Monday, August 28, 2017

Scriptural Testimony to the Trinity

The Old and the New Testament alike, assures us that in the trustful knowledge of One God,—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,—is the spiritual life of man now and for ever. The Lord grant that we may continue to bring to the study of his word, that humble spirit which prays “That which I see not teach thou me” (Job 34:32).

To one who receives with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save our souls, the Scriptures already adduced prove beyond contradiction that as the Father is God, so is Jesus Christ God, and so the Holy Spirit is God. This truth, however, must be combined with another, which is revealed with equal clearness and enforced with equal solemnity:—“I am Jehovah, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa 45:5). The combination of these truths establishes the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, for “these Three must together subsist in one infinite Divine essence, called Jehovah or God; and as this essence must be indivisible, each of them must possess not a part or portion of it, but the whole fulness or perfection of the essential Godhead forming, in an unity of nature, One Eternal Jehovah, and therefore revealed by a plural noun as the Jehovah Elohim, which comprehends these Three; but with this solemn qualification, that the Jehovah Elohim is in truth but one Jehovah, Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

This supreme mystery must transcend all the powers of human thought; and the question must recur again and again, What saith the Scripture? Our imaginations must be counted as the small dust of the balance. Thus do you conceive that the very names “the Father the Son” imply a certain point in duration beyond which the Father inhabited eternity alone? Your conception cannot countervail the assertion of Scripture, that the goingsforth of the Saviour have been from everlasting (Micah 5:2); or the words of Christ himself, adopting the formula which declares the Divine self-existence from eternity to eternity, “I am the first and the last” (Rev 1:11).
The illustration, before adduced, of the sun, its beams of light, and its vital heat, may offer some faint resemblance of this great mystery; for the beams of light are generated by the central orb; and yet the sun could not have existed, so far as we know, for a moment without emitting its radiance, nor the radiance have existed without diffusing its warmth: so that “one is not before another, but only in order and relation to one another.” But no creature can adequately image forth the Creator, who asks, “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Isa 40:18).

Again, do you imagine that the name of him who is alone Jehovah, cannot comprehend a Trinity in Unity? Your imagination is as nothing in contradiction of the words of Christ revealing the one Divine name, as “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Do you asseverate the impossibility of three subsistences in one eternal essence? Remember, I pray you, the words, “Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7). What do we know of the essence of created things? The pure white light seems indissolubly one; an unscientific man would, without hesitation, pronounce it uniform, and would utterly deny any plurality subsisting in its transparent simplicity. The colours of the rainbow seem evidently manifold; and the same man might refuse to credit their unity. Science stoops to analyze light; and we are told that— 
The prismatic spectrum consists in reality of three spectra of nearly equal length, each of uniform colour; superposed one upon another; and that the colours which the actual spectrum exhibits, arise from the mixture of the uniform colours of these three spectra superposed. The colours of these three elementary spectra, according to Sir David Brewster, are red, yellow, and blue. He shows that by a combination of these three, not only all the colours exhibited in the prismatic spectrum may be reproduced, but their combination also produces white light. He contends, therefore, that the white light of the sun consists, not of seven, but of three constituent lights.”— “Lardner’s Museum” vol. 7 p. 78. 19

The unlearned man then, in his incredulity, would have denied an established fact. The unity of that pure white light was not so simple as he affirmed. More constituents than one subsist in its ethereal essence. But has science now fathomed the mysteries of light? So far from it, we read—“Light is now proved to consist in the waves of a subtle and elastic ether, which pervades all space, and serves to communicate every impulse, from one part of the universe to another, with a speed almost inconceivable. In this luminous ether, matter seems to emulate the subtlety of thought. Invisible, and yet the only means by which all things are made visible; impalpable, and yet nourishing all material objects into life and beauty; so elastic, that when touched at one point, swift glances of light tremble through the universe; and still so subtle that the celestial bodies traverse its depths freely, and even the most vaporous comet scarcely exhibits a sensible retardation in its course— there is something in the very nature of this medium which seems to baffle the powers of human science, and to say to the pride of human intellect, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” Here, indeed, the most brilliant and profound analysts have continually to guess their way, when they would trace out a few of the simplest laws resulting from the existence of such an ether, and unfold their application to the various phenomena of reflected and refracted light. It is a great deep of mystery. Science grows dizzy on its verge when it strives to explore the nature of this subtle, immense imponderable ocean, which bathes all worlds in light, and itself remains, by its own nature, invisible for ever.”—Birks’ “Treasures of Wisdom”, pp.99-106.

Is such the modest confession of truth after all the triumphs of human wisdom? Is man only wading, with tremulous footstep, into the shallow waters of that unfathomable sea called into existence by the fiat of God, when he said, “Let there be light, and there was light?” Are we so soon out of our depth in seeking to understand one of his works? How much rather may we expect to be humbled as we meditate, and to be baffled if we think we can comprehend, the glorious Creator himself? Is light a mystery? How much rather he who dwells in the light that no man can approach unto! We know him only as he reveals himself.

This self-revelation involves a yet greater self-concealment There will be the manifestation of God in the voluntary condescension of his love: and there will be the necessary seclusion within the clouds of his unapproachable glory. W hen a finite being seeks to understand anything of the Infinite, it must always be so. There will be the fragment of truth which the student has made and is making his own, and the illimitable expanse beneath, above, and beyond him. Thus in the field of nature we read, “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (Psa 111:2). Here is our knowledge. But “No man,” says Solomon, “can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:11). There is the limit of our knowledge. We are invited to consider his heavens, to trace his footprints, and to regard the operations of his hands. And yet after all, “Lo! these are parts of his ways; how faint a whisper is heard of him! the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14) So, in the majestic course of his patient. providence we adoringly acknowledge, “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints:”(Rev 15:3) and yet we must confess, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known” (Psa 77:19).

Humble students are treading an upland path. Their horizon widens every step they take. The angels of light, standing on a higher eminence, see further than they. Still there must be a boundary line which limits angelic intuition: and whatever lies beyond that line must be a mystery to them, or, if made known to them, made known by revelation. We rebuke the want of modesty in the unlearned peasant who argues from his ignorance against the declarations of science: surely those blessed spirits would rebuke us, if we, through preconceived notions of our own, refused to credit the simple revelations of God regarding his own mysterious Being. He reveals himself by his names, his attributes, and his acts. And, therefore, if, combined with assertions that God is one, we find three revealed in Scripture to whom the same names, attributes, and acts are ascribed, the same so far as a personal distinction allows; if we look vainly for any fourth Divine one, or any intimation of more than three; if we connect with this the intimate and necessary union affirmed to exist betwixt the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, as when the Lord Jesus says, “I and my Father are one,” and when Paul says, “The Spirit searches the depths of God;” if, then, we find that every Christian is baptized into one Name,—the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,—we are led swiftly and irresistibly up to the doctrine (call it by what name you will) of the Trinity in Unity.

Hence, at the risk of apparent repetition, I shall bring together again some few Bible testimonies to the Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; combining them in one view; and adding a further declaration from Scripture of our sole dependence on the alone Jehovah; so that you may see at a glance, that we are compelled by the Christian verity, “to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity.”

I. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are eternal.

1. I am the first, and I am the last (Isa 44:6). The everlasting God (Rom 16:26).
2. I am the first and the last (Rev 1:17). Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2.)
3. The eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14). 

The One Eternal is our trust. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27).

II. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost created all things.

1. One God, the Father, of whom are all things (1 Cor 8:6). The Lord.... it is he that hath made us (Psa. 100:3).
2. All things were made by him (the Word, etc. John1:3). By him were all things created, etc. (Col.1:16).
3. Who hath measured, etc. who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord? (Isa. 40:12,13). The Spirit of God hath made me (Job 33:4).

The One Almighty is our trust. Commit the keeping of their souls to him,—as unto a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).

III. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are omnipresent.
1. Do not I fill the heaven and earth? saith the Lord (Jer 23:24).
2. Lo, I am with you alway (Matt 28:20).
3. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? (Psa 139:7).

The One omnipresent God its our trust. He is not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:27, 28).

IV. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are omniscient.
1. No one knoweth the Father, save the Son (Matt. 11:27). Known unto God are all his works, etc. (Acts 15:18).
2. No one knoweth the Son, save the Father (Matt 11:27). Lord, thou knowest all things (John 21:17). 
3. Who being his counsellor hath taught him? (Isa 40:13). The Spirit searcheth all things (l Cor 2:10).

We worship the One all-seeing God. All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb 4:13).

V. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are true, holy, and good
1. He that sent me is true (John 7:28). Holy Father. Righteous Father (John 17:11, 25). The Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
2. I am...the truth (John 14:6). The Holy One and the just (Acts 3:14). The good Shepherd (John 10:11).
3. The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6). The Spirit, the Holy One (John 14:26). Thy Spirit is good (Psa 143:10).

We adore the One Lord of infinite goodness. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy (Rev. 15:4).

VI. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost have each a self-regulating will.
1. Him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will (Eph 1:11).
2. The Son wills to reveal him (Matt 11:27). Father, I will (John 17:24).
3. Dividing to every one severally as he wills (1 Cor 12:11).

We rest on the will of him who alone is Jehovah. The will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:14).

VII. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the fountain of life.
1. With thee is the fountain of life (Psa 36:9). God hath quickened us (Eph. 2:4,5).
2. In him (the Word) was life (John 1:4). The Son quickeneth whom he will (John 5:21).
3. The Spirit is life (Rom 8:10). Born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

We depend on one life-giving God. Love the Lord thy God,...cleave unto him,...for he is thy life (Deut 30:20).

VIII. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost strengthern, comfort, and sanctify us.
1. Thou strengthenedst me with strength in my soul (Psa 138:3). I will comfort you (Isa 66:13). Sanctified by God the Father (Jude 1).
2. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Phil 4:13). If any consolation in Christ (Phil. 2:1). Sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:2).
3. Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (Eph 3:16). The Comforter, the Holy Ghost (John 14:26). Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost (Rom 15:16).

We trust in One God for spiritual power. My God, my strength, in whom I will trust (Psa 18:2).

IX. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fill the soul with Divine love.
1. Every one that loveth him that begat (1 John 5:1). If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
2. The love of Christ constraineth us (2 Cor 5:14). If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 16:22).
3. I beseech you for the love of the Spirit (Rom 15:30). Your love in the Spirit (Col 1:8).

The love of the One living and true God characterizes the saint. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart (Deut. 6:5).

X. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost gave the Divine law.
1. The law of the Lord is perfect (Psa 19:7). The word of our God (Isa 11:8). Thus saith the Lord God (Eze 2:4).
2. The law of Christ (Gal 6:2). The word of Christ (Col 3:16). These things saith the Son of God (Rev 2:18).
3. The law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Ghost said (Acts 13:2).

The word of One Legislator is the believer’s rule. There is one Lawgiver who is able to save (James 4:12).

XI. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost dwell in the hearts of believers.
1. I will dwell in them (2 Cor 6:16). God is in you of a truth (1 Cor 14:25). Our fellowship is with the Father (1 John 1:3).
2. Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (Eph 3:17). Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Our fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
3. The Spirit dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:17). The communion of the Holy Ghost (2 Cor 13:14).

The contrite heart receives One Divine guest. Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, I dwell with him that is of a contrite and humble heart (Isa 57:15).

XII. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are, each by himself, the supreme Jehovah and God.
1. I am Jehovah thy God (Exo 20:2). Thou, Lord, art most High for evermore (Psa 92:8).
2. Jehovah our God (Isa 40:3, with Matt 3:3) The Highest (Luke 1:76, with Matt 11:10).
3. Jehovah God (Ezek 8:1,3). The Highest (Luke 1:35).

The One supreme Lord God is our God for ever and ever. Jehovah, our Elohim, One Jehovah (Deu 6:4).

From this brief comparison, which might be elaborated at far greater length, Scripture assures us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have the same Divine attributes, concur with a mind and will and heart, personally independent but unitedly harmonious, in the same Divine acts, and are addressed by the same Divine names. And further, we learn that our trust is not dispersed or confused by this co-equal Godhood of the Sacred Three: but that (a way of access being opened in the gospel through the revelation of the Father in Christ by the Spirit) we rest on, we worship, and we love One God.
Taken from the book “The Trinity” by Edward Henry Bickersteth.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

To A Sinner Possible Salvation Is Impossible Salvation

A possible salvation would be to a sinner an impossible salvation. Mere salvability would be to him inevitable destruction. It will be admitted, without argument, that a possible salvation is not, in itself, an actual salvation. That which may be is not that which is. Before a possible can become an actual salvation something needs to be done—a condition must be performed upon which is suspended its passage from possibility to actuality. The question is, What is this thing which needs to be done—what is this condition which must be fulfilled before salvation can become a fact to the sinner? The Arminian answer is: Repentance and faith on the sinner's part. He must consent to turn from his iniquities and accept Christ as his Saviour. The further question presses, By what agency does the sinner perform this condition—by what power does lie repent, believe, and so accept salvation? The answer to this question, whatever it may be, must indicate the agency, the power, which determines the sinner's repenting, believing and so accepting salvation. It is not enough to point out an agency, a power, which is, however potent, merely an auxiliary to the determining cause. It is the determining cause itself that must be given as the answer to the question. It must be a factor which renders, by virtue of its own energy, the final decision—an efficient cause which, by its own inherent causality, makes a possible salvation an actual and experimental fact. What is this causal agent which is the sovereign arbiter of human destiny? The Arminian answer to this last question of the series is, 'The sinner's will.' It is the sinner's will which, in the last resort, determines the question whether a possible, shall become an actual, salvation. This has already been sufficiently evinced in the foregoing remarks. But what need is there of argument to prove what any one, even slightly acquainted with Arminian theology, knows that it maintains? Indeed, it is one of the distinctive and vital features of that theology, contra-distinguishing it to the Calvinistic. The Calvinist holds that the efficacious and irresistible grace of God applies salvation to the sinner; the Arminian, that the grace of God although communicated to every man is inefficacious and resistible, and that the sinner's will uses it as merely an assisting influence in determining the final result of accepting a possible salvation and so making it actual. Grace does not determine the will; the will 'improves' the grace and determines itself. Grace is the handmaid, the sinner's will the mistress. Let us suppose that in regard to the question whether salvation shall be accepted, there is a perfect equipoise between the motions of grace and the contrary inclinations of the sinner's will. A very slight added influence will destroy the equilibrium. Shall it be from grace or from the sinner's will? If from the former, grace determines the question, and the Calvinistic doctrine is admitted. But that the Arminian denies. It must then be from the sinner's will; and however slight and inconsiderable this added influence of the will may be, it determines the issue. It is like the feather that alights upon one of two evenly balanced scales and turns the beam.

Moreover, this will of the sinner which discharges the momentous office of determining the question of salvation is his natural will. It cannot be a gracious will, that is, a will renewed by grace; for if it were, the sinner would be already in a saved condition. But the very question is, Will he consent to be saved 2 Now if it be not the will of a man already in a saved condition, it is the will of a man yet in an unsaved condition. It is the will of an unbelieving and un converted man, that is, a natural man, and consequently must be a natural will. It is this natural will, then, which finally determines the question whether a possible salvation shall become an actual. It is its high office to settle the matter of practical salvation. In this solemn business, as in all others, it has an irrefragable autonomy. Not even in the critical transition from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son, can it be refused the exercise of its sacred and inalienable prerogative of contrary choice. At the supreme moment of the final determination of the soul “for Christ to live and die,” the determination might be otherwise. The will may be illuminated, moved, assisted by grace, but not controlled and determined by it. To the last it has the power of resisting grace and of successfully resisting it. To it—I use the language reluctantly—the blessed Spirit of God is represented as sustaining the attitude of the persuasive orator of grace. He argues, he pleads, he expostulates, lie warns, he beseeches the sinner's will in the melting accents of Calvary and alarms it with the thunders of judgment—but that is all. He cannot without tres passing upon its sovereignty renew and re-create and determine his will. This is no misrepresentation, no exaggeration, of the Arminian’s position. It is what he contends for. It is what he must contend for. It is one of the hinges on which his system turns. Take it away, and the system swings loosely and gravitates to an inevitable fall.

Now this is so palpably opposed to Scripture and the facts of experience, that Evangelical Arminians endeavor to modify it, so as to relieve it of the charge of being downright Pelagianism. That the attempt is hopeless, has already been shown. It is utterly vain to say, that grace gives ability to the sinner sufficient for the formation of that final volition which decides the question of personal salvation. Look at it. Do they mean, by this ability, regenerating grace? If they do, as regenerating grace unquestionably determines the sinner's will, they give mp their position and adopt the Calvinistic. No; they affirm that they do not, because the Calvinistic position is liable to two insuperable objections: first, that it limits efficacious grace to the elect, denying it to others; secondly, that efficacious and determining grace would contradict the laws by which the human will is governed. It comes back to this, then: that notwithstanding this imparted ability, the natural will is the factor which determines the actual relation of the soul to salvation. The admission of a gracious ability, therefore, does not relieve the difficulty. It is not an efficacious and determining influence; it is simply suasion. The natural will may yield to it or resist it. It is a vincible influence. Now this being the real state of the case, according to the Arminian scheme, it is perfectly manifest that no sinner could be saved. There is no need of argument. It is simply out of the question, that the sinner in the exercise of his natural will can repent, believe in Christ, and so make a possible salvation actual. Let it be clearly seen that, in the final settlement of the question of personal religion, the Arminian doctrine is, that the will does not decide as determined by the grace of God, but by its own inherent self-determining power, and the inference, if any credit is attached to the statements of Scripture, is forced upon us, that it makes the salvation of the sinner impossible. A salvation, the appropriation of which is dependent upon the sinner's natural will, is no salvation; and the Arminian position is that the appropriation of salvation is dependent upon the natural will of the sinner. The stupendous paradox is thus shown to be true—that a merely possible salvation is an impossible salvation.” 

John L. Girardeau, Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism Compared, Part I, Section III: Objections From Divine Goodness

Monday, August 21, 2017

John Foxe on Antichrist Exalting Himself in the Temple of God

Most of us have heard of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. What many are not aware of is that this is an extremely edited version of his original work, which is entitled The Acts and Monuments of the Church, Containing the History and Sufferings of the Martyrs. The entire work runs over 7,000 pages, contained in 8 volumes. "The Book of Martyrs" that most people are familiar with is a 300+ page paperback that focuses largely on the martyrs of the first 300 years of Church history. Foxe arranges his material around his interpretation of the Millennium of Revelation 20. Perhaps in later posts, I will provide Foxe's detailed exegetical analysis of this passage of Scripture. But for now, suffice it to say that Foxe sees the Millennium as the 1,000 year period in which there was no official, state-sanctioned persecution of the Church. This extends from the Edict of Milan. From this period, there was no state-sanctioned persecution of Christians. During the intervening one thousand years, pagan Rome was destroyed and its power fully transferred to Papal Rome. A thousand years after the cessation of persecution of Christians, Rome, now ruled by the Pope, reinstituted the persecution of Christians when she aimed her fury at Wycliffe. 

Central to Foxe's position, is that the papacy is the Antichrist. This view has waned among Protestants, even among supposed Reformed Christians, over the past century and a half, but it was without a doubt a central tenet of the Reformation. In fact, whatever doctrinal differences there may have been among the various "schools" or strands of the Reformation (Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Knox, etc), there was 100% agreement among them about this: The Papacy, and therefore every currently-reigning Pope is the Antichrist. I am bold enough to say every single Reformer would have made this a test of one's claim to the true Christian faith. Nor is it fair to say that this belief was pure reaction on their part against a persecuting power. Centuries before Wycliffe ever made the charge, sprinkled throughout Church history, other writers, not persecuted, have made the same claim. And all have done so based on careful, precise, exegesis of relevant passages of Scripture. 

When one hears Protestants assert that the Pope is the Antichrist, and that he had historically made extravagant claims for and about himself and his position, it might seem like a stretch or an exaggeration. What follows are the final 18 1/2 pages of Book VI of The Acts and Monuments, which are pages 145-164 of Volume 4 in the 1846 edition. Foxe presents what is essentially a catena, or chain of papal edicts, decrees, epistles, etc., in which the assertion that the Pope exalts himself in the temple of God is proven - straight from the horse's mouth. Clicking on an image will open it to view more clearly. I highly recommend reading all 18 1/2 pages.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

John Foxe on Defeating Islam

This is what the great martyrologist John Foxe says about Islam, why we should be knowledgeable about it, and the only successful way to combat it.

“If it were not that I fear to overlay this our volume with heaps of foreign histories, who have professed chiefly to treat of Acts and Monuments here done at home, I would adjoin after these popes known above rehearsed, some discourse also of the Turks’ story; of their rising and cruel persecution of the saints of God, to the great annoyance and peril of Christendom. Yet, notwithstanding, certain causes there be, which necessarily require the knowledge of their order and doings, and of their wicked proceedings, their cruel tyranny and bloody victories, the ruin and subversion of so many christian churches, with the horrible murders and captivity of infinite Christians, to be made plain and manifest, as well to this our country of England, as also to other nations.
“First, For the better explaining of the prophecies of the New Testament, as in St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, and also in the Revelation of St. John; which scriptures otherwise, without the opening of these histories, cannot so perfectly be understood: of which scriptures, we mind hereafter (Christ granting) orderly, as the course of matter shall lead us, to make rehearsal.
“Another cause is, that we may learn thereby, either with the public church to lament, with our brethren, such a great defection and decay of christian faith, through these wicked Turks; or else may fear thereby our own danger.
“The third cause, that we may ponder more deeply with ourselves the scourge of God for our sins, and corrupt doctrine; which, in the sequel hereof, more evidently may appear to our eyes, for our better admonition.
“Fourthly: The consideration of this horrible persecution of the Turks rising chiefly by our discord and dissension among ourselves, may reduce us again from our domestical wars, in killing and burning one another, to join together in christian patience and concord.
“Fifthly: But chiefly, these great victories of the Turks, and un- prosperous speed of our men fighting against them, may admonish and teach us, following the example of the old Israelites, how to seek for greater strength to encounter with these enemies of Christ, than hitherto we have done. First, we must consider that the whole power of Satan, the prince of this world, goeth with the Turks; which to resist, no strength of man's army is sufficient, but only the name, spirit, and power of our Lord Jesus the Son of God, going with us without in our battles; as among the old Israelites the ark of God's covenant and promise went with them also fighting against the enemies of God. For so are we taught in the Scripture, that we christian men have no strength but in Christ only. Whether we war against the devil, or against the Turk, it is true that the Scripture saith, ‘Sine me nihil potestis facere,’ that is, ‘Without me you can do nothing.’ Otherwise there is no puissance to stand against the devil, or to conquer the world, ‘nisi fides nostra,’ that is, ‘our faith only,’ to which all the promises of God touching salvation be annexed; beyond which promises we must not go, for the word must be our rule. He that presumeth beyond the promises in the word expressed, goeth not, but wandereth he cannot tell whither: neither must we appoint God how to save the world, but must take that way which he hath appointed. Let us not set our God to school, nor comprehend his Holy Spirit within our skulls. He that made us without our council, did also redeem us as pleased him. If he be merciful, let us be thankful. And if his mercies surmount our capacity, let us therefore not resist but search his Word, and thereunto apply our will; which if we will do, all our contentions will be soon at a point. Let us therefore search the will of our God in his Word, and if he will his salvation to stand free to all nations, why do we make merchandise thereof? If he have graciously offered his waters to us, without money or money-worth, let us not hedge in the plenteous springs of his grace given us. And finally, if God have determined his own Son only to stand alone, let not us presume to admix with his majesty any of our trumpery. He that bringeth St. George or St. Denis, as patrons, to the field, to fight against the Turk, leaveth Christ, no doubt, at home.
“Now how we have fought these many years against the Turk, though stories keep silence, yet the success declareth. We fight against a persecutor, being no less persecutors ourselves. We wrestle against a bloody tyrant, and our hands be as full of blood as his. He killeth Christ's people with the sword, and we burn them with fire. He, observing the works of the law, seeketh his justice by the same: the like also do we. But neither doth he, nor do we, seek our justification as we should, that is, by faith only in the Son of God. And what marvel then, our doctrine being as corrupt almost as his, and our conversation worse, if Christ fight not with us, fighting against the Turk? The Turk hath prevailed so mightily, not because Christ is weak, but because Christians be wicked, and their doctrine impure. Our temples with images, our hearts with idolatry are polluted. Our priests stink before God for adultery, being restrained from lawful matrimony. The name of God is in our mouths, but his fear is not in our hearts. We war against the Turk with our works, masses, traditions, and ceremonies: but we fight not against him with Christ, and with the power of his glory; which if we did, the field were won.
“Wherefore, briefly to conclude, saying my judgment in this behalf, what I suppose. This hope I have, and do believe, that when the church of Christ, with the sacraments thereof, shall be so reformed, victory, that Christ alone shall be received to be our justifier, all other religions, merits, traditions, images, patrons, and advocates set apart, the sword of the Christians, with the strength of Christ, shall soon vanquish the Turks' pride and fury. But of this more largely in the process of this story.
“The sixth and last cause, why I think the knowledge of the Turks' cause, history requisite to be considered, is this: because that many there be, who, for that they be further from the Turks, and think therefore themselves to be out of danger, take little care and study what happeneth to their other brethren. Wherefore, to the intent to excite their zeal and prayer to Almighty God, in this so lamentable ruin of Christ's church, I thought it requisite, by order of history, to give church this our nation also something to understand, what hath been done in of Christ. Other nations by these cruel Turks, and what detriment hath been, and is like more to happen by them to the church of Christ, except we make our earnest invocation to Almighty God, in the name of his Son, to stop the course of the devil by these Turks, and to stay this defection of Christians falling daily unto them, and to reduce them again to his faith, who are fallen from him: which the Lord Jesus of his grace grant with speed! Amen.

John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, Book VI

Monday, August 14, 2017

Conclusions of the Parliament at Westminster, 1395 AD

The Book of Conclusions or Reformations, exhibited to the Parliament holden at London, and set up at Paul's door and other places, in the eighteenth year of the reign of King Richard II, and in the year of our Lord 1395. 

The first conclusion: — When the church of England began first to dote in temporalties after her stepmother the great church of Rome, and the churches were authorised by appropriations; faith, hope, and charity began in divers places to fly away from our church, forsomuch as pride, with her dolorous genealogy of mortal sins, did challenge that place by title of heritage. And this conclusion is general, and approved by experience, custom, and manner, as ye shall hereafter hear. 

The second conclusion: — That our usual priesthood, which took its original at Rome, and is feigned to be a power higher than angels, is not that priesthood which Christ ordained unto his apostles. This conclusion is thus proved, forsomuch as the Romish priesthood is executed with signs, and rites, and pontifical benedictions, of little virtue, neither having any ground in holy Scripture, forsomuch as the bishop's ordinal and the New Testament do little agree; neither do we see that the Holy Ghost doth give any good gift on account of any such signs, because He, together with all his noble gifts, cannot stand with deadly sin in any person. The corollary of this conclusion is, That it is a lament able mockery unto wise men, to see the bishops sport with the Holy Ghost in the giving of their orders; because they give crowns for their characters instead of white harts; and this is the character [or, mark] of Antichrist, introduced into holy church to give colour to idleness.
The third conclusion: — That the law of chastity enjoined unto priesthood, which was first ordained to the prejudice of women, induceth sodomy through out holy church; but we do excuse us [in the mention of this crime] by the Bible, whereas the suspect decree doth say that we are not to name it. Both reason and experience prove this conclusion. Reason thus, forsomuch as the delicate fare of ecclesiastical men will have either a natural purgation, or some thing worse. Experience thus, forsomuch as the secret proof of such men is, that they do delight in women; and, whensoever thou dost prove a man to be such, mark him well, for he is one of that number. The corollary of this conclusion is, That private religions, with the beginners thereof, ought most chiefly to be disannulled, as the original of that sin: but God of his might doth for privy sin in his church send open vengeance. 

The fourth conclusion [that most harmeth the innocent people] is this: — That the feigned miracle of the sacrament of bread induceth all men, except it be a few, into idolatry; forsomuch as they think that the body of Christ, which is never out of heaven, is by virtue of the priest's words essentially included in the little bread, the which they do show unto the people. But would to God they would believe that which the Evangelical Doctor teacheth us in his Trialogue, 'Quod panis altaris est accidentaliter corpus Christi' [that is, That the bread of the altar is the body of Christ accidentally]: forsomuch as we suppose that by that means every faithful man and woman in the law of God may make the sacrament of that bread without any such miracle. The corollary of this conclusion is, That albeit the body of Christ be endowed with eternal joy, the service of Corpus Christi, made by friar Thomas, is not true, but painted, full of false miracles; neither is it any marvel, forsomuch as friar Thomas, at that time holding with the pope, would have made a miracle of a hen's egg; and we know well, that every lie openly preached, doth turn to the opprobrium of Him, who is always true and without any defect.
The fifth conclusion is this: — That the exorcisms and benedictions practised over wine, bread, water, oil, salt, wax, incense, altar-stones, and church- walls, over vestments, chalices, mitres, crosses, and the staves of pilgrims, are truly the practices of necromancy rather than of sacred divinity. This conclusion may be thus proved: because that by such exorcisms the creatures are honoured to be of higher virtue than in their own proper nature they are; and we do not see any change in any creature so exorcised, except by false faith, which is the principle of the diabolic art. T-he corollary of this is, That if the book of exorcising [or, conjuring] holy water, which is read in the church, were altogether faithful and true; we think certainly that the holy water, used in the church, were the best medicine for all kind of sicknesses and sores: 'Cujus contrarium indies experimur,' that is, 'The contrary whereof we daily experience.'
The sixth conclusion [which maintaineth much pride] is, That the union in the same person of king and bishop, prelate and judge in temporal causes, curate and officer in worldly office, doth make every kingdom out of good order. This conclusion is manifest, because the temporalty and the spiritualty are two parts of the entire holy church; and, therefore, he who addicteth himself to the one part, let him not intermeddle with the other, 'Quia nemo potest duobus dominis servire.' It seemeth that "hermaphrodite," or "ambidexter" were good names for such men of double estates. The corollary of this conclusion is, That therefore we, as the proctors of God, do in this case sue unto the parliament, that it may be enacted that all curates (as well of the higher degrees as of the lower) may be fully excused, and occupy themselves with their own cure, and with no other.
The seventh conclusion [that we mightily affirm] is, That special prayers made in our church for the souls of the dead, preferring any one man by name more than another, is a false foundation of alms, whereupon all the houses of alms in England are falsely founded. This conclusion may be proved by two reasons: the one is, that a prayer to be meritorious and of any value ought to be a work proceeding from mere charity, and perfect charity excepteth no person, because 'thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Wherefore it appeareth to us, that the gift of some temporal good, bestowed on priests and houses of alms, is the principal motive of special prayer; which is not far removed from simony. The other reason is, that a special prayer, made for men condemned to eternal punishment, is very displeasing to God; and albeit it be doubtful, yet it seemeth unto faithful christian people likely, that the founders of every house of alms, for their mischievous endowing of the same, for the most part have passed by the broad way. The corollary is, That prayer of any value, proceeding of perfect charity, would comprehend generally all such whom God would have saved, and would give up that common trade in special prayers which is now carried on by mendicant other hireling priests (who, otherwise, were strong enough to work and to serve the whole realm) and houses maintaineth the same in idleness, to the great charge of the realm, because it was proved in a certain book which the king hath, that a hundred houses of for alms are sufficient for the whole realm, and thereby, peradventure, greater increase and profit might come unto the temporalty.
The eighth conclusion [needful to tell to the people beguiled] is, That pilgrimages, prayers, and oblations made unto blind crosses or roods, and to deaf images of wood and stone, are very near of kin unto idolatry, and far removed from alms: and, albeit these fanciful things be all forbidden and be a book of error unto the common people, notwithstanding the usual image of the Trinity is most abominable. This conclusion God himself doth openly manifest, when commanding alms to be given to the needy man; because he is the image of God, in a more perfect similitude than wood or stone; for God did not say, Let us make a block or stone after our image and likeness, but, Let us make a poor man; forsomuch as the supreme honour, which the clergy call 'Latria,' pertaineth only to the Godhead, and the inferior honour, which the clergy call 'Dulia,' pertaineth unto men and angels, and to none other inferior creature. The corollary is, That the service of the cross, celebrated twice every year in our church, is full of idolatry: for if the rood, tree, nails, and spear, ought so profoundly to be honoured, then were Judas' lips, if any man could get them, a marvellous goodly relic. But we pray thee, pilgrim, tell us, when thou dost offer to the bones of the saints which are laid up in any place, whether thou dost relieve thereby the saint who is in joy, or that alms-house for the poor which is so well endowed, on account of which they are canonized, the Lord knoweth how! And to speak more plainly, every faithful Christian supposeth that the wounds of that noble man, whom they call St. Thomas, were no matter of martyrdom.
The ninth conclusion [that keepeth the people low] is, That auricular confession, which is said to be so necessary for a man's salvation, and the feigned power of absolution, exalt the pride of priests, and give them opportunity of minister other secret talks, which we will not at this time talk of; forsomuch as both lords and ladies attest, that for fear of their confessors they dare not speak the truth: and in time of confession is good opportunity ministered of wooing, or to play the bawd, or to make other secret conventions to deadly sins. They themselves say, that they are God's commissaries to judge of all manner of sin, to pardon and cleanse whomsoever it shall please them. They say that they have the keys of heaven and hell, and can excommunicate and bless, bind and loose, at their will: insomuch that for a small reward, or for twelve pence, they will sell the blessing of heaven by charter and clause of warranty, sealed with their common seal. This conclusion is so commonly in use, that it needeth not any probation. The corollary hereof is, That the pope of Rome, who is feigned to be the high treasurer of the whole church, having that same worthy jewel, i.e. instead of the treasure of the passion of Christ, in his keeping, together with the merits of all the saints in heaven, whereby he giveth feigned indulgence 'a poena et culpa,' is a treasurer almost banished out of charity, since he can deliver all the prisoners who are in purgatory at his pleasure, and make that they never come thither. But thus every faithful Christian may well see, that there is much secret falsehood lurking in our church. 

The tenth conclusion is, That manslaughter, either by war or by any pretended law of justice, for any temporal cause without a spiritual revelation, is expressly is lawful, contrary unto the New Testament, which is a law full of grace and mercy. This conclusion is evidently proved by examples of the preaching of Christ here on earth, who specially taught man to love his enemies, and to have compassion upon them, and not to kill them. The reason is this, that for the most part when men do fight, after the first stroke charity is broken; and whosoever dieth without charity, goeth straightway to hell. And beside that, we well know, that none of the clergy can by Scripture or by any legitimate means deliver any from the punishment of death for one deadly sin, and not for another: but the law of mercy, which is the New Testament, forbiddeth all manner of man slaughter. For in the gospel it is said to the fathers, 'Thou shalt not kill.' The corollary is, It is a very robbing of the people, when lords purchase indulgences 'a poena et culpa' for those who do help their armies to kill christian people in foreign countries for temporal gain; as also we have seen certain soldiers running among the heathen people, to get themselves a name by the slaughter of men. Much rather do they deserve evil thanks at the hands of the King of Peace, forsomuch as it was by humility and patience that our faith was propagated; but fighters and murderers Christ Jesus doth hate and menace, saying, "He that striketh with the sword, shall perish with the sword."
The eleventh conclusion is [which is shame to tell], That the vow of chastity made in our church by women that are frail and imperfect in nature, is the single cause of bringing in the most horrible sins possible to human nature: for, albeit the murder of their children born before their time, and before they are christened, and the destruction of nature hy medicine, be foul sins; yet intercourse among themselves, or irrational beasts, or inanimate creatures, is such transcendent vileness, that they ought to be punished by hell torments. The corollary is, That widows, and such as take the mantle and the ring, delicately fed, we would that they were married, because we cannot excuse them from private sins.
The twelfth conclusion is, That the multitude of arts not necessary, used in our realm, nourisheth much sin and offence in waste, curiosity, and disguising in curious apparel. Experience and reason partly do show the same, forsomuch as nature, with a few arts, is sufficient for man's necessity. 

This is the whole tenor of our ambassade, which Christ hath commanded us to prosecute at this time, most fit and convenient for many causes. And, albeit these matters be here briefly noted, yet, notwithstanding, they are more at large declared in another book, with many other more, wholly in our own proper tongue, which we would should be common to all Christian people. Wherefore we pray God, of his great goodness, that he would wholly reform our church, now altogether out of frame, unto the perfection of her first beginning.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A 14th Century "Screwtape" Letter

Some clever 14th century fellow wrote a 'letter' entitled, “Luciferi ad malos Principes Ecclesiasticos,” which purported to be a letter from Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, to the persecuting popish clergy, congratulating them on their work in suppressing the truth of God by attacking His servants. The letter was first published in Paris in Latin in the year 1385. The author is unknown. Attempts were made to father it upon Brute, but it predates his trial by enough time to make this highly unlikely. Earlier records associate it with Ockham. Only God knows who the author was. Presumably, the author wanted to stay alive, hence he kept his identity secret.

Indeed, this was not the only such letter. Another letter is mentioned in a correspondence of the University of Prague to Oxford, written around 1370 (meaning that the said 'letter from Satan' was older). 

Several other 'letters' are mentioned and/or alluded to in medieval histories and chronicles. In the 1608 edition of Illyricus' Catalogus Testium, we find an unusual account of a synod of the the clergy held in Paris in the year 1228. At this synod, the man appointed to preach was very nervous about what to say. According to the story, the devil approached the young preacher and asked why he was so worried about what to preach to the clergy. He said, “Tell them this: 'The princes of hell salute you, O you princes of the church! and gladly give you thanks, because through your default and negligence it cometh to pass, that almost all souls go down to hell.'” The story goes on to say that the preacher claimed to be under a strict divine obligation to tell them this and produced some sort of sign or token in order to convince the synod that he was not lying.

Whether such an event occurred or not, is beside the point. I mention it only to point out that the below anonymous “Letter from Lucifer to the Persecuting Clergy” is one of many in a long line of such criticisms aimed at Rome's wicked greed for money and her hypocritical cloaking of this wickedness under the guise of Christianity.

Below is the letter as transcribed by John Foxe in Book V of his Acts and Monuments.

I Lucifer, prince of darkness, emperor of the gloomy regions of profound Acheron, commander-in-chief of Erebus, king of the infernals, and governor of hell: To all the members of our kingdom, the children of pride; and especially to the princes of the modern church, whereof our adversary Jesus Christ by his prophet said, “I hate the congregation of the wicked:” — -health, and that you may ever obey our behests, and follow (as you have begun) the laws of Satan, and diligently observe the precepts of our code.

In times past the vicars of Christ, following his steps, and eminent for miracles and virtues, converted almost the whole world by their preaching and works from the yoke of our tyranny to their own doctrine and manner of life, to the great derision and contempt of our infernal kingdom, and also to the no little prejudice and injury of our authority; they not fearing to invade our power and to offend the terrific majesty of our estate. For thenceforth we received no tribute from the world, neither did the wretched people rush in crowds to the threshold of our dungeon, as they were wont to do; but the downward and broad road which leadeth to death was undisturbed by any sound, being untrod by the feet of wretched travellers: and our court being quite deserted, hell howled and groaned and was in anguish, at being thus spoiled.

This state of things the impatient rage of our Pluto and the dire recklessness of his commander-in-chief could no longer endure. I accordingly took measures to prevent the continuance of such perils, and devised a seasonable remedy. For in the room of those adversaries of ours, the prophets and the twelve apostles, and all the rest who followed Christ's doctrine and manner of life, we procured that you, the prelates of the modern church, should succeed; of whom Christ spake, when he said (Hosea viii.), “They reigned, but not by me.” We once, indeed, promised him all the kingdoms of the world if He would fall down and worship us: but He would not, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He also fled, when the multitude would have made him a temporal king. But in you, who have fallen from a state of grace and are our ministers in the earth, that promise of ours is fulfilled; for it is through us and of us that you now hold that empire over the affairs of the world which we have conferred upon you. For He said of us (as you know), “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me;” but over all the sons of pride He appointed us to reign. Therefore our adversaries aforesaid submitted to the princes of this world in temporals, and taught men so, saying, “Submit your selves to every creature for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme,” &c.; and again, “Obey them that are over you in the Lord.” For so had their Master propounded and commanded, saying, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors: but ye shall not be so.” And, as we said before, they lived in a poor and despised condition, in continual labours and afflictions, as we told you.

But you are not so: for a poison was long since poured out on the church; and now you are inflated; now you are not only unlike those early fathers, but clean contrary to them in life and conditions; and exalt yourselves above all others; and, taking complete possession of all tillings, you neither “render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, nor to God the things which are God's.”

First, according to our decrees you exercise the jurisdiction of both swords; you intermeddle in mundane affairs; and, warring in our quarrel, you entangle yourselves with secular business. From the wretchedness of poverty you gradually climb to the highest honours and the most exalted dignities, by your cunning, policy, and wily tricks, by your hypocrisy, flattery, lies, perjury, frauds, simony, and other wickednesses, more abundant than our infernal fury could have conceived.

But to have gone even thus far, doth not suffice you: you are more greedy than before; you oppress the poor; you grasp at every thing; you turn all topsy-turvy; inflated with pride and living wantonly in carnal delights and enjoyments, you pass all your days amid good things; you assume high-sounding names in the earth, calling yourselves “gods,” and “holy,” yea “most holy.” You also either violently seize or craftily purloin and deceitfully wrest to false uses, and hold by a false title, those goods, which were anciently given for the support of Christ's poor, whom we hate; and you spend them on the uses agreeable to you. Therewith, for instance, you maintain crowds of whores and panders, with whom you go prancing about in state, like mighty princes, far otherwise than the poor priests of Christ in the primitive church. You also build delightful and gorgeous palaces. You eat dainty meats, and drink wines of exquisite delicacy and flavour. You amass untold treasures; unlike him who said, “Silver and gold have I none;” you have restored the Golden Age.

O society most agreeable to us demons, formerly promised to us by the prophet, and reprobated by the fathers of olden time, whilst Christ called you “the synagogue of Satan,” and marked you out under the designation of “The great whore, which committed fornication with the kings of the earth;” having from a mother become a step-mother; from the spouse of Christ, an adulteress; from a chaste woman, a strumpet. The breasts of your puberty are broken; you have left your first love, and have attached yourselves to us.

O our beloved Babylon; O our dear citizens, who have migrated hither from Jerusalem: we deservedly love you, we applaud you, because you neglect the laws of Simon Peter, and wholly cleave to those of our friend Simon Magus: these you have at your fingers' ends, and publicly practise them, buying and selling spiritual things in the temple of God, contrary to Christ's commands. You distribute benefices and ecclesiastical dignities for petition or price; for service or for favour; rejecting the worthy, and promoting the unworthy. You call to the heritage of Christ your ignorant nephews, yea, your own sons, although they be, yea, because they be, roisters and bawds; and deal with the sanctuary of God as if it were a worldly inheritance; and on a single child ye confer many prebends, the smallest whereof you deny to a poor good man. You accept the person; and have infinite care about money, not souls. The house of God you have made a den of thieves. All abuses, all extortions, are practised in your order a thousand fold more than among secular tyrants. You make laws, and do not keep them: you annul them by your dispensations at pleasure: 'You justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him;' and perpetrate every kind of wickedness, just as we would have you do.

You labour hard in our service, though you mean your own gratification; and as far as you can are compassing the destruction of the Christian faith. For now the laity are in doubt what to believe; and if ever you preach to them (though that is but rarely), they do not believe you; because they see plainly that you all act contrary, and so prove that it is otherwise than you say. Wherefore, they who follow you as their examples, now pretty well adopt our rules, and have rushed headlong into a sea of vices: and a very great multitude of them are constantly resorting to the strong seats of our dungeon. Yea, you transmit to us daily so many of every class of mankind, that we could not receive them, were it not that our insatiable chaos gulped in the countless souls by a thousand jaws added for the purpose.

Thus even by your means the sovereignty of our empire hath been reestablished, and our intolerable loss made good to us again. Wherefore, we specially commend you, and return you our hearty thanks. Albeit, we exhort you still to persevere in what you are now doing, and to go forward: because we intend through you to bring back again all the world under our dominion.

And now being ourselves strangely busied here in our recesses with the multitude which you daily send us, we in the meantime commit to you our authority, and wish you to be our vicars and ministers; the more so, for that we are beginning to think of the approaching mission of Antichrist, for whom you are admirably preparing the way. Notwithstanding, we send and depute to you the chief men and satraps of hell, for your counsel and help; whose suggestions to acquiesce in and crafty inventions to add to, you are sufficiently cunning and prudent. Moreover, you who occupy the highest places we counsel to be careful to preserve peace among the princes of the world in pretence, but in reality to nourish discord for the church's sake; and thus you will slyly destroy the Roman empire. Accordingly, do not allow any kingdoms to grow too large, lest becoming too strong and tranquil, they should take a fancy to depress your estate, and take from you those treasures which we have caused to be deposited with you and reserved for Antichrist.

We commend unto you our most dear daughters, Pride, Deceit, Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Lechery, and all the rest; and especially the lady Simony, who hath been the making of you, and enriched you, and suckled you at her own breasts, and nourished you. And this Simony you are not to call a sin. Neither is it pride in you, for the worshipful eminence of your station requireth such magnificence. Nor are you to be charged with avarice, for whatever you can gather in your pouches is for St. Peter, and for the peace of the church, the patrimony of the Crucified. For though you promote your cardinals to the very summit of dignity, on very slight grounds, you may excuse yourselves by saying, that our adversary Jesus promoted his relations to the apostleship. That, however, was in a poor and humble state of life. Not so do you; but in holiness, arrogance, pride, and vile lewdness, you call to a state of riches and pride. The disciples of Christ also renounced rewards and preferments; but not so you, for you hold your goods avowedly for your defence of the church: and this is but a specimen of the rest.

Go forward then (and ye know best how) to perpetrate vices cloaked under the appearance of virtues; allege [Scriptures] in your behalf; gloss, however perversely; and adduce them, however inappositely to your purpose. And if any one preach or teach contrary to you, violently crush him by excommunications, and let him be condemned by you as a heretic; and let him be kept in most strait prison, and there tormented till he die, for a terrible example to all such as confess Christ. And, setting all favour apart, cast him out of your temple, lest peradventure, the ingrafted word may save your souls, which word I do abhor, as I do the souls of other faithful men.

And all this do, in order that you may earn the place which we are preparing for you in our own mansion, in the most secret depths, which we are preparing for you in particular; and which no one yet was ever known to enter, except the chief satraps of our kingdom. For you neither hope for future rewards, nor fear eternal punishment: and therefore shall not have the life which you do not believe in, but shall obtain together with us that death, which while living you do not fear.

Farewell, and may you enjoy that felicity wherewith we desire and intend finally to reward you.

Given at the centre of the earth, in our dark palace; present, crowds of devils, specially for the purpose called unto our most dolorous consistory; under the character of our terrible seal, for the confirmation of the premises.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Atonement: Christ as the Second Adam

Christ acting as the second Adam, or according to a covenant with the Father, in the whole of His atoning work.

This idea must be carried with us, whether we consider the fundamental presuppositions of the atonement, as stated in some of the first sections, or discuss the special reference and extent of the atonement, as exhibited in section xli. (p. 312). The doctrine of the atonement cannot be understood without the idea of a conjunction between Christ and His people, whether or not it is called a covenant (pactum salutis), and whether or not we use the terms of the federal theology. The whole scheme of thought relating to the covenant occupied at one time an important. place in the Reformed Church, and in some portions of the Lutheran Church, though it never became general in the latter.

Of various elements which may be said to have concurred, if not to originate, at least to turn attention to this scheme of thought, the two following may be particularly named: the cavils of Socinus, and the subsequent rise of the Arminian controversy. As to the first of these concurring forces, I may mention that one of the objections against the satisfaction on which Socinus laid stress, was, that there ought to be at least some conjunction between the guilty and him that is punished; and he would not admit that there was any such conjunction or bond between Christ and us. This drove the defenders of the truth to assert the affirmative, and to define it. They main tained that Christ was united to us, not only as a partaker of our humanity by becoming one of us, our brother and friend, but also as He entered into a still closer conjunction as the Bridegroom, Head, Shepherd, Lord, King, and Surety of His people. Grotius, in his treatise, De Satisfactione, chap, iv., is particularly emphatic in asserting this close conjunction, on which the possibility of an atonement depends. Thus, in op position to Socinus, Grotius says, "It might be said here that man is not without relation to man, that there is a natural kindred and consanguinity between men, and between our flesh assumed by Christ. But another much greater conjunction between Christ and us was decreed by God, for He was ap pointed by God to be the Head of the body of which we are members. And here it must be observed, that Socinus erroneously confined to the flesh alone that conjunction which is sufficient for laying punishment upon one for another's sins, since here the mystical conjunction has no less power. This appears principally in the example of a king and a people. We cited above the history of the Israelites punished for the sin of David." A little afterwards, Grotius adds that this con junction lays the foundation for vicarious punishment: "There fore the sacred writings do not at all favour Socinus, declaring, as they do, that God did the very thing which he undeservedly accuses of injustice; but neither has he any greater defence from right reason, which it is wonderful that he so often boasts of, but nowhere shows. But that all this error may be re moved, it must be observed that it is essential to punishment that it be inflicted for sin, but that it is not likewise essential to it that it be inflicted on him who sinned; and that is manifest from the similitude of reward, favour, and revenge, — for reward is often wont to be conferred upon the children or relations of a well-deserving person, and favour on the kinsman of him who conferred the benefit, and revenge upon the friends of him that offended. Neither do they, on that account, cease to be what they are — reward, favour, and revenge. Add to this, that if it were against the nature of punishment, then this very thing would not be called unjust, but impossible. But God forbids a son to be punished by men for the father's fault; but impossible things are not forbidden. Moreover, injustice does not properly happen to a relation (such as punishment is), but to the action itself, such as the matter of punishment is. And here the true distinction must be inquired into, why it is not equally free to all to punish one for another's sin, and to bestow a favour or reward for another's merit or benefit; for an act which contains in it a reward or favour is a benevolent act, which, in its own nature, is permitted to all; but an act which has in it punishment, is a hurtful act, which is neither allowed to all, nor against all. Wherefore, that a punishment may be just, it is requisite that the penal act itself should be in the power of the punisher, which happens in a threefold way: either by the antecedent right of the punisher himself, or by the legitimate and valid consent of him about whose punishment the question is; or by the crime of the same person. When the act has become lawful by these modes, nothing prevents its being appointed for the punishment of another's sin, provided there be some conjunction between him that sinned and the party to be punished. And this conjunction is either natural, as between a father and a son; or mystical, as between king and people; or voluntary, as between the guilty person and the surety. Socinus appeals to the judgment of all nations; but as to God, the philosophers doubted not that the sins of parents were punished by Him in the children." I shall not quote further from this memorable chapter of Grotius, in which he overwhelms his opponent by the testimony of all classical antiquity. I have adduced this discussion, only to show how men came during the course of it to adopt and maintain a certain necessary conjunction between the Redeemer and the redeemed, which involved something more than a mere community of the same nature, and, in a word, the elements of a covenant.

But another cause concurred with the former. When the Arminian debates arose, and the five points were debated, many were led, during the course of this discussion, more and more to the conclusion that there was a given party in whose behalf all the provisions of redemption were contrived and carried into effect. Thus, Amesius, Coronis, p. 112, expresses himself: "Addam etiam insuper, si nullo modo versabatur ecclesia in mente divina, quum unctus et sanctificatus fuit Christus ad officium suum, turn caput constitutus fuit sine corpore, ac rex sine subditis ullis in praesentia notis, vel omniscio ipsi Deo: quod quam indignum sit thesauris illis divinae sapientiae qui in hoc mysterio absconditi fuerunt, non opus est ut ego dicam. Hoc unum perpendat cordatus Lector satisfactionem illam Christi pro nobis nocentibus susceptam valere non potuisse, nisi aliqua antecedente inter nos et Christum, conjunctione; tali scilicet qua designatus est a Deo ut caput esset corporis, cujus nos sumus membra; ut Vir cl. Hugo Grotius, relictis remonstrantibus, quos alibi defendit ingenue concedit. — Defensionis fidei Catholicae, pagina 66."

Hence the doctrine of the covenant was the concentrated essence of Calvinism, and appeared especially in a formed and jointed system, after the Synod of Dort. Cloppenburg maintained it just after that Synod. Thus these two elements above named led many of the greatest divines of the Reformed Church to bring out, and" to lay stress upon, a pactum salutis, or foedus, as necessary to a full understanding of the atonement. This doctrine has fallen out of the prominence it at one time occupied in theology. But whatever view may be held as to that scheme of thought, there is no room for two opinions as to the scriptural character of the doctrine, that there must be a certain conjunction between Christ and the redeemed.

It is due to the federal theology to state, that it was only meant to ground and to establish the undoubtedly scriptural doctrine of the two Adams (Rom. v. 12-20; 1 Cor. xv. 47). These are by no means to be regarded as two different lines of thought, or as two mutually exclusive modes of representing truth. They proceed on the same principle, and they come to precisely the same result, — the one from the view-point of humanity, the other from the counsels of the Trinity. No one can doubt, who examines the federal theology, that the design of those who brought that scheme of thought into general reception in the Reformed Church for two centuries, was principally to ground, and to put on a sure basis, the idea of the two Adams; that is, to show that there were, in reality, only two men in history, and only two great facts on which the fortunes of the race hinged. The leading federalists were Cloppenburg, Dick son the Scottish divine (who developed it so early as 1625 — see Life of Robert Blair, in the Wodrow publications — several years before the work of Cocceius, De Foedere, appeared in 1648), Cocceius, Burmann, Witsius, Strong, Owen, etc. etc. It became a magnificent scheme of theological thought in the hands of these men, and of others who took it up with ardour. That foreign thoughts afterwards came to be introduced into it, and that it became complicated by many additional elements, brought in to give it completeness, but which only lent it an air of human ingenuity and artificial construction, cannot be denied. But as to the point already referred to, there is no doubt that they intended to establish, by this mode of representation, that Christ and His people were to be regarded as one person in the eye of law; and that, properly speaking, there were only two heads of families, and only two great facts in history — the fall and the atonement.

Against this whole scheme of thought, a reaction set in a century ago. Nor can this be wondered at, when we remember that it was overdone at that time, and that a reaction was only the effort of the human mind to regain its equilibrium — as is always the case when anything is carried too far. It was over done, and now it is neglected.

But it is by no means to be repudiated, or put among the mere antiquities of Christian effort. This, or something like it, whether we adopt the federal nomenclature or not, must occur to every one who will follow out the revealed thoughts uttered by Christ Himself to their legitimate consequences. The only objection of any plausibility is, that the notion of a covenant presupposes a twofold will in God. To meet this objection, springing from an exclusive regard to the unity of the Godhead, it may be remarked, that the supposition of a council or covenant, having man's redemption for its object, has no more difficulty than the doctrine of a Trinity. Each person wills, knows, loves, and exercises acts to one another and to us; and as they are personally distinct in the numerical- unity of the divine essence, so, according to the order of subsistence, they each will, though not apart and isolated. Accordingly, Dr. Owen remarks against Biddle, in his Vindiciae: "Because of the distinct acting of the will of the Father, and of the will of the Son, with regard to each other, it is more than a decree, and hath the proper nature of a covenant or compact."

Whatever view may be taken, however, of that scheme of thought, the one important matter on which no doubt can be entertained by any scriptural divine, is, that as Adam was a public person, the representative of all his family, according to the constitution given to the human race, as contradistinguished from that of other orders of being, so Christ, the Restorer, stands in the same position to His family or seed. The world could be redeemed on no other principle than that on which it was at first constituted. Augustin's formula, ilk unus homo nos omnes fuimus, as applied to the first man, is perhaps the very best that has ever been given; and the same formula may be applied with equal warrant to the second man, the Lord from heaven. As applied to the atonement, this principle of a covenant, or of a conjunction between Christ and His seed, is simple and easily apprehended. The conditions being fulfilled by the second man, His people enter into the reward.

Thus Christ was commissioned to do a work for a people who were to reap the reward. The Father laid on Him the conditions given to Adam, with the additional one derived from guilt, and claimed satisfaction from the Son undertaking to act for a seed given to Him. Man could be redeemed only on the principle or constitution on which God placed him at first, and not on one altogether different; and the one aim of the federal theology was meant to base and to ground this biblical truth.

George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself, Appendix on Sec. X.

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