place for our souls. We could do far worse at the close of each day than read, meditate 
on, and pray over one of these extracts. One factual error needs a mention: the Westminster Assembly did
not meet in Westminster Abbey but in St. Margaret’s, next to it.                                  

SGU Magazine Peace & Truth 2011:4

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

blogs to add to your reader

A new blog Assert, Maintain, Defend gives Analysis and Comment from the Religion and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The title refers to the ordination vows of office bearers to assert, maintain and defend the doctrine, worship and government of the church. Here is an important public means of carrying that out faithfully.

Welcome back to the Virginian Hugenot - we've missed your posts.
Book lovers take a look here. If you're interested in apologetics go here.
Students of the puritans can keep up to date here.
Go for a presbyterian experiment here.

I haven't forgotten the old favourites...keep up the good work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Samuel Rutherford: an introduction to his theology

Samuel Rutherford was perhaps the most influential religious writer in post-Reformation Scotland. He is famous for his Letters but his theological writings have been strangely neglected. This diverse collection of essays examines the breadth of his theological contribution. Several extracts from his writings are also included.

A preview is available here where it can also be purchased.

Monday, June 11, 2012

spiritual jubilee

The Archbishop of Canterbury's recent sermon on the Jubilee thanksgiving was a rather depressing exercise in pulling down the spiritual in Scripture to the level of mere civic duty rather than using the occasion to speak of true spiritual values and realities especially the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

The Bible speaks of a year of jubilee every fifty years when debts were to be cancelled and those in bondage were to go free. No doubt if we had more of the spirit of this in our temporal affairs Britain would be a better and a fairer country. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the Jubilee as pointing forward to His own person, work and gospel (Isaiah 61 and Luke 4).

We could speculate what the Puritan Thomas Watson might have said if he had the opportunity afforded to the Archbishop. He refers in fact quite often to the jubilee.

He might have begun to consider the great kingship of the King of Kings and how he is able to proclaim a spiritual jubilee. He would first show the grievous bondage of sinfulness and misery that is ours due to sin and the Fall in four things. "1. Under the power of Satan. 2. Heirs of God’s wrath. 3. Subject to all the miseries of this life. 4. Exposed to hell and damnation"

"See here our misery by original sin; enslaved to Satan. Eph 2: 2. Satan is said to work effectually in the children of disobedience. What a sad plague is it for a sinner to be at the will of the devil!...If the devil bids a man lie or steal, he does not refuse; and, what is worse, he willingly obeys this tyrant. Other slaves are forced against their will: 'Israel sighed by reason of their bondage,' Exod 2: 23; but sinners are willing to be slaves, they will not take their freedom; they kiss their fetters.

Let us labour to get out of this deplorable condition into which sin has plunged us, and get from under the power of Satan. If any of your children were slaves, you would give great sums of money to purchase their freedom; and when your souls are enslaved, will ye not labour for their freedom? Improve the gospel. The gospel proclaims a jubilee to captives. Sin binds men, but the gospel looses them. Paul's preaching was 'to turn men from the power of Satan to God.' Acts 26: 18. The gospel star leads you to Christ; and if you get Christ, then you are made free, though not from the being of sin, yet from Satan's tyranny. 'If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed.' John 8: 36. You hope to be kings to reign in heaven, and will you let Satan reign in you now? Never think to be kings when you die, and slaves while you live. The crown of glory is for conquerors, not for captives. Oh get out of Satan's jurisdiction; get your fetters of sin filed off by repentance."

He might warn solemnly that "in hell, there is no year of release when the damned shall go free! (Mark 9:44). Have people lost their reason—as well as their conscience! They never think—what their sins will bring them to. Though now sin shows its beauteous colors—yet in the end it will bite like a serpent!"

Here in hell "sinners shall be upbraided by their own conscience. This is the worm that never dies, a self-accusing mind. Mark 9: 44. When sinners shall consider that they were in a fair way to the kingdom; that they had a possibility of salvation; that though the door of heaven was strait, yet it was open; that they had the means of grace; that the jubilee of the gospel was proclaimed in their ears; that God called but they refused; that Jesus Christ offered them a plaister of his own blood to heal them, but they trampled it under foot; that the Holy Spirit stood at the door of their heart, knocking and crying to them to receive Christ and heaven, but they repulsed the Spirit, and sent away this dove; and that now, through their own folly and wilfulness, they have lost the kingdom of heaven; a self- accusing conscience will be terrible, it will be like a venomous worm gnawing at the heart".

For the true believer, however, "the day of judgement will be a day of jubilee". More than this: "Death's coming is sooner than Christ's personal coming—and then begins the saint's blessed jubilee". Heaven is "an eternal jubilee; when you shall be freed not only from the power but from the presence of sin". "They shall weep no more, suffer no more. They shall be taken off the torturing wrack and laid in Christ’s bosom. The people of God shall not always be in the iron furnace; a year of Jubilee will come". "This is the great consolation', the Jubilee of the blessed which shall never expire."

"A pardoned soul needs not fear death. He may look on death with joy, who can look on forgiveness with faith. To a pardoned soul, death has lost his sting. Death, to a pardoned sinner, is like arresting a man after the debt is paid; it may arrest, but Christ will show the debt-book crossed in his blood. A pardoned soul may triumph over death, ‘O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?’ He who is pardoned need not fear death: it is not to him a destruction, but a deliverance; it is a day of jubilee or release; it releases him from all his sins. Death comes to a pardoned soul as the angel did to Peter, when he smote him, and beat off his chains, and carried him out of prison; it smites his body, and the chains of sin fall off.

Let us not be content however without the evidence and sense of pardon. He who is pardoned and knows it not, is like one who has an estate bequeathed to him, but knows it not. Our comfort consists in the knowledge of forgiveness. ‘Make me to hear joy.’ Psa 51: 8. There is a jubilee in the soul when we are able to read our pardon. To the witness of conscience God adds the witness of his Spirit; and in the mouth of these two witnesses our joy is confirmed. O labour for the evidence of forgiveness!"