Matthew Henry (5)

Here is the repetition of the Ten Commandments, in which observe (1) though they had been spoken before, and written, yet they are, again, rehearsed, for precept must be upon precept, and line upon line, and all little enough to keep the Word of God in our minds and to preserve and renew the impressions of it.  We have need to have the same things often inculcated upon us (see Philippians 3.1).  (2) There is some variation here from that record (Exodus 20) as there is between the Lord’s Prayer as it is in Matthew 6 and as it is in Luke 11.  In both, it is more necessary that we tie ourselves to the things than to the words unalterably.  (3) The most considerable variation is in the Fourth Commandment.  In Exodus 20, the reason annexed is taken from the creation of the world.  Here, it is taken from their deliverance out of Egypt because that was typical of our redemption by Jesus Christ, in remembrance of which the Christian Sabbath was to be observed: Remember that thou wast a servant, and God brought thee out (verse 15). – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Deuteronomy 5.6-22.

Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem

At the end of his third mission, Paul gathered a collection for the Jerusalem Christians from the Gentile churches which he had established in Asia and in Greece.  He dealt with the collection in each of the letters that he wrote during this period of his ministry, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans.  In the Roman epistle, Paul explained that he was delaying his trip to Rome and his mission to Spain in order first to deliver the collection to Jerusalem (15.25-29).  The Book of Acts is strangely silent about Paul’s collection.  It deals, at length, with the journey to Jerusalem at the end of his third mission.  Paul’s own letters reveal that this journey was undertaken to deliver the collection.  Acts shows how the journey was marked by warnings from Christians and Paul’s own forebodings that danger awaited him in Jerusalem.

In Romans 15.30-32, Paul spoke of his fear of what might happen to him in Jerusalem and asked for the Roman Christians to pray on his behalf.  He made two specific prayer requests: (1) that he would be delivered from the non-Christan Jews of Jerusalem and (2) that his collection would be acceptable to the Christian community of the city.  Because of the silence of Acts about Paul’s collection, we cannot be sure how well it was received.  The Acts account, however, confirms that Paul’s forebodings were well-founded about the unbelieving Jews of Jerusalem.  Paul did fall into their hands and escaped with his life only through the timely intervention of the Roman troops.  Paul’s desire to visit Rome was fulfilled, though not as he originally intended.  He eventually went to Rome – not as a free missionary, but as a prisoner.

From: Paul and His Letters by John B. Polhill (Nashville: B&H Academic, 1999), p. 306.

Some Experiences

Between my leaving the grammar-school, and my entering to the college, two years intervened.  And here began more remarkably my bearing of the yoke of trial and affliction, the which laid on in my youth, has, in the wise disposal of holy Providence, been from that time unto this day continued, as my ordinary lot; one scene of trial opening after another.

Prelacy being abolished by act of parliament, July 22, 1689, and the Presbyterian government settled, June 7, 1690, and the curate of Dunse having died about that time, the Presbyterians took possession of the kirk, by that worthy Mr. Henry Erskine’s preaching in it on a Wednesday, being the weekly market-day; the soldiers being active in carrying on the project, and protecting against the Jacobite party.  The purity of the gospel being new to many, it had much success in these days, comparatively speaking; and in the harvest of that year, my mother fell under exercise about her soul’s care, and much lamented her mis-spent time; and there was a remarkable change then made upon her.

From: Memoirs of the Life, Time, and Writings of the Reverend and Learned Thomas Boston, A. M., Sometime Minister of Simprin, Afterwards at Ettrick, Divided into Twelve Periods.  Written by Himself, and Addressed to his Children.  Now First Published from His Own Manuscripts, to Which are Added, Some Original Papers, and Letters to and From the Author. (Edinburgh: W. Anderson, Bookseller, 1776), p. 12.

Rejoicing in God’s Word

O blessed faith!  He is no mean believer who rejoices in the law even when its broken precepts cause him to suffer.  To delight in the Word when it rebukes us is proof that we are profiting under it.  Surely, this is a plea which will prevail with God, however bitter our griefs may be.  If we still delight in the law of the Lord, He cannot let us die.  He must, and will, cast a tender look upon us and comfort our hearts. – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), commenting on Psalm 119.77.

No Fear of Death

You have nothing to fear from death, for Jesus, by dying, has disarmed it of its stings, has perfumed the grave, and opened the gates of glory for His believing people.  Satan, so far as he is permitted, will assault our peace, but he is a vanquished enemy.  Our Lord holds him on a chain and sets him bounds beyond which he cannot pass. – John Newton (1725-1807), excerpt from a letter to Mrs. Sara Talbot.

From: Jewels from John Newton: Daily Readings from the Works of John Newton, edited by Miller Ferrie (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016).  Entry for April 9.

For the Lord’s Day (480)

Now, the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.  And, with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each, as any had need.  Thus, Joseph, who was also called, by the apostles, Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  (Acts 4.32-37)

Matthew Henry (4)

We have, here, the sum total at the foot of the account.  They were, in all, 600,000 fighting men, and 3,550 over.  Some think that, when this was their number some months before (Exodus 38.26), the Levites were reckoned with them but, now that tribe was separated for the service of God, yet so many more had, by this time, attained to the age of twenty years, as that, still, they were the same number, to show that, whatever we part with for the honor and service of God, it shall certainly be made up to us, one way or another.

Now, we see what a vast body of men they were.  Let us consider (1) how much went to maintain all these (besides twice as many more, no question, of women and children, sick and aged, and the mixed multitude) for forty years together in the wilderness.  And they were all at God’s finding every day, having their food from the dew of heaven and not from the fatness of the earth.  O, what a great and good housekeeper is our God, who has such numbers depending on Him and receiving from Him every day!

(2) What work sin makes with a people.  Within forty years, most of them would indeed have died, of course, for the common sin of mankind for, when sin entered the world, death came with it, and how great are the desolations which it makes in the earth!  But, for the particular sin of unbelief and murmuring, all those who were now numbered, except two, laid their bones under their iniquity and perished in the wilderness.

(3) What a great multitude God’s spiritual Israel will amount to at last, though, at one time and in one place, they seem to be but a little flock.  Yet, when they come all together, they shall be a great multitude, innumerable (Revelation 7.9).  And, though the church’s beginning be small, its latter end shall greatly increase.  A little one shall become a thousand. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714).  Comment at Numbers 1.44-46.

On Book Two of the Book of Psalms

Book Two underscores the importance of the king and the kingdom of God’s people.  Every psalm in this book [Psalms 42-72] except one mentions the king and either Jerusalem or the temple.  While the king is central in Book One [Psalms 1-41], especially in his personal struggles of faith, he is central in Book Two in relation to the kingdom of God.  This Book seems to have a greater concentration on the corporate dimensions of the life of the people of God than Book One.  The opening psalm, to be sure, continues the very personal expression of spiritual concern in very eloquent terms: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42.1-2).  Yet, that personal concern is immediately linked to the temple in the national capital: “When shall I come and appear before God?” (verse 2).  The psalmist’s longing for God is a longing for the temple and its worship: “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival” (verse 4).

From: Learning to Love the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2017), p. 87.

On TULIP

. . .As far as we know, both the acrostic and the associated usage of “five points of Calvinism” are of Anglo-American origin and do not date back before the nineteenth century. . .In fact, it is quite remarkable how little the acrostic has to do with Calvin or Calvinism, as is most evident in the cases of the “T” and the “L.”  Calvin’s references to the utter deformity or depravity of the human will and human abilities were directed against forms of synergism or Semi-Pelagianism and refer to the pervasiveness of sin – reducing this language to the slogan “total depravity” endangers the argument.  Calvin certainly never spoke of “limited atonement.”  Neither of these terms appears in the Canons of Dort nor is either one of these terms characteristic of the language of Reformed or Calvinistic orthodoxy in the seventeenth century.  Like TULIP itself, the terms are Anglo-American creations of fairly recent vintage.

From: Calvin and the Reformed Tradition: On the Work of Christ and the Order of Salvation by Richard A. Muller (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), pp. 58, 59.