When I shall receive the Congregation, I will judge uprightly. So he fed them in the integrity of his heart, and led them by the skilfulness of his hands. See the pillars of the divine government; Psal. Thy Faithfulness reacheth to the Clouds, thy Righteousness is as the great Mountains.
Nor can the kingdoms and provinces on the earth stand, but on the like basis of a just and righteous humane government. A publick and enlarged spirit for the common weal and a single regard thereunto, without suffering our selves to be misled by private and selfish views. And so,. A spirit of peace and love, meekness and humility, candour and gentleness; whereby persons are ready to unite their counsels, and act in concert with one another; paying a just deference one to another and preferring one another in honour; glad to receive light from any one, and well pleased to reflect it from them; all pursuing one end, as the many pillars in a great house stand quietly near to one another, Edition: current; Page: [ 17 ] and all help to bear it up: This spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, render men strong and beautiful pillars of the earth.
A pillar implies fortitude and patience; resolution, firmness and strength of mind, under weight and burden: Not to be soon shaken in mind, nor moved away from what is right and just; but giving our reason in the meekness of wisdom, and hearing the reasons of others in the same spirit of meekness, to form an impartial judgment, and abide by it; But yet with submission to the publick judgment and determination.
The unstable are as water, and more fitly likened to the waves of the sea, than to a pillar on shore. And the irresolute, discouraged and sinking mind is at best but a pillar built upon the sand; which falls when the wind blows and the storm beats upon it, because of its weak foundation. True it will wear under the injuries of time, but it looks still great, and stands while it wears away. But this for the first head; the governments and rulers of the earth are its pillars. The shields of the earth belong to him.
These are the same with the pillars of it. He gifts, qualifies and furnishes all whom he calls out to public service. He makes the more plain and rough, and he orders the carved work and gilding in his house. In the Hearts of all that are wise-hearted He putteth Wisdom. He gave to David integrity, and to Solomon wisdom; and both were pillars of his framing. Civil government is of divine institution, and God commissions and entrusts with the administration whom he pleases. There is no Power but of God ; the Powers that be are ordained of Him.
He puts the scepter into the hand, and the spirit of government into the heart. He calls, and uses whom he will, inclines and spirits how he will, and improves to what degree he will. They are his therefore, and his is the greatness and the glory and the majesty! And to him it must be ascribed both by the persons endowed and raised by him, and by others interested in them: 1 Chron. But to do the utmost honour to the civil order among men, and to give yet greater glory to GOD , let us come to the third and last part of our text.
GOD hath set the world upon the governments and rulers, whom he has made the pillars of it. And as he governs the spirits of men when he pleases by immediate impressions on them; so as more proper to the present order and happiness of mankind, he has appointed the government of men to be by men. So the peace, tranquility and flourishing of places are made to depend on the wisdom and fidelity of their rulers, in the good administration of the government.
While the utmost misery and confusion befals those places where the government is ill administred. The virtue and religion of a people, their riches and trade, their power, honour and reputation; and the favour of GOD toward them, with his blessing on them; do greatly depend on the pious, righteous and faithful government which they are under. GOD hath set : As well in the nature of things, as in his word. The very being and weal of society depends thereon. Government was not in the original of it assumed or usurped by any one man.
For instance, not by Lamech before the Flood, nor by Nimrod after it. In a word, magistracy, like the other ordinances of heaven, stands by the power and blessing of GOD ; who effectually owns it and works by it, establishes the earth and it abideth. He has graven it deep in the hearts of men, even as the desire of happiness and self-preservation. Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] He has as much ordained, that while the earth remaineth civil order and government shall not cease; as he has sworn that seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not.
I shall now make a few reflections, by way of practical inference and improvement. See the divine wisdom and goodness in ordaining and establishing a magistracy and government in the world. It is one of the many great instances, wherein the Supream Governour of the world has taken care for the universal and perpetual weal of it. And they that would be lawless and ungoverned, despising dominion and speaking evil of dignity, distinction, authority and rule among men, act as madly and mischievously as one would do, that should go into a house and sap the foundation of it, till it fall upon him and crush him to death.
This alone is a sufficient mark of the Beast and of the man of sin. The Reformed churches took early care to protest against this doctrine of devils. These are some of the just and true principles of the Protestant religion, according to the oracles of GOD in this matter:. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for Wrath or fear of punishment but also for Conscience sake. Put them in mind to be subject to Principalities and Powers, to obey Magistrates. Let us very gratefully observe these precepts, for they are very graciously given us for the good of the world. Are magistrates the pillars of the earth?
Let us then devoutly observe the governing Providence of GOD in disposing of persons and offices, both with respect unto our selves and others. Let us think soberly of our selves, and not vainly pine after honour and power, or wickedly push for it like Absalom. But neither need we hide our selves like Saul, when the divine call is plain, nor insist on excuses like the meek and accomplished Moses. Let us know and keep our own place, and do our duty to those whom GOD sets over us. They are pillars, but of the earth.
The earth and its pillars are dissolving together. We must not look too much at the loftiness of any, nor lean too much on any earthly pillar: Put not your Trust in Princes, nor in the Son of Man in Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] whom there is no Help: His Breath goeth forth, he returneth to his Dust. Let the publick good be their just care; that it may be seen that GOD has set the world in their heart, as well as laid it on their shoulders.
As government is the pillar of the earth, so religion is the pillar of government. But if religion rule in the hearts and lives of rulers, GOD will have glory, and the people be made happy. Emulate their piety and godliness, and generous regards to the publick, and be acknowledged the pillars, the strength and ornament of your country! But let me move you by a greater argument, even a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which the Holy Ghost has set before you in a most illustrious promise;.
Christ will erect a monumental pillar, that shall stand for ever, in honour of all them who in their station here, be they high or low, faithfully endeavour to uphold his church and kingdom. Yea the pillars of the literal earth and heavens will shortly tremble, and be shaken out of their place; but he that believes in Christ, and has his glorious name written on him, shall remain unshaken and immoveable; and remain, like his living saviour, stedfast for ever.
This infinite and eternal glory we wish to all in this worshipping assembly, the greater and the less, high and low, rich and poor together: As in the act of worship, we are all on a level before the throne of GOD. And the lowest in outward condition may be the highest in grace, and in the honours that come from above. But in a more especial manner we wish this mercy and blessing of our GOD and king, out of his house to your Excellency our governour: Whose return to your country, and your advancement to the government of it, we cannot but congratulate in the most publick manner, with hearts full of joy, and sincere thankfulness to GOD.
And may the name of Christ, and of these churches of our Lord Jesus, be graven deep upon your heart: And your faithful services to them be an everlasting name to you, which shall not be cut off. So, not only erect your self a pillar in every pious and grateful heart, that loves our civil and religious liberties; and let their prayers and blessings come upon you; but also lay a good foundation against the world to come, for everlasting fame and renown, and to be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Joseph Sewall — A Harvard graduate of , Sewall spent a long and generally serene ministry at Old South Church in Boston, where he preached beyond his eightieth year.
He was offered the presidency of Harvard in , but he declined it after a peevish attack by Cotton Mather. He preached the artillery sermon in and the election sermon in , and he was awarded a D. Reprinted here is a fast-day sermon preached before the Massachusetts governor, the council, and the house of representatives on December 3, Always ready to look for underlying causes and strongly attached to his province, Sewall readily supported the patriot cause and permitted his meeting house to become a shrine of the American cause.
He knew they were the purchase of our forefathers at the expence of much labor, blood, and treasire [ sic ]. He could not bear the thought of their being wrested out of our hands. He esteemed it our duty, in all wise, reasonable, and legal ways, to endeavour the preservation of them. Joseph Sewall [Boston, ], p. And God saw their Works, that they turned from their evil Way, and God repented of the Evil that he had said that he would do unto them, and he did it not. In this book we have a very memorable and instructive history. Jonah is taken, and cast into the sea; upon which it ceased from raging: And thus, by the wonderful Providence of God , he became a type of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who having appeased the wrath of God by his obedience unto death, lay buried in the earth three days, Matth.
Jonah having cried to God , as out of the Belly of Hell, was delivered from his dreadful confinement. The Lord spake unto the Fish, and it vomited Jonah upon the dry Land. Jonah, being thus delivered from the depth of distress, obeys the second call of God to him, Ch. Happy is that rebuke, how sharp soever, which is sanctified to make us return to God and our duty.
O let not London! But to return, Jonah, in obedience to the divine command, cries against this great city, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown, v. In the five following verses, we have the faith and repentance of the Ninevites described, which our Lord takes particular notice of, Matth. The Men of Nineveh shall rise in Judgment with this Generation, and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Let us then attend to these words with reverence and godly fear, lest they also rise up in judgment against us in the terrible day of the Lord. And here I would more particularly observe, 1. The People of Nineveh believed God, v. Yea, there was a royal proclamation for this by the Decree of the King and his Nobles, v. And this great monarch humbled himself before the Most High, who cuts off the spirit of princes, and is terrible to the kings of the earth.
And all are commanded to cry mightily to God, v. Yea, all are exhorted to turn every one from his evil Edition: current; Page: [ 31 ] Way, and from the violence that is in their hands. The Ninevites were sensible, that to outward signs and means of humiliation, they must add repentance and reformation. We have their Encouragement to attend this Duty, in a time of impending judgment, v. Who can tell if God will turn and repent. And they might well infer some ground of hope as to their temporal deliverance from this, that the judgment was not presently executed; but the space of forty days was given them for repentance.
Who can tell? Joel 2. God saw their Works, i. Luke Here were some, I hope, and that not a few, who had saving repentance given them; and others were so terrified and awakened, that they engaged at least in an outward and publick reformation. And may we not suppose that in this wonderful work, God gave his ancient people a specimen and earnest of the call of the gentiles? Now, upon this their repentance it is said, God repented of the Evil, and he did it not.
Which words must be understood in such a sense as is consistent with the divine perfections. He is of one mind, and who can turn him? Nor, as if he acted contrary to truth and faithfulness; no, the threatning was conditional. At what Instant I shall speak concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If that Nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their Evil, I will repent of the Evil that I thought to do unto them. From the words thus explained to you, I would observe the following doctrines,. If we would seek the Lord in a right manner, we must believe him; the threatnings and promises of his word.
It is the duty of a people to cry to God in prayer with fasting, when he threatens to bring destroying judgments upon them; and their rulers should be ready to lead in the right discharge of this duty. Our seeking to God by prayer with fasting must be attended with true repentance, and sincere endeavours after reformation.
When a people do thus attend their duty, God will repent of the evil, and not bring destruction upon them. If we would seek the Lord in a right manner under his threatned judgments, we must believe him; the threatnings and promises of his word. The people of Nineveh believed God , and proclaimed a fast. His preaching might be more full and particular than is here recorded; and God set it home, so that they were made sensible they had to do with the true and faithful one, whose name is Jehovah; and accordingly they set themselves to entreat his favour with great seriousness. And thus we must believe, that the Lord is that powerful, holy, faithful, and merciful God , which he declareth himself to be in his word.
We must realise it, that his word is sure and most worthy of credit, whether he threatens evil to the impenitent, or promiseth mercy to such as confess and forsake their sins; or we shall never be concerned to seek his Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] face in a right manner. Without faith it is impossible to please God, in our approaches to him: For he that cometh to God , must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Certainly then, we who are born under the clear light of the gospel dispensation, must believe the Lord our God speaking to us in his word, if we would attend the duties of this day, so as to obtain mercy for ourselves, and this distressed people. We must believe that if we go on obstinately in our sins, and despite the warnings God has given us in his word and by his providences, we shall after our hardness and impenitent heart treasure up unto our selves wrath against the day of wrath; But if we forsake the way of sin, and return unto the Lord, he will have mercy and abundantly pardon. We must believe our Lord Jesus when he says to us, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
And we must also receive it as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and will cast out none that come to him in the exercise of faith and repentance. O that there was such a faith in us! By Faith Noah being warnned of God of Things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his House; by the which he condemned the World, and became Heir of the Righteousness which is by Faith, Heb. Thus did the men of Nineveh, nor did their king refuse to humble himself and lie in the dust before that Almighty God , who threatned to destroy them.
Thus when the children of Moab and Ammon came against Jehoshaphet to battel, he feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] proclaimed a Fast, 2 Chron. And we have an account in scripture of more private fasting, Mark 2. Where we are informed that the disciples of John, and of the pharisees used to fast. And our Lord declares that after his departure, His Disciples should also Fast.
And we have particular direction about religious fasting, 1. Here then, I would be a little more particular in describing the duty of fasting and prayer, in which we are this day engaged. In religious fasting we must chasten our bodies, by abstaining from meat and drink, and other pleasures which gratify the outward man. Indeed the necessity of persons, respecting the weakness of some constitutions, is here to be regarded.
However, when persons wantonly indulge their appetites, and find their own pleasures when God calls to weeping and mourning, is sinful and shameful. And God declares in his word, that this is a provoking evil, Isai. In that Day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold Joy and Gladness, slaying Oxen, and killing Sheep, eating Flesh, and drinking Wine; let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die.
And it was revealed in mine Ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts. And surely the men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment against such, and condemn them; for we find they were very strict in attending these outward signs and means of humiliation. But then, it must be granted that this bodily abstinence will profit little, unless our hearts are broken for sin, and broken off from the pleasures of it.
In religious fasting we must afflict our souls; have the heart inwardly pierced, and the spirits broken upon the account of our sins. That God who is a spirit, and forms the spirit of man within him, looks on the heart, and requireth us to worship him in spirit and truth. The call of God to his people on a day of solemn fasting, was that, rent your heart, Joel 2.
There must then be a deep and thorow conviction of sin, and contrition Edition: current; Page: [ 35 ] upon the account of it. We must look to Jesus whom our sins have pierced, and mourn as one mourneth for his only Son, and be in bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his First-born, Zech. We must take shame and blame to our selves, and make that confession, Dan. O Lord to us belongeth confusion of Face, to our Kings, to our Princes, and to our Fathers, because we have sinned against thee. We must cry mightily to God in prayer. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee O Lord.
Prayer is a great part of the duty of the day; and we must take care, that it be that effectual fervent Prayer that availeth much, Jam. For this end, we must ask the spirit of grace and supplication to help our infirmities, and stir up the gift of God in us. Thus must we pour out our hearts before God , and say, in most humble importunity as Jacob, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. For God said not to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain, Isa.
How earnest was he when he set his face to seek the Lord by prayer with fasting!
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Hear his repeated cries, Ch. May Moses and Aaron, lift up their hands with their hearts to God in prayer this day, and receive the blessing from the Lord. We must turn, each one from his evil way. Thus when the exhortation given was to cry mightily to God , it follows; Yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the Violence that is in their Hands.
And indeed, unless this be our care, our sins will cry louder than our prayers, and provoke God to cover himself as with a cloud, Isa. But your Iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your Sins have hid his Face from you, that he will not hear. And when God had declared to his people that he rejected their assemblies and solemn meetings, he gives them that exhortation. Wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your Doings from before mine Eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek Judgment, relieve the Oppressed, judge the Fatherless, plead for the Widow, Isa.
Our seeking to God by prayer with fasting, must be attended with true repentance, and sincere endeavours after reformation. God saw their works, that they turned from the evil way. Here we may consider,. What is implied in this work of repentance and reformation. Why we should thus engage in the work of repentance and reformation.
First, What is implied in this work of repentance and reformation? It implieth, An holy and prevailing resolution to turn from those sins which we confess on the day of fasting. This God requires of us. And after this manner did the children of Israel testify their repentance, when they cried to the Lord under the oppression of their enemies. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Agreeably, when we have fasted and prayed, we must bring forth fruits meet for repentance, by engaging in a thorow reformation of all sins of omission or commission.
If we have neglected the duties of those relations which we sustain towards men, in publick or private life; we must now with care and diligence discharge them. If we have committed sins contrary to the laws of sobriety, righteousness and godliness; we must labour by the spirit to mortify them.
In a word, we should cleanse our selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. And in order to these things, we ought earnestly seek to God to put his laws into our minds, and write them in our hearts; for it is he alone that can work in us to will and to do, in beginning and carrying on this necessary work of reformation. That we return to God by Jesus Christ; to believe in, love and obey him. The prophet Hosea complains, They return, but not to the most High, 7. Whereas, when a reformation is sincere and general, we shall have a regard to the Lord our God in it, as to our chief good and highest end.
As they, When he Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. And they remembred that God was their Rock, and the high God their Redeemer. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their Mouth, and they lied unto him with their Tongues, Psal. And then shall we endeavour to be stedfast in his covenant. The language of our hearts must be as Hos. Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Asshur shall not save us, we will not ride upon Horses, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the Fatherless findeth mercy. As to particular persons, it is necessary that they thus give up themselves to the Lord, and then keep the covenant of their God.
Secondly, Why should our days of fasting be thus attended with sincere endeavours after reformation? God demands this of us. When that inquiry was made, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow my self before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oyl?
The answer is, He hath shewed thee, O Man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6. God makes precious promises to encourage and excite us to this duty. Thus when God had exhorted his people to put away the evil of their doings; he adds for their encouragement, Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be white as Snow; though they be red like Crimson, they shall be as Wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the Land. Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.
Let the Wicked forsake his Way, and the unrighteous Man his Thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Surely then, we must be basely ungrateful, if we are not drawn with these cords of a man, and bands of love. And this is another reason why we should engage in the work of repentance and reformation. If we refuse to repent and reform, we shall be condemned out of our own mouths, and fall under the threatned judgments of God.
One considerable part of the duty of a day of religious fasting is to make an humble and penitent confession of our sins whereby we have provoked a holy God to come out in judgment against us, and to cry to him for grace that we may turn from them. Now this will be dreadful indeed, and must aggravate our condemnation, to be thus self-condemned; and so to fall under the righteous judgment of God. Notwithstanding this, God said to his people, If ye will not Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] be reformed, but will walk contrary to me, then will I also walk contrary to you, and will punish you seven times for your sins.
And God fulfilled his word. They mocked the Messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his Prophets, until the Wrath of the Lord arose against his People, till there was no Remedy, 2 Chron. And after their merciful restoration, when they had filled up the measure of their sins by disobeying and crucifying the Lord of Glory, and then by rejecting the offers of the gospel made to them by his apostles; the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost by the Romans, and they are made an execration and a curse unto this day.
When a people do thus turn from their evil way to the Lord, he will repent of the evil, and not bring destruction upon them. God saw their works—and God repented of the Evil that he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not. And when God threatens, it is with a reserve of grace and favour to the penitent. Thus God said to the prophet Jeremiah,.
It may be the House of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every Man from his evil Way, that I may forgive their Iniquity and their Sin , Jer. And even in times of abounding iniquity, when the glory of God was departing from his people, and destroying judgments breaking in like a flood; God was pleased to make a remarkable distinction between the penitent, and such as were hardned in sin. And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the City, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a Mark upon the Foreheads of the Men that sigh and that cry for all the Abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
And to the others be said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the City and smite: let not your Eye spare, neither have ye Pity , Ezek. But the time would fail me, should I attempt to speak particularly to this head; and I have in part prevented my self by what has been already said. The faithful and true God declareth this in his word. When I say unto the Wicked, Thou shalt surely die: If he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the Wicked restore the Pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the Statutes of Life, without committing Iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die, Ezek.
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a Bullock unaccustomed to the Yoke: Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my Youth. Is Ephraim my dear Son? Is he a pleasant Child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: Therefore my Bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.
Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his Salvation, Deut. Let them not turn again to Folly. Accordingly, God says of his people, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land? And then returns this answer, Thou shalt call me, My Father, and shalt not turn away from me, Jer. Again, this truth is evident from the happy experience of the penitent.
We have a remarkable instance before us. Now, did God spare repenting Nineveh, and will he not spare his repenting covenant-people? Yes surely,. If their uncircumcised Hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their Iniquity: Then will I remember my Covenant with Jacob, and also my Covenant with Isaac, and also my Covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the Land. USE 1. Righteousness exalteth a Nation, Prov. And if God be for us, who can be against us? There is no Wisdom nor Understanding, nor Counsel against the Lord. Prov Certainly then, the one thing needful is to secure the presence and favour of God ; and this we do when we return to him in hearty repentance, and then walk before him in new obedience.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early, O that God would impress on our minds the firm belief of these things! O that he would affect our hearts suitably with them! That we might strive together in our prayers this day, crying to God with the prophet, O Lord, revive thy Work in the midst of the Years, in the midst of the Years make known; in Wrath remember Mercy. USE 2. Abounding iniquity will be the destruction of a people, except they repent.
If they persist and go on in the ways of sin, refusing to return to God , iniquity will be their ruin. Sin is the Reproach of any People, Prov. It hath both a natural and moral tendency to lay them low, and expose them to shame. Why should ye be stricken any more? From the Sole of the Foot, even unto the Crown of the Head, there is no Soundness in it; but Wounds and Bruises, and putrifying Sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither molified with Ointment, Isa. And then, this deadly evil provokes the holy God to pour contempt upon a people, and lay their honour in the dust.
Thus God threatned his people, Thou shalt become an Astonishment, a Proverb, and a By-word, among all Nations whither the Lord shall lead thee. And in the 44th and 45th [verse:] He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him; he shall be the Head, and thou shalt be the Tail. Moreover all these Curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee till thou be destroyed: Because thou hearknedst not unto the Voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his Commandments and his Statutes which he commanded thee.
And the threatning was fulfilled upon them. God said to his people, O Israel, Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. And the weeping prophet Edition: current; Page: [ 44 ] laments their sins and ruin, Jerusalem hath grievously sinned: all that honoured her, despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts, she remembreth not her last end, therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no Comforter. USE 3. Let us then be sensible of the destroying evil of sin, and the necessity of true repentance.
God speaks to us this day as to his people of old, Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy Backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts, Jer. And as O do not this abominable thing that I hate. Most certainly they are guilty of great folly, who make a mock at sin. This is to cast fire-brands, arrows and death; and say, Am I not sport? The wise man observes, that One Sinner destroyeth much Good, Eccl.
Let us then fly from sin as the most pernicious evil, and see the necessity of our turning to the Lord by sincere repentance. O let that word of the Lord sink deep into our hearts this day! Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye die, O House of Israel? Let us all be exhorted to turn, every one from his evil way; and to engage heartily in the necessary work of reformation. Let us then seriously consider that we have to do with that God who is able to save and to destroy. And settle that word in our hearts as a certain truth, When he giveth Quietness, who then can make Trouble?
Job And accordingly, let us turn from all sin to the Lord, and in this way hope and wait for his salvation. O let us take heed, lest there be in any of us an evil Heart of Unbelief in departing from the living God. To day, let us hear his voice, and not harden our hearts.
And as it has pleased the Father to commit all judgment to the Son; let us look to him, and encourage our selves in him whom God hath exalted to be a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Then will I sprinkle clean Water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your Idols will I cleanse you. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my Statutes, and ye shall keep my Judgments, and do them. Blessed be the Lord, his spirit has been, we hope, moving on the hearts of many to convince and awaken them.
O let us not resist and quench the spirit! Let us cherish his motions, and pray the more earnestly that he may be given in an extensive manner as a spirit of saving conversion and thorow reformation. And then with our fervent prayers, let us unite our best endeavours with regard to our selves, our families, and this people; that all iniquity may be put far from us, and that we may become zealous of good works.
In this way we might hope God would say of us as of the remnant of Judah; Then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Or as Isa. Destroy it not, for a Blessing is in it. But the time requireth me to draw to a close. My fathers!
Suffer the word of exhortation: Let God see your works; that you turn from every evil way; that God may also repent of the evil, and not bring it upon us. You have the sacred writings of the New-Testament, in which God reveals his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; and also his grace and mercy to the penitent by a redeemer.
And as the judge of all the earth hath advanced you to rule over his people; so he declareth to you in his word, That they who rule over Men must be just, ruling in the Fear of God ; and requireth you to lead in the work of reformation by your example, and by the right use of that power with which he hath betrusted you. What means this heat of his anger? Why do we still complain, Judgment is far from us, neither doth Justice overtake us: we wait for Light, but behold Obscurity; for Brightness, but we walk in Darkness.
We grope for the Wall like the Blind, and we grope as if we had no Eyes. We must take up the lamentation which follows, v. Our Transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our Sins testify against us: for our Transgressions are with us, and as for our Iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking Oppression and Revolt, conceiving and uttering from the Heart, Words of Falsehood.
And Judgment is turned away backward, and Justice standeth afar off: for Truth is fallen in the Street, and Equity cannot enter. Is not this the Fast that I have chosen? Is it not to deal thy Bread to the Hungry, and that thou bring the Poor that are cast out to thy House? Then shall thy Light break forth as the Morning, and thine Health shall spring forth speedily: and thy Righteousness shall go before thee; the Glory of the Lord shall be thy Reward.
Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. And 12 v[:] They that shall be of thee, shall build the old waste Places: thou shalt raise up the Foundation of many Generations; and thou shalt be called, The Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Paths to dwell in.
Be intreated therefore to cry to God for grace that you may cleanse your hearts and hands from all sin, and so turn to the Lord; and then, let it be your constant care and diligent endeavour to do works meet for repentance. As God has exalted you above your brethren, let your light shine before them, that others seeing your good works may glorify your heavenly Father, and be excited to follow you.
Let all due care be taken that men may fear this glorious and fearful name , the Lord our God , and not presume to take it in vain; for because of swearing the land mourns. Let the most effectual means also be used that the great abuse of taverns may be reformed; that these be not converted into tipling and gaming houses for town- dwellers, to the dishonour of God and hurt of the common-wealth.
Let the fountains of justice be kept open and pure, that judgment may run down as waters; and that such as thirst after righteousness may come freely, and be refreshed. But then, I presume not in the least measure to determine whether this or that way is right. May that God before whom all things are open and naked, direct Your Excellency and the whole court, into such paths of righteousness as shall lead to our deliverance and safety; that we may neither oppress one another, nor become a prey to an insulting enemy!
May you be filled with the most tender and fatherly compassion for your people under the present distress and danger, and do all you can to relieve them! But in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel! O God! We know not what to do; but our eyes are unto thee. Thy ways are equal, our ways have been very unequal. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day, because we have sinned against thee.
We are unworthy; but the name in which we now ask thy divine help, is most worthy. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again O God ; and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.
And would you, our honoured rulers, to whom I again address my self, have the all-wise God present to shew you what his people ought to do in this very critical conjuncture, and to make you the joyful instruments of our deliverance; then abide with God by taking his word for your rule, by making his glory your highest end, and by seeking the public-weal in all things.
Ask of God a public spirit, and by all means labour to subdue a vicious self-love remembring the warning given us, 2 Tim. In the last Days perilous Times shall come. For Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous. May you have the love of God and his people shed abroad in your hearts by his spirit; and be ready to sacrifice private views and personal interests to the publick good! And if at any time you should be tempted to this great evil, as the best of men may; set that word of God in opposition to the temptation. He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the Gain of Oppression, that shaketh his Hands from holding of Bribes, that stoppeth his Ears from hearing of Blood, and shutteth his Eyes from seeing Evil: He shall dwell on high, his Place of Defence shall be the Munition of Rocks; Bread shall be given him, his Waters shall be sure.
In this way you shall obtain the gracious presence of God with you. The Lord is with you, while ye be with him , 2 Chron. And if God Edition: current; Page: [ 50 ] be with you and for you, who can be against you? What can harm you? Surely the mountains shall become a plain, crooked things straight, and the night shine as the day. Let me say to you therefore as 2 Chron. Be ye strong, and let not your Hands be weak: for your Work shall be rewarded. God will be your shield, and exceeding great reward. And when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me: Come ye Blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom.
Elisha Williams — Born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, he was graduated from Harvard in , studied theology with his father, read law, preached to seamen in Nova Scotia, tutored Yale students at his home for several years including Jonathan Edwards the elder , and, in , settled as pastor of a Congregational church in Wethersfield, Connecticut. There Williams remained only four years before becoming Yale University rector, a position he held until Harkey, American Writers Before His departure from Yale was attributed to poor health, but Williams, who had also been in the Connecticut General Assembly, served there again from to Politically ambitious, he was thought to be interested in becoming governor of Connecticut.
It prohibited ministers from preaching outside their own parishes, unless expressly invited to do so by resident ministers. Punishment for violating this law was deprivation of support and authorization to preach, a prohibition and punishment that Williams argued violated scripture, natural rights, the social contract, and the Toleration Act of These views had so antagonized people as to prevent his reelection to the Supreme Court in the previous year, and he was abused by both Old Lights and New Lights. But the pamphlet is a triumph of political theology and Edition: current; Page: [ 53 ] Edition: current; Page: [ 54 ] theory.
I now give you my thoughts on the questions you lately sent me. As you set me the task, you must take the performance as it is without any apology for its defects. I have wrote with the usual freedom of a friend, aiming at nothing but truth, and to express my self so as to be understood. That the sacred scriptures are the alone rule of faith and practice to a Christian, all Protestants are agreed in; and must therefore inviolably maintain, that every Christian has a right of judging for himself what he is to believe and practice in religion according to that rule: Which I think on a full examination you will find perfectly inconsistent with any power in the civil magistrate to make any penal laws in matters of religion.
The evils that have been introduced thereby into the Christian church are more than can be reckoned up. Because of the great importance of it to the Christian and to his standing fast in that liberty wherewith Christ has made him free, you will not fault me if I am the longer upon it. The more firmly this is established in our minds; the more firm shall we be against all attempts upon our Christian liberty, and better practice that Christian charity towards such as are of different sentiments from us in religion that is so much recommended and inculcated in those sacred oracles, and which a just understanding of our Christian rights has a natural tendency to influence us to.
But if I am mistaken in Edition: current; Page: [ 56 ] the grounds I proceed upon or in any conclusion drawn from true premises, I shall be thankful to have the same pointed out: Truth being what I seek, to which all must bow first or last. First, as to the origin——Reason teaches us that all men are naturally equal in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another. For God having given man an understanding to direct his actions, has given him therewith a freedom of will and liberty of acting, as properly belonging thereto, within the bounds of that law he is under: And whilst he is in a state wherein he has no understanding of his own to direct his will, he is not to have any will of his own to follow: He that understands for him must will for him too.
But when he comes to such a state of reason as made the father free, the same must make the son free too: For the freedom of man and liberty of acting according to his own will without being subject to the will of another is grounded on his having reason, which is able to instruct him in that law he is to govern himself by, and make him know how far he is left to the freedom of his own will.
So that we are born free as we are born rational. Not that we have actually the exercise of either as soon as born; age that brings one, brings the other too. This natural freedom is not a liberty for every one to do what he pleases without any regard to any law; for a rational creature cannot but be made under a law from its Maker: But it consists in a freedom from any superiour power on earth , and not being under the will or legislative authority of man, and having only the law of nature or in other words, of its Maker for his rule. And as reason tells us, all are born thus naturally equal, i.
For which purpose God was pleased to make a grant of the earth in common to the children of men, first to Adam and afterwards to Noah and his sons: as the Psalmist says, Psal. And every man having a property in his own person, the labour of his body and the work of his hands are properly his own, to which no one has right but himself; it will therefore follow that when he removes any thing out of the state that nature has provided and left it in, he has mixed his labour with it and joined something to it that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.
He having removed it out of the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of others; because this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough and as good left in common for others. Thus every man having a natural right to or being the proprietor of his own person and his own actions and labour and to what he can honestly acquire by his labour, which we call property; it certainly follows, that no man can have a right to the person or property of another: And if every man has a right to his person and property; he has also a right to defend them, and a right to all the necessary means of defence , and so has a right of punishing all insults upon his person and property.
But because in such a state of nature , every man must be judge of the breach of the law of nature and executioner too even in his own case and the greater part being no strict observers of equity and justice; the enjoyment of property in this state is not very safe. Three things are wanting in this state as the celebrated Lock observes to render them safe; viz. There wants also a known and indifferent judge with authority to determine all differences according to the established law: for men are too apt to be partial to themselves, and too much wanting in a just concern for the interest of others.
There often wants also in a state of nature, a power to back and support the sentence when right, and give it due execution. Now to remedy these inconveniencies, reason teaches men to join in society, to unite together into a commonwealth under some form or other, to make a body of laws agreable to the law of nature, and institute one common power to see them observed. It is they who thus unite together, viz. For every man has an equal right to the preservation of his person and property; and so an equal right to establish a law, or to nominate the makers and executors of the laws which are the guardians both of person and property.
Hence then the fountain and original of all civil power is from the people, and is certainly instituted for their sakes; or in other words, which was the second thing proposed, The great end of civil government, is the preservation of their persons, their liberties and estates, or their property. It is nothing but their own good can be any rational inducement to it: and to suppose they either should or would do it on any other, is to suppose rational creatures ought to change their state with a design to make it worse. And that good which in such a state they find a need of, is no other than a greater security of enjoyment of what belonged to them.
That and that only can then be the true reason of their uniting together in some form or other they judge best for the obtaining that greater security. That greater security therefore of life, liberty, money, lands, houses, family, and the like, which may be all comprehended under that of person and property, is the sole end of all civil government.
These are not properly speaking governments but tyrannies; and are absolutely against the law of God and nature. But I am considering things as they be in their own nature, what reason teaches concerning them: and herein have given a short sketch of what the celebrated Mr. Lock in his Treatise of Government has largely demonstrated; and in which it is justly to be presumed all are agreed who understand the natural rights of mankind. Thus having seen what the end of civil government is; I suppose we see a fair foundation laid for the determination of the next thing I proposed to consider: Which is, What liberty or power belonging to man as he is a reasonable creature does every man give up to the civil government whereof he is a member.
Some part of their natural liberty they do certainly give up to the government, for the benefit of society and mutual defence for in a political society every one even an infant has the whole force of the community to protect him , and something therefore is certainly given up to the whole for this purpose.
The three main groups of false Christianity correspond to the three main groups of unbelieving Judaism at the time of Christ. Roman Catholicism is like the Pharisees — huge, works-salvation, tradition-bound, etc. Eastern Orthodoxy is the same. The second is Liberal Protestantism, similar to the Saducees in their rejection of revelation, weak ethics, etc.
Then there are the many cults, like the Jewish cults of the Essenes, Herodians, Zealots, etc, exclusivist and esoteric. The earliest form of pseudo-Christianity was Gnosticism, opposed in Colossians, I John, and elsewhere. There are many pseudo-Christian cults around today. We may not use force, violence, brainwashing, fleshly temptations, entertainment, or other such means.
Honest questions deserve honest answers, as Francis Schaeffer said. Some Weapons Are Useful but Insufficient. Other weapons are acceptable but insufficient. For example, some Christians argue from miracles, fulfilled prophecy, the endurance of the Bible and Christianity through centuries of persecution, the enormous popularity of Christianity, the many favorable words said about Jesus by important non-Christians, personal testimonies, logical proofs, empirical evidences and other such arguments.
These all have their place, but are not our primary resources, for each can be challenged in one way or another by non-Christians. At best, such arguments can only get a stalemate, not a victory. Such is the approach of Christian Rationalism e. The Word of God is our main weapon Eph.
Jesus turned to it, not as a last resort, but as His primary weapon in opposing Satan Matt. Our opinions mean nothing. We do not use it as a magical or superstitious talisman, but rather by knowing and believing it and quoting and explaining it properly and appropriately in fielding the objections of unbelievers.
Any team or army will tell you that defence is good, but you also need offence to win. We must know what our opponent is saying, and then we compare it with what the Bible says on that point. Indeed, also challenge the underlying presuppositions of the argument. A presupposition is the underlying and often unconscious assumption of a system of thought. We must know the enemy 2 Cor. It can help to show where such views logically lead. But mainly we are to show where they contradict what God says. Quote Scripture whether the opponent believes in the Bible or not.
It is also important to be as clear in your words as possible. We need not know all the details of a pagan religion or worldly philosophy in order to refute it. Some Christians seem to know more about non-Christian theories than true Christian theology. Leave the detailed study to the experts and theologians.
Our job is primarily to know the Bible, for it is sufficient to enable us to believe and defend the truth 2 Tim. He fills the whole universe, but does not show Himself in His full manifestation except in Heaven. To us, He is invisible, inaudible and intangible. He conceals Himself. But He also reveals Himself. God is so great and far above us, that we would know nothing at all about Him unless He chose to show us Himself — and He has chosen to do just that I Cor.
God has revealed some things about Himself, and left far more concealed. His revelation includes truths about the universe, man, sin, and especially about God Himself. This revelation makes moral and ethical demands on us. Because only part is revealed, His revelation is often a paradox, a mystery, implying there is more to the facts. But it is never a lie or a contradiction. We may study His revelation, but may not pry into what is not revealed, such as the details of the future Matt. We know only in part, but will know far more when the revelation is full I Cor. God has been revealing Himself by stages and levels.
Each one builds on the previous one. This is working up to a climax. God does this in actual history, not in mythological saga or make-believe, as many Neo-orthodox liberals suggest. God also reveals Himself in various ways in different times and to different people. Similarly, when God sets out to save a person, He gradually gives him more light until he is saved, and then gives him progressive illumination and growth in knowledge.
God reveals much about Himself in Nature. All men everywhere have this revelation, and therefore are without excuse. Yet God does not reveal His special grace and salvation through Nature. All men know that God exists, but they do not know Him personally through Nature. God spoke or showed things to select people by dreams when they were asleep and visions when they were awake.
These were not natural dreams like we have, but supernatural dreams. Angels also delivered personal messages to these select people, who as prophets were to pass on the messages to other people. God Revealed Himself through Theophanies. Examples: the Burning Bush Ex. Sinai, etc.
These were more direct than the other means of revelation, but still were not final. There was also some sort of Theophany in Eden. God Revealed Himself Verbally in the Bible. The next highest form of revelation occurred when God not only spoke through these other means, but commissioned certain prophets and apostles to write certain words down. This is the Bible, the verbal revelation of God.
He gave us actual words. These are the very words of God Himself. Hence, the Bible frequently describes itself as the Word of God, the words of God, and similar terms. Some terms point out that this verbal revelation was written, not just spoken: the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures of Truth, etc. The fact that God reveals Himself verbally teaches us, among other things, that God is personal and not an abstract principle.
He speaks, therefore is wise. He speaks to us, therefore He cares. Human language is adequate for this level of revelation. God condescended to speak human language. It is through the Bible, not Nature, that we learn about salvation. This is how we know God personally. Special Revelation is superior to Natural Revelation, and is the means by which we correctly interpret Natural Revelation.
God no longer reveals Himself through dreams, visions, angels, prophets, Theophanies, or the direct voice from Heaven. Our job is to diligently study this lasting revelation. To know God better, we read, study, understand, believe and obey the Bible. Special Revelation has ceased, but the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible continues.
We call this Illumination, not Revelation. The light is on, but we need to have our eyes opened. This is how God now reveals Himself best. Jesus Christ is the Greatest Revelation of God. Jesus Himself often said that to see Him was to see God. To know Jesus is to know God. He is the greatest of all revelations, because Jesus is God Himself. He is God in the flesh John He is the personal, living Word of God. This does not demean the value of the Bible, but fulfills it. Jesus is now in Heaven. We can pray to Him and love Him, even though we do not see or hear Him directly. We hear Him when we read His Bible.
It still is. It is not a collection of merely human books I Thess. It is the Word of God already, whether we believe it or not. It is already perfect. In Biblical days, God spoke through prophets, dreams, visions and angels. But that has ceased.
Introduction to Religion
See Heb. The Bible continues as the only Word of God. Similarly, preaching is not the Word of God. Preaching should be based on the Bible, but is not the same as the Bible. Also, the Bible is qualitatively different from every other book ever written. It alone is the Word of God. Even the books of the Apocrypha contain only human wisdom. The Bible is the Written Word of God. God was pleased to commit His Word to writing. It was inscripturated, or written down in human script. The finger of God directly wrote the 10 Commandments Ex. God used the human authors of Scripture as His fingers to write the Bible.
God did this so that we would have His Word in black and white, in a permanent form to read and study and consult. We need not depend on a series of priests who passed it on down the ages by word of mouth to be contaminated by fallible human memory. We have it in writing. It stands written. God did not breath something into the Bible; God breathed the Bible out of His own mouth. Jesus referred to this in Matt. God sent forth the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God John 3. He moved certain prophets and apostles so that they then put down in writing the exact words God wanted them to write.
Technically, it is the Bible, not the writers, which is inspired. Also, it is inspired because of its source, not its effect. It is divinely inspired regardless of whatever effect it has on us. All of the Bible is Inspired by God. Rather, the text says that all of the Scripture is inspired. This means that all parts are equally inspired. Ruth is as inspired as Romans, Joel as much as John. Therefore, it all carries divine authority and we should read all of it.
- Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot: A Classic of American Buddhism;
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- Basic Christian Doctrine.
- 15.1. The Sociological Approach to Religion!
- SPEAKING IN TONGUES: phrases, proverbs, idioms, maxims, expressions & sayings of every sort..
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All parts of it are profitable to our spiritual well-being. The Very Words of the Bible are Inspired. God breathed out specific words, not just vague ideas or feelings which the human authors were left to interpret and write down. The Bible is verbally inspired. In Gal. God inspired the words of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. This does not refer to any translation into English or any other language. Still, the authority of the original language carries over to accurate translations. God Controlled the Writers of the B i ble. They did not simply sit down and decide to write the Bible.
God chose who would do the writing, then He worked miraculously in them so that He controlled what they wrote. It was not left to the fallibility of humans. Some parts of the Bible were directly dictated by an audible voice e. In most cases, God moved in a deep and mysterious way on their hearts and minds in other ways, such as by dreams and visions.
They certainly knew that the words they wrote were not merely their own I Cor. God gave them the very words, not an-inner illumination of wisdom. Also, this special inspiration has ceased. What we need now is illumination to understand what has been inspired. The light is on; we need to have our eyes opened. Because of sin, the natural Man is incapable of understanding the true meaning of the Bible 1 Cor. God Proves that the Bible is the Word of God. Scripture carries with it certain marks of divine authorship.
Among them are its high spirituality and morality, its enormous popularity in history, its durability against persecution, its record of fulfilled prophecy, etc. But these alone are insufficient to prove divine inspiration. The Spirit is the witness because the Spirit is the truth I John Even unbelievers are impacted by this power cf. Like the men with Paul on the Damascus road, they hear the sound but do not know the voice. The Word of God carries with it the very power of God.
It is compared to a hammer that breaks rocks, light that overcomes darkness, fire that cannot be extinguished, etc. Just as God created all things by the power of His Word, so He changes lives today by that same power. God spoke to the prophets and through the prophets. He still speaks today through His Word. Let us listen and be transformed by this powerful book, the Holy Bible. The Bible is true. Some other books may be true, in that their contents are correct; but only the Bible is truth itself.
It is the only reliable guide to ultimate truth. Being holy, it is free of all impurity of error. The Bible is inerrant; it contains no errors. Truth and error are incompatible, like light and darkness. It is also infallible; it cannot fail to speak the truth. It does not and cannot err. Thus, Scripture has no contradictions between its parts, such as the four Gospels They are complementary, not contradictory.
The Bible also contains no myths Scripture itself warns against myths I Tim. Parables are not myths. It contains deep mysteries and paradoxes, but no errors. Nor does the Bible contain any forgeries or frauds cf. The Bible is completely true, in whole and in part, in all details as well as in the general content. It is true whenever it speaks of things we could otherwise study or observe, such as history and science. It is true in all areas, not just the spiritual, religious and theological.
If we do not believe God in the areas we could verify, how could we believe Him in the areas that we cannot verify? John Man can err; God cannot. But it is not true that to be human one must necessarily err. Adam did not err before the Fall, nor did Christ ever err, and they were fully human.
The divine side of Scripture guarantees purity from error in the human side, just as the divine nature of Christ protected the purity of His human side. Yes, the Bible uses round numbers, hyperbole, figures of speech, symbols, and phenomenological language. But these are usual for human language and are not errors. God is truth and cannot lie Tit. What Scripture says, God says. This is not to deify the Bible, as we are falsely accused of teaching.
Rather, it is but to recognize what God says about His Word. To believe the Bible is to believe God. To believe God is to agree that God is and speaks truth John But let God be true and every man a liar Rom. To judge it is to condemn oneself. God tells us to test all things I Thess. By what? By the Word of God, as the noble Bereans did in Acts Anything that contradicts the Bible is automatically wrong Isa. We err if we do not know the Bible or if we contradict it Matt.
God curses those who preach false gospels contrary to the one true Gospel Gal. Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone is our final authority in all areas, such as faith and practice. It carries with it the very authority of God Almighty Himself. In Matt. They appealed to their tradition; Jesus rebuked them by appealing to Scripture.
Church tradition must be subject to the Bible, otherwise it nullifies Scripture. Roman Catholicism repeats the same error as the Pharisees with their tradition. They say that the Church gave us the Bible, therefore the Church is in authority. But this is wrong. That includes all creeds, confessions of faith, catechisms and church constitutions. Men can and do err, but God cannot err. The Bible is therefore over the authority even the delegated authority of people who exercise some degree of influence and authority.
While Scripture tells us to obey parents, preachers and politicians, we must obey God and not them if they ever go against the Bible Acts The words and books of theologians must be weighed by Scripture, as well as all sermons and Sunday School lessons. Any preacher, priest, pope or rabbi who sets himself up as an equal authority to God is automatically a false prophet, for the true prophets themselves were under the authority of the Word of God.
Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot: A Classic of American Buddhism by Soyen Shaku
Thus, all philosophy, psychology, logic, reason, science and opinion are subject to the truth and authority of the Bible. Because of common grace, Man may learn and teach some truths. But if they contradict Scripture — whether implicitly or explicitly, whether in doctrine or in method — then they thereby condemn themselves as false.
This applies to our own thoughts as well. Even Adam before the Fall was subject to the spoken Word of God. He fell into sin when he rebelled against that authority. We dare not trust our fallen minds, which are prone to err. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. He never contradicts Himself, for that would be contrary to His nature as the Spirit of Truth.
Some groups need to remember this in their zeal for the work of the Spirit. All spiritual feelings, impressions and intuitions must be subject to the Word. We dare not invent exceptions because we feel that the Spirit is leading us — otherwise we are no different from the fanatic who murders his neighbor with an axe because he said that God told him to.
The Holy Spirit never contradicts what He says in the Bible. The Bible alone is our source of all spiritual authority. We must trust in God and His Word, even when we do not understand it. We must not lean on our own understanding or inclinations Pro. We ought to read it, study it, believe it and obey it. Our attitude to the Bible is to be the same as our attitude to God, for it is His Word. This means we are to love it, even as we love God. Love God, love His Word. We Should Study the Bible. God gave us the Bible to read and study. It is a textbook to study, not a picture-book to browse through.
There is a big difference between simply reading a book and seriously studying it. One is leisure, the other is work. God wants us to study our Bibles, not use them for pressing flowers. To study the Bible is to research it to discover its meaning. Eisegesis is twisting the Scriptures to suit our preconceived notions 2 Pet.
When we study the Bible, we should set aside wrong presuppositions and preconceived ideas. We need to be teachable. We should pray before and during Bible study, and rely on the Holy Spirit in us to teach us what He says in the Bible. Faith comes to us by the Word of God Rom. Without faith, we can understand the Bible only in a natural way, not a supernatural way. Studying the Bible profits us nothing unless it is mixed with faith Heb. Search and you will find. Dig deep and you will find new treasures of gold hidden in this field.
Alas, some Christians have not even read the entire Bible yet. Others try to read it through every year. It takes work, but the Holy Spirit enables us to understand cf. I John A lacksadaisical attitude betrays low respect for the Bible and little faith in God. But serious Bible study is work which brings rest. Though the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, it is still understandable through reliable translations not to mention the scholarly study of the original languages.
We may profit from preachers and teachers who explain the Bible to us Acts The Bible is for everyone. Though some parts are harder to understand than others 2 Pet. Even a cursory study of the Bible will yield great results. We study the historical setting of Scripture human author, original readers, date, geography, manners and customs, archeology, etc , as well as the normal meaning of the language its lexical meaning, grammar, syntax, context, etc.
We should study all of it, not just our favorite parts. Read both testaments. Use a concordance and cross references to compare Scripture with Scripture. It has great variety. All Scripture is inspired and deserves our study. Just as God used many human authors, so he used their backgrounds and a variety of literary styles.
In these, we find prayer and praise to God, and wisdom in dealing with life. Then other books are mainly laws Exodus-Deuteronomy, parts of others. Some laws are straight-forward commands or prohibitions, while others are case laws. Then other books are mainly prophecy, recording direct messages from God, including accurate predictions of the future. Lastly, there are the epistles of Paul and others.
All these styles form a wonderful harmony. One important principle of Bible study is knowing and noticing that Christ is the center of Scripture. The Old Testament is filled with prophecies, types and symbols of the coming Messiah Gen. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies.
Some are explained in the New Testament see Luke , , Acts And sandwiched between the Old Testament predictions of the future and the New Testament explanations of the past, we find the four Gospels which describe the person and work of Christ in a special way. Since it is a book about Christ, the Bible is therefore a book about how we may be saved from our sins through Him. It makes us wise unto salvation 2 Tim. Some parts of the Bible more directly discuss salvation, such as the four Gospels, Acts and Romans.
But all parts of Scripture fit into this comprehensive entity. Thus, the Bible was given to us that we may know how to be saved and how to have the assurance of salvation John , 1 John We can also use it to tell other people the Gospel of salvation. The Bible is frequently compared to food. We ought to thirst for it like a baby thirsts for milk I Pet.
The basic message of the Bible is like milk; the additional details are like meat Heb.
We need both. The Bible is the means that God uses to nourish His children. It gave us the new birth and sustains our new life. We grow spiritually anemic when we ignore it. So, we need to regularly read and study it, and meditate on it like a cow chews the cud. The more we do, the stronger we will grow spiritually.
We study the Bible to learn about God. When we study it, we always need to find what God wants us to do in light of that passage. It teaches us how to live for God and helps us resist Satan and temptation, worship God in the way acceptable to Him, and witness in the world. It encourages us through its many promises, aids us in prayer, points out our sins and assures us of forgiveness, strengthens our faith, answers the basic questions we have for guidance, and so much more. So let us diligently read it, study it, believe it and obey it cf. The Bible is a Unity.
Though it has many individual books in it, the Bible is a unity. It is both one book and many books. It has unity and diversity. It is basically one book, The Book. Though it has many human authors for its parts, it is primarily one book by God Himself. God used the many authors over a period of approximately years to write the Bible progressively, each building on what has already been given.
Since it is an infallible unity, all parts agree. The individual authors and books ought not to be seen as contradictory, but complementary to each other. The most obvious and significant division in the Bible is that it has two large sections known as testaments.
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A testament is a covenant, or holy contract between God and Man. The first is the Old Covenant. It makes up about three-fourths of the Bible, of which about a third is by Moses. It revolves around the special covenant which God made with Israel, described in the first 5 books. The rest of the O. The N. The O. Psalms is the longest, then Isaiah. Some books are in pairs 1 and 2 Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and several of the epistles , only 1 is a set of three 1,2,3 John. Luke and Acts form a unique pair. There is occasional overlap of content and matter Samuel-Kings-Chronicles, the 4 Gospels, etc.
The books of the Apocrypha are not part of the Bible. Though Romanism accepts them, neither the ancient Jews nor Protestants have ever accepted them. Nor are any of the books of the Pseudepigrapha in the Bible, such as the Book of Enoch. And of course, not the Book of Mormon, or other pretended books. The canon is closed. Other authors wrote only a single short book. Some books are anonymous such as Hebrews.
All books were written by men, though two books are entirely about women Ruth and Esther. The human authors were prophets, priests, kings, apostles, shepherds, generals, a doctor, court officials, and other occupations. Hebrew is a Semitic language written from right to left, each word based around three consonants, with a grammar and vocabulary very different than English, but much in common with other ancient languages.
Parts of Daniel and Ezra, and a few words and verses elsewhere, were written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the lingua franca of the ancient near east until superceded by Arabic. It was very similar to Hebrew. There are a few Latin words, too, and also a few Egyptian and others in Job.
The actual original parchments and papyri have long ago perished, but the inspired Word has been preserved by God through the ages. Jesus promised that His Word would never pass away Matt. We call this Providential Preservation. There are no lost books, sentences, words or even letters. Nor will any yet be found, otherwise they would have been lost until now. Scripture is the means of salvation and the main means of revelation in this age.
Its very nature requires its preservation. Satan has tried to destroy it, but the Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. There are over 5, Greek manuscripts and over Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, plus ancient translations and quotations. Since the Bible is a complete unity, it is very serious to tamper with it. God warns against this in Rev. Some English translations are based on the minority of ancient manuscripts which are faulty.
They tend to subtract portions such as Mark A few ancient manuscripts tend to add to the real text, such as the Codex Bezae. But the vast majority of manuscripts agree almost in complete detail, so it is wisest to stick to the middle and neither add to on the right side or subtract from on the left side. Nor may we substitute other words. This is known as the Septuagint. Other Greek translations followed. The Jews also produced paraphrased translations of most of the O.
Most were done after the time of Jesus. The Samaritans translated the Pentateuch into their language, with alterations. Some were better than others, and all are useful for study by scholars. There have been more translations of the Bible into English than into any other language. First there were bits and pieces by Bede and medieval monks. Then John Wycliffe translated the Bible from the Latin in the 14th century.
The 16th century saw many other fine translations, especially the Geneva Bible. The Authorized Version of , known as the King James Version, has been the most popular one in history, even with its various slight revisions. The New King James Version is a slight revision and is very good. The New International Version is now the best-selling translation. There have also been Jewish and Catholic translations. Overall, over translations have appeared. The Bible is the Book of God.
It was inspired by God, written by God through the instrumentality of various human authors, and is primarily about God. It talks about Man, salvation, animals, the cosmos and other topics, but mainly about God. Its ethics come from God. Its stories tell how God has worked in history. Its songs sing to and about God. Specifically, it is a book about Jesus, the only mediator between God and Man. Praise God for His Word.
God is. He is there. He is the real God, the God who really exists. God is God. He exists eternally without origin or change. He self-exists. He has necessary existence, not conditional or contingent existence. He has perpetual existence in and of Himself. He has pure existence, compared to whom everything else is but a shadow. God not only exists, He lives. A stone exists, a person lives.
God is the living God, as opposed to the false and dead gods of pagan religions. He is life itself, self-life. He has life in Himself, not from another. He is the source of all life. He has aseity, or life in Himself John , He has permanent and perpetual life. God is pure life. Therefore He is immortal. He had no birthday, therefore no father or mother; He has no death-day, therefore no undertaker. God is the creator of everything else Gen. Creator of all, created by none. He is the first cause of everything else, but caused by nothing.
God is certainly not the creation of Man. Man did not create God by imagination, nor by projecting himself to the cosmos, as atheists suggest. Nor is God self-created. He simply exists and lives of Himself. The Creator is not the Creation. Idolatry worships the Creation rather than the Creator Rom. He is separate from His Creation. We are not part of God. God is everywhere, but is not everything. He has a separate and divine substance that is fundamentally different from the universe. Monism is also wrong to suggest that all things are one, i. Romans 1 and Psalm 19 state that God has made His existence known to all men.
He is a fool who tries to deny this Psa. Therefore, there are no real atheists or agnostics. They already know God exists. They are merely lying in order to try to run from God. We merely build upon what God has already revealed about Himself in Natural Revelation by bringing Special Revelation. See Acts Indeed, a God whose existence needed to be proved would not be the true God. It is an insult to God to attempt to prove His existence, for that doubts the fact that He has already made His existence known.
Man already knows God exists, but he must acknowledge this openly in order to come to know God personally Heb. He is God. But God is personal. Not exactly like we are personal, but more than we are. Specifically, as we shall see later, God is actually Tri-personal in the Trinity. God is a He, not an It. God is also a He, not a She. He is personal in that He speaks, feels, thinks, remembers, recognizes, etc.
God is Incomprehensible but Not Inscrutable. God has told us He exists and also gives us the privilege of knowing Him personally. God is knowable. Agnostics and Deists are wrong to say God cannot be known. Yet we can never know everything about God. Finite Man can never know all about the infinite God, not even in eternal Heaven. It would take a second God to know God fully. His attributes are beyond full knowledge Eph.
God is incomprehensible to us Job , , , Isa. There will always be something about God that only God knows Rev. Nor will we know God as God knows Himself. Man in sin does not know God 2 Thess. The basic message of Ecclesiastes is that life has no meaning, only vanity, without knowing God. God created Man to know Him, and Man has a dreary existence without knowing God.
God has allowed Himself to be known personally. This is only possible through Christ Matt. Knowing God is eternal life John , in contrast with meaningless existence. God is perfect Matt. He is complete in every way. He needs nothing. He does not need to be fed. He does not need Man. He lacks nothing in any way. He has perfect life and existence, and does not grow. He is absolute perfection. Therefore, God is perfectly happy in Himself. God is not lonely. He did not create Man because He was lonely. There was perfect happiness, fellowship and love within the Trinity. Nothing outside of God is ever perfect in the sense God is perfect.
Yet we find a degree of perfection when we are in the right relationship with God as we ought to be, lacking nothing, Happy at last. God is Essentially Different from Us. There are two truths, which must be kept in balance. On the one hand, God created us in His image Gen. Therefore we resemble God in part. God thinks, we think. God feels, we feel. Specifically, we are to imitate certain attributes of God, which we call the Communicable Attributes. We are to be holy, truthful and loving, for God is holy, truthful and loving. We do not nor ever can have self-existence, infinity, eternity, immutability, omniscience, omnipotence or omnipresence.
These are Incommunicable Attributes. God is not of the same quality as Man. We greatly err in supposing that God is altogether such a one as we are Psa. Even our similarities with God point to the essential differences we know, God knows; but we know by learning, God knows all things already perfectly, and so on. God exists as only God exists, which is to say God alone is God. God cannot be defined. To define is to limit, but God cannot be limited. Specifically, when we speak or think about God, we cannot fully grasp Him.
Therefore, we cannot define God. Yet we can still speak and think of God in part. That means we can describe God. To be precise, God describes Himself to us. He reveals part of Himself to us description , but not all of Himself definition. He condescends to describe Himself to us in human analogies, such as metaphors like fire, a fortress, etc. He also uses anthropomorphism, or speaking after the manner of Man. God does not literally have arms, legs, a head, etc. He even compares Himself at times with animals wings of a hen, an eagle, a lion, etc.
But God is not an animal, nor a Man. God also uses anthropopathy, or describes Himself in terms of human emotions such as love, grief or anger. But the emotions of God are far greater than ours. So, Biblical descriptions are valid. Philosophic definitions always leave something to be desired e. God told Adam to name all the animals, but did not allow him to name God. Names carry a kind of identifying definition in them. Just as God swears by Himself because there is no one higher, so He describes Himself best by analogy with Himself. God is self-defined, He gives several names in Scripture.
Some are used many times, others only rarely. Each is a short description of Himself. Often they are used together. And there is a name of God which only God Himself knows Rev. It is the plural of a variety of short Hebrew words, such as EL Ex. See Gen. There is a corresponding term in the New Testament in Rev. This is the most personal name of all, more a personal name than a title.
Sometimes it is shortened to YAH Ex. It speaks of God as the One who Is.