The Happy Man

By Lachlan Macenzie

 

The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto life.  He was educated at the school of Obedience.  He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment, and many times does jobs of Self-denial, wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ’s righteousness.  He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.  He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and sups every evening on the same.  He has meat to eat that the world knows not of, and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.  Thus happy he lives, and happy he dies.  Happy is he who has Gospel submission in his will, due order in his affections, sound peace in his conscience, real Divinity in his breast, the Redeemer’s yoke on his neck, a vain world under his feet, and a crown of glory over his head.  Happy is the life of that man who believes firmly, prays fervently, walks patiently, works abundantly, lives holy, dies daily, watches his heart, guides his senses, redeems his time, loves Christ, and longs for glory.  He is necessitated to take the world on his way to heaven, but he walks through it as fast as he can, and all his business by the way is to make himself and others happy.  Take him all in all, in two words, he is a Man and a Christian.

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What the Reformation Really Means by William Wileman

WHAT the Reformation really means is simply Re-formation: that is, the decay and removal of a previous system of unreal and false religion to make room for that which is real and true.  The word itself is used once in Scripture (Hebrews ix. 10), where it is stated that the rites and ceremonies of the old covenant were “imposed on them until the time of re-formation.”  The new covenant, therefore, has superseded the old.  All believers are priests unto God, and are privileged to draw near in full assurance of faith, without the interposition of any human “priest” or mediator.

In order to make this very clear and plain, I am going to make a quotation from an authoritative Roman Catholic source. There is now being published a [Roman] “Catholic Encyclopaedia,” to be completed in fifteen volumes.  The third volume bears date 1908.  Each article in this work has the signature of some writer of eminence in the Roman Church.  The three volumes thus far issued bear the imprimatur of Archbishop JOHN M. FINLAY, of New York.  The three quotations I shall make are taken from two articles, on Calvin and on Calvinism, each signed by Canon “William Barry,” of Leamington.  Writing first on John Calvin, Canon Barry says (page 195): “This man, undoubtedly the greatest of Protestant divines, and perhaps, after St. Augustine, the most perseveringly followed by his disciples of any Western writer on theology, was born at Noyon.  . . . Luther’s eloquence made him popular by its force, humour, rudeness, and vulgar style.  Calvin spoke to the learned at all times, even when preaching before multitudes.  His manner is classical; he reasons on system ; he  has little humour; instead of striking with a cudgel he uses the weapons of a deadly logic and persuades by a teacher’s authority, not by a demagogue’s calling of names.  He gives articulate expression to the principles which Luther had stormily thrown out upon the world in his vehement pamphleteering; and the Institutes, as they were left by their author, have remained ever since the standard of orthodox Protestant belief in all the churches known as Reformed.”

I now quote from the same writer on Calvinism (page 198): “To the modern world, however, Calvin stands peculiarly for the Reformation ; his doctrine is supposed to contain the essence of the gospel; and multitudes who reject Christianity mean merely the creed of Geneva.

“Why does this happen?  Because, we answer, Calvin gave himself out as following closely in the steps of St. Paul and St. Augustine.  The Catholic teaching at Trent he judged to be semi-Pelagian, a stigma which his disciples fix especially on Jesuit schools, above all, on Molina.  Hence the curious situation arises, that, while the Catholic consent of the East and West finds little or no acknowledgment as an historical fact among assailants of religion, the views which a single Reformer enunciated are taken as though representing the New Testament.  In other words, a highly refined individual system, not traceable as a whole to any previous age, supplants the public teaching of centuries.  Calvin, who hated scholasticism, comes before us, as Luther had already done, in the shape of a scholastic.  His ‘pure doctrine’ is gained by appealing, not to tradition, the ‘deposit’ of faith, but to argument in abstract terms exercised upon Scripture.  He is neither a critic nor a historian.  He takes the Bible as something given; and he manipulates the Apostles’ Creed in accordance with his own ideas.  The Institutes are not a history of dogma, but a treatise, only not to be called an essay because of its peremptory tone.

“Calvin annihilates the entire space, with all its developments, which lies between the death of St. John and the sixteenth century. He does indeed quote St. Augustine, but he leaves out all that Catholic foundation on which the Doctor of Grace built.

“One sweeping consequence of the Reformation is yet to be noticed. As it denied the merit of good works even in the regenerate, all those Catholic beliefs and ordinances which implied a Communion of Saints actively helping each other by prayer and self-sacrifice were flung aside.  Thus Purgatory, Masses for the dead, invocation of the blessed in heaven, and their intercession for us, are scouted by Calvin as ‘Satan’s devices.’  A single argument gets rid of them all: do they not make void the Cross of Christ our only Redeemer?”

We have here, from a Roman Catholic pen, a very plain and lucid view of the vital difference between the two religions, – man’s and God’s.

“He takes the Bible as something given.” Blessed be its heavenly Author and Explainer, we do take the infallible Word as given by God to every humble learner.  And we say of all teaching that is not consonant with its pages of light and grace, let it be “swept away,” let it be “flung aside,” let it be “scouted” as unworthy of our regard.

As to the “merit of good works, even in the regenerate,” those who really are regenerate are the most able to form an opinion. Taught by the Spirit who inspired the Word, we say of our best works, and of our worst works, let them be “swept away,” let them be “flung aside,” let them be “scouted” altogether.  The only merits we desire to know are those of our Redeemer, the Friend of sinners.

With regard to purgatory, we do indeed bridge over the entire interval between the death of John and the twentieth century, and we go back to the Word of God. In that Book we seek in vain for the remotest semblance of anything like the purgatory taught by the Church of Rome.  We therefore consider the error worthy to be “swept away,” to be “flung aside,” and to be ”scouted,” with heart, and soul, and strength.  Jesus has “by Himself purged our sins” (Hebrews i. 3) by washing us “in His own blood” (Revelation i. 4), “having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews ix. 12).  This is a sweet purgatory to a sinner taught of God: he needs and knows no other.

Masses for the dead; invocation of so-called saints; and their intercession for sinners on earth: what are these but denials of the finished work of Jesus? We can but pity the poor deluded and mistaken souls that hide under these “refuges of lies,” and build upon such fatal quicksands.

We heartily and earnestly invite such to read the Word for themselves, in the hope that, taught by the Spirit of God, they also will be enabled to “sweep away,” to “fling aside,” and to “scout” these delusions.

A single argument gets rid of them all: do they not make void the Cross of Christ, our only Redeemer?”  I cannot but marvel that a Roman Catholic pen should write a sentence so eminently Scriptural.  Indeed a single argument is all that is needed: the Cross of Christ.  There, and in His empty tomb, is the death of all human merit, all condemnation, all curse; the payment of all penalty; the justification of the ungodly; the pardon of the vilest sinner who by a Divinely-wrought faith believes in Jesus. And this is what is meant by the Reformation. Taught by Luther, by Calvin, by Wycliffe, by Zwingle, by Knox, by Farel; by our Reformers and martyrs; and by an army of God-anointed teachers “from the death of John to this twentieth century,” – this is the grand single argument that “sweeps away ” all that makes void the Word of God.  And if “a single argument gets rid of them all,” then let us acknowledge that we need no other.  Let us take our stand with – not merely John Calvin, nor merely Augustine, but with one who bore in his body the “branding-marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians vi. 14-17), and say with him: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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William Romaine’s Experience

God’s dealings with me have been wonderful, not only for the royal sovereignty of His richest grace, but also for the manner of His teaching, on which I cannot look back without adoring my meek and lowly Prophet.  He would have all the honour (and He well deserves it) of working out and also of applying His glorious salvation.  When I was in trouble and soul-concern He would not let me learn of man (many years ago I chose my motto, ‘Cease ye from man‘).  I went everywhere to hear, but no one was suffered to speak to my case.  The reason of this I could not tell then, but I know it now.  The Arminian Methodists flocked about me and courted my acquaintance, which became a great snare unto me.  By their means I was brought into a difficulty which distressed me several years.  I was made to believe that part of my title to salvation was to be inherent – something called holiness in myself, which the grace of God was to help me to.  And I was to get it by watchfulness, prayer, fasting, hearing, reading, sacraments, &c., so that after much and long attendance on those means, I might be able to look inward, and be pleased with my own improvement, finding I was grown in grace, a great deal holier and more deserving of heaven now than I had been.  I do not wonder now that I received this doctrine.  It was sweet food to a proud heart.  I feasted on it, and to work I went.  It was hard labour and sad bondage, but the hopes of having something to glory in of my own kept up my spirits.  I went on day after day, striving, agonizing (as they called it), but still found myself not a bit better.  I thought this was the fault, or that, which being amended, I should certainly succeed; and therefore set out afresh, but still came to the same place.  No galley-slave worked harder, or to less purpose.  Sometimes I was quite discouraged, and ready to give all up; but the discovery of some supposed hindrance set me to work again.  Then I would redouble my diligence, and exert all my strength.  Still I got no ground.  This made me often wonder, and still more when I found out at last that I was going backward.  Methought I grew worse.  I saw more sin in myself instead of more holiness, which made my bondage very hard, and my heart very heavy.  The thing I wanted, the more I pursued it, flew farther and farther from me.  I had no notion that this was divine teaching, and that God was delivering me from my mistake in this way, so that the discoveries of my growing worse were dreadful arguments against myself; and now and then a little light would break in and show me something of the glory of Jesus; but it was a glimpse only, gone in a moment.  As I saw more of my heart, and began to feel more of my corrupt nature, I got clearer views of Gospel grace; and, in proportion as I came to know myself, I advanced to the knowledge of Christ Jesus.  But this was very slow work; the old leaven of self-righteousness, christened holiness, stuck close to me still, and made me a very dull scholar in the school of Christ.  But I kept on making a little progress, and, as I was forced to give up one thing and another on which I had some dependence, I was at last stripped of all, and neither had, nor could see, where I could have aught to rest my hopes that I could call my own.  This made way for blessed views of Jesus.  Being now led to very deep discoveries of my own legal heart, of the dishonour I had put upon the Saviour, of the despite I had done to the Spirit of grace by resisting and perverting the workings of His love: these things humbled me; I became very vile in mine own eyes; I gave over striving; the pride of free-will, the boast of mine own words, were laid low.  And, as self was debased, the Scriptures became an open book, and every page presented the Saviour to new glory.  Then were explained to me those truths which are now the joy and very life of my soul.

[Reproduced from an article appearing in the August 1868 edition of The Gospel Magazine.]

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From The Author’s Experience by Joseph Hart

. . . I would observe, that it is “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God which sheweth mercy.”  That none can make a Christian but He that made the world.  That it is the glory of God to bring good out of evil.  That whom He loveth, He loveth unto the end.  That though all men seek, more or less, to recommend themselves to God’s favour by their works, yet “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”  That the blood of the Redeemer, applied to the soul by His Spirit, is the one thing needful.  That prayer is the task and labour of a Pharisee, but the privilege and delight of a Christian.  That God grants not the requests of His people because they pray; but they pray because He designs to answer their petitions.  That self-righteousness and legal holiness rather keep the soul from, than draw it to, Christ.  That they who seek salvation by them, pursue shadows, mistake the great end of the law, and err from the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  That God’s design is to glorify His Son alone, and to debase the excellency of every creature.  That no righteousness besides the righteousness of Jesus (that is, the righteousness of God) is of any avail towards acceptance.  That to be a moral man, a zealous man, a devout man, is very short of being a Christian.  That the eye of faith looks more to the blood of Jesus than to the soul’s victory over corruptions.  That the dealings of God with His people, though similar in the general, are nevertheless so various, that there is no chalking out the paths of one child of God to those of another; no laying down regular plans of Christian conversion, Christian experience, Christian usefulness, or Christian conversation.  That the will of God is the only standard of right and good.  That the sprinkling of the blood of a crucified Saviour on the conscience by the Holy Ghost, sanctifies a man, without which, the most abstemious life and rigorous discipline is unholy.  Lastly, that faith and holiness, with every other blessing, are the purchase of the Redeemer’s blood, and that He has a right to bestow them on whom He will, in such a manner and in such a measure as He thinks best; though the spirit in all men lusteth to envy.

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A Letter from Geoffrey Williams to Erroll Hulse

23 April 1970

My dear Erroll

I have heard from Pastor Pibworth and Mr Hogwood asks for my commendation of “Reformation Today”.

I am placed in a real dilemma.  Reaction coming from friends and supporters of the Library – people of standing in Reformed circles – shows that they are far from convinced that your paper (judging from the issue to hand) is calculated to lead to peace amongst those how love the Lord.  One tendency deplored is the “blowing up” of certain great men of God accompanied by a “playing down” of other God-honoured men of God equally great and worthy in their own way and sphere.  At times criticism seems ill-judged, unfair and in one respect untrue.  Nor is it felt helpful to place in “segregation-slots” some men used of God labelled by inference “Good” and others also greatly used of God labelled “Bad”.

My dilemma is the greater because of my close friendship with and indeed affection for yourself and the conviction that your opinions are sincere even if (in the case under consideration) the result of immature knowledge of the facts and perhaps impetuous action.

I may perhaps be permitted one or two thoughts born of long experience.  I am old enough to remember Mr J K Popham, under whose ministry I was instrumentally brought from darkness to light.1  To me your chart is confusing in spite of its attempt at precision but it would appear that Mr Popham is classified (included with other good men) as hyper-Calvinist and by inference one respecting whom the ground on which he stood was favourable to gross antinomianism and evil doing.2  Here is a matter of which I can speak from experience.  I am a personal witness of the holy life of this great saint and of the good witness and uprightness of the congregation.  During the years I was there no scandal sullied the deeply spiritual fellowship enjoyed, the church was packed, one after the other were brought to the Lord and in that and the churches throughout the neighbourhood “Zion” prospered.  Would to God such a prosperity were evident today whether in your  “mainstream” or any stream!  Could one possibly deduce these facts from a reading of your paper or chart?  There may have been “black sheep” or even a deceiver, as amongst our Lord’s disciples, but as a body they were an example to the profession of Christianity.

Again, if the evil “soil of hyper-Calvinism leading to gross antinomianism” refers to that on which William Gadsby, Warburton and Kershaw stood, the aspersion needs no greater refutation than the historic fact that these men were acknowledged by both friends and foes to be of the most exemplary and upright character, and their congregations gave a witness which compares well with those of any other churches, including the congregation of Spurgeon’s Tabernacle of whom I had personal knowledge as a youth.  I lived with a number to their dying hours, members of both Spurgeon’s Tabernacle3 and of Strict Baptist churches, seeing some of the latter end their days as did John Warburton, when with his latest breath he cried triumphantly, “Hallelujah”!  (“With them numbered may I be, now and to eternity”)

I have agreed to continue to support your paper as far as possible in the hope that wiser steps will help to the healing of breaches rather than the widening of them, and I pray better counsels will prevail thus enabling me to commend your efforts with a clear conscience, a procedure which I cannot but believe will make those identified with your paper feel happier and certainly those Reformed ministers and laymen who express anxiety about the statements and reflections appearing in the first issue.

I trust and believe that you will receive my letter in the spirit of love and in which it is sent.

Yours with Christian greetings.

Signed: Geoffrey Williams

1Fresh trophies of Grace were added constantly.  Soon after the turn of the C.19 I was privileged to hear not only Mr J K Popham but his brother Henry, John Booth, Frederick Kirby, the first President of the Library – all men mighty in preaching the Gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ who adorned their profession.

2P.14, line 16 “soil of hyper-Calvinism”

3These Spurgeonites were brought to live with us when in sickness and died while with us.  At this time the Metropolitan Tabernacle was in decline.

P.S.  There is of course a hyper-Calvinism which does no credit to the great Reformer and there are Strict Baptists who do no credit to men like Gadsby and Kershaw, but of the successors of the great Spurgeon the same thing must be said (I refer to the Tabernacle and its College).

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“Arise, ye dead,” Arminius cries

“Arise, ye dead,” Arminius cries;

“Arise, ye dead in sin!

Unstop your ears, unseal your eyes,

And a new life begin.

Why will ye die, ye wretched souls?

Ye dead, why will ye die?

Quicken and make your spirits whole;

To life eternal fly.”

As Baal’s worshippers of old

Begg’d, pray’d, and cried aloud;

Cutting their bodies, as we’re told,

To move a fancied god;

So on the idol man he’ll call,

And pompously declare,

Though slightly damaged by the Fall,

How great his powers are.

“Rise noble creature! man, arise!

And make yourselves alive!

Prepare yourselves to mount the skies;

For endless glory strive.”

Deluded seer!  But man will lie

Still as senseless as a stone;

And you yourselves stand fooling by,

‘Till both are quite undone;

Unless Almighty power be moved

By God’s free will, not thine,

To quicken both, and make his love

On both your hearts to shine.

-♦-

From Serious Essays on the Truths of the Glorious Gospel, etc. in Verse

by John Ryland, Junior

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Such a Nation as This

Such a Nation as This: The Fast and Thanksgiving Sermons of John Newton [Edited by J E North] (Preface by Dr John Baigent; Foreword by Dr David N Samuel)

J North/Lulu 2014, paperback, 113 pages £7.95

These Sermons by John Newton here reprinted were preached at the Parish Church of St Mary Woolnoth in London on various occasions of National importance. Newton brings lessons from the Bible that are equally valid for today’s Christians and not only Christians, but also for the nations of the world, for, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12)

Available from The Parsons Pages bookshop.

Such a Nation as This

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