Category Archives: Worship

“He is the beginning, and the middle, and the end” by Jonathan Edwards

“It appears that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.

In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; His fullness is received and returned.

Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary.

The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original.

So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and He is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume 8, ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 8: 526–527, 531.

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“He is the sanctuary of His people” by Stephen Charnock

“That God is present everywhere, is as much a comfort to a good man as it is a terror to a wicked one. He is everywhere for His people, not only by a necessary perfection of His nature, but an immense diffusion of His goodness.

He is in all creatures as their preserver, in the damned as their terror, in His people as their protector. He fills hell with His severity, heaven with His glory, His people with His grace.

He is with His people as light in darkness, a fountain in a garden, as manna in the ark. God is in the world as a spring of preservation, in the church as His cabinet, a spring of grace and consolation.

The omnipresence of God is a comfort in sharp afflictions. Good men have a comfort in this presence in their nasty prisons, oppressing tribunals; in the overflowing waters or scorching flames, He is still with them, (Isa. 43:2).

And many times, by His presence, He keeps the bush from consuming, when it seems to be all in a flame. In afflictions, God shows Himself most present when friends are most absent: ‘When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord shall take me up,’ (Ps. 27:10).

Then God will stoop and gather me into His protection; Heb. ‘shall gather me,’ alluding to those tribes that were to bring up the rear in the Israelites’ march, to take care that none were left behind, and exposed to famine or wild beasts, by reason of some disease that disenabled them to keep pace with their brethren.

He that is the sanctuary of His people in all calamities is more present with them to support them, than their adversaries can be present with them, to afflict them: ‘A present help in the time of trouble,’ (Ps. 46:2).”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Omnipresence,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 450, 452.

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“He does not find, but makes her, lovely” by C.S. Lewis

“The Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; He does not find, but makes her, lovely.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 105.

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“What the assured soul knows” by Thomas Brooks

“Assurance will sweeten the thoughts of death, and all the aches, pains, weaknesses, sicknesses, and diseases, that are the forerunners of it; yea, it will make a man look and long for that day.

It will make a man sick of his absence from Christ. It makes a man smile upon the king of terrors; it makes a man laugh at the shaking of the spear, at the noise of the battle, at the garments of the warriors rolled in blood.

It made the martyrs to compliment with lions, to dare and tire their persecutors, to kiss the stake, to sing and clap their hands in the flames, to tread upon hot burning coals, as upon beds of roses.

The assured soul knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins and sorrows, of all afflictions and temptations, of all desertions and oppositions.

He knows that death shall be the resurrection of his joys; he knows that death is both an outlet and an inlet; an outlet to sin, and an inlet to the soul’s clear, full, and constant enjoyment of God; and this makes the assured soul to sing it sweetly out, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (1 Cor. 15:55–57) ‘I desire to be dissolved.’ (Phil. 1:23) ‘Make haste, my beloved.’ (Cant. 8:14) ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’ (Rev. 22:20)”

–Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 2: 409–410.

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“The greatness of His love” by Thomas Brooks

“I shall now come to some helps and directions that may be useful to keep us humble and low in our own eyes. And the first is this:

[1.] Dwell much upon the greatness of God’s mercy and goodness to you.

Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner like mercy and love.

Souls that converse much with sin and wrath may be much terrified; but souls that converse much with grace and mercy will be much humbled. Luke 7, the Lord Jesus shews mercy to that notorious sinner, and then she falls down at his feet, and loves much and weeps much.

In the 1 Chron. 17, it was in the heart of David to build God a house. God would not have him to do it, yet the messenger must tell David that God would build him a house, and establish his Son upon the throne for ever.

Look into the verses (1 Chron. 17:15-17), and there you shall find that David lets fall such an humble speech, which he never did before that God had sent him that message of advancement.

‘And David the king came, and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come,’ (2 Sam. 7:18-19).

And this sweetly and kindly melts him, and humbles him, before the Lord.

Oh, if ever you would have your souls kept low, dwell upon the free grace and love of God to you in Christ.

Dwell upon the firstness of His love, dwell upon the freeness of His love, the greatness of His love, the fulness of His love, the unchangeableness of His love, the everlastingness of His love, and the activity of His love.

If this does not humble thee, there is nothing on earth will do it.

Dwell upon what God hath undertaken for you.

Dwell upon the choice and worthy gifts that He has bestowed on you.

And dwell upon that glory and happiness that He has prepared for you, and then be proud if you can.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 36-37.

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“The love of Christ contains within itself the whole of wisdom” by John Calvin

“By those dimensions Paul means nothing else than the love of Christ, of which he speaks afterwards. The meaning is, that he who knows it fully and perfectly is in every respect a wise man.

As if he had said, “In whatever direction men may look, they will find nothing in the doctrine of salvation that does not bear some relation to this subject.”

The love of Christ contains within itself the whole of wisdom.

Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge.

Therefore this admonition is very useful: what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.

The love of Christ is held out to us as the subject which ought to occupy our daily and nightly meditations, and that which we ought to be wholly immersed in. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

He who holds to this alone has enough.

Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful, nothing, in short, that is right or sound.

Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 168-169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3:18-19.

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“Meditation is not an option for the Christian reader of Holy Scripture” by Scott Swain

“Meditation represents the reflective moment of biblical interpretation. In meditation, we seek to understand a given text of Scripture in light of Scripture’s overarching message.

Ultimately, Scripture is a single book, written by one divine author, concerning one central subject matter (Christ and covenant), and with one ultimate aim (the love of God and neighbor).

Therefore, if we wish to understand what God is saying in a given text, we must attend to the ultimate context of His self-communication, Scripture as a whole.

Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for searching the Law of Moses to find eternal life while failing to see that the Law of Moses bore witness to his person and work (Jn 5:39). When he appeared to the two disciples on the Emmaus Road, and later to the eleven, Jesus rebuked their failure to understand the prophets and “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:25–27; cf. 44–47).

Meditation, then, is not an option for the Christian reader of Holy Scripture. Because Christ has come,

“the seals are broken, the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb, and that greatest of all mysteries brought to light—that Christ, God’s Son became man, that God is Three in One, that Christ suffered for us, and will reign forever.” (Martin Luther)

In the light of these gospel realities—the unveiling of the triune God, Christ’s incarnation, atonement, and enthronement—the whole of scriptural teaching is illumined (cf. 2 Cor. 3–4).

We may not therefore assume that we have understood any text of the Bible properly until we have considered how it pertains to Jesus Christ and His messianic dominion.”

–Scott R. Swain, Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and Its Interpretation (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 129-130.

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“Stop and listen” by Scott Swain

“Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what He says.”

–Scott R. Swain, Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and Its Interpretation (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 128.

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“The most precious promise that exists for the reader of Holy Writ” by Scott Swain

“It is striking how many times in Psalm 119—an extended meditation on God’s written Word, the Torah—the psalmist begs for divine assistance in order that he might understand and obey God’s word.

The following list is merely representative, not exhaustive:

  • Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes (Psalm 119:5).
  • Let me not wander from your commandments (Psalm 119:10).
  • Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your statutes (Psalm 119:12).
  • Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word (Psalm 119:17).
  • Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18).
  • Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law (Psalm 119:29).
  • I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart (Psalm 119:32).
  • Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end (Psalm 119:33).

The psalmist prays for an obedience that is steadfast (Psalm 119:5) and consistent (Psalm 119:10), that excels (Psalm 119:32) and perseveres (Psalm 119:33).

He also acknowledges his dependence upon divine grace for spiritual perception (Psalm 119:18), receptivity (Psalm 119:32), and understanding (Psalm 119:12, 29, 33).

Prayer is the most rational possible course of action for the Christian reader of Holy Scripture. After all, in Holy Scripture we face a grand and glorious terrain of revealed truth, so wonderful that the possibility of taking it all in is immediately ruled out.

And yet, we are called to meditate on this Word (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2), to walk in it (Ps. 119:1), and to praise it (Ps. 56:4, 10). The sheer magnitude of scriptural teaching alone makes our calling impossible apart from divine assistance.

Add to this our innate blindness, our fallen will and passions, and our tendency toward sloth in this calling and the desperate nature of our situation as readers becomes quite clear.

If there is to be any possibility of success in reading Holy Scripture, the Spirit of truth and light must shine upon us: opening our eyes, renewing our wills, and awakening us to action.

The good news is that God has promised to bless our reading. Thus Paul encourages Timothy: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Tim. 2:7).

This is perhaps the most precious promise that exists for the reader of Holy Writ. We may confidently apply ourselves to this otherwise impossible task because God has promised to grant us success—“the Lord will give you understanding.”

According to Whitaker:

“He that shall be content to make such a use of these means, and will lay aside his prejudices and party zeal, which many bring with them to every question, will be enabled to gain an understanding of the scriptures, if not in all places, yet in most; if not immediately, yet ultimately.”

In prayer, exegetical reason takes its proper place and, like Mary, sits at the feet of Jesus (Lk. 10:39). And because it is confident in God’s fatherly generosity, exegetical reason asks, seeks, knocks—and finds (Lk. 11:10–13).”

–Scott R. Swain, Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: A Theological Introduction to the Bible and Its Interpretation (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 125–127.

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“There is unspeakably more in the promises of God than we are able to understand” by Charles Hodge

“‘I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’

This is the great promise of the covenant with Abraham and with all the true Israel. It is one of the most comprehensive and frequently repeated promises of the Scriptures. (Gen. 17:8; Deut. 29:13; Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10)

There is unspeakably more in the promises of God than we are able to understand.

The promise that the nations should be blessed in the seed of Abraham, as unfolded in the New Testament, is found to comprehend all the blessings of redemption.

So the promise, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people,’ contains more than it has ever entered into the heart of man to conceive.

How low are our conceptions of God! Of necessity our conceptions of what it is to have a God, and that God, Jehovah, must be entirely inadequate.

It is not only to have an infinite protector and benefactor, but an infinite portion; an infinite object of love and confidence; an infinite source of knowledge and holiness.

It is for God to be to us what He designed to be when He created us after His image, and filled us with His fulness.

His people, are those whom hHe recognizes as His peculiar property, the objects of His love, and the recipients of His favours.”

–Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1891), 170–171. Hodge is commenting on 2 Corinthians 6:16.

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