Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things to do in Cape Town before we leave Part 4

In yesterday's post regarding things to do before we leave Cape Town in 6 days I posted a pic of Table Mountain taken from Big Bay. One of the things on our to-do list is to climb that mountain one more time, which we did today. Here is another view of Cape Town's Table Mountain:

We started our ascent from the lower cable station at 5am

Watched the city lights fade as the dawn lit the sky

Enjoyed this view of the small Robben Island to the right of Lion's Head

Once on the Contour Path we chose Platteklip Gorge as our path of final ascent

The rising sun catches the upper cable station

At the summit 3 hours later we were rewarded with this beautiful fluffy bed of cloud below us covering the city

Their is of course a much easier way of getting to the top of Table Mountain, and that is to take the aerial cableway which opens at 8am and takes all of about 4 minutes to do what took us 3 hours.

They Lied for the Church

29&30 Nov 1762: I retired, to transcribe my answer to Bishop Warburton. My fragments of time I employed in reading, and carefully considering, the lives of Magdalen de Pazzi, and some other eminent Romish saints. I could not but observe, 1. That many things related therein are highly improbable. I fear the relators did not scruple lying for the Church, or for the credit of their Order: 2. That many of their reputed virtues were really no virtues at all; being no fruits of the love of God or man, and no part of the mind which was in Christ Jesus: 3. That many of their applauded actions were neither commendable nor imitable: 4. That what was really good, in their tempers or lives, was so deeply tinctured with enthusiasm, that most readers would be far more likely to receive hurt than good from these accounts of them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 5th December

Mat 3:1 In those days - that is, while Jesus dwelt there. In the wilderness of Judea - This was a wilderness properly so called, a wild, barren, desolate place as was that also where our Lord was tempted. But, generally speaking, a wilderness in the New Testament means only a common, or less cultivated place, in opposition to pasture and arable land.
Mat 3:2 The kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God, are but two phrases for the same thing. They mean, not barely a future happy state, in heaven, but a state to be enjoyed on earth: the proper disposition for the glory of heaven, rather than the possession of it. Is at hand - As if he had said, God is about to erect that kingdom, spoken of by Daniel Dan_2:44; Dan_7:13-14; the kingdom of the God of heaven. It properly signifies here, the Gospel dispensation, in which subjects were to be gathered to God by his Son, and a society to be formed, which was to subsist first on earth, and afterward with God in glory. In some places of Scripture, the phrase more particularly denotes the state of it on earth: in ,others, it signifies only the state of glory: but it generally includes both. The Jews understood it of a temporal kingdom, the seat of which they supposed would be Jerusalem; and the expected sovereign of this kingdom they learned from Daniel to call the Son of man. Both John the Baptist and Christ took up that phrase, the kingdom of heaven, as they found it, and gradually taught the Jews (though greatly unwilling to learn) to understand it right. The very demand of repentance, as previous to it, showed it was a spiritual kingdom, and that no wicked man, how politic, brave, or learned soever, could possibly be a subject of it.
Mat 3:3 The way of the Lord - Of Christ. Make his paths straight - By removing every thing which might prove a hinderance to his gracious appearance. Isa_40:3.
Mat 3:4 John had his raiment of camels' hair - Coarse and rough, suiting his character and doctrine. A leathern girdle - Like Elijah, in whose spirit and power he came. His food was locusts and wild honey - Locusts are ranked among clean meats, Lev_11:22. But these were not always to be had. So in default of those, he fed on wild honey.
Mat 3:6 Confessing their sins - Of their own accord; freely and openly. Such prodigious numbers could hardly be baptized by immerging their whole bodies under water: nor can we think they were provided with change of raiment for it, which was scarcely practicable for such vast multitudes. And yet they could not be immerged naked with modesty, nor in their wearing apparel with safety. It seems, therefore, that they stood in ranks on the edge of the river, and that John, passing along before them, cast water on their heads or faces, by which means he might baptize many thousands in a day. And this way most naturally signified Christ's baptizing them with the Holy Ghost and with fire, which John spoke of, as prefigured by his baptizing with water, and which was eminently fulfilled, when the Holy Ghost sat upon the disciples in the appearance of tongues, or flames of fire.
Mat 3:7 The Pharisees were a very ancient sect among the Jews. They took their name from a Hebrew word, which signifies to separate, because they separated themselves from all other men. They were outwardly strict observers of the law, fasted often, made long prayers, rigorously kept the Sabbath, and paid all tithe, even of mint, anise, and cummin. Hence they were in high esteem among the people. But inwardly, they were full of pride and hypocrisy. The Sadducees were another sect among the Jews, only not so considerable as the Pharisees. They denied the existence of angels, and the immortality of the soul, and by consequence the resurrection of the dead. Ye brood of vipers - In like manner, the crafty Herod is styled a fox, and persons of insidious, ravenous, profane, or sensual dispositions, are named respectively by him who saw their hearts, serpents, dogs, wolves, and swine; terms which are not the random language of passion, but a judicious designation of the persons meant by them. For it was fitting such men should be marked out, either for a caution to others, or a warning to themselves.
Mat 3:8 Repentance is of two sorts; that which is termed legal, and that which is styled evangelical repentance. The former (which is the same that is spoken of here) is a thorough conviction of sin. The latter is a change of heart (and consequently of life) from all sin to all holiness.
Mat 3:9 And say not confidently - The word in the original, vulgarly rendered, Think not, seems here, and in many places, not to diminish, but rather add to the force of the word with which it is joined. We have Abraham to our father - It is almost incredible, how great the presumption of the Jews was on this their relation to Abraham. One of their famous sayings was, "Abraham sits near the gates of hell, and suffers no Israelite to go down into it." I say unto you - This preface always denotes the importance of what follows. Of these stones - Probably pointing to those which lay before them.
Mat 3:10 But the axe also already lieth - That is, there is no room for such idle pretences. Speedy execution is determined against all that do not repent. The comparison seems to be taken from a woodman that has laid down his axe to put off his coat, and then immediately goes to work to cut down the tree. This refers to the wrath to come in Mat_3:7. Is hewn down - Instantly, without farther delay.
Mat 3:11 He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire - He shall fill you with the Holy Ghost, inflaming your hearts with that fire of love, which many waters cannot quench. And this was done, even with a visible appearance as of fire, on the day of pentecost.
Mat 3:12 Whose fan - That is, the word of the Gospel. His floor - That is, his Church, which is now covered with a mixture of wheat and chaff. He will gather the wheat into the garner - Will lay up those who are truly good in heaven.

Things to do in Cape Town before we leave

In my previous post I mentioned 10 things we would really like to do one more time before leaving Cape Town. Well, Big Bay Brekko is done. The majority of readers of my blog are from the northern hemisphere. Let me tell you that if you ever come to my country, South Africa, a visit to Milnerton/Blaauwberg/Big Bay is essential for the best views of Cape Town's Table Mountain.

PS I have also and am still reflecting on the readings I mention in that post and have also made a start with regard to packing. 6 days left.

The pic below was taken from Big Bay just after sunset sometime last month

The very essence of true religion

Fri 26 to Mon 29 Nov 1784: I returned to London. Sunday 28, I preached a charity sermon at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden. It is the largest and the best constructed parish church that I have preached in for several years. Yet some hundreds were obliged to go away, not being able to get in. I strongly enforced the necessity of that humble, gentle, patient love, which is the very essence of true religion. Monday 29 in the evening, I preached at Hinxworth in Miss Harvey’s new house.

Hymn for the Week: For Believers Suffering

Thou, Lord, hast blest my going out, (Ps. 121:8)
O bless my coming in!
Compass my weakness round about, (Ps. 139:3)
And keep me safe from sin.

Still hide me in thy secret place, (Ps. 27:5)
Thy tabernacle spread;
Shelter me with preserving grace,
And screen my naked head.

To thee for refuge may I run (Num. 35:6)
From sin's alluring snare,
Ready its first approach to shun, (1 Thess. 5:22)
And watching unto prayer. (1 Pet. 4:7)

O that I never, never more
Might from thy ways depart!
Here let me give my wand'rings o'er,
By giving thee my heart.

Fix my new heart on things above, (Col. 3:2; Ezek. 36:26)
And then from earth release;
I ask not life; but let me love, (1 Kgs. 3:11)
And lay me down in peace. (Ps. 4:8)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday, the First Day of the Week


This series on Biblical Timing (read the introduction here) is being posted in a very haphazard way. Having looked in some detail at Day Six (read that post here), the day animals and then humans were created, and the day that humans became animals and murdered God the Son, I now want to look at Day One, called Sunday by us today, but also towards the end of the New Testament, called the LORD's day.

The following readings are just some Day One references from Scripture. Not surprisingly, the day we remember as the day when God said Let there be light,is also the day that the Light of the World would be raised from the dead in order to shine His light on ALL the world ALWAYS. Day one is also the day (Pentecost) that the disciples would receive POWER to become and to be light of the world themselves.

Day one is also the day that the early church would set apart every week to remember and celebrate the Resurrection and they began to call it the LORD's day. Each first day of the week, Sunday, thus became a “little Easter.”

It is important to bear in mind that in the early church (first century) by far the majority of new Christians were (like Jesus) Jews who embraced Jesus as the fulfilment of prophecy and as the promised Messiah. Therefore throughout the New Testament you see the 'early Christians' like Peter, John, Paul, etc, going to the Temple and synagogue, keeping the Sabbath (Day 7, what we call Saturday) and ALSO meeting on Day One to remember and celebrate in the breaking of bread and in worship the LORD's resurrection. They were Sabbath keepers on Day 7 AND Resurrection celebrators on Day One.

In my own life as a born again Christian there was a time when Day 7 (Sabbath) and Day 1 (Sunday) morphed into one day and in retrospect I realise that I lost, or actually never really got to know and enjoy, the beauty that each day has to offer, and the unique remembrance and celebration that each one requires. I have had to discover that God's timing is in fact the best timing there is for my own spiritual growth and for my growth in personal holiness.

Day One in Scripture

Gen 1-5 In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, "Let there be light"---and light appeared. God was pleased with what he saw. Then he separated the light from the darkness, and he named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night." Evening passed and morning came---that was the first day.

Mar 16:1-2 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
or another translation of the same verses
Mar 16:1-2 After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb.

Mar 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Joh 20:19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said.

Act 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1Co 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

Rev 1:10 On the Lord's day the Spirit took control of me, and I heard a loud voice, that sounded like a trumpet, speaking behind me.

Prayer for Sundays from the Book of Common Prayer

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of the Week: First Sunday of Advent from BCP

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our Advent Hope. My last sermon at Parow Wesley

Our Advent Hope

This sermon was based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year C Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent (28/11/2010). It was my last preaching appointment at Parow Wesley Methodist Church, where I served for 4 years.

Text: Luke 21:25-36
The reading set for the first Sunday in Advent begins with these verses:

There will be strange things happening to the sun, the moon, and the stars. On earth whole countries will be in despair, afraid of the roar of the sea and the raging tides.
People will faint from fear as they wait for what is coming over the whole earth, for the powers in space will be driven from their courses.

What is being prophesied here? Is this what is going to happen when I leave Cape Town and Parow Wesley Methodist Church?

There will be strange things happening to the sun, the moon, and the stars. On earth whole countries will be in despair, afraid of the roar of the sea and the raging tides.
People will faint from fear as they wait for what is coming over the whole earth, for the powers in space will be driven from their courses.

I think not.

Verse 27 makes things a little clearer:

Then the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory.

Jesus here in his last teaching in Luke's gospel is talking about the fact that he will come again.
The season of Advent, which begins today, is a season which is meant to remind us that Jesus came, that Jesus comes, and that Jesus will come again.

So it is a season of waiting.... which is a very good spiritual discipline to learn in this age of instant everything.

It is a reminder that after 1000 years of waiting, Jesus, the promised and prophesied Messiah, came to his people, to Israel..... at last.... eventually!
It is a reminder that the Jesus who came to his people, comes to his people still........ in ways of course that are too many to mention...... he comes and meets us in the sacrament of Holy Communion; in reading the Scriptures faithfully, Jesus comes to us; in prayer, Jesus comes to us; in service to others, Jesus comes to us and through us, to others; etc, etc, etc.

So Advent reminds us that Jesus came, that he comes...... and of course Advent reminds us that Jesus will come again and much of Jesus teaching, and most of the rest of the New Testament, and I would hope nearly all of my preaching, is all about how to live as we expect and prepare for his Second Coming.

So, verse 27 reminds us that Jesus will come again.

Then in verse 28 Jesus says:

When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near."

Hang on a moment, I thought that my salvation was here already, that I am saved, that I am born again, not that I will only be saved and be born again and be a Christian when Jesus returns.

And here we see one of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God that shouldn't, but does confuse so many. The Kingdom of God has come, it came with Christ, and it comes in you when you turn to him (remember the Greek word I've taught you..... metanoia.... changing your mind, often translated as repentance, but really meaning changing the way you think and therefore live). So the Kingdom comes when you turn to him, and it will come in those who you are praying for when they eventually come to think differently (repent) and are born-again, and of course the Kingdom will come in all its fullness when Jesus returns; then every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We call this the “already and not yet” aspect of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God prophesied by the Old Testament prophets has come in Jesus, it is here, and it is near, so that people can step into it, but it is not yet here in all its fullness. In a sense it is like the weather at the moment here in the Cape; Summer has come, it has arrived, but we all know that it is not yet here in all its fullness....but come in all it's fulness it certainly will! So too the Kingdom of God.

And one of the things we realise each year as we mark the beginning of Advent is that the coming of the Kingdom of God, the coming of the reign of God, depends on us. What we do, what you and I do, will either hasten or slow down, the coming of the Kingdom of God into the world around us. By our actions, our good works, God's Kingdom comes to the world around us. By our lack of actions, our lack of good works, or our refusal to act in certain ways, God's Kingdom is hindered, prevented from coming.

And so Jesus tells them the parable of the fig tree:

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Think of the fig tree and all the other trees.
When you see their leaves beginning to appear, you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that the Kingdom of God is about to come.

Here Jesus points out another of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; he says look at all the trees; there are times when they are dead, and then..... you see leaves appearing, and then you know that summer, and more leaves and more shade, and even fruit, is on the way!

He is reminding us here of a mystery he would teach in many different ways during his ministry, that in this Kingdom, things often have to die, before their can be new life. In this parable, and on so many occasions in his ministry, he reminds us that death and decay are never the last words in this Kingdom. He taught that truth in many ways, and he demonstrated that truth in raising children and Lazarus from the dead.
And that, if anything, sums up the Advent hope, and the Kingdom truth:
The best is always yet to come, the dead looking fig tree is not the end of the story;
The dead looking marriage is not the end of the story.
The dead looking career or job is not the end of the story.
The decaying, dying, dead looking country, is not the end of the story.
The dead looking church is not the end of the story.
The tortured, dead, buried Jesus is not the end of the story.

This is all very good news, isn't it?

Friends, think of the fig tree and all the other trees, their leaves will appear and spring followed by summer, will happen.
That is the truth!
So this is our Advent hope: the Jesus who came, will come again and until he comes again, he will continue to come here and now in prayer, in sacrament, in Scripture, in fellowship, in worship, in service to the least among us, and so on and so on and so on. Until he comes again, he will continue to come!

He comes!

And so Jesus ends his teaching ministry the way he began it, talking and teaching about the Kingdom of God and showing us a way to live whereby his Kingdom comes where-ever we, born-again Christians, find ourselves.

I end my preaching and teaching ministry here in Parow Wesley Methodist Church, in the same way, talking about the Kingdom of God and how we are to live in it, here and now, in Parow.

One can do all kinds of things with computers nowadays, so I did a search on Friday of the Gospels and I looked up the things Jesus spoke most about:

I looked up sin: in the four Gospels, Jesus mentions it 18 times;

I looked up repent and repentance: In the four Gospels, Jesus talks about these 19 times;

I looked up the save and salvation: in the four Gospels, Jesus talks about these 45 times;

I looked up kingdom: In the four Gospels, Jesus talks about kingdom 127 times!

That word more than any other was on his lips and in his actions.

I hope that that word has been on my lips and in my actions more than any other.

My last 'preaching' words to you therefore from this pulpit are words that John the Baptist said, that Jesus said and that I say:

The Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news.

So dead a congregation have I scarce seen

Sun 28 Nov 1742: I preached both at five in the room, and at eight in the hospital, on ‘Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.’ We then walked over to Tanfield Lea, about seven miles from Newcastle. Here a large company of people were gathered together from all the country round about, to whom I expounded the former part of the fifth chapter to the Romans. But so dead, senseless, unaffected a congregation have I scarce seen, except at Whickham. Whether gospel or law, or English or Greek, seemed all one to them!
Yet the seed sown even here was not quite lost. For on Thursday morning, between four and five, John Brown, then of Tanfield Lea, was waked out of sleep by the voice that raiseth the dead. And ever since he has been full of love and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
At four I preached in the Hospital Square to the largest congregation I had seen since we left London, on Jesus Christ ‘our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption’.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Prayer for Saturdays from BCP

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

St Patrick did not convert Ireland to Christianity

So on Friday 26, I took coach again and on Saturday reached London.
In this journey I read Dr. Warner’s History of Ireland, from its first settlement to the English conquest. And after calm deliberation, I make no scruple to pronounce it a mere senseless romance. I do not believe one leaf of it is true from the beginning to the end. I totally reject the authorities on which he builds: I will not take Flagherty’s or Keating’s word for a farthing. I doubt not, Ireland was, before the Christian era, full as barbarous as Scotland or England. Indeed it appears from their own accounts that the Irish in general were continually plundering and murdering each other from the earliest ages to that period. And so they were ever since, by the account of Dr. Warner himself, till they were restrained by the English. How then were they converted by St. Patrick (cousin-german to St. George!)? To what religion? Not to Christianity. Neither in his age nor the following had they the least savour of Christianity, either in their lives or their tempers.

Cold kept them from falling asleep while I preached

Fri 26 Nov 1742: Between twelve and one I preached in a convenient ground at Whickham, two or three miles from Newcastle. I spoke strong, rough words; but I did not perceive that any regarded what was spoken. The people indeed were exceeding quiet, and the cold kept them from falling asleep, till (before two) I left them, very well satisfied with the preacher and with themselves.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Collect of Thanksgiving Day from BCP

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

I might as well have preached in Greek

Thu 25 Nov 1784: I desired the people would sit below in the morning, supposing not many would be present. But I was much mistaken. Notwithstanding the darkness and rain, the house was filled both above and below. And never did I see the people who appeared more ready prepared for the Lord. Returning through Brackley, I was informed that notice had been given of my preaching there at nine in the town-hall. So I began without delay. The congregation was large and attentive, but seemed to understand me no more than if I had been talking Greek. But the society seemed alive to God and striving to enter in at the strait gate.
In the evening, I preached at poor, dead Towcester. But is not God able to raise the dead? There was a considerable shaking among the dry bones. And who knows but these dry bones may live?

Roaring (? “Toronto Blessing”) as JW Preaches

Thu 25 Nov 1742: In the evening God was pleased to wound many more who were quiet and at ease. And I could not but observe that here the very best people, so called, were as deeply convinced as open sinners. Several of these were now constrained to roar aloud for the disquietness of their hearts; and these generally not young (as in most other places), but either middle-aged or well stricken in years.
I never saw a work of God, in any other place, so evenly and gradually carried on. It continually rises step by step. Not so much seems to be done at any one time as hath frequently been at Bristol or London; but something at every time. It is the same with particular souls. I saw none in that triumph of faith which has been so common in other places. But the believers go on, calm and steady. Let God do as seemeth him good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things to do in Cape Town before we leave in 10 days time

In my previous post I commented on the joy of encountering new ridiculously colourful bishops as one of the positives of the itinerant ministry. Read that post here. Now the time to itinerate (read about that here) is close and it's time for final lists of things to do before leaving Cape Town, surely one of the more beautiful places to live.

1. Reflect on Matthew, Mark and Luke's accounts of the sending out of the 12 and the 72 and ask myself: Can I say as we leave here that "the Kingdom of God has come near you"?
Can I say that where my wife Chris and I have been, the Kingdom of God has been?

2. Pack.

3. Have High Tea at the Nellie (The Mount Nelson Hotel)

4. See Table Mountain all lit up on a clear summer evening.

5. Do the Cape Town Eye at sunset

6. Have one last breakfast at Blaauwberg looking over Table Bay.

7. Have fish and chips at the harbour at Hout Bay as the fishing boats return in the evening.

8. Climb up Table Mountain one last time

9. Reflect on whether wherever I've been, the Kingdom of God has been.

10. Pack and leave behind Africa's most beautiful city.

Prayer for the Week from BCP

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Local Preachers Rebel against JW and Appeal to Conference

Mon 22 Nov 1779: My brother and I set out for Bath, on a very extraordinary occasion. Some time since, Mr. Smyth, a clergyman whose labours God had greatly blessed in the north of Ireland, brought his wife over to Bath, who had been for some time in a declining state of health. I desired him to preach every Sunday evening in our chapel, while he remained there. But as soon as I was gone Mr. McNab, one of our preachers, vehemently opposed that; affirming it was the common cause of all the lay preachers; that they were appointed by the Conference, not by me, and would not suffer the clergy to ride over their heads—Mr. Smyth in particular, of whom he said all manner of evil. Others warmly defended him. Hence the society was torn in pieces and thrown into the utmost confusion. On Tuesday 23, I read to the society a paper which I wrote near twenty years ago on a like occasion. Herein I observed that ‘the rules of our preachers were fixed by me, before any Conference existed’, particularly the twelfth: ‘Above all, you are to preach when and where I appoint.’ By obstinately opposing which rule Mr. McNab has made all this uproar. In the morning, at a meeting of the preachers, I informed Mr. McNab that as he did not agree to our fundamental rule, I could not receive him as one of our preachers till he was of another mind. On Wednesday 24, I read the same paper to the society at Bristol, as I found the flame had spread thither also. A few at Bath separated from us on this account; but the rest were thoroughly satisfied.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why did I come to America

Tue 23 Nov 1736: Mr. Oglethorpe sailed for England, leaving Mr. Ingham, Mr. Delamotte, and me at Savannah, but with less prospect of preaching to the Indians than we had the first day we set foot in America. Whenever I mentioned it, it was immediately replied, ‘You can’t leave Savannah without a minister.’ To this indeed my plain answer was, ‘I know not that I am under any obligation to the contrary. I never promised to stay here one month. I openly declared both before, at, and ever since my coming hither, that I neither would nor could take charge of the English any longer than till I could go among the Indians.’ If it was said, ‘But did not the Trustees of Georgia appoint you to be minister of Savannah?’ I replied, ‘They did; but it was not done by my solicitation: it was done without either my desire or knowledge. Therefore I cannot conceive that appointment to lay me under any obligation of continuing there any longer than till a door is opened to the heathens. And this I expressly declared at the time I consented to accept of that appointment.’ But though I had no other obligation not to leave Savannah now, yet that of love I could not break through; I could not resist the importunate request of the more serious parishioners to watch over their souls yet a little longer, till someone came who might supply my place. And this I the more willingly did because the time was not come to preach the gospel of peace to the heathens, all their nations being in a ferment; and Paustoobee and Mingo Mattaw having told me, in terms, in my own house, ‘Now our enemies are all about us, and we can do nothing but fight; but if the beloved ones should ever give us to be at peace, then we would hear the Great Word.’

“Toronto Blessing” when JW preaches

Tue 23 Nov 1742: There seemed in the evening to be a deeper work in many souls than I had observed before. Many trembled exceedingly; six or seven (both men and women) dropped down as dead. Some cried unto God out of the deep; others would have cried, but their voice was lost. And some have found that the Lord is ‘gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’.

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 28th November

Please note that the beginning of Advent marks the start of a new lectionary year. This Sunday we thus begin Year A

Sun 28 Nov Year A Matt 24:36-44

Mat 24:36 But of that day - The day of judgment; Knoweth no man - Not while our Lord was on earth. Yet it might be afterward revealed to St. John consistently with this.
Mat 24:40 One is taken - Into God's immediate protection: and one is left - To share the common calamities. Our Lord speaks as having the whole transaction present before his eyes.
Mat 24:41 Two women shall be grinding - Which was then a common employment of women.
Mat 24:42 Ye know not what hour your Lord cometh - Either to require your soul of you, or to avenge himself of this nation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

John Wesley the Doctor

Mon 22 Nov 1784: I preached at Northampton and, on Tuesday 23, at Whittlebury. Here my servant was seized with a fever, attended with eruptions all over, as big as peppercorns. I took knowledge of the ‘prickly heat’, as we called it in Georgia, termed by Dr. Heburden, the ‘nettle rash’, and assured him he would be well in four and twenty hours. He was so, and drove us on to Banbury, where, on Wednesday 24, I met with a hearty welcome from Mr. George, formerly a member of the London society. The Presbyterian minister offering me the use of his meeting, I willingly accepted his offer. It was, I believe, capable of containing near as many people as the chapel at West Street. But it would not near contain the congregation. And God uttered his voice, yea, and that a mighty voice; neither the sorrow nor the joy which was felt that night will quickly be forgotten.

Hymn for the Week: For Believers Suffering

Father, in the name I pray
Of thy incarnate Love;
Humbly ask, that as my day (Deut. 33:25)
My suffering strength may prove;
When my sorrows most increase, (John 16:20)
Let thy strongest joys be given;
Jesu, come with my distress,
And agony is heaven.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
For good remember me! (Neh. 13:31)
Me, whom thou hast caused to trust
For more than life on thee; (Ps. 63:3)
With me in the fire remain (Dan. 3:25;)
Till like burnished gold I shine, (Zech. 13:9)
Meet, through consecrated pain, (Job 23:10)
To see the face divine. (Rev. 22:4)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prayer for Sundays from the Book of Common Prayer

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preaching in Room and Hospital

Sun 21 Nov 1742: After preaching in the room at five, I began preaching about eight at the hospital. It rained all the time; but that did not disturb either me or the congregation, while I explained, ‘Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.’

Saturday, November 20, 2010

JW’s House Broken-into

Sat 20 Nov 1784: At three in the morning, two or three men broke into our house through the kitchen window. Thence they came up into the parlour and broke open Mr. More’s bureau, where they found two or three pounds. The night before, I had prevented his leaving there seventy pounds, which he had just received. They next broke open the cupboard and took away some silver spoons. Just at this time the alarm, which Mr. Moore by mistake had set for half past three (instead of four) went off, as it usually did, with a thundering noise. At this, the thieves ran away with all speed, though their work was not half done, and the whole damage which we sustained scarce amounted to six pounds.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Salvation by Faith (2)

Salvation by Faith
[This sermon is based on the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Sunday, 21 November 2010, and is an attempt to preach and teach our Methodist doctrine regarding Salvation by Faith, so it has loud echoes, I hope, of John Wesley's sermon of the same title]

Reading: Luke 23:33-43
Text: Ephesians 2:8
By grace you are saved through faith

Our lectionary reading this week has us journeying to the place called The Skull where they crucified Jesus and two criminals, one on his right and one on his left. It is a very appropriate reading for this Sunday, which marks the death, the end, of another lectionary/liturgical year. Next week is the first Sunday in Advent, which is the start of a new liturgical/lectionary year.

And so we find ourselves at the Cross, at the end, with three men who know that they won't touch the ground beneath them again until they are dead. And on that ground around them are people, some gambling, many mocking, others just looking and listening.

As we look and listen from a distance of 2000 years, we notice two things that are repeated.
The first is the idea of salvation, which seems to permeate the scene:
“He saved others, let him save himself” say the Jewish leaders;
“Save yourself” say the soldiers;
“Save yourself and us” says one of the criminals.

And this is what it's all about for many of us......... save yourself if you possibly can........ look out for number one.......... be concerned primarily with yourself, your own welfare, and your own well-being.

So while Jesus is doing his saving work, this word, save...... save....... save..... save.... is being shouted from every place.

The other word or phrase we notice is: “King” and “King of the Jews.” This is in fact a coronation service taking place, but only two people seem to be aware of it – Jesus and..... one of the criminals. And it is on that criminal that I want to focus, because he recognises Jesus as king and he ends up being saved by Jesus the King, on his deathbed. This sinful person finds favour with God....... that should have us shouting: Amen! Alleluia! That a sinful person should find favour with God can only be described as amazing grace. How does he “achieve/acquire” this salvation?

I will show that it is only because of his faith and God's grace.

Why does God choose to save him in the first place? For absolutely no other reason than..... He just wants to! He just wants to save this criminal, not because the criminal deserves to be saved, but plain and simply because He wants to. This undeserved mercy is what we call grace.

You and I can experience the same grace and salvation day by day by day. Isn't that good news?

Our text reminds us that by grace we are saved through faith.

What kind of faith is it that saves?

It is easier to first describe what kind of faith does not save before describing the kind of faith that does save:
             1. Many people believe in a god, or in gods, and this is not surprising because the world as we see it                                            points to a God who made it and sustains it. But this belief/faith in a God that must surely exist is not the faith that saves.
    1. The devil and the demons believe in God. It is on the lips of demons in the Gospels that we sometimes hear: “I know who you are, the holy one of God” and in Acts “these men are servants of the most high God who show you the way to salvation.” So the devil and his demons believe in God but it is not a belief that saves. Many people have a belief in God that goes no further than the belief that devil has in God.
    2. The disciples of Jesus had faith in God, they believed in a God who could heal the sick, give sight to the blind, raise the dead, because they had seen that very God at work in their midst in Christ. But that faith, the faith of the disciples, doesn't save either. Don't settle for a faith that only believes these things of God in Christ.

So what faith does save?

The faith that saves is a faith in Christ that doesn't just believe facts about him, but rather a faith that changes your heart.

This is what we see in the criminal. The other gospel writers tell us that he also cursed Jesus at first, but Luke shows us that his heart changes through his experience of Christ on the cross next to him. And here we see the key element of saving faith, it is based on the Cross, on a Jesus who died, a Jesus who gave his life. It is a faith that sees being put right with God (we call this justification) as something which Jesus did for us by dying for us on the Cross. It sees being put right with God as something that only Jesus can do and it believes he did just that, namely put us right with God, on the Cross.

The criminal hanging next to Jesus sees in the way Jesus is dying, the promised Messiah or King, that perhaps he had heard about in his life sometime, he sees the suffering, dying Jesus as King, and realises, more than the disciples had, that death is not going to hold this King. He obviously sees the resurrection before anyone else, with eyes opened by faith, because he says: “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as king.” Isn't that beautiful? Do you perhaps want to say those words now: “Remember me Jesus, when you come as king.”

And Jesus says to him........................................ OK, I will.

And we see here how by God's grace we are saved by faith. Faith in a dying, dead, raised again and living forever more Jesus, who does everything to put us right with God, and invites us to believe that good news.

That's grace upon grace, isn't it?
That's amazing grace isn't it?

Now, what exactly is this salvation that is offered purely by the faith described above?

1. Firstly, it is something we experience here and now. We don't have to wait until we die to experience this salvation. Salvation IS (present tense)...... for you and for me.........NOW.

2. What is it that we are saved from?
In a word, we are saved from........ sin.
Notice that we are not saved from …...suffering,........... from struggle,................ from pain,.....from unemployment....... from disease,........... from death. You see, none of these things separates us from, or need separate us from, God. Only sin separates us from God – it 'puts us in the wrong' with God, which is why it is so important to see and believe that only what Jesus did puts us 'in the right with God'.

3. We are saved from sin and from the guilt associated with it and from the fear of punishment that goes with guilt.

We are saved from sin.

4. We are also saved..... from sinning. We are saved from the need we think we have, to sin.

Let me ask you this: do you have to sin? Is sin absolutely and completely unavoidable in your life?

I'll answer for myself: as I reflect on the week that has passed and on the sin I have committed in the week that has passed...... the truth is..... I didn't have to sin. It was not unavoidable. It shames me to say this, but say this I must: No one and no thing made me sin. The truth is........ that if I really let God's Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, if I let that Holy Spirit truly reign in every part of my life, there is not a habit, a wilful sin or a sinful desire that need gain victory over me. That is the truth for me, and that is, I suspect the truth for you too. The truth surely is, as the apostle says, that we can do all things in him who strengthens us.

I don't have to sin, neither do you, that is the truth.

Let me conclude

Through the ages, people have had many objections to this truth, namely that we are saved by faith purely because of God's grace. Many find it scandalous that a thief undergoing execution should be saved by God just before he dies, or that a common prostitute like Mary Magdalene and a crooked tax collector like Zacchaeus, should be saved by grace through faith; that someone like Saul of Tarsus should experience this grace and salvation, and so on and so on and so on. It's all quite scandalous!

Worst of all, scandal upon scandal, that someone like Cedric Poole should be saved by grace through faith, that is just too much!

But, all praise be to God,......... he is, and you are too,........ and so he stands before you and proclaims with Wesley, with Luther, with Paul, with so many others,

that it is by grace that you are saved through faith.

Amen and Glory to God.

Friday, Day 6, is animal day

This is the next in my series on Biblical Timing. Read the first here, and the second here.

Both these photos were taken recently in the Kruger National Park in South Africa (this nature reserve is roughly the same size as modern day Israel). The one is quite obviously an African Elephant, the other is of two leopards. May they help you to give glory to our LORD as on this day of the week we remember that our God said: “And let the land produce….wild animals” Genesis 1:24

God takes their sight away

Fri 19 Nov 1742: I found the first witness of this good confession. Margaret H—— (O how fallen since then!) told me that the night before her sight (an odd circumstance) and her strength were taken away at once. At the same time the love of God so overflowed her soul that she could not speak or move.
James R—— also gave me an account today that in going home the day before he lost his sight in a moment, and was forced to catch hold of some rails for fear of falling. He continues under strong conviction, longing for the salvation of God.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Salvation by Faith

JW's sermons can be quite difficult to work through. I've been reminded of this once again as I've worked through Number 1 this week in preparation for my sermon prep on Friday. I think I am going to use the account of the thief who is promised salvation on the cross (the lectionary reading for this week) to preach on Salvation by Faith. Below is JW's sermon, but to make it a little easier for you to work through I've bolded the main points, so if you just scroll through you'll get a quick overview.
If you read only one part in full, let it be the part highlighted inorange because this is the part that offends most people;
If you have time to read more, try the yellow section;
Then the green part
Salvation by Faith

Ephesians 2:8
By grace ye are saved through faith.

1. All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are of his mere grace, bounty, or favour: his free, undeserved favour, favour altogether undeserved, man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free grace that 'formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul', and stamped on that soul the image of God, and 'put all things under his feet'. The same free grace continues to us, at this day, life, and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand. 'All our works thou, O God, hast wrought in us.' These therefore are so many more instances of free mercy: and whatever righteousness may be found in man, this also is the gift of God.

2. Wherewithal then shall a sinful man atone for any the least of his sins? With his own works? No. Were they ever so many or holy, they are not his own, but God's. But indeed they are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that every one of them needs a fresh atonement. Only corrupt fruit grows on a corrupt tree. And his heart is altogether corrupt and abominable, being 'come short of the glory of God', the glorious righteousness at first impressed on his soul, after the image of his great Creator. Therefore having nothing, neither righteousness nor works, to plead, his 'mouth is utterly stopped before God'.

3. If then sinful man find favour with God, it is 'grace upon grace'. If God vouchsafe still to pour fresh blessings upon us—yea, the greatest of all blessings, salvation—what can we say to these things but 'Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!' And thus it is. Herein 'God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died' to save us. 'By grace', then, 'are ye saved through faith.' Grace is the source, faith the condition, of salvation.

Now, that we fall not short of the grace of God, it concerns us carefully to inquire:
I. What faith it is through which we are saved.

II. What is the salvation which is through faith.

III. How we may answer some objections.

I. What faith it is through which we are saved.

1. And, first, it is not barely the faith of a heathen. Now God requireth of a heathen to believe 'that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him'; and that he is to be sought by 'glorifying him as God by giving him thanks for all things', and by a careful practice of moral virtue, of justice, mercy, and truth, toward their fellow-creatures. A Greek or Roman, therefore, yea, a Scythian or Indian, was without excuse if he did not believe thus much: the being and attributes of God, a future state of reward and punishment, and the obligatory nature of moral virtue. For this is barely the faith of a heathen.

2. Nor, secondly, is it the faith of a devil, though this goes much farther than that of a heathen. For the devil believes, not only that there is a wise and powerful God, gracious to reward and just to punish, but also that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Saviour of the world. So we find him declaring in express terms: 'I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.'a Nor can we doubt but that unhappy spirit believes all those words which came out of the mouth of the Holy One; yea, and whatsoever else was written by those holy men of old, of two of whom he was compelled to give that glorious testimony, 'These men are the servants of the most high God, who show unto you the way of salvation.' Thus much then the great enemy of God and man believes, and trembles in believing, that 'God was made manifest in the flesh'; that he will 'tread all enemies under his feet'; and that 'all Scripture was given by inspiration of God.' Thus far goeth the faith of a devil.

3. Thirdly, the faith through which we are saved, in that sense of the word which will hereafter be explained, is not barely that which the apostles themselves had while Christ was yet upon earth; though they so believed on him as to 'leave all and follow him'; although they had then power to work miracles, 'to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease'; yea, they had then 'power and authority over all devils': and which is beyond all this, were sent by their Master to 'preach the kingdom of God'. Yet after their return from doing all these mighty works their Lord himself terms them, 'a faithless generation'. He tells them 'they could not cast out a devil, because of their unbelief.' And when long after, supposing they had some already, they said unto him, 'Increase our faith,' he tells them plainly that of this faith they had none at all, no, not as a grain of mustard seed: 'The Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the roots, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.'

4. What faith is it then through which we are saved? It may be answered: first, in general, it is a faith in Christ—Christ, and God through Christ, are the proper object of it. Herein therefore it is sufficiently, absolutely, distinguished from the faith either of ancient or modern heathens. And from the faith of a devil it is fully distinguished by this—it is not barely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head; but also a disposition of the heart. For thus saith the Scripture, 'With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.' And, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.'

5. And herein does it differ from that faith which the apostles themselves had while our Lord was on earth, that it acknowledges the necessity and merit of his death, and the power of his resurrection. It acknowledges his death as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal, and his resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality; inasmuch as he 'was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification'. Christian faith is then not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ, a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us. It is a sure confidence which a man hath in God, that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God; and in consequence hereof a closing with him and cleaving to him as our 'wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption' or, in one word, our salvation.

II. What salvation it is which is through this faith is the second thing to be considered.

1. And, first, whatsoever else it imply, it is a present salvation. It is something attainable, yea, actually attained on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. For thus saith the Apostle to the believers at Ephesus, and in them to the believers of all ages, not, 'Ye shall be' (though that also is true), but 'Ye are saved through faith.'

2. Ye are saved (to comprise all in one word) from sin. This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that great salvation foretold by the angel before God brought his first-begotten into the world: 'Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.' And neither here nor in other parts of Holy Writ is there any limitation or restriction. All his people, or as it is elsewhere expressed, all that believe in him, he will save from all their sins: from original and actual, past and present sin, of the flesh and of the spirit. Through faith that is in him they are saved both from the guilt and from the power of it.

3. First, from the guilt of all past sin. For whereas 'all the world is guilty before God'; insomuch that should he 'be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none that could abide it'; and whereas 'by the law is only the knowledge of sin', but no deliverance from it, so that 'by fulfilling the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in his sight'; now 'the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ', 'is manifested unto all that believe'. Now they are 'justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Him God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for (or by) the remission of the sins that are past.' Now hath Christ 'taken away the curse of the law, being made a curse for us'. He hath 'blotted out the handwriting that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross'. 'There is therefore no condemnation now to them which believe in Christ Jesus.'

4. And being saved from guilt, they are saved from fear. Not indeed from a filial fear of offending, but from all servile fear, from that 'fear which hath torment', from fear of punishment, from fear of the wrath of God, whom they now no longer regard as a severe master, but as an indulgent Father. 'They have not received again the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father: the Spirit itself also bearing witness with their spirit, that they are the children of God.' They are also saved from the fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious promises. They are 'sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of their inheritance'. Thus have they 'peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . They rejoice in hope of the glory of God. . . . And the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts through the Holy Ghost which is given unto them.' And hereby they are 'persuaded' (though perhaps not all at all times, nor with the same fullness of persuasion) 'that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

5. Again, through this faith they are saved from the power of sin as well as from the guilt of it. So the Apostle declares, 'Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.' Again, 'Little children, let no man deceive you. . . . He that committeth sin is of the devil.' 'Whosoever believeth is born of God.' And, 'Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.' Once more, 'We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.'

6. He that is by faith born of God sinneth not,
(1), by any habitual sin, for all habitual sin is sin reigning; but sin cannot reign in any that believeth. Nor,
(2), by any wilful sin; for his will, while he abideth in the faith, is utterly set against all sin, and abhorreth it as deadly poison. Nor,
(3), by any sinful desire; for he continually desireth the holy and perfect will of God; and any unholy desire he by the grace of God stifleth in the birth. Nor,
(4), doth he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought; for his infirmities have no concurrence of his will; and without this they are not properly sins. Thus, 'He that is born of God doth not commit sin.' And though he cannot say he hath not sinned, yet now 'he sinneth not'.

7. This then is the salvation which is through faith, even in the present world: a salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word 'justification', which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing on him, and a deliverance from the power of sin, through Christ 'formed in his heart'. So that he who is thus justified or saved by faith is indeed 'born again'. He is 'born again of the Spirit' unto a new 'life which is hid with Christ in God'. And as a 'newborn babe he gladly receives the sincere milk of the word, and grows thereby'; 'going on in the might of the Lord his God', 'from faith to faith', 'from grace to grace', 'until at length he comes unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ'.

III. Objections to the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith

1. That to preach salvation or justification by faith only is to preach against holiness and good works. To which a short answer might be given: it would be so if we spake, as some do, of a faith which was separate from these. But we speak of a faith which is not so, but necessarily productive of all good works and all holiness.

2. But it may be of use to consider it more at large: especially since it is no new objection, but as old as St. Paul's time, for even then it was asked, 'Do we not make void the law through faith?' We answer, first, all who preach not faith do manifestly make void the law, either directly and grossly, by limitations and comments that eat out all the spirit of the text; or indirectly, by not pointing out the only means whereby it is possible to perform it. Whereas, secondly, 'We establish the law', both by showing its full extent and spiritual meaning, and by calling all to that living way whereby 'the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in them'. These, while they trust in the blood of Christ alone, use all the ordinances which he hath appointed, do all the 'good works which he had before prepared that they should walk therein', and enjoy and manifest all holy and heavenly tempers, even the same 'mind that was in Christ Jesus'.

3. But does not preaching this faith lead men into pride? We answer, accidentally it may. Therefore ought every believer to be earnestly cautioned (in the words of the great Apostle): 'Because of unbelief the first branches were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.' And while he continues therein, he will remember those words of St. Paul, foreseeing and answering this very objection: 'Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.' If a man were justified by his works, he would have whereof to glory. But there is no glorying for him 'that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly'. To the same effect are the words both preceding and following the text: 'God, who is rich in mercy, . . . even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved),. . . that he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace ye are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves.' Of yourselves cometh neither your faith nor your salvation. 'It is the gift of God,' the free, undeserved gift—the faith through which ye are saved, as well as the salvation which he of his own good pleasure, his mere favour, annexes thereto. That ye believe is one instance of his grace; that believing, ye are saved, another. 'Not of works, lest any man should boast.' For all our works, all our righteousness, which were before our believing, merited nothing of God but condemnation, so far were they from deserving faith, which therefore, whenever given, is not 'of works'. Neither is salvation of the works we do when we believe. For 'it is' then 'God that worketh in us'. And, therefore, that he giveth us a reward for what he himself worketh only commendeth the riches of his mercy, but leaveth us nothing whereof to glory.

4. However, may not the speaking thus of the mercy of God, as saving or justifying freely by faith only, encourage men in sin? Indeed it may and will; many will 'continue in sin, that grace may abound'. But their blood is upon their own head. The goodness of God ought to lead them to repentance, and so it will those who are sincere of heart. When they know there is yet forgiveness with him, they will cry aloud that he would blot out their sins also through faith which is in Jesus. And if they earnestly cry and faint not, if they seek him in all the means he hath appointed, if they refuse to be comforted till he come, he 'will come, and will not tarry'. And he can do much work in a short time. Many are the examples in the Acts of the Apostles of God's working this faith in men's hearts as quick as lightning falling from heaven. So in the same hour that Paul and Silas began to preach the jailer repented, believed, and was baptized —as were three thousand by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost, who all repented and believed at his first preaching. And, blessed be God, there are now many living proofs that he is still thus 'mighty to save'.

5. Yet to the same truth, placed in another view, a quite contrary objection is made: 'If a man cannot be saved by all that he can do, this will drive men to despair.' True, to despair of being saved by their own works, their own merits or righteousness. And so it ought; for none can trust in the merits of Christ till he has utterly renounced his own. He that 'goeth about to establish his own righteousness' cannot receive the righteousness of God. The righteousness which is of faith cannot be given him while he trusteth in that which is of the law.

6. But this, it is said, is an uncomfortable doctrine. The devil spoke like himself, that is, without either truth or shame, when he dared to suggest to men that it is such.'Tis the only comfortable one, 'tis 'very full of comfort', to all self-destroyed, self-condemned sinners. That 'whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed'; that 'the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him'—here is comfort, high as heaven, stronger than death! What! Mercy for all? For Zaccheus, a public robber? For Mary Magdalene, a common harlot? Methinks I hear one say, 'Then I, even I, may hope for mercy!' And so thou mayst, thou afflicted one, whom none hath comforted! God will not cast out thy prayer. Nay, perhaps he may say the next hour, 'Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee'; so forgiven that they shall reign over thee no more; yea, and that 'the Holy Spirit shall bear witness with thy spirit that thou art a child of God.' O glad tidings! Tidings of great joy, which are sent unto all people. 'Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; come ye and buy without money, and without price.' Whatsoever your sins be, 'though red, like crimson',97 though 'more than the hairs of your head', 'return ye unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.'

7. When no more objections occur, then we are simply told that salvation by faith only ought not to be preached as the first doctrine, or at least not to be preached to all. But what saith the Holy Ghost? 'Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ.' So, then, 'that whosoever believeth on him shall be saved' is and must be the foundation of all our preaching; that is, must be preached first. 'Well, but not to all.' To whom then are we not to preach it? Whom shall we except? The poor? Nay, they have a peculiar right to have the gospel preached unto them. The unlearned? No. God hath revealed these things unto unlearned and ignorant men from the beginning. The young? By no means. 'Suffer these' in any wise 'to come unto Christ, and forbid them not.' The sinners? Least of all. He 'came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'. Why then, if any, we are to except the rich, the learned, the reputable, the moral men. And 'tis true, they too often except themselves from hearing; yet we must speak the words of our Lord. For thus the tenor of our commission runs: 'Go and preach the gospel to every creature.' If any man wrest it or any part of it to his destruction, he must bear his own burden. But still, 'as the Lord liveth, whatsoever the Lord saith unto us, that we will speak.'

8. At this time more especially will we speak, that 'by grace ye are saved through faith': because never was the maintaining this doctrine more seasonable than it is at this day. Nothing but this can effectually prevent the increase of the Romish delusion among us.'Tis endless to attack one by one all the errors of that Church. But salvation by faith strikes at the root, and all fall at once where this is established. It was this doctrine (which our Church justly calls 'the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion') that first drove popery out of these kingdoms, and 'tis this alone can keep it out. Nothing but this can give a check to that immorality which hath overspread the land as a flood. Can you empty the great deep drop by drop? Then you may reform us by dissuasives from particular vices. But let 'the righteousness which is of God by faith' be brought in, and so shall its proud waves be stayed. Nothing but this can stop the mouths of those who 'glory in their shame', 'and openly deny the Lord that bought them'. They can talk as sublimely of the law as he that hath it written by God in his heart. To hear them speak on this head might incline one to think they were not far from the kingdom of God. But take them out of the law into the gospel; begin with the righteousness of faith, with 'Christ, the end of the law to everyone that believeth', and those who but now appeared almost if not altogether Christians stand confessed the sons of perdition, as far from life and salvation (God be merciful unto them!) as the depth of hell from the height of heaven.

9. For this reason the adversary so rages whenever 'salvation by faith' is declared to the world. For this reason did he stir up earth and hell to destroy those who first preached it. And for the same reason, knowing that faith alone could overturn the foundations of his kingdom, did he call forth all his forces, and employ all his arts of lies and calumny, to affright that glorious champion of the Lord of Hosts, Martin Luther, from reviving it. Nor can we wonder thereat. For as that man of God observes, 'How would it enrage a proud strong man armed to be stopped and set at nought by a little child, coming against him with a reed in his hand!'—especially when he knew that little child would surely overthrow him and tread him under foot. 'Even so, Lord Jesus!' Thus hath thy strength been ever 'made perfect in weakness'! Go forth then, thou little child that believest in him, and his 'right hand shall teach thee terrible things'! Though thou art helpless and weak as an infant of days, the strong man shall not be able to stand before thee. Thou shalt prevail over him, and subdue him, and overthrow him, and trample him under thy feet. Thou shalt march on under the great Captain of thy salvation, 'conquering and to conquer', until all thine enemies are destroyed, and 'death is swallowed up in victory'.
Now thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, for ever and ever.