On Corporate Worship

Reformed worship will emphasize and feature biblically based, hermeneutically sound expository preaching of the Holy Scripture, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, as interpreted by the Westminster Confession of Faith and the two Westminster Catechisms.

Reformed worship will also include contemplation of God’s holy law, in keeping with the law-gospel paradigm, in order to aid the worshiper in his understanding of his vileness before God (its second use) and to promote its use as a guide for Christian conduct (its third use).  Our carnal and antinomian age is in desperate need of a healthy dose of the law of God.  Evangelical Christians have become morally lazy, excuse-ridden, and relativistic.  It is the Reformed tradition, above all others, which has given prominence to reading and meditating on the law of God.  Regular contemplation of God’s holy law in worship would do much to cure this age of its rampant immorality and “carnal Christianity” and to restore true personal piety, parents’ and children’s responsibilities, and the Protestant work ethic in the world.

From: A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert L. Reymond (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), p. 874.

Robert L. Reymond (1932-2013) was Professor of Systematic Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1968 to 1990.

On Psalm 119

I have been all the longer over this portion of my task because I have been bewildered in the expanse of the One Hundred and Nineteenth Psalm, which makes up the bulk of this volume.  Its dimensions and its depths alike overcame me.  It spread itself out before me like a vast, rolling prairie, to which I could see no bound, and this alone created a feeling of dismay.  Its expanse was unbroken by a bluff or headland and, hence, it threatened [to be] a monotonous task, although the fear has not been realized.

This marvelous poem seemed, to me, a great sea of holy teaching, moving, in its many verses, wave upon wave, altogether without an island of special and remarkable statement to break it up.  I confess I hesitated to launch upon it.  Other psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean.  It is a continent of sacred thought, every inch of which is fertile, as the garden of the Lord.  It is an amazing level of abundance, a mighty stretch of harvest fields.  I have now crossed the great plain for myself, but not without persevering and, I will add, pleasurable toil.

Several great authors have traversed this region and left their tracks behind them and, so far, the journey has been all the easier for me.  But yet, to me and to my helpers, it has been no mean feat of patient authorship and research.  This great Psalm is a book in itself.  Instead of being one among many psalms, it is worthy to be set forth by itself as a poem of surpassing excellence.  Those who have never studied it may pronounce it [to be] commonplace and complain of its repetitions.  But, to the thoughtful student, it is like the great deep: full, so as never to be measured, and varied, so as never to weary the eye.  Its depth is as great as its length.  It is mystery, not set forth as mystery, but concealed beneath the simplest statements.  May I say that it is experience allowed to prattle, to preach, to praise, and to pray like a child-prophet in his own Father’s house? – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), from the preface to Volume 6 of The Treasury of David (1882)

 

 

God’s People Love Him Because He is True in His Judgments

Even the severities of the Lord excite the love of His people.  If He allowed men to sin with impunity, He would not be so fully the object of our loving admiration.  He is glorious in holiness because He thus rids His kingdom of rebels and His temple of those who defile it.  In these evil days, when God’s punishment of sinners has become the butt of proud skeptical contentions, we may regard, as a mark of the true man of God, that he loves the Lord none the less but a great deal more because of His condign judgment of the ungodly. – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), commenting on Psalm 119.119.

From the Prime Minister to the Preacher

10 Downing Street

June 18, 1884

My Dear Sir,

I cannot avoid writing a line to offer you my hearty congratulations upon the approach of a day full of interest to many who stand beyond the circle, wide as it is, of your immediate hearers, followers, and denominational brethren.

I believe that both you and I belong to the number of those who think that all convictions, once formed, ought to be stoutly maintained, and who would, therefore, be called strong denominationalists.

But, without prejudice to this persuasion and outside the points by which our positions are marked off, there happily abides a vast inheritance of truth which we enjoy in common and which, in its central essence, forms, as I rejoice to think, the basis of the faith of Christendom.  I, therefore, ask to unite my voice with the voices of thousands in acknowledging the singular power with which you have so long testified before the world “of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment,” and the splendid uprightness of public character and conduct, which have, I believe, contributed, perhaps equally with your eloquence and mental gifts, to win for you so wide an admiration.

[Very Sincerely Yours,]

William Gladstone

From: Correspondence on Church and Religion of William Ewart Gladstone, selected and arranged by D. C. Lathbury; 2 volumes (London: John Murray, 1910), 2:324.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the recipient of this letter, was the most famous preacher in England.  The letter was written to mark the occasion of Spurgeon’s 50th birthday (the next day).

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), politician and statesman, was four times Prime Minister of Great Britain (1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, and 1892-1894).

Matthew Henry (10)

. . .heaven. . .a state of blessedness which even the Old Testament saints had some expectation of.  Godly parents have great reason to hope concerning their children who die in infancy, that it is well with their souls in the other world, for the promise is to us and to our seed, which shall be performed to those who do not put a bar in their own door, as infants do not.  Favors received should produce the hope of more.  God calls those His children who are born to Him and, if they be His, He will save them.  This may comfort us when our children are removed from us by death.  They are better provided for, both in work and wealth, than they could have been in this world.  We shall be with them shortly, to part no more. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on 2 Samuel 12.15-25.

God is Our Shield

There will be times when troubles come from every side.  But God proves to be our shield, very strong, always ready at hand, and surrounding us in His protecting love.  We must never sink into despair.  Prayer is absolutely vital.  In His sovereignty, God is prepared to respond to prayer and work on our behalf.  Committing everything into God’s hands, we may rest, assured that He will grant both help and peace.  Remembering former deliverances, we will find courage to face the unknown future.  He is the same as ever He was.  We go forward, feeling there is much we do not know.  But, one thing is sure: “Your blessing is upon Your people” (verse 8).

How has God proven to be your help and peace?

From: Family Worship Bible Guide, Joel R. Beeke, general editor (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Press, 2016), p. 349 (first of two comments on Psalm 3).

Rome and the Spread of Christianity

Nor is western civilization conceivable without the existence of the Roman church.  From the very beginning of Christianity, the Roman empire made physically possible the rapid propagation of the Christian message.  This was realized and admitted by some early Christians, who themselves saw, in the peace and the security of the Empire, an act of divine providence.  The empire provided the incentive and the opportunity for them to organize and centralize the new faith.

As early as the second century AD, the bishops of Rome were being recognized as the successors to Saint Peter and [as] the heirs of his apostolic primacy.  But, in addition to this, the very fact that the Roman church was situated in the capital of the empire gave it a universal character and an authority which the other great Christian communities could not hope to attain.  The road was opened which, eventually, led to the papacy.

From: Rome in the Augustan Age by Henry Thompson Rowell; The Centers of Civilization Series, Volume 5 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962), pp. 230-231.