Friday, November 30, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 5)

A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy

The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee.  Psalm 102:28

Use 1. I might apply this to parents by way of advice and consolation.

1. Be godly yourselves. Carnal parents obstruct and stop up the course of mercy from descending upon their children as much as in them lieth; especially in giving up themselves to carnal practices and evil compliances for their children's sake. Haereditates transuent cum onere. Whatever hands they pass through, the burden continueth. Nay, further, this is not the best way to provide for your children, to drudge and toil like horses, and neglect heaven and happiness, to make them great, or to break God's laws to salve their interest. Besides the mischief you do yourselves, you do not profit them a whit. Fear God, be upright and charitable, careful of God's institutions, and then leave your children with God, and see if he will not provide for them. It argueth a great deal of infidelity when you think you cannot leave them well unless you leave them great. You renounce God, and set up a wedge of gold, if you think that will do them more good than the covenant and the promises of God.

2. Educate your children in God's fear. This will be the means to continue and increase the blessing. Look, as there is a double curse where the father is carnal and the son carnal, so there is a double blessing where the father is godly and the son godly; the blessing is still increased. Abraham laid the foundation, Isaac made an addition, Jacob increased it a little further; Joseph, who was the most eminent of all the patriarchs, he still carried on the blessing; therefore it is said, Gen. 49:26, 'The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of thy progenitors.' You may have great hopes when you see children taking kindly to religion, and zealous for their father's God. So in that passage, Gen. 18:19, 'I know that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.'

3. When you die, leave a charge with them: 1 Kings 2:2, 'Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself,' etc.; and 1 Chron. 28:9, ' And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind,' etc. It is the last time that you can do anything for God. Speeches of dying men have great weight in them, and are entertained with much reverence. Jacob's sons used that as their best plea: Gen. 50:16, 'Thy father did command before he died, saying,' etc. So the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab: Jer. 35:3, 'We will drink no wine, for our father commanded us, saying,' etc. There is most esteem had to a father's dying charge; it will stick by them far more than pressing discourses at another time. As Mr. Bolton charged his children, See that none of you meet in an unregenerate condition at the day of judgment.

Use 2. Is comfort to poor dying saints, when they leave a great charge behind them though you leave them no great matter, it is a good portion to lay up some prayers for them, to leave them a God in covenant with them. God doth strangely provide for the children of his people; a little holdeth out, like the widow's oil and meal. As to visible means, a man cannot tell how they live, yet live they do, and flourish, and by unexpected providences thrive into a great increase. Therefore moderate your fears and cares; God will provide. I look upon this meeting with joy of heart, as being in a great measure the fruit of the promise, and I hope you will go away refreshed with the sight of it, and increased in confidence, saying, 'Lord, the children of thy servant shall continue, they shall be established.'

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 4)

A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy

The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee.  Psalm 102:28

 Secondly, The reasons.

1. That he may show the riches of his grace, which reacheth not only to the persons, but to the families of those that love him and serve him. God is resolved to act in the covenant according to the highest laws of friendship; as David: 2 Sam. 9:1, 'Is there yet any left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?' So will God be a friend to us and our children after us. Yea, this love runneth down to thousands of generations, Rom. 11:28. They are beloved for their father's sake. For so many years to love their seed, this is a friendship not to be paralleled, 2 Sam. 1:19. It is mercy that our persons, that the fruit of our souls should be accepted, spotted and speckled as it is; that the evil should not outweigh the little goodness that is in them; but the fruit of our bodies is much more, especially if you consider the natural leprosy and filthiness that is in them. But grace, like a mighty river, will be pent within no banks, but overfloweth all that a man hath, all his relations.

2. Out of an indulgence to natural affection. God hath a son of his own, and he knoweth how he loveth him, and is acquainted with the heart of a father, and he hath planted an affection in parents to their children. Love, like a river, is descensive. Many are more sensible of a misery and curse in their seed than in themselves. Surely next to our eternal happiness their welfare is the most welcome blessing which we can receive; therefore, in an indulgence to good parents, God will bless them in their children. The charter runneth for them and their seed. Children are a part of them, the parent continued, as before, Psa. 37:24. We abide and live in them when we are dead and gone.

Thirdly, How can we reconcile the promise with experience, since the children of the servants of the Lord are reduced to great extremities, and are as naught and bad as others?

I answer, The blessing is invisible for a great measure, and we want faith to interpret this privilege, as well as any other mentioned in the covenant. Sometimes their outward portion may be small, but however, they are a holy seed unto God. We see the providence of God by pieces; for the present they may be in their natural condition, and the blessing doth not as yet break out in effects of grace, as it doth afterwards. We must leave the Lord to his own seasons. Sometimes for a while God may skip over the next branch in the line, and a wicked and ungracious man may interrupt the blessing for a while, but it runneth on again to a thousand generations. Jotham had Ahaz, but Ahaz had Hezekiah; the grandfather wicked, the son wicked, but the grandchild godly again; so that still there is a respect to the family. It is the usual practice of the Lord's grace, and is here put into the form of a promise, and must, as all temporal promises, be referred to God's pleasure, when to exempt the godly from poverty and their seed. Mostly the blessing is conspicuous enough in the course of God's dispensations, and examples to the contrary are very rare. David was a man of good years and narrow observation, a great student in the providence of God; yet saith he, Psa. 37:25, 'I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor their seed begging bread.' He could find none of their issue in his time reduced to a state of beggary.

Fourthly, To whom the promise will be most eminently fulfilled. There are some qualifications mentioned. All God's servants have their blessings, but these especially; as, namely--

1. The strict, and such as dare not offend him: Psa. 103:17, 'The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness to children's children.' They that fear him, that walk exactly in his sight and presence, such are frowned upon, hated, maligned, scorned in the world; therefore God doth take care to provide for them and theirs.

2. The just and upright. They abridge themselves of many advantages of gain which others hunt after. It is not lost: Psa. 112:2, 'His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the upright shall be blessed.' They cannot project, and turn, and wind in the world as others do, but they deal plainly; it is not without a blessing. So Prov. 20:7, 'The just man walketh in his integrity, and his children are blessed after him.' They transmit a clear estate, and so it thriveth.

3. The merciful and charitable: Psa. 37:26, 'He is ever merciful, and lendeth; his seed is blessed.' When we are urged to giving, you may object, What shall wife and children do? I answer--Give the rather; do something the more for every child, that the blessing may be entailed upon them; it is lent to the Lord, and it will be paid to your posterity; your children will not have a whit the less.

4. Those that are tender of God's institutions. The second commandment, that provideth for God's instituted worship, the sanction of it speaketh of blessings and punishments in the posterity, and deservedly. Family arguments prevail with many to yield to the corruption of their age. But alas! that which they would build they destroy; their children are not preserved, but ruined by it. You may convey an estate, but with a curse. Much of the evil that hath lighted upon ministers and their families had its rise hence. God, that gloriously exalts godly ministers and their children, that would rather suffer the loss of all than yield to the least corruption in worship, doth also reckon with them and their families that are partial in his law.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 3)

A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy

The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee.  Psalm 102:28

3. If they die in infancy, we need not trouble ourselves about their salvation. God is their God, Gen. 17:1; and that is all the best of us have to show for his right to heaven. They are bound up in the same bundle of life with their parents, in covenant with God, and never lived to disinherit themselves. We judge of the graft according to the tree from whence it was taken, till it liveth to bring forth fruit of its own; so of children, according to their father's covenant. God knoweth how to instate them in the privileges of it; Christ died for the church, and they are part of the church, Eph. 5:26, 27.

4. If they live, and bewray the corruption of their natures, there is more hope of them than of others. The grace of the covenant runneth most kindly in the channel of the covenant: Rom. 11:24, 'How much more shall those which be the natural branches be grafted into their own olive-tree?' They seem to lie more obvious to the Lord's grace. God followeth them with more calls and offers of grace. The Jews were to have the hansel and first offers of the gospel, though they killed the Lord of life, first at Jerusalem, because they were children of the promise, Acts 3:25, 26. God followeth a covenant people to the last, and beareth with them time after time, till he can bear no longer. They have a greater holdfast upon God; they may plead promises; and if ever God touch their hearts with remorse, they may plead their father's covenant. After Solomon's warping, God remembers promises to David, 1 Kings 11:12, 13, and 32, 34.

5. Among them salvation is most ordinary, though God leaveth himself a liberty to take men of an evil stock. A rose may grow upon a thorn; viles virgulae prestiosa opobalsama sudant; a slip of an ill stock may be grafted into the tree of life. Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz, and Josiah the son of Amon. Again, all the children of elect parents are not elect, to show the liberty of his counsels. In the very line of grace God will make a distinction. Abraham had Isaac and Ishmael; and Isaac had Jacob and Esau: Josh. 24:4, 'I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau;' intimating the distinction between the person and posterity of the one and the other. Though I grant all this, yet usually the children of godly parents are they that obtain the blessing; they are in a greater nearness to grace than others are, and there is more to be presumed of their children than of others, because of the ordinary practice of the Lord's grace, and because they have more means and helps, and in an ordinary course lie more obvious to the blessing, have more instruction, are nurtured and trained up in the knowledge of God, and have the prayers and examples of their godly parents. It is to be presumed that all godly men will thus do. God reckoneth upon it: Gen. 18:19, 'I know my servant Abraham, that he will command his children and household after him, that they shall keep the way of the Lord, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.' He presumeth that in these families God is known and honoured, that there is less temptation to sin, as lying out of the devil's road. A godly family is the suburbs of heaven, where the young brood is hatched to supply the church.

6. They are not cast off till they do even wrest themselves out of the arms of mercy. Cain excommunicated himself: Gen. 4:16, 'And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.' The face of the Lord, in one sense it is everywhere; but it is meant of the church, where God is worshipped. Ishmael, for scoffing and malignity against the power of godliness, Gen. 21:9. He mocked Isaac, which the apostle maketh to be persecution, Gal. 4:29. Esau, for profaneness or despising the birthright, that he may set his lusts a-work, Heb. 12:15, 16; preferring the satisfaction of sensual lusts before the great privileges in Christ. The Jews were 'broken off for unbelief,' Rom. 11:20. God bore with them after they had crucified Christ all along; as the branches of the covenant grow wild, God may be cutting them off. When God doth cast off a people, that is dreadful, Rom. 11. He speaketh to the Romans as a body and a church. God may break off a church as well as a person by scattering judgments, prevalency of error, and profaneness; the discouragements of his children; they withdrawing, all is broken to pieces. This is the spiritual judgment now upon us, and we are not sensible of it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 2)

A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy

The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee.  Psalm 102:28

There is but one clause more that needeth explaining, and that is, 'Before thee.' Some understand it of the duration of the blessing; that is, so long as thou dost endure; as before the sun and moon is endure,' Psa. 72:5. And the Septuagint renders it eis ton aiona kateuthunthesetai, 'Shall be continued for ever,' or, 'Before thee;' God looking on, or they looking upon thee. But rather it noteth God's respect and favour. These blessings do not come by chance: Psa. 41:12, 'Thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.' In a like case, Lev. 26:9, 'I will have respect to you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you; it is I will set my face to you;' epiblevw ef umaj; And the Chaldee paraphrase, 'Am I in the place of God?' Gen. 30:2. A facie Domini debuisses petere? --Oughest thou not to seek them from the face of God?

The words are explained. The point is--That God hath a great care of and blessing for the posterity of his servant, that they may be established by his favour.

Here I shall show you--(1.) What privilege they have; (2.) The reasons; (3.) Reconcile it with common sense and experience; (4.) To whom the promise is most eminently fulfilled.

First, How far a blessing cometh on the posterity of God's servant.
1. Good men do convey many temporal mercies to their relations; that is the least. God cannot satisfy himself with doing good to the persons of his children, but he must do good to their relations; all about them fare the better for their sakes. A land fareth the better for them: 2 Kings 2:12, 'My father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof;' that is, the defence of the country; much more the vicinage and place of their abode. Sodom was in Lot when Lot was in Sodom: Gen. 19:22, 'I cannot do anything while thou art there.' Nearer yet; they bring a blessing into their families. You know the offer made to Lot, God. 19:12, 'Hast thou any here besides son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughter? Whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place.' There was a fearful storm a-coming, and God would have none that had relation to Lot to perish by it. these sons-in-law were but so by contract and promise of marriage, for Lot's daughters were virgins, and knew not a man, yet God offereth them quarter for Lot's sake. Nearer yet; their own children, that are a part of themselves, do certainly enjoy many temporal blessings by their means. Ishmael, though the church was not continued in his line, yet a great part of the world fell to his share: Gen. 21:13, 'I will make of him a great nation, for he is thy seed.' There is the blessing of Isaac and the blessing of Ishmael; if they have not the blessing of Isaac, yet usually the blessing of Ishmael, Isa. 65 from verse 19 to the last.

2. Where the parent in is visible covenant, the children also are in visible covenant with him as soon as born. I say, they are without scruple to be accounted children of the covenant, and belonging to the church, till they do declare the contrary. Let us see a few places to prove this: Rom. 11:16, 'For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.' It is an allusion to the law, where the lump was consecrated in the first-fruits, or the cake of the first dough that was offered in the heave-offering. So when a man is dedicated to God, his whole family and posterity is dedicated to God with him. There is a federal holiness descendeth to them by virtue of their parents accepting the covenant of God. So in the decision of that case that was brought to the apostle, where one of the yoke-fellows was an infidel: 1 Cor. 7:14, 'For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean, but now are thy holy.' The scope of that place is to hold forth some privilege to believers, which is not common to others; for it is for the believer's sake; for otherwise the unbelieving husband had been as much sanctified in himself as in the wife. Certainly, therefore, it is some special privilege not common to the marriage of an unbelieving couple. Mark again; this is propounded both negatively and positively. The Holy Ghost doth not mention both, when one is emphatical enough: 'Else were they unclean, but now are they holy.' Pray observe the graduation of the privilege; the unbelieving husband, to whom all things are impure, he is sanctified to serve God's providence to this holy end and use. But higher yet; the children, they are holy; he is sanctified, they holy; that is, instrumentally sanctified, to be a means that the believing wife may bring forth fruit unto God. But now they are holy; and because holy, not to be refused and rejected from the ordinances. Person were called unclean that might not enjoy the privileges of the temple; holy, that were sanctified for worship. When God permitted ordinances to the gentiles, they are called holy: 'That which God hath made holy, call not thou common and unclean,' Acts 10:15, intending thereby the gentiles as capable of gospel worship. One place more: Ezek. 16:10, 'Sons and daughters born to me.' Those that are born during our being in covenant with God are born to God; as the children born in marriage are reckoned to the husband. This is the high privilege which God puts upon his servants, to beget sons and daughters to God, whilst others beget sons and daughters to men for civil uses, or only to people the world. Take, for instance, Seth and Cain, Gen. 6:1, 2. To bring forth to God, to multiply the church; it will be your crown and rejoicing in the day of the Lord. It is a greater blessing than to see your children monarchs of the world, or if thy had been born kings and queens; that had been beneath this of being members of the church. It is very notable that Moses, when he would set forth the dignity of Shem, he doth it thus: Gen. 10:21, 'Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth, the elder, which is of the Hebrews.' This is the prerogative above all his brethren. The Syrians, Assyrians, Lydians, Persians, Armenians, Elamites, these all came of Shem; but because they were ignorant of the knowledge of the true God, he doth not take his title from them, though they were great and mighty nations; this was his prerogative, that Abraham came from him, and all Israel, the people whom God had chosen to himself, and among whom he would record his name, whilst all the rest of the world lay in darkness. A man would have thought that Moses should have set out his great ancestor in more magnificent terms. Another would have taken notice either of his long life (for he lived six hundred years), that he saw both worlds, both before the flood and after; that he was one of the heirs of Noah, one of the three great princes of the world; that Asia, the paradise of the earth, fell to his lot, and Shinar, a land rich in jewels, gold, and spices; another would have reckoned up the mighty kings descended from his loins, or have called him father of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, famous nations that made such a bustle in the world; but Moses only calleth him father of the children of Eber, a nation shut up within the precincts of a little spot of land; but theirs were the 'promises, and the adoption, and the glory,' Rom. 9:4, 'and the covenant, and the law.' I tell you, to be a means to bring forth children to God, and to multiply the church, is as great an honour as can be put upon you.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 1)

A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy
The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee.  Psalm 102:28

The context speaketh of God’s unchangeableness. The world changeth, and we change but God changeth not; in the midst of all confusions he is where he was at first. Now this is a great comfort to God’s people, both as to their person and to their posterity. For their personal happiness, whatever breaches are made upon them, they cannot perish utterly that have an interest in an unchangeable God. When engaged in a good cause, they may die, and fall in the quarrel; but God liveth for ever, and so their service will not be lost. His promises are mostly made good in the other world; therefore a poor mortal creature may find and enjoy happiness enough in a living God. Thus as to their persons. Now to their posterity: it is a comfort that when we go to the grave we have a God with whom to leave our children when we can provide for them no longer; he hath undertaken to look after them, and bring them up. This is the other part of the comfort—

The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

In which words observe--(1.) The person; (2.) And then their privilege.
1. The person--The children of thy servants.
2. Their privilege is set forth in two words--They shall continue; they shall be established.

And the ground or duration is specified in that word--Before thee.
Let us open these circumstances, that we may see what aspect they have upon the present occasion.

First, The person, 'The children of thy servants.' There two things will be explained--(1.) Who are the servants of God here spoken of; (2.) In what sense children is taken--

1. Who are the servants of God here spoken of? Men may be said to be the servants of God--

[1.] In a general sense; and so all that worship, fear, and obey him are his servants.
[2.] In a limited and more restrained sense; and so those that wait upon him in the office of the ministry are said to be his servants; 2 Tim. 2:23, 'The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach;' and Psa. 134:1, 'Bless the Lord, all ye servant of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.' It is meant of the priests which watched by turns in the temple; and the prophets: Amos 3:7, 'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.' The one sort are as retainers, that wear his badge and livery; the other, as his domestics and menial servants, that have a nearer and constant attendance upon him. Now I cannot but say that the privilege here spoken of belongeth to all God's servants, but in an especial manner to his special servant; all are rewarded by God according to the degree of their service. Nebuchadnezzar, that was but a servant at large, a bare instrument of his providence, had his wages; but there is a special blessing descendeth upon the family of ministers, as their service is more eminent, and nearer about his person. In the whole course of their employment they are devoted to him. Their labour is great, so are their sufferings; they are called out upon the stage as the public factors for his kingdom, and so exposed to more hardships and losses; therefore God will make it up to their posterity. Often they are contemned, have no portion among their brethren; therefore God will be their portion. Certainly, though they be not principally intended, they cannot be excluded and shut out from this blessing.

2. In what sense is children taken? Either the children of their flesh or of their faith. Some say the children of the same faith with the godly teachers and servant of the Lord, begotten by them to God, as noting the perpetuity of the church, who shall in every age bring forth children to God. It is the comfort of God's people to see a young brood growing up to continue his remembrance in the world, that when they die, religion shall not die with them, nor the succession of the church be interrupted. This sense is not altogether incongruous; but rather, I think, the children of their body are here intended, it being a blessing often promised. See the next psalm, Psa. 103:17, 'The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, and his righteousness to children's children.'

Secondly, The privilege, 'Shall be continued; shall be established;' in what sense is it spoken? Some think only pro more faederis, according to the fashion of that covenant which the people of God were then under, when eternity was but more darkly revealed and shadowed out, either by long life, or the continuance of their name of their posterity, which was a kind of literal immortality. Clearly such a kind of regard is had, as appeareth by that which you find in Psa. 37:28, 'The Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever.' How? since they die as others do. Mark the antithesis, and that will explain it: 'They are preserved for ever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.' They are preserved for ever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.' They are preserved in their posterity. Children are but the parents multiplied and the parent continued. It is nodosa aetermitas; when the father's life is run out to the last, there is a knot tied, and the line is still continued by the child. I confess, temporal blessings, such as long life, and the promise of a happy posterity, are more visible in the eye of that dispensation of that covenant; but yet God still taketh care for the children of his people, and many promises run that way belong to the gospel administration, and still God's service is the surest way to establish a family, as sin is the ready way to root it out. And if it doth not always fall out accordingly, yet for the most part it doth; and we are no competent judges of God's dispensations in this kind, because we see providence by pieces, and have not the skill to set them together; but at the day of judgment, when the whole contexture of God's dealing is laid before us, we shall clearly understand how the children of his servants continue, and their seed is established. But of this by and by.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Henry Van Dyke on Infant Baptism

“Dr. Bushnell, in his admirable book on ‘Christian Nurture,’ does not put the case a whit too strongly when he says: ‘It is the very character and mark of all unchristian education to train up a child for future conversion.’ And he is no less correct when he adds, ‘The true idea of Christian education is that a child is to grow up a Christian, and never to know himself as being otherwise.’ These opposite aims will not only control the hopes of parents, and the instructions through which they seek to be realized, but they will make themselves felt with peculiar power in our treatment of children's faults. It must make a vast difference in our discipline whether we regard their shortcomings and misdoings as the lingering remains of sin in a young Christian, or as the living seeds of all evil in one who is still in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. The assumption that they are already within the covenant, regenerate and holy, that grace is struggling in them for mastery over sin, will give a Divine tenderness to our rebukes. It will make us pray with them in the assurance that they are partakers with us of the same grace, even as we share with them in the same passions and infirmities. It will bring us together to Christ in the faith of the Syrophoenician woman, saying, ‘O Lord, have mercy upon us’ Our sympathy will be to the child the sign and seal of Divine mercy, and our kiss of reconciliation the sacrament of God's loving forgiveness. But if we assume that the faults we would correct are the evidences of their unregenerate state; if we constantly tell them that they are wicked, and drill into their tender souls the unevangelical falsehood that ‘God does not love naughty children;’ if we warn them continually that they are in great danger of growing up reprobates and are in perishing need of a new heart, — such religious training will discourage and harden their sensitive nature more effectually than the indiscriminate use of the rod. Even under the kindest personal treatment, multitudes of the children of the covenant are placed by the inexorable logic of the popular creed in the most anomalous and hopeless condition. They are taught to believe that the mark of the Lord Jesus is upon them, but that they are still excluded from His fold. They are bound by all the obligations of religion; but they are warned not to claim its privileges until they have undergone a change of whose nature they can form no clear conception, for which they can discover no necessity in their present simple and childlike religious experience, and the symptoms of which they are taught not to expect until that ill-defined period shall come when they will be ‘old enough to join the church.’
“The telling of experiences, the fixing of the time, the discovery of the causes, and the description of the process of conversion, have become, to a large extent, synonymous in the mind of the Church with the tests of piety and the evidences of Christian character; while the value or even the possibility of a true Christian experience running back into springs that are hidden and Divine, gradually developed, like a grain of mustard-seed, under the steady influence of Christian culture, and eluding by its very depth and pervading power all attempts to fix its times and seasons or describe the successive stages of its growth, is ignored, undervalued, and even condemned as unevangelical. Our children are afraid to claim their birthright privileges, because they have no experiences to tell, and can give no account of their conversion. Instead of being taught that they already belong to the Church, and that if they love the Saviour it is their privilege to come to His table as soon as they understand the meaning of the ordinance, they hear the changes rung about being converted and joining the Church; and getting their ideas of conversion from what they hear of the experience of adults brought into the Church from the world, they sadly number themselves with Christ's enemies, even while their hearts ache to be recognized among His friends.”
Van Dyke, Henry J., Lecture VII, The Church, Her Ministry and Sacraments (1890)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Notable Quotes 11

“But if salvation and damnation be no ends intended by God, but means rather, as well as creation and permission of all to sin in Adam, together with the raising of some therehence, and leaving some therein, tending to some farther end, namely, the Manifestation of God’s glory in a certain kind, as Scripture together with manifest reason doth justify. For God being the supreme efficient, must necessarily be the last end. And even where the word of God doth testify, that God created the wicked against the day of evil, it doth therewithal give to understand, that what is signified by, To the day of evil, doth not denote the end of God’s actions (that before being expressed to be God himself, God made all things for himself, not for acquiring ought unto himself, for he is perfect, that nothing can be added unto him) but for the manifestation of his most glorious nature: so that if God be pleased to manifest his glorious beneficence on man in the highest degree, and that in the way of mercy mixed with justice; this end requires and bespeaks both creation (no glory at all manifested in the way of mercy) and permission of sin (otherwise it could not be manifested in the way of mercy) and satisfaction for sin (otherwise this mercy could not be mixed with justice exactly) and faith and repentance (otherwise the good which God intends could not be bestowed by way of reward) and last of all Salvation, under which we comprehend, the highest and most blessed condition that the nature of man, continuing a mere man, is capable of. And herethence we conclude, that in case the end is such as has been specified, and all these actions following, congruous mean tending to that end, therefore the decree of manifesting God’s glory, as above specified, is first with God, and secondly the decree of the means; which means although they are many materially, yet that come all under one formal notion of means tending to a certain end, which according to the several parts of the object of one formal decree, called the decree of the means: and the intention of none of them is before another, but all intended at once, as means tending to the end which is intended. In like manner if God shall be pleased to intend the manifestation of his glory in Man or Angel, in the way of justice vindicative, the means necessarily required hereunto are, Creation, Permission to sin, and Damnation unto punishment, and all three makes up the object of one formal decree, which is to be called the decree of the means. So that like as God doth not intend the creature’s creation, before he intends his damnation, in the same respect he cannot be said to intend his damnation, before he intends his creation, or the permission of his sin.
“And this rightly considered, sets an end unto all quarrel about the different consideration of Man in election and reprobation, which yet is about a School point only, touching the right stating of the end and the means, and the right ordering of God’s decrees concerning them. And doth it not set an end also, to all aspersions of cruelty cast upon the holy providence of God, from the guilt of which kind blasphemies, nothing can free them; but confidence in their own way, as if it were the way of truth, and that by convincing evidence of holy Scripture? Whereas it appears how little direction they take from the Word of God throughout, for the shaping of their Tenet in this. Yet neither is any such confidence able to free them from the guilt of such blasphemies which they utter: well it may free them from the conscience of it, yet if it do, that is more than I know.”
William Twisse, Riches of God’s Love Unto the Vessells of Mercy, pgs 10-11

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