Monday, July 31, 2017

Sermon of Nicholas Orem (Part 1)

The Lord has never left Himself without witnesses. Although we typicl think of the Middle Ages as an era of spiritual darkness, the Lord, in fact, raised up many witnesses to His truth. Nicholas Ore was one such witness. The sermon posted below was preached by Nicholas Orem, on the 4th Sunday of Advent in the year 1363 - before Pope Urban V. The courage involved in such an act is astounding.

A Copy of a Sermon made before Pope Urban V., the fourth Sunday in Advent, a.d. 1363, by Nicholas Orem. (From Book V of John Foxe's Acts and Monuments.)

"Juxta est salus mea, ut veniat, ct justitia," &c. That is, "My saving is near at hand to come, and my righteousness to be revealed," [Isa. lvi.] After the sentence cf St. Paul, Rom. ii. and in divers other places, before the nativity of Christ the whole world was divided into two sorts of men, sorts of the Jews and Gentiles — the Jews, who waited for the opening of the door paradise by the blood of the Saviour to come: the Gentiles, who yet sitting in darkness were to be called to light, and to be justified by faith, as it is written in Romans, chap. 5

This salvation, pertaining both to the Jew and Gentile, God promised before time to the fathers by the prophets, to stir up the desire thereof in their hearts the more, and to increase their firm hope and faith in the same. As first, in Micah vi., the voice of the Lord crieth, "Health and salvation shall be to all men which fear my name." And Isaiah xlvi., "I will give in Sion salvation, and in Jerusalem my glory," &c, with divers other such places. And forasmuch as hope which is deferred many times, doth afflict the soul, and conceiveth weariness of long deferring; he, therefore, prophesying of the nearness of the coming thereof, saith moreover [Isa. xiv.], "His time is near at hand to come." Also [Hab. ii.], " He will come, and will not tarry." With many such other places more. So then the holy fathers being in Limbo, looked and hoped that he should bring out them that sat bound, and which in the house of prison sat in darkness, as we read in Isaiah xli. Then the time drew on, in which came the fulness of the Gentiles, and in which the Lord would declare the riches of this mystery hidden from the world, and from generations. [Col. i.] Wherefore the Lord, in this text, doth both certify our fathers of the coming of our Saviour, and doth comfort them touching the nearness thereof, and also teacheth the justification of the Gentiles by faith, approaching now near at hand, according to the words of my text, "my salvation is near." Which words were fulfilled then, what time the Lord did manifest his salvation, and did reveal his righteousness in the sight of all the Gentiles. And it is divided into three parts; of which the first speaketh of the nearness of his coming, where it is said, " my salvation is near." The second concerneth the mystery of the advent of Christ and his incarnation, where he saith, " ut veniat," &c. Thirdly, is considered the severity of God, his terrible revenging judgment to be revealed, where he saith, "ut reveletur," &c, which is to be expounded of his primitive justice, whereof speaketh Amos [chap, v.], saying, " And judgment shall be revealed like a flood, and righteousness like a strong stream." Wherefore, for our contemplation of tlie solemnity of the most holy vigil, let us receive with joy the word of God the Father, "My Salvation is nigh," that is, Christ To whom he saith [Isa. xlix.], " I have given thee to be a light to the Gentiles, and to be my salvation throughout the ends of the world:" and again [Isa. xlvi.], " My salvation shall not slack," &c.

As touching the nearness thereof, it is in these days opened to us by the gospel, where we read in St. Matthew, When the virgin Mary was espoused unto Joseph, before they did come together, she was found with child by the Holy Ghost. By this it was evident to understand, that our Saviour ought shortly to proceed out of the chaste womb of the virgin, according as the prophet did foretel, saying, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son," &c. For as the grape, when it waxeth great and full, is near to the making of wine; and as the flower, when it shooteth abroad, hasteth to the fruit; so the salvation of the world, in the swelling and growing of the virgin's womb, began to draw nigh to mankind. For then appeared the grace and benignity of our Saviour, whom his mother was found to have in her womb by the Holy Ghost, as is declared in that which followeth by the angel, saying, " For that which is born of her is of the Holy Ghost."

Touching the second part of that which is said, "ut veniat:" this may be applied to the contemplation of the mystery of Christ coming in the flesh; whereof speaketh Haggai the prophet [chap, ii.], "He shall come who is desired and looked for of all nations," &c. Albeit the same also may be applied to the second advent, spoken of in Isaiah [chap, in.], " The Lord shall come to judgment," &c.; in memorial whereof the fourth Sunday was dedicated in the old time, of the fathers. And of this day of judgment it is written in the prophet Zeph. [chap, ii.], "The day of the Lord is near, great and mighty, it is approaching at hand, and wondrous short," &c. And albeit not in itself, yet it may be expounded in tribulations that go before, as preambles unto the same; as Gregory saith, "The last tribulation is prevented with many and sundry tribulations going before, although the end of all be not yet."

Wherefore now coming to the third part of my sermon or theme, let us see, of those tribulations that go before the last coming of Christ, if there be any such tribulation approaching nigh at hand, whereof this last part of my theme may be verified, where he said, "Ut reveletur," that my righteousness shall be revealed; to wit, the righteousness primitive, that righteousness may be brought, and the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled [Dan. ix.], concerning which matter four things here come in order to be declared.
First, Concerning the revealing of tribulation, according to that part of my theme, "Ut reveletur," &c.
Secondly, Concerning the nearness of the tribulation coming, according to '— that part of my theme, " Quia juxta est," &c. £°"4r.5ub"
Thirdly, Of the false opinions of some upon this part of my theme, " Ut veniat," &c.
Fourthly, What means and consultation we ought to take, "
Ut juxta est" As for the first, it is so notorious and so common in the Scriptures that the church should suffer and abide tribulation, that I need not here to stand in alleging anything touching either the causes to be weighed, or the term to be conjectured thereof. As concerning which causes I will give two rules to be noted before, for the better opening of that which is to follow: The first rule is, that by the two kingdoms of the nation of the Hebrews which were in the old time, to wit, by the kingdom of Israel, whose head was Samaria, is signified in the prophets the erroneous synagogue; and by the second kingdom of Judah, of whose stock came Christ, whose head metropolitan was Jerusalem, is signified the true church. And this rule is not mine, but is the gloss of St. Jerome, and also is the rule of Origen in the last homily upon the Old Testament, and is approved by the church.

The second rule is, that by the brothel-house and fornication mentioned in Judah the prophets, are signified simony, and abused dispensations, and promotions of persons unworthy, for lucre's sake, or else for any other partial favour, who, by unlawful ways, by all laws of the world, come to office and honour. "Merx dicitur namque a merendo;" that is, because gain or price is derived of gaining; for the which gain or price, that is sold, which by nature ought not to be sold. Therefore, to give anything for respect of gain or lure, which ought to be given freely for virtue's sake, is a kind of spiritual corruption, and as a man would say, a whorish thing; whereof the prophet [Isaiah, chap, i.] complaineth, speaking of Jerusalem, and saying, "The city which once was faithful and full of judgment, how is it now become a whorish city? " And in like manner Hosea also, the prophet [chap, ix.], "Jerusalem, thou hast fornicated and gone a whoring from thy God. Thou hast loved like a harlot to get gain in every barn of com." And in many other places of Scripture, where fornication cannot be otherwise expounded.

These two rules thus premised, now let us mark the Scriptures, and, according to the same, judge of the whole state of the church, both what is past, and what is to come: First, treating of the causes of tribulation to come: Secondly, of the vicinity of time of the said tribulation to come.

And first, concerning the state of the church, and of causes of tribulation, thus saith the Lord in the prophet Ezekiel [chap, xvi.], speaking to the church states of under the name of Jerusalem: "In the day of thy birth I came by thee, and saw thee trodden down in thine own blood," &c. Here he speaketh of the described, time of the martyrdom of the church. Then it followeth, "After this thou wast cleansed from thy blood, thou wast grown up, and waxen great; then i.xhe washed I thee with water, I purged thy blood from thee" (speaking of ceasing of persecution), "I anointed thee with oil, I gave thee change of raiment, I girded thee with white silk, I decked thee with costly apparel, I put rings upon church, thy fingers, a chain about thy neck, spangles upon thy forehead, and ear-rings upon thine ears. Thus wast thou decked with silver and gold, and a beautiful crown set upon thine head. Marvellous goodly wast thou and beautiful, even church, a very queen wast thou: for thou wast excellent in my beauty, which I put upon thee, saith the Lord God," &c. This prophecy, or rather history, speaketh of, and declareth, the prosperity of the church. And now hear the corruption and transgression of the church, for so it followeth: "But thou hast put confidence in thine own beauty, and played the harlot, when thou hadst gotten thee a name. Thou hast committed whoredom with all that went by thee, and hast fulfilled their desires; yea, thou hast taken thy garments of divers colours and decked thine altars therewith, whereupon thou mightest fulfil thy whoredom of such a fashion as never was done, nor shall be." Which whoredom can in no wise be expounded for carnal, but spiritual whoredom. And therefore, see how lively he hath painted out the corruption and falling of the church.

And therefore followeth now the correction and punishment of the church followeth, "Behold I stretch out my hand over thee, and will diminish thy store of food, and deliver thee over unto the wills of the Philistines, and of such as hate thee: and they shall break down thy stews, and destroy thy brothel-houses (that is, the place wherein thou didst exercise this wickedness) "they shall strip thee out of thy clothes: all thy fair beautiful jewels shall they take from thee, and so let thee sit naked and bare," &c. [Ezek. xvi.] Here is plainly to be seen what shall happen to the church, and more followeth in the said chapter: "Thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters upon thy left hand: but the youngest sister that dwelleth on thy right hand is Sodoma with her daughters, whose sins were these: pride, fulness of meat, abundance, and idleness, neither reached they their hand to the poor. And yet, neither Sodoma thy sister, with her daughters, hath done so evil as thou and thy daughters: neither hath Samaria" (that is, the synagogue) "done half of thy sins; yea, thou hast exceeded them in wickedness. Take therefore and bear thine own confusion," &c. Again in Ezek. [chap, xxiii.], after the prophet had described at large the wickedness, corruption, and punishment of the synagogue, turning to the church, he saith, "And when her sister saw this, she raged and was mad with lust more than before; she was mad, that is, with fleshly lust, love of riches, and following voluptuousness. Her fornication and whoredom she committed with princes and great lords, clothed with all manner of gorgeous apparel; so that her paps were bruised, and her breasts were marred." And then speaking of her punishment, he saith, "Then my heart forsook her, like as my heart was gone from her sister also." And more over, repeating again the cause thereof, he addeth, "Thy wickedness and thy fornication hath wrought thee all this," &c.

The like we find also in Isaiah, Jeremy, Ezekiel, and in all the other prophets, who, prophesying all together in one meaning, and almost in one manner of words, do conclude with a full agreement and prophecy to come, that the church shall fall, and then be punished for her great excesses, and be utterly spoiled, except she repent of all her abominations. Whereof speaketh Hosea [chap, ii.], "Let her put away her whoredom out of her sight, and her adultery from her breasts, lest I strip her naked, and set her even as she came naked into the world," (that is, in her primitive poverty). So if she do it not, it shall follow of her as in the prophet Nahum [chap, hi.], " For the multitude of the fornication of the fair and beautiful harlot, which is a master of witchcraft, yea and selleth the people through her whoredom, and the nations through her witchcraft." And it followeth upon the same, "Behold I come upon thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and will pull thy clothes over thy head, that they nakedness shall appear among the heathen, and thy shame amongst the There- kingdoms" &C. Wherefore by these it is to be understood that upon this church the primitive justice of God is to be revealed hereafter. And thus church, much of the first of the four members above touched.

Now to the second member of my theme, "Juxta est; " concerning the nearness of time. Although it is not for us to know the moments and articles of time; yet, by certain notes and signs, peradventure, it may be collected and that the gathered, that which I have here to say. For the tractation whereof, first I ground myself upon the saying of the apostle Paul [2Thes. ii.], where he writeth, "That unless there "come a defection first," &c. By the which defection, Jerorne gathereth ond expoundeth allegorically, the desolation of the monarchy of Rome: between which desolation, and the persecution of the church by Antichrist, he putteth no mean space. And now, what is the state of that commonwealth, if it be compared to the majesty of that it hath been, judge yourselves. Another gloss there is that saith, how by that defection is meant, defection that from the church of Rome shall come a departing of some other churches.

The second note and mark is this, when the church shall be worse in manners than was the synagogue; as appeareth by the ordinary gloss upon the third of Jeremiah, where it is written, "The backslider Israel may seem just and righteous in comparison of sinful Judah;" that is, the synagogue in comparison of the church of God. Whereof writeth Origen saying, Think that to be spoken of us what the Lord saith in Ezekiel [chap, xvi.], "Thou hast exceeded thy sister in thine iniquities." Wherefore now, to compare the one with the other: First, ye know how Christ rebuked the Pharisees, who, as Jerome witnesseth, were then the clergy of the Jews, of covetousness, for that they suffered doves to be sold in the temple of God: Secondly, for that they did honour God with their lips, and not with their heart; and because they said, and but did not: Thirdly, he rebuked them, for that they were hypocrites. To church the first then, let us see whether it be worse to sell both church and sacraments together than to suffer doves to be sold in the temple, or not. Secondly, whereas the Pharisees were rebuked for honouring God with their lips, and not with their heart, there be some who neither honour God with heart, nor yet with lips, and who neither do well, nor yet say well; neither do they preach any word at all, but be dumb dogs, not able to bark, impudent and shameless dogs, that never have enough; such pastors as have no understanding, declining and straying all in their own way, every one given to covetousness from the highest to the lowest And thirdly, as for hypocrisy, there be also some whose intolerable pride and malice are so manifest and notorious, kindled up like a fire, that no cloak or shadow of hypocrisy can cover it, but they are so past all shame, that it may be well verified of them, which the prophet speaks, "Thou hast gotten thee the face of a harlot; thou wouldst not blush," &c. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Archbishop Fitz Ralph of Armagh – A Precursor of the Reformation

The following article was written by Charles Scott for the September 1880 issue of The Churchman.

Just as the drops come before the shower, so we find that there were many isolated attempts at Reformation long before the great movement of the sixteenth century. Even before Wickliffe, both in England and Ireland, there were some protestants against the errors and enormities favoured by the Roman See in the name of religion. Amongst these, one of the most remarkable, yet least known at the present day, is Richard Fitz Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh. By his piety and reforming zeal the name Armachanus was as well known in his time, throughout the whole Christian world, as it was two centuries later by the learning of Archbishop Ussher. Of the six great primates of Armagh—Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, Malachy, the friend of Bernard, Fitz Ralph, Ussher, Boulter, Beresford—he is by no means the least worthy of notice. With Malachy he may well be compared: both were reformers, but in different directions. He will be seen to have well earned the character given of him by John Foxe:—“He was a man worthy, for his Christian zeal, of immortal commendation.”1 

Fitz Ralph lived in the reign of King Edward III. This reign, extending over exactly half a century (1327-1377), was one of the most brilliant epochs of our national history. The importance of the political affairs of the time has no doubt obscured the view of ecclesiastical events and leaders, and to a great extent caused the suppression of many important details. Whether Fitz Ralph was born in Devonshire or at Dundalk in Ireland is a matter of dispute. He was brought up at the University of Oxford, under the tuition of the celebrated Bakenthorpe, commonly called, in the schools, the “Resolute Doctor.” He made such advances in his studies that he was commended to Edward III., by whose favour he was rapidly promoted. He became Chancellor or Commissary of the University in 1333, Chancellor of Lincoln in the next year, Archdeacon of Chester in 1336, and the year after Dean of Lichfield. We know little more concerning the earlier portion of his life. Henry de Burghersh, Bishop of Lincoln, sometime Lord Treasurer and Lord Chancellor of England, one of the most eminent prelates of that century, was his diocesan during the time that he was Chancellor or Commissary of Oxford. With another eminent prelate he was intimately connected. He made one of a company of learned men who met together in the house of Richard Aungerville, or De Bury, Bishop of Durham, the friend and correspondent of Petrarch, one of the most remarkable characters of the day. We are told of him [De Bury] that he was—
A man so singularly learned, and so devoted to literature, that he kept transcribers,  binders, and illuminators in his palaces; and expended the whole of his ample income in purchasing scarce and curious manuscripts, for which purpose he employed agents, not only in England, but in Italy, France, and Germany. Besides the fixed libraries which he had formed in his several palaces, the floor of his common apartment was so covered with books, that those who entered were in danger of trampling on them. 
By the favour of Edward III. he gained access to the libraries of the principal monasteries, where he shook off the dust from various volumes (all MSS. as must necessarily be the case at that period), preserved in chests and presses, which had not been opened for many ages; and while Chancellor (Sept. 28, 1335) and Treasurer (1337) of England, instead of the usual presents or new year’s gift appendant to his office, he chose to receive those perquisites in books. Though the bishop was actively engaged in political affairs, being ambassador to France and to the Low Countries, and away as long as nine years at a time, he never lost his love for books and bookish men. Old John Stow says that he so delighted in books that he had more, as was thought, than all the bishops of England besides. I cannot refrain from quoting the exact words in which Stow describes the eminent men whom De Bury had gathered around him:—

He greatly delighted in the company of clearkes, and hadde alwayes many of them in his family, among whom were Thomas Bradwardine, afterwards archbishoppe of Canterbury, Richard Fitz Ralph, archbishoppe of Armacham, Walter Burley, John Manditt, Robert Holcot, Richard Kilwington, all of them doctors of divinitie, Richard Wentworth or Beniworth, byshoppe of London, and Walter Segrave, byshoppe of Chichester. Every day at his table he was accustomed to have some reading; and after dinner daily he would have some disputation with his private clearkes, and other of his house, except some urgent cause hadde let him. At other times hee was occupied, either in service of God, or at his books.

This eminent prelate was the most determined bookworm of the good old times, and he seems to have infused into his friend Fitz Ralph his own love of books. His opinion of books well deserves to be borne in mind: “These are teachers who instruct without rod or ferula, without severe expressions, or anger, without food or money. When we come to them, they are not asleep; when we enquire for them they do not secrete themselves; “when we mistake them, they do not complain; if we are ignorant, they do not despise us.” He died in 1345, at his palace at Auckland, two years before Fitz Ralph was appointed to Armagh. We can well suppose that Richard must have been a man much appreciated for his learning when he was able to gain the friendship and companionship of such a person as Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham.

Walter Burley or Burleigh, known as the “Perspicuous Doctor,” the great pupil and opponent of the celebrated Duns Scotus, also deserves some notice. His mind was engaged upon all the then known branches of knowledge, but metaphysics and theology seem to have occupied the chief place in his attention, and with him, no doubt, Fitz Ralph must often have delighted to engage in the abstruse but useless disputations of the schools, before “the Lord taught him, and brought him out of the profound vanities of Aristotle’s subtilty, to the study of the Scriptures of God.”
Theology, too, was well represented in that learned company in the person of Thomas Bradwardine, called the “Profound Doctor,” afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, but only for one short week. He was a student and expounder of the doctrines of Augustine, and his great work, “De Causa Dei,” advanced notions which would in modern times be called extreme Calvinism. He was a man “whose firmness of character was only surpassed by his unpretending modesty,” and “who, though his name does not appear in the calendar, was in very truth a saint.”
If we cannot easily get a full and distinct view of Fitz Ralph himself, we can at least see him reflected in the character and tastes of his chosen companions. Books, metaphysics and theology, represented by De Bury, Burleigh, and Bradwardine, seem from the few notices that we have of him, all and equally to have occupied his attention; and, no doubt, had his lot in after-life been favourable to such studies, he would have been as eminent in all as these were in each. His love of books never forsook him, and when in remote Armagh he had his chaplains at Oxford searching for books.

It is little wonder that just at this period we should have but little notices of ecclesiastical affairs. On the 26th of August, 1346, the French were defeated at Crecy, and on the 12th of October the Scots were repulsed at Neville’s Cross. In the following year Fitz Ralph was advanced by Clement VI. to the See of Armagh, and was consecrated at Exeter by John de Grandison, Bishop of Exeter, and others, on the 8th of July, just about three weeks before the surrender of Calais. Amidst these stirring events Fitz Ralph began his primacy.

At Armagh he found himself in the midst of a long-standing controversy with the See of Dublin as to the primacy of the kingdom. Armagh was admittedly the more ancient See, and in Celtic times had unquestioned supremacy, as being the chair of St. Patrick; but in consequence of the English invasion, the See of Dublin became at once a position of great importance. Always filled by able English politicians, who had great influence with the rulers of the Pale, it soon surpassed in power the older See, venerated by those who came now to be termed the “mere Irish.” In 1337 an attempt was made to gain the formal primacy, for when David, Archbishop of Armagh, was summoned to attend a Parliament, and when “he made procession in St. Mary’s near Dublin, he was hindered by the Archbishop of Dublin and clergy, because he would have the cross carried before him, which they would not permit.” Thus there was the same dispute as to precedence, De jaculatione crucis, in Ireland, that existed years before in England between York and Canterbury. In 1348, after the appointment of Fitz Ralph, the King took the part of Dublin, and wrote to Cardinal Andomar urging that Dublin should be exempted from any subjection to Armagh.

The new Archbishop, however, was not the man to be easily imposed upon without some attempt to assert his rights, and he showed the same fearlessness and independence in this as he afterwards did in matters of much greater weight. Having probably gained over the King, he next year (1349) triumphantly entered Dublin with his cross borne erect before him. The Lord Justice, fearing that the public assertion of his rights would lead to a breach of the peace, hastily sent him back to Drogheda. The King now issued his commands, no doubt for the sake of peace, that he should not raise his cross in the Province of Dublin; and again urged Cardinal Andomar to use his influence with the Pope to have the question set at rest, and to have the claims of the prelates finally adjusted. This, however, was not decided until after Fitz Ralph’s death, in the time of Innocent VI., when it was determined that “each of them should be a primate; but for distinction of style the Primate of Armagh should entitle himself Primate of all Ireland; and the Metropolitan of Dublin should inscribe himself Primate of Ireland: like Canterbury and York in England, the first of which writes himself Primate of all England, the other Primate of England.” Thus the old Celtic See retained its pre-eminence; one solitary and nominal success in the long struggle between the native and the invader, between Celtic and Latin Christianity.

We have but few notices of Fitz Ralph’s work in the Irish records. In 1351 he is noticed as having preached a sermon in English at Coleraine, the only entry of the kind in the Irish annals. About this time he obtained a license from the king to buy up livings in the hands of aliens; and, in pursuance of this authority, he purchased from a French monastery the patronage of Donaghadee and Derryaghy, two well-known parishes in the diocese of Down and Connor, which continued from that time until the passing of the Irish Church Act in the presentation of the Archbishops of Armagh. These are the only local notices we have of him, but they are characteristic. We see special notice of his preaching, and we see, too, how he exercised his care that parishes should not be supplied by foreigners, but be in the hands of the native bishops.

Soon, however, matters of much more importance engaged the attention of the sturdy Primate. A dispute with the Prior of the Convent of St. Peter and St. Paul at Armagh involved him in the great controversy then going on, throughout the whole Western Church, between the parochial clergy and the Mendicant Friars.

The four orders of Franciscans (Grey Friars), Dominicans (Black Friars), Carmelites (White Friars), and Augustins (Austin Friars), were called Begging Friars. They claimed the right of entering any diocese or parish, and, under special license of the Pope, hearing confession, selling indulgences, begging for their convents, and administering the sacraments. It will be seen at once that such claims were greatly to the prejudice of the rights of the bishops and parochial clergy, as well as a very serious injury to the cause of religion and morals; because the people were thus drawn from the care of the parochial clergy by the specious promises and claims of the friars, and, worst of all, those who by crime and wicked courses were under the ban of the parish clergy were readily received by the friars and obtained absolution from them. In the pages of Chaucer, who about this time was coming into note, we have pictures, living sketches, of the parson and the friar. In the prologue to the “Canterbury Tales” he draws the friar, he who—
Knew well the taverns in every town. 
He was the beste beggar in all his house. 
For though a widow hadde but a shoe, 
Yet would he have a farthing e’er he went. 
For there was he not like a cloisterer,  
With threadbare cope, as is a poor scholar, 
But he was like a master or a pope, 
Of double worsted was his semi-cope.

See, too, how he draws the pardoner, that is, the friar with license from the Pope to sell indulgences—the same that roused the spirit of Luther:—
His wallet lay before him in his lap,
Brimful of pardon come from Rome, all hot.
He had a cross of laton full of stones,
And in a glass he hadde pigges bones.
And with these relics, whenne that he found
A poore parson dwelling up inland,
Upon a day he gat him more monaie
Than that the parson got in monthes twaie.
And thus with feigned flattering and japes,
He made the parson and the people his apes.

Very different is the picture Chaucer draws of the parochial clergy: witness his description of the parson:—
Rich he was of holy thought and work.
He was also a learned man, a clerk,
That Christes gospel truely would he preach.
His parishens devoutly would he teach.
Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder,
But he ne left naught for no rain or thunder.
This noble ensample to his sheep he gave
That first he wraught, and then he taught.
—Christes lore, and his apostles twelve
He taught, but first he follow’d it himselve.

There seems to have been at this time a growing dissatisfaction at the teaching and practices of the Mendicant Orders. This feeling appears to have been general, and by no means confined to the secular clergy. There is strong evidence of it in the work called “Piers Ploughman’s Vision,” written probably in the year 1352, a work which does not appear to have had its origin in an ecclesiastical source:

I found there friars
All the four orders,
Preaching the people
For profit of themselve
Glossed the Gospel
As them good liked,
There preached a pardoner,
As he a priest were;
Brought forth a bull
With many bishops’ seals,
And said he himself might
Assoilen them all,
Of falsehood, of fasting,
Of avowes y-broken.
Lewed men loved it well,
And liked his words;
Comen up kneeling
To kissen his bulls.

It would indeed appear that the same vigour and independence of the national mind so strikingly displayed in the political world was being manifested also in religious matters. The attitude of King Edward with regard to the ecclesiastical scandals of the day was, no doubt, a consequence of as well as an encouragement of the popular feeling. The Pope claimed the right not only of appointing to vacant benefices, but of appointing before the vacancy occurred, and meanwhile taking a portion of the income for his nominee. In 1343, the King wrote protesting against such appointments, and in 1350 the Statute of Provisors was passed to put an end to this scandal. Such a course could not fail to encourage others to speak out boldly against the abuses of the Church of Rome.
Fitz Ralph took the part of the parochial clergy, and, no doubt encouraged by the general feeling, attacked the friars with great vigour and severity. He was led to denounce the whole system as unscriptural, and as opposed to the mind of Christ. Having come to this conclusion, he maintained it fearlessly before people and Pope. Being in London on business, in 1357, he found certain doctors disputing about the begging of our Saviour Christ. By special request he preached seven or eight sermons to the people at Paul’s Cross, and maintained certain propositions, amongst them the following:—
That our Lord Jesus Christ in his human conversation was always poor, not that that He loved poverty, or did covet to be poor; That He did never beg; that He did never teach to beg; That, on the contrary, He held that men ought to be without necessity to beg,and that there was neither wisdom nor holiness for any man to become a mendicant.

For these propositions he was cited by the friars to appear before the Pope, and appeals were laid against him to the number of sixteen. He was supported in the struggle by the bishops and clergy of England, and they subscribed money to forward the cause. He went to Avignon; four cardinals were appointed to hear the appeal. On the 13th of November, 1357, he addressed the Pope and cardinals. He was admittedly successful in his vindication of himself and his propositions; but, as the unknown monk who wrote the “Chronicon AngliƦ,” published by the Master of the Rolls, says, “Proh dolor, alas! the English clergy backed out of their promises” of money; and, the friars having plenty of money, the cause was decided against him. It is well known that at the Papal Court of those days the longest purse had the best case. Many things he suffered at the hands of the friars: attempts were made to apprehend him; coasts were watched for him; he fell, too, into the hands of thieves, and lost  his money, but it was wonderfully restored to him. These things he recounts in a prayer, the beginning of which is given by Foxe:—
To Thee be praise, and glory, and thanksgiving, O Jesu, most holy, most powerful, most amiable, who hast said, I am the way, the truth, and the life;—a way without deviation—truth without cloud, and life without end. Thou hast shown me the way; Thou hast taught me the truth; and Thou hast promised me the life. Thou wast my way in exile; Thou was my truth in counsel; and Thou wilt be my life in reward.

We see in these words a beautiful and simple faith, expressed in the elaborate and scholastic manner of the time.
His argument against the friars, addressed to the Pope, has been several times published. It is entitled, Defensorium Curatorum; or, Defence of the Parochial Clergy. In it he supports his charges at length, and gives some curious examples, drawn from his own experience, of the injury done by the friars. He says—
In mine own diocese of Armagh I have as good as two thousand under me, who, by the censure of excommunication every year denounced against wilful murderers, common thieves, burners of men’s houses, and such like malefactors, stand accursed; of all which number, notwithstanding, scarcely fourteen there be who come to me, or to any about me, for their absolution. And yet all they receive the sacrament as others do, and all because they feign themselves to be absolved, by none other than the friars.

He alleges against the friars that, on account of the privileges granted to them by the Popes, “divers young men as well in universities as in their fathers’ houses, are craftily allured by the friars, their confessors, to enter their orders; from whence also they cannot get out when they would, to the great grief of their parents and the no less repentance of the young men themselves.” He tells of “a certain substantial Englishman being with him at his inn in Rome, who, having a son at the University of Oxford who was enticed by the friars to enter into their order, could by no means afterwards release him; but when his father and his mother would come unto him, they could not be suffered to speak with him but under the friars’ custody; whereas the Scripture plainly commandeth that whoso stealeth any man and selleth him (Exod. xxi.) shall be put to death; and, for the same cause, the father was compelled to come
up to Rome to seek remedy for his son. And thus may it appear what damage and detriments come by these friars unto the common people.”
He next shows the injury done to the universities.
Laymen, seeing their children thus stolen from them in the universities by the friars, do refuse therefore to send them to their studies; rather willing to keep them at home to their occupation, or to follow the plough, than so to be circumvented and defeated of their sons at the university “as by daily experience,” he saith, “doth manifestly appear.” For whereas in my time there were in the University of Oxford thirty thousand students, now are there not to be found six thousand; the occasion of which so great decay is to be ascribed to no other cause but to this circumvention only of the friars aforementioned.

Fitz Ralph, no doubt disappointed and disheartened by the success of the friars at the Papal Court, was about making his way back to Ireland when he died at Avignon on the 16th of November, 1360; not without grave suspicion that he died of poison administered by his enemies, the friars.
It would seem that his death put an end to the strife between the secular clergy as a body and the Mendicants. Henry of Marlboro’ in his “Chronicle” says, “Richard Archbishop of Armagh dyed at this time at the Pope’s Court, and Richard Kilminton dyed in England, therefore the controversie ceased between the clergie and the orders of Begging Friars. Others helped in the good work. We find that John de Trevisa, Vicar of Berkeley and Canon of Westbury, the church of which Wickliffe was also a canon, published in English “A Translation of a Latin Sermon of Radulf or Fitz Rauf, Archbishop of Armagh, Nov. 8th, 1357, against Mendicant Friars.” Fitz Ralph is said to have written eighteen distinct treatises on theological and other subjects.
As might be expected, very different opinions have been held with regard to Fitz Ralph and his work. A certain cardinal, when he heard of his death, exclaimed that the same day a mighty pillar of Christ’s Church had fallen. Cardinal Bellarmine, on the other hand, ranks him among heretics, or bordering on them. “He was thought to have offended by the exuberance of his knowledge.” Capgrave, in his “Chronicle,” says of him:—“In Oxenforth he held straunge opiniones, which Wiclef meyntened aftirward more venemously.” No wonder his opinions seemed “straunge,” for the same writer speaks of Wickliffe as “the orgon of the devel, the enmy of the cherch, the confusion of men, the ydol of heresie.” Wickliffe says of him in his “Trialogue:”—“Armachanus boldly published his conclusions at Avignon before Innocent and his assembly of Cardinals, and defended them by word and pen even to the death.”2
About ten years after his decease his bones were brought over to Dundalk by Stephen de Valle, Bishop of Meath. There he was long venerated under the name of St. Richard of Dundalk. In a Synod held in Drogheda on the 20th of June, 1545, it was ordained that the festival of St. Richard, Archbishop of Armagh, should be celebrated with nine lessons in crastino Johannis et Pauli. The proceedings were begun for his canonization, but were never concluded. No doubt it was found upon inquiry that he was a “sore saint” for the Pope. He was, however, indeed canonized in the grateful memory of his people. In Dundalk there was a fountain dedicated to him, to which all the neighbourhood flocked, thinking that whoever drank of its waters should be free from fever. There was preserved his shrine, and also his ring, endowed, as it was supposed, with many virtues. His day was celebrated with great devotion. A couplet has been preserved which lets us see how the common people regarded
Many a man I see, and many a mile I walk,
But never saw I holier man than Richard of Dundalk.

At the year 1377, it is noted by the old chronicler of St. Albans before mentioned, that by many miracles and wonders at his tomb, God vindicated Master Fitz Ralf, “at which the friars, it is said, are badly content.”

Wickliffe and Trevisa are both celebrated for the part they took in furnishing the people of England with the Holy Scriptures in their own mother tongue. It would appear that Fitz Ralph attempted to do the same for the native Irish. It is said that he possessed a copy of the New Testament in Irish, and that it was made by himself. According to the information of Bale, quoted by Archbishop Ussher, this copy was concealed by him in a certain wall of his church, with the following note: “When this book is found, truth will be revealed to the world or Christ shortly appear.” The book was found when the church of Armagh was being repaired in the year 1530. Foxe tells us he credibly heard of certain old Irish Bibles translated long since into the Irish tongue, which, if it be true, it is not other like but to be the doing of this Armachanus; and he adds that the fact was testified by “certain Englishmen which are yet alive and have seen it.”

Whether Archbishop Fitz Ralph translated the New Testament into Irish or not, there can be no doubt as to the estimation in which he held the Holy Scriptures. Nothing is more remarkable than the use he makes of his Bible in the “Defensorium Curatorum.” On every point his great appeal is “to the law and to the testimony,” to the teaching and practice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of him it is well said by the St. Albans chronicler, Constat veraciter, quod erat probatissimus scriba in regno coelorum, “A right well-approved scribe in the kingdom of heaven.”

Richard Fitz Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, has no monument: his burial-place is almost forgotten; but whilst his “Defensorium Curatorum” exists, he will be venerated as a bishop, a Christian, and a man: as a bishop, for the watchful care of his flock against friar and Pope; as a Christian, for his simple faith and excellent knowledge of the Scriptures; and as a man, not merely for his learning, but because in an age of heroes he was remarkable for his stubborn independence, undaunted courage, and constancy even unto the death—a man indeed “worthy of his Christian zeal of immortal commendation.”
1) The following list of authorities, which refer to this obscure period and are quoted above, may be useful to the inquirer:—Rymer’s Foedera; Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, Cattley’s ed.; Defensorium Curatorum in Brown’s Fasciculus; Capgrave’s Chronicle and Chronicon Angliae in Rolls Series; Reeves’ Down and Connor; Mant’s Church of Ireland; Townsend’s Biblical Literature; Cave’s Historia Literaria; Stuart’s Armagh; Monck Mason’s Religion of the Ancient Irish Saints; and the indispensable Notes and Queries. 
2) The opinion expressed above by Capgrave as to the similarity of the views held by Fitz Ralph and Wickliffe, has been that held by every writer until very recently. It was constantly maintained that Wickliffe was animated by the example of Fitz Ralph, and continued the struggle in which he had been engaged. Since the appearance of Dr. Peter Lorimer’s translation of Lechler’s work, the latest and best on John Wickliffe, it is necessary, in deference to the opinions of the learned writer and editor, to modify any positive statements as to the connection between the work of Fitz Ralph and that of Wickliffe. I feel, however, that there is still something to be said for the uniform testimony of all early writers who have alluded to the subject, that Wickliffe continued the struggle begun by Fitz Ralph. It is at least certain that
Wickliffe was acquainted with Fitz Ralph’s labours and held him in high estimation.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Christ's Promise to the Apostles of Verbal Inspiration

“When about to leave his disciples, Jesus said to them, John, 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The Apostles were not to trust to their memories, to repeat what Jesus had said to them; but all that he had said was to be dictated to them by the Holy Ghost. And again, John, 14:13, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth ; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come.” After his resurrection, Jesus Christ said to them, John 20:21, “Peace be unto you ; as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.”. His last words to them on earth were these, Acts, 1:8, “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Such were the PROMISES given to the Apostles of what they were to receive, to fit them for that great work in which they were about to engage. We shall now hear their own DECLARATIONS in respect to their fulfillment.
On the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4, “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” On that occasion, when speaking in unknown tongues, as was the case with others of the brethren in the churches, 1 Cor. 14:18, 28, they must have been inspired with every word they spoke, as is asserted in the declaration, that “the Spirit gave them utterance.” When, afterwards, having been brought before the Jewish rulers, they had returned to their own company and prayed, Acts 4:31, “The place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Paul begins his Epistles, by designating himself an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Thus he declares his apostolic character and commission from the Lord, by whom he was qualified for his work. We see with what authority he afterwards expresses himself: “Now unto him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began ; but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”— “Though we,” says the same Apostle, Galatians 1:8, “or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”—“As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”—“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”— 1 Cor. 2:9, 10, “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.”—“ Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” 1 Cor. 2:18. Here; in making a general declaration of what he taught, both the matter and the words are declared to be from God.* Again he says, 1 Cor. 2:15, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him 2 but we have the mind of Christ,” 1 Cor. 2:7, “We speak the wisdom of God.” Eph. 3:4 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 2:10, “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also; for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ,” 2 Cor. 13:2, 3, “If I come again I will not spare, since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.” In 1 Cor. 7:17, where some have rashly and ignorantly asserted that the Apostle concludes with expressing a doubt whether he was inspired or not, he says, “ so ordain I in all churches.” Such language, which is precisely similar to that of Moses, Deut. 6:6, would have been most presumptuous, unless he could have added, as he does a little afterwards, 1 Cor. 14:36, “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” At the opening of the same epistle Paul had said, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”—“We speak the wisdom of God.” Could any man have used such language unless he had been conscious that he was speaking the words of God? 1 Thess. 2:13, “For this cause also thank we God, without ceasing, be cause, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God.” 1 Thess. 4:8, “He, therefore, that despiseth, despiseth not man but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.” 1 Pet. 1:12, “ Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the an gels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Pet. 1:25, “The word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” In referring to the instruction which they gave to the churches, the Apostles characterise it as their “commandment,” and refer to it as equivalent to the authority of the Holy Ghost, as in fact it was the same. Acts, 15:24, 28, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.” Such is the inspiration by which all the pen men of the Scriptures wrote, and God has pronounced the most solemn prohibitions against any attempt to add to, or to take from, or to alter, his Word. These warnings are interspersed through every part of the sacred volume; and each of them is equally applicable to the whole of it.” - Robert Haldane, The Books of the Old and New Testaments Proved to be Canonical, and Their Verbal Inspiration Maintained and Defended

* On this verse Macknight has the following note:— “Words taught by the Holy Spirit.—From this we learn that as often as the Apostles declared the doctrines of the gospel, the Spirit presented these doctrines to their minds clothed in their own language; which indeed is the only way in which the doctrines of the gospel could be presented to their minds. For men are so accustomed to connect ideas with words, that they always think in words. Wherefore, though the language in which the Apostles delivered the doctrines of the gospel, were really suggested to them by the Spirit, it was properly their own style of language. This language in which the doctrines of the gospel was revealed to the Apostles, and in which they delivered these doctrines to the world, is what St Paul calls the form of sound words, which Timothy had heard from him, and was to hold fast, 2 Tim. i. 18. Every one, therefore, ought to beware of altering or wresting the inspired language of Scripture, in their expositions of the articles of the Christian faith. Taylor, in the sixth chapter of his key, at the end, explains the verse under consideration thus: — 'Which things we speak, not in philosophical terms of human invention, but which the Spirit teacheth in the writings of the Old Testament': and contends, that the Apostle's meaning is, that he expressed the Christian privileges in the very same words and phrases, by which the Spirit expressed the privileges of the Jewish church in the writings of the Old Testament. But if the Spirit suggested these words and phrases to the Jewish prophets, why might he not suggest to the Apostles the words and phrases in which they communicated the gospel revelation to the world? Especially as there are many discoveries in the gospel which could not be expressed clearly, if at all, in the words by which the prophets expressed the privilege of the Jewish church. Besides, it is evident, that when the Apostles introduce into their writings the words and phrases of the Jewish prophets, they explain them in other words and phrases, which, no doubt, were suggested to them by the Spirit.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On the Verbal Inspiration of ALL Scripture

Considering the purpose which the historical parts of the Scriptures were intended to serve, in exhibiting the character and power of God, and his uninterrupted agency in the government of the world, and in pointing to Him who is the end of the law, we have sufficient reason to be convinced, that neither Moses, nor the other sacred historians, nor all the angels in heaven, though acquainted with all the facts, and under the direction, and with the aid, both of superintendence and elevation, were competent to write the historical parts of the Word of God. They possessed neither foresight nor wisdom sufficient for the work. In both respects, every creature is limited. Into these things, the angels, so far from being qualified to select and indite them, “desire to look,” and, from the contemplation of them, derive more knowledge of God than they before possessed, and have their joy even in heaven increased. In those histories, the thoughts and secret motives of men are often unfolded and referred to. Was any one but the Searcher of Hearts competent to this? Could angels have revealed them, unless distinctly made known to them? If it be replied, that in such places the sacred writers enjoyed the inspiration of suggestion, that is, of verbal dictation, we ask, where is the distinction to be found? It is a distinction unknown to the Scriptures. And so far from a plenary inspiration not being necessary in its historical parts, there is not any portion of the sacred volume in which it is more indispensable. But even admitting that verbal inspiration was not in our view essential in those parts of the book of God, is this a reason why we should not receive the testimony of the sacred writers, who nowhere give the most distant hint that they are written under a different kind or degree of inspiration from the rest of it; but who, in the most unqualified manner, assert that full inspiration belongs to the whole of the Scriptures?

The words that are used in the prophetical parts of Scripture, must necessarily have been communicated to the prophets. They did not always comprehend the meaning of their own predictions, into which they “searched diligently.” And in this case, it was impossible that, unless the words had been dictated to them, they could have written intelligibly. Although they had indited the Scriptures, it was necessary to show them “that which is noted in Scripture of truth,” Dan. x. 21. The writings of the prophets constitute a great portion of the Old Testament Scriptures, and God claims it as his sole prerogative, to know the things that are to come. We are therefore certain that they enjoyed verbal inspiration; and, as we have not any where a hint of different kinds of inspiration by which the Scriptures are written, does it not discover the most presumptuous arrogance to assert that there are different kinds? The nature of the mission of the prophets required the full inspiration which they affirm that they possessed. God never intrusted to any man such a work as they had to perform, nor any part of such a work. It was God himself, “who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets.” That work, through which was to be made known “to principalities and powers in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus,” was not a work to be intrusted to any creature. The prophet Micah, iii. 8, says, “ But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” It was not the prophets then who spoke, but the Spirit of God who spoke by them.

Of the complete direction necessary for such a service as was committed to him, both of lawgiver and prophet, Moses was aware, when the Lord commanded him to go to Pharaoh, and to lead forth the children of Israel from Egypt. In that work he in treated that he might not be employed. This proved the proper sense he entertained of his own unfitness for it. But it was highly sinful, and evinced great weakness of faith, thus to hesitate, after the Lord had informed him that he would be “with him.” Moses was accordingly reproved for this, but the ground of his plea was admitted; and full inspiration, not only as to the subject of his mission, but as to the very words he was to employ, was promised. In answer to his objection, the Lord said unto him, Exod. iv. 11, 12, “Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou wilt say.” Moses still urged his objection, and the same reply was in substance repeated, both in regard to himself and to Aaron. The full inspiration, then, which was at first promised to Moses in general terms, was, for his encouragement, made known in this particular manner, and the promise was distinctly fulfilled. Accordingly, when, as the lawgiver of Israel, he afterwards addressed the people, he was warranted to preface what he enjoined upon them with, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “These are the words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye should do them.” In observing all the commandments that Moses commanded them, and in remembering the way by which the Lord had led them, Israel was to learn, that “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.” Signs were shown to Moses, and God came unto him in a thick cloud, in order, as he said, “that the people may hear thee when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” Exod. xix. 9.

If the words of Moses had not been the words of God, had he not been conscious of the full verbal inspiration by which he wrote, would the following language have been suitable to him, or would he have ventured to use it? Deuteronomy, iv. 2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep these commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deut. vi. 6: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” Deut. xi. 18: “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your head that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou, walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” From these passages, we learn that Moses was conscious that all the words which he spoke to the people were the words of God. He knew that it was with him as with Balaam, to whom the Lord said, Numbers, xxii. 35, 38, “Only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak;” and in the language of Balaam, Moses could answer, “The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.”

As “the word of the Lord,” was communicated to Moses, so it also came to Gad, to Nathan, and to the other prophets, who were men of God, and in whose mouths was the word of God. “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth,” 1 Kings, xvii. 24. The manner in which the prophets delivered their messages, proves that they considered the words which they wrote, not as their own words, but dictated to them by God himself. Elijah said to Ahab, “Behold I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity.” On this Mr Scott, in his Commentary, observes, “Elijah was the voice, the Lord was the speaker, whose words these evidently are.” This is a just account of all the messages of the prophets. They introduce them with, “Thus saith the Lord,” and declare them to be “the word of the Lord;” and is it possible that the prophets could have more explicitly affirmed, that the words which they uttered were communicated to them, and that they were only the instruments of this communication to those whom they addressed? In the place where we read, “Now these be the last words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel,” David says, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue,” 2 Samuel, xxiii. 2. In like manner it is said, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord,” “To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,” “That the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,” 2 Chron. xxxvi. 12, 21, 22. “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in the prophets,” Nehemiah, ix. 30. Isaiah commences his prophecies by summoning the heavens and the earth to hear, “for the Lord hath spoken," Isa. i. 2. In the same manner, Jeremiah writes, “The words of Jeremiah, to whom the word of the Lord came.” “Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth.” “I will make my words in thy mouth fire,” Jeremiah, i. 1, 2, 9; v. 14. “Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." Jeremiah, xxx. 2. Again, in the prophecies of Ezekiel, “Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak my words unto them.” “Moreover, he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee, receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears, and go get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel, iii. 4, 10, 11. Hosea says, “The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea ;” “The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea.” i. 1, 2. It is in similar language that the other prophets generally introduce their predictions, which are every where interspersed with “thus saith the Lord.”

All, then, that was spoken by the prophets in these several recorded passages, was spoken in the name of the Lord. When false prophets appeared, it was necessary for them to profess to speak in the name of the Lord, and to steal his words from their neighbour. “I have heard what the prophets say, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith,” Jeremiah, xxiii. 25–31. They were the words of God, therefore, which the false prophets stole from the true prophets of Jehovah.

The uniform language of Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, respecting the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, proves that, without exception, they are “the Word of God.” On what principle but that of the verbal inspiration of Scripture, can we explain our Lord's words, John, x. 35, “The Scripture cannot be broken?" Here the argument is founded on one word, “gods,” which without verbal inspiration might not have been used; and if used improperly, might have led to idolatry. In proof of the folly of their charge of blasphemy, he refers the Jews to where it is written in their law, “I said ye are gods.” The reply to this argument was obvious:— The Psalmist, they might answer, uses the word in a sense that is not proper. But Jesus precluded this observation, by affirming, that “the Scripture can not be broken,” that is, not a word of it can be altered, because it is the Word of Him with whom there is no variableness. Could this be said if the choice of words had been left to men? Here, then, we find our Lord laying down a principle, which for ever sets the question at rest. The Apostles, in like manner, reason from the use of a particular word. Of this we have examples, 1 Corinthians, xv. 27, 28, and Hebrews, ii. 8, where the interpretation of the pass ages referred to depends on the word “all.” Again, Galatians, iii. 16, a most important conclusion is drawn from the use of the word, “seed,” in the singular, and not in the plural number. A similar in stance occurs, Hebrews, xii. 27, in the expression “once more,” quoted from the prophet Haggai.

When the Pharisees came to Jesus, and desired an answer respecting divorce, he replied, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them a male and female; and said, for this cause,” &c. Thus, what is said in the history by Moses, at the formation of Eve, is appealed to as spoken by God, and as having the authority of a law. But nothing that Moses could say, unless dictated by God, could have the force of a law, to be quoted by our Lord. What, therefore, was then uttered by man, was the Word of God himself.

The Lord Jesus Christ constantly refers to the whole of the Old Testament, as being, in the most minute particulars, of infallible authority. He speaks of the necessity of every word of the Law and the Prophets being fulfilled. “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”—“It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the Law to fail.”—But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?—That all things which are written may be fulfilled.—That the word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law.—That the Scripture might be fulfilled—“The Scriptures,” he says, “must be fulfilled.” In numerous passages the Lord refers to what is “written” in the Scriptures, as of equal authority with his own declarations; and, therefore, the words which they contain must be the “words of God.”

The Apostles use similar language in their many references to the Old Testament Scriptures, which they quote as of decisive authority, and speak of them in the same way as they do of their own writings, “That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour,” 2 Peter, iii. 2. Paul says to Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Tim. iii. 15. In this way he proves the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the connexion between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations. The Apostles call the Scriptures “the oracles of God,” Rom. iii. 2. What God says is ascribed by them to the Scriptures: “The Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee.”—“For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” “What saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son.” So much is the Word of God identified with himself, that the Scripture is represented as possessing and exercising the peculiar prerogatives of God: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen;”—“The Scripture hath concluded all under sin.”

From the following passages, among others that might be adduced, we learn the true nature of that inspiration which is ascribed to the Old Testament by the writers of the New: Mat. i. 22, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.” Mat. ii. 15, “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Mat. xxii. 43. “ He saith unto them, How then doth David, in spirit, call him Lord?” Mark, xii. 36, “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost.” Luke, i. 70, “As he spake by the mouth of his Holy Prophets, which have been since the world began.” Acts, i. 16, “Which the Holy Ghost spoke by the mouth of David.” Acts, xiii. 35, “He (God) saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer. thine Holy One to see corruption.” These words are here quoted as the words of God, although addressed to himself. In the parallel passage, Acts, ii. 31, the same words are ascribed to David, by whose “mouth” therefore God spoke. Acts, xxviii. 25, “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word: Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet, unto our fathers.” Rom. i. 2, “Which He had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” Rom. ix. 25, “ As He saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her Beloved, which was not beloved.” I Cor. vi. 16, 17, “What I know ye not, that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh.” Here the words of Moses are referred to by the Apostle, as they had been by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the words of God. Eph. iv. 8, “Wherefore He saith, when he ascended up on high.” Heb. i. 7, 8, “And of the angels He saith;”—“But unto the Son He saith.” In these passages what was said by the Psalmist, is quoted as said by God. Heb. iii. 7, “Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice.” Heb. x. 15, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us, for after that He had said.” 1 Peter, i. 11, “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” And how was it possible that the Prophets could find language in which to express intelligibly the mysteries of God, which they so imperfectly comprehended, unless the Spirit of Christ which was in them had dictated every word they wrote? 2 Peter, i. 20, 21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” In this passage the Apostle Peter, having, in the preceding verse, directed the attention of those to whom he wrote, to the “sure word of prophecy,” has given an equally comprehensive and explicit attestation to the verbal inspiration of all the prophetic testimony, which comprises so large a portion of the Old Testament, as the Apostle Paul has given, 2 Tim. iii.16, to that of the whole of the Scriptures, Acts, iv. 25, “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the Heathen rage?” Heb. i. 1, “God, who at sundry times, and in diverse manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” The words, then, spoken by the Prophets, were as much the words of God, as the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Robert Haldane, The Books of the Old and New Testaments Proved to be Canonical, and Their Verbal Inspiration Maintained and Defended

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

He Was Numbered With The Transgressors

I may here notice another saying of Christ...containing ... a deep significance, which can only be apprehended when we read it in connection with Christ's suretyship or representative character. He said, before leaving the upper room, where He celebrated the last supper: 'This that is written of Me must yet be accomplished in Me, And He was numbered among transgressors' (Luke xxil 37). Now, are we to regard this remark of Christ, which embodies a quotation from Isaiah's prophecy, as containing nothing more than a description of the opinion entertained by men respecting Him? Does it mean that He was treated as if He had been a transgressor, or in a way which might have led a hasty observer or an undiscerning spectator to conclude that He was, or might be, a transgressor? No; by no means. Our Lord plainly takes the words in all their fulness of significance. He uses them not as denoting a mere as if, but as descriptive of the real sentence due to transgressors, and of the doom or punishment consequent on that righteous sentence carried out against transgressors. That is the meaning of the words; and the rationale is supplied by the fact, that the expression occurs in a chapter which, beyond doubt, predicts the vicarious sufferings of Christ, and repeats again and again the great thought, 'that He bore the sins of many' (Isa. liii.). No candid interpreter, interpreting simply by language, can have any other impression than this, that the righteous servant there named delivers many by a vicarious atonement. And Jesus, by quoting this statement as awaiting its accomplishment in Himself, manifestly applies that whole chapter of Isaiah to His own sufferings and death. We can interpret our Lord's words only in the sense that He was to be judicially numbered among transgressors, that is, numbered agreeably to the execution of a judicial sentence with transgressors. When Mark applies the same quotation to the position assigned to Christ between the two thieves at His crucifixion (Mark xv. 28), he brings out its meaning in all its compass of allusion. But He by no means excludes the preparatory stages of its accomplishment, or that which preceded the fact adduced as its fulfilment. The words, 'He was numbered with transgressors,' were accomplished not only when He shared a common lot with the malefactors, but also in all that preceded the erection of the three crosses on Golgotha, and, in fact, from the moment of His delivery into the hands of men. It was thus a judicial numbering of Christ with transgressors.

(1) The ARREST of Christ in the garden as if He were a criminal was the first step to the accomplishment of the prediction ('He was numbered among the transgressors'). He was there treated as a seditious man and as a malefactor in the room of us sinners, who had forfeited our freedom. We are evil-doers in so far as our relation to the city of God is concerned, that is, men who had renounced their dependence and allegiance, and who acted in all things as disobedient subjects. That arrest by the hand of justice was a real transaction at the hand of God, — was, in fact, the arrest of the guilty criminal in the person of the representative. And if the veil had been drawn aside, it would have been seen that all this was in the room of the sinner who should have been so apprehended. This is a real, not a symbolical transaction. And if the representative is seized, they whom He represented must go free. There is such a meaning in our Lord's words: 'Let these go free' (John xviii. 8). Our Lord deeply felt, indeed, the rude arrest in His tender human feelings when He said: 'Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take Me?' (Mark xiv. 48.) But He well knew, that though personally sinless, He was there in the room of sinners, and that the officers, acting as the ministers of God, seized Him as the sinner should have been seized. But, at the same time, to show how little human power could have prevailed against Him, unless He had given His consent, it was deemed fitting to let out some display or outbeaming of His majesty; and the utterance of the simple words, 'I am He,' prostrated the officers and band to the ground (John xviii. 6). Though innocent of the charge of sedition and blasphemy on which He was ostensibly arrested, His people were not; and hence He must needs be seized and bound in His capacity as the sinner's representative. When we see the Son of God bound in chains, what does the transaction exhibit but the captivity consequent upon our sin, which He had made His own, or the chain binding the sinner to the judgment of the great day? His arrest is His people's liberty; His bonds are their release.

(2) Not to mention all the intermediate points in the successive steps of Christ's sufferings, we shall notice, next in order, His TRIAL AND SENTENCE BEFORE THE ECCLESIASTICAL COURT, on the charge of blasphemy. In this whole transaction, when sentence of death was pronounced by the high priest, we have but the visible part of the great assize. He must, as the substitute of sinners, be found innocent, and yet made guilty, — be proved personally spotless, and yet be treated by the sentence given as one who was to be regarded as officially worthy of condemnation. And this anomalous trial brings together at all points these two things. The sentence by which He was condemned only indicated or announced the sentence passed by God upon the sin-bearer. The accusation on which He was tried in the Sanhedrim, AS brought against us, is not false. Moses accuses us, that the revelation given in the name of God has been disregarded and despised, and that the divine perfections have only been blasphemed by us. The accusation is so true and so undeniable, that there is no need of witnesses. The representative of sinners in His official capacity is silent, and puts in no plea in arrest of judgment. But His personal innocence must be apparent. And it was only His own true declaration of what He was as a divine person which brought down on Him, in lack of other evidence, the sentence that He was worthy of death. He thus appears personally innocent, but representatively guilty; and unless we carry with us these two ideas as the key to the whole trial, the narrative will be inexplicable, and the fact in the moral government of God an impenetrable mystery. That earthly court, dealing with the charge of blasphemy, or dishonour to the name and works and word of God, sentenced the sinner's surety, and pronounced upon our sin, much in the same way as the shadow on the sun-dial registers the movements taking place in another sphere. He was personally innocent; but as He stood there for us, He was truly chargeable with all the accusation which was then adduced. His silence at that tribunal opens our mouth to cry, 'Abba, Father.'

(3) The MOCKERY, the shame, and the indignity to which He was subjected, constituted the next part of His vicarious suffering. They were undeserved by that meek and patient sufferer, but well merited by us, in whose name He appeared, and whose person He bore. The wicked 'shall rise to shame and everlasting contempt' (Dan. xii. 2). And from that merited scorn due to sinners from all holy beings the sinless substitute was not exempt. He hid not His face from shame and from spitting.

(4) Omitting the desertion of His disciples and the denial of Peter, we advance to the next public act in connection with Christ's sufferings, — the trial and condemnation at the bar OF THE ROMAN GOVERNOR, ON A CHARGE OF REBELLION OR SEDITION. This is very much of the same kind with the trial before the high priest upon a charge of blasphemy, and is to be considered in a similar light. The course of our Lord's sufferings may with advantage be traced, as we have already done, on the sinner's history, and read off from it. The surety encountered, at each successive step, what should have taken place in the history of man's relation to God. For the very same relations, and not merely analogous ones, were occupied by the surety when He was tried and sentenced and condemned. It is note worthy that at Pilate's bar Jesus was silent (Matt. xxvii. 14). The explanation is to be found in the fact, that though personally sinless, He really, and not nominally, occupied the sinner's place. Hence the silence. He puts in no plea in arrest of judgment or in self- vindication. He was there not in His personal capacity, but in His official capacity, as the representative of sinners and the voluntary sin-bearer. He has nothing to adduce in extenuation or in exculpation, since every mouth must be stopped, and the whole world become guilty before God. He accepts the charge of guilt; and as the doom is the sinner's, not His, He submits to it as merited. When Pilate wished to deliver Him, if Jesus would only be aiding in His own defence, the Lord continued silent before His accusers, amid all the accusations adduced against Him. He was then making a real appearance at the bar of God, of which that earthly court of justice was but the foreground. He was personally innocent, and officially guilty. Hence His silence.

We must notice this anomalous trial specially in connection with the fact that He was sentenced as guilty while pronounced innocent. The examination of the judge was meant to serve the important purpose of manifesting the innocence of Jesus. And the startling fact, that a judge pronounces Him innocent, but condemns Him as guilty, must be historically brought about in the adorable providence of God, in order to exhibit the personal and the official in the Lord Jesus; or, in other words, to discover the sinless one and the sin-bearer. No man could more emphatically testify to Christ's innocence than Pilate. He had examined the accusations; he had heard all that the witnesses could adduce against Him, and was perfectly informed of everything in the case; and five times he declared that he found no fault in Him. This was done, too, in public, before His accusers, and in the presence of the vast multitude. And, not content with that public announcement, he, when he yielded at last to the clamour for the crucifixion, confirmed his judicial testimony to His innocence by the significant symbolical action of washing his hands, and declaring that he was innocent of the blood of that just man. It was fitting that all this should be done by a judge, and from the judicial bench, that Christ's innocence might be made apparent; and next, that the inference might be drawn that the doom of the guilty was transferred to Him as standing in a vicarious position. Thus He was personally innocent, though He was by no means to be accounted so in that official and vicarious capacity, in which alone He stood at Pilate's bar. There is no way of elucidating that anomalous trial, which went through the due forms of law, unless we hold that He was truly innocent, but officially guilty.

(5) The last step of Christ's sufferings, the crucifixion, immediately followed the sentence of Pilate. The intermediate details, such as the mockery, scorn, and indignity inflicted on Him in many forms, we shall omit; though these, too, were vicarious, as appears from the words, 'by His stripes we are healed.' We shall omit, too, the Lord's words to the daughters of Jerusalem when they wept for Him tears of sympathy, as He toiled along the public way under the burden of the cross, — tears which, He shows them, were out of place as shed for Him. We shall limit ourselves to the crucifixion itself and to the closing acts of His life.

The crucifixion, a Roman mode of punishment, was not only peculiarly painful and ignominious in the sight of man, but was meant to indicate the amazing fact, that Christ, by being suspended on the tree, was made a curse. The words of Moses quoted by Paul are express to this effect (Gal. iii. 13). The Lord Jesus was thus, personally considered, the beloved Son and the sinless man, but, officially considered, the curse-bearer in the room of sinners. The Son of God, truly bearing sin with a view to condemn it in the flesh, was exhibited as made a curse by the very fact of enduring this punishment. We have thus to draw the same distinction, as we already mentioned, between Christ considered personally and Christ considered officially. If there ever was a spot where sin could be laid without entailing the inevitable doom of a righteous condemnation, it was here when it was borne on the sinless humanity of the incarnate Son; and we see that even there sin was condemned in the flesh and righteously visited. The surety was tried, sentenced, condemned, and made a curse for us, that we might not come into condemnation.

During those awful hours on the cross when made a curse for us, the Lord Jesus sustained that desertion, which was just the endurance of the death of the soul, when sin separates between God and the soul, and when God hides His face from us. To this it is not necessary to refer further, after what was said in the previous section. The actions of the Lord Jesus when He hung on the cross, were in the highest degree momentous and significant. These expiatory sufferings, 'an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour' (Eph. v. 2), were so efficacious, that they were made the ground of two signal displays of grace, even while He was on the cross. The one of these was the salvation of the dying malefactor, who was made an eminent trophy of His redemption work, and was enabled to recognise Him as a sufficient Saviour, even in that deep abasement and humiliation. The other was the prayer for forgiveness to His crucifiers, whether we regard the scope of the prayer as comprehending the individuals then before Him, or as extending to the preservation of the Jewish nation.

After these hours of inconceivable sorrow and desertion on the cross, under a darkness which just resembled the blackness awaiting the lost, the Lord felt that His work was accomplished; and He gave utterance to that saying which has brought light, rest, and liberty to so many minds: 'It is finished' (John xix. 30). He meant that the expiatory sufferings had reached their climax, and were sufficient, that the guilt of mankind was fully atoned for, and that there was nothing left undone. He felt that God and man were reunited and reconciled; and now He had but to resign His spirit into His Father's hands. As priest and victim, He had only now one act to perform, — to lay down His life by the priestly act of commending His spirit to God. Nature was not exhausted, nor did life ooze away; for He still had power over His own life, and no man took it from Him (John x. 18). After having done all and endured all, He deemed it fitting, without more delay, to resign His life or spirit into His Father's hand as an acceptable sacrifice. It was the High Priest offering up His soul to God that said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.' And He uttered it with a loud voice, to show that strength still remained in Him, and that, by His own authority, He released the spirit from the lacerated and wounded body.

The curse was, 'Thou shalt die;' and now it was exhausted, and sin annihilated. Now heaven and earth were reunited; God and man were at one again.
George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself

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