Christ our Model

December 30th, 2007

Augustine, Enchiridion, Chapter 53

All the events, then, of Christ’s crucifixion, of His burial, of His resurrection the third day, of His ascension into heaven, of His sitting down at the right hand of the Father, were so ordered, that the life which the Christian leads here might be modelled upon them, not merely in a mystical sense, but in reality. For in reference to His crucifixion it is said: “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” And in reference to His burial: “We are buried with Him by baptism into death.” In reference to His resurrection: “That, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. And in reference to His ascension into heaven and sitting down at the right hand of the Father: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Chafing Expectations

December 29th, 2007

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility [of Mrs. John Dashwood’s feelings on being obliged to show a slight courtesy to her sisters-in-law and the fears this evoked of them coming to expect such civility from her]

…when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them.

Skepticism and Authority

December 29th, 2007

G.K. Chesterton, The Hole in the Wall

In the village or suburb outside there’s an inn with the sign of St. George and the Dragon. Now suppose I went about telling everybody that this was only a corruption of King George and the Dragoon. Scores of people would believe it, without any inquiry, from a vague feeling that it’s probable because it’s prosaic. It turns something romantic and legendary into something recent and ordinary. And that somehow makes it sound rational, though it is unsupported by reason. Of course, some people would have the sense to remember having seen St. George in old Italian pictures and French romances; but a good many wouldn’t think about it at all. They would just swallow the scepticism because it was scepticism. Modern intelligence won’t accept anything on authority. But it will accept anything without authority.

Self-Aggrandized Emotion

December 28th, 2007

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility [of Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne]

They encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction. The agony of grief which overpowered them at first was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again. They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation in future.

Which taken in conjunction with yesteday’s post from Johnson could lend some colour to Lewis’ confidence that Jane Austen is Samuel Johnson’s daughter.

Samuel Johnson, Life of Pope

To charge those favourable representations, which men give of their own minds, with the guilt of hypocritical falsehood, would shew more severity than knowledge. The writer commonly believes himself. Almost every man’s thoughts, while they are general, are right; and most hearts are pure, while temptation is away. It is easy to awaken generous sentiments in privacy; to despise death when there is no danger; to glow with benevolence when there is nothing to be given. While such ideas are formed they are felt, and self-love does not suspect the gleam of virtue to be the meteor of fancy.

Under 7.5 minutes

December 25th, 2007

John Bunyan, The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, Explained (Practical Works, v. 6)

…it is evident that saints neither can, nor dare venture to plead their cause. Alas! the Judge is the Almighty and Eternal God; the law broken is the holy and perfect rule of God, in itself a consuming fire; the sin is so odious, and a thing so abominable, that it is enough to make all the angels blush to hear it but so much as once mentioned in so holy a place as that is, where the great God doth sit to judge. This sin now hangs about the neck of him that hath committed it, yea, it covereth him as doth a mantle; the adversary is bold, cunning, audacious, and can word a thousand of us into an utter silence in less than half a quarter of an hour. What then should the sinner (if he could come there) do at this bar to plead? Nothing, nothing for his own advantage. But now comes in his mercy; he has an Advocate to plead his cause. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Faith and Sanctification

December 23rd, 2007

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Direction XI (pp.157,158)

You must therefore endeavour to continue and go on in the same right manner as I have taught you to begin this great work of believing in Christ, that your faith may be of the same nature from the beginning to the end, though it increase in degrees, for our faith is imperfect and joined with much unbelief in this world and we have need to pray still, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief’ (Mark 9:24), and therefore we have need to strive for more faith, that we may receive Christ in greater perfection. If you find that your faith has produced good works, you should thereby increase your confidence in Christ, for salvation by His mere grace. But take heed of changing the nature of your faith, from trusting on the grace and merits of Christ, to trusting on your own works, according to the popish doctrine ‘that our first justification is by grace and faith only, but our second justification is only by works’.

Beware also of trusting on faith itself, as a work of righteousness, instead of trusting on Christ by faith. If you do not find that your believing in such a right manner as I have described does produce such fruits of holiness as you desire, you ought not to diminish, but rather to increase your confidence in Christ, knowing that the weakness of your faith hinders its fruitfulness. And the greater your confidence is concerning the love of God to you in Christ, the greater will be your love to God and to His service. If you fall into any gross sin, after the work is begun in you, as David and Peter did, think not that you must cast away your confidence and expect nothing but wrath from God and Christ, and that you must refuse to be comforted by the grace of Christ, at least for some time; for thus you would be the more weak, and prone to fall into other sins; but rather strive to believe more confidently that you have ‘an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’, and that ‘He is the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 2:1,2). And let not the guilt of sin stay at all upon your conscience, but wash it away with all speed in the fountain of Christ’s blood, which is opened for us, that it may be ready for our use on all such incident occasions; that so you may be humbled for your sins in a gospel way, and may hate your own sinfulness, and be sorry for it with godly sorrow, out of love to God. Peter might have been ruined for ever by denying Christ, as Judas was by betraying Him, if Peter’s faith had not been upheld by the prayer of Christ (Luke 22: 31,32).

If a cloud be cast over all your qualifications, so that you can see no grace at all in yourselves, yet still trust on Him that justifies the ungodly, and came to seek and to save them that are lost. If God seems to deal with you as an enemy, bringing on you some horrible affliction, as He did upon job, beware of condemning your faith and its fruits, as if they were not acceptable to God, but rather say, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; but I will maintain mine own ways before Him’ (Job 13:15). Strive to keep and to increase faith by faith, that is, by acting faith frequently, by trusting on God to keep and to increase it, ‘being confident, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).

What Joseph Meant

December 23rd, 2007

Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David on Psalm 40:2

Jesus is the true Joseph taken from the pit to be lord of all.


Johnson on Luxury

December 22nd, 2007

Samuel Johnson, from “Life of Samuel Johnson” by James Boswell

“Many things which are false are transmitted from book to book, and gain credit in the world. One of these is the cry against the evil of luxury. Now the truth is, that luxury produces much good. Take the luxury of buildings in London. Does it not produce real advantage in the conveniency and elegance of accommodation, and this all from the exertion of industry? People will tell you, with a melancholy face, how many builders are in gaol. It is plain they are in gaol, not for building; for rents are not fallen. —A man gives half a guinea for a dish of green peas. How much gardening does this occasion? how many labourers must the competition to have such things early in the market keep in employment? You will hear it said, very gravely, ‘Why was not the half guinea, thus spent in luxury, given to the poor? To how many might it have afforded a good meal.’ Alas! has it not gone to the industrious poor, whom it is better to support than the idle poor? You are much surer that you are doing good when you pay money to those who work, as the recompence of their labour, than when you give money merely in charity.”

[Alas! It is possible that the poor had to sell these goods in order to live to some grasping middle-man who artificially depresses his cost and raises the expense to the man living in luxury: so that only a fraction of the half guinea went to the industrious poor, and the rest went to a human parasite, dignifying himself and his mean work with the grandiose title of “the service industry”. Or there is the case put by Proverbs 13:23 (ESV) The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.]

G.K. Chesterton, “About Sir James Jeans”, As I Was Saying

And to say that if machinery created unemployment it also creates new industries and new employment, is simply to be stone blind to the staring and outstanding fact of the hour. That fact is that, even allowing for every effort to make new industries, unemployment has, on the balance, enormously increased.