Cocceius has this beautiful remark (from Heppe’s Reformed Dogmatics)

There are two parts of conversion answering to the two ends. The man who is converted is converted from bad to good, from darkness to light, from the slavery of Satan to God, I K. 8:35, Is. 59:20, Jer. 15:19, Ac. 26:18. These parts are called in Scripture nekrosis, the mortification, or ekdosis, the putting off of the old man; and zoopoiesis, quickening and endusis, putting on of the new man, Col. 3:9-10.—(XIV, 8) These parts go together. But, as regards the order of nature, although newness is subsequent to oldness,—yet the newness of the love of God is the cause of abolishing the oldness of the enmity of God. Darkness is not removed save by light; not death save by life; nor poverty save by riches; nor nakedness save by being clothed; nor ugliness save by beauty; nor vice save by virtue; and so neither hate save by love.

This has application to sanctification and to preaching. We cannot hope to kill without vivification: to attempt the negative without the positive is ultimately destructive. And so in preaching: the pastor may weep over the darkness, spiritual poverty and ugliness of his congregation and indeed of his own heart; but the remedy for it is not found in exposing it (that is no more than a preliminary): the remedy is found in the light, life, wealth, garments, beauty, virtue and love of Christ.

Where is the lamb?

September 21st, 2008

Matthew Henry, on Isaac’s question in Genesis 22 “Where is the lamb?”

It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: My father, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, would strike deeper into the breast of Abraham than his knife could into the breast of Isaac. He might have said, or thought, at least, “Call me not thy father who am now to be thy murderer; can a father be so barbarous, so perfectly lost to all the tenderness of a father?” Yet he keeps his temper, and keeps his countenance, to admiration; he calmly waits for his son’s question, and this is it: Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? See how expert Isaac was in the law and custom of sacrifices. This it is to be well-catechised: this is,
[1.] A trying question to Abraham. How could he endure to think that Isaac was himself the lamb? So it is, but Abraham, as yet, dares not tell him so. Where God knows the faith to be armour of proof, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent, Job 9:23.
[2.] It is a teaching question to us all, that, when we are going to worship God, we should seriously consider whether we have every thing ready, especially the lamb for a burnt-offering. Behold, the fire is ready, the Spirit’s assistance and God’s acceptance; the wood is ready, the instituted ordinances designed to kindle our affections (which indeed, without the Spirit, are but like wood without fire, but the Spirit works by them); all things are now ready, but where is the lamb? Where is the heart? Is that ready to be offered up to God, to ascend to him as a burnt-offering?

I found this lovely quote in a paper by Mark Jones.

Thomas Goodwin, Works III, Man’s Restauration

I will chuse him to Life, saith the Father, but he will fall, and so fall short of what my Love designed to him: but I will redeem him, says the Son, out of that lost Estate: but yet being fallen he will refuse that grace, and the offers of it, and despise it, therefore I will Sanctify him, said the Holy Ghost, and overcome his unrighteousness, and cause him to accept it.

Cocceius says (S.T. I, 28):
“He is at last able to subject himself to Scripture, who has begun to love God. But this no one can do unless he has seen that in it is contained a doctrine, which is both worthy of God and sets a lovable God before the sinner.”

C.S. Lewis, “Free” from Studies in Words

[Of Aristotle] Looking from his study window he sees the hens scratching in the dust, the pigs asleep, the dogs hunting for fleas; the slaves, any of them who are not at that very moment on some appointed task, flirting, quarrelling, cracking nuts, playing dice, or dozing. He, the master, may use them all for the common end, the well-being of the family. They themselves have no such end, nor any consistent end, in mind. Whatever in their lives is not compelled from above is random—dependent on the mood of the moment. His own life is quite different; a systematised round of religious, political, scientific, literary and social activities; its very hours of recreation (there’s an anecdote about them) deliberate, approved and allowed for; consistent with itself. But what is it in the structure of the universe that corresponds to this distinction between Aristotle, self-bound with the discipline of a freeman, and Aristotle’s slaves, negatively free with a servile freedom between each job and the next? I think there is no doubt of the answer. It is the things in the higher world of aether which are regular, immutable, consistent; those down here in the air that are subject to change, and chance and contingence. In the world, as in the household, the higher acts according to a fixed plan; the lower admits the ‘random’ element. The free life is to the servile as the life of the gods (the living stars) is to that of terrestrial creatures. This is so not because the truly free man ‘does what he likes’, but because he imitates, so far as a mortal can, the flawless and patterned regularity of the heavenly being, like them not doing what he likes but being what he is, being fully human as they are divine, and fully human by his likeness to them. For the crown of life—here we break right out of the cautious modesty of most Greek sentiment—is not ‘being mortal, to think mortal thoughts’ but rather ‘to immortalise as much as possible’ and by all means to live according to the highest element in oneself.

The bearing that this remarkable passage has on the doctrine of sanctification may be too obvious to need to be pointed out. But perhaps it would not come amiss to remark simply that being made free from sin and having become the servants of righteousness, we have indeed been brought into the large freedom of being what we are – the children of God.