“This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father” by John Owen

“Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein.

How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with Him? I answer, By faith.

The receiving of it is the believing of it. God hath so fully, so eminently revealed His love, that it may be received by faith.

“Ye believe in God,” (John 14:1); that is, the Father. And what is to be believed in Him? His love; for He is “love,” (1 John 4:8).

It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the Father, but by the Son.

“He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Him,” (John 14:6).

He is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by whom we have access to the throne of grace: by Him is our introduction unto the Father; by Him we believe in God, (1 Pet. 1:21).

But this is that I say,—When by and through Christ we have an access unto the Father, we then behold His glory also, and see His love that He peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith thereon.

We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in Him; the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ alone.

Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto the fountain.

Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by Him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself.

Would believers exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.

This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing.

Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds.

All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not.

This is the will of God, that He may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love.

This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father (John 1:18).”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 22-23.

“His special instruments of revival” by Arnold Dallimore

“Yea, this book is written in the desire— perhaps in a measure of inner certainty— that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more bring into being His special instruments of revival, that He will again raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ.

And what manner of men will they be?

Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace.

They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labour and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat.

They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

–Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1970), 1: 16.

“This is our pattern when we speak and write for God” by John Newton

“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers.

If ever such defences were seasonable and expedient, they appear to be so in our day, when errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the Gospel is either directly denied, or grossly misrepresented. And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it.

Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which at most are but of a secondary value.

This shews, that, if the service is honourable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of His presence is made!

Your aim, I doubt not, is good. But you have need to watch and pray, for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you: he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defence of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate.

If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who, ‘when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.’ (1 Pet. 2:23) This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, ‘not rendering railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.’ (1 Pet. 3:9)

The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savour and efficacy of our labours. If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow-creatures, and procure neither honour nor comfort to ourselves.

If you can be content with shewing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task. But I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of Gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands.

Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of Hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may He give you a witness in many hearts, that you are taught of God, and favoured with the unction of His Holy Spirit.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 1: 272-274.

“Without the Trinity, the gospel disappears” by Joel Beeke

“The link between the gospel and the Trinity is Christ’s incarnate mediatorial work.

The Father’s work revolves around the mission of the Son whom He sent into the world.

The Son’s work is never abstracted from His taking human nature, walking by faith, living in human obedience to God’s law, suffering and dying under the penalty of that law, and rising again to receive God’s blessing– all on behalf of His people.

The Spirit empowered the incarnate Son and comes to His people through His mediation. Thus, the Trinitarian gospel is Christ-centered.

The gospel is essentially Trinitarian. Every member of the Trinity performs an indispensable function in our salvation.

Without God the Father, there would be no one to send the Son and Spirit into the world, to accept the Son’s sacrifice, or to hear the Spirit-wrought prayers of the redeemed.

Without the obedience and sufferings of God the Son, no one could escape God’s curse or enjoy God’s blessing in the Spirit.

Without the renewing work and indwelling presence of God the Spirit, no one would benefit from Christ’s redemptive work or have any assurance of being reconciled to God as his child. Apart from the divine Spirit, God could not dwell within the hearts of the redeemed to relate them to the Father and the Son.

Without the Trinity, the gospel disappears.

Ryan McGraw says, ‘The greatest proof of the doctrine of the Trinity is that the authors of the New Testament could hardly explain the Gospel without it.’

How fervently we should love the doctrine of the Trinity! Too often it is consigned to the dusty shelves of confessed but neglected doctrines– regarded as abstract dogma without practical implications.

In reality, however, the triune God is the only Savior. We should cherish this doctrine, study it in the Holy Scriptures, meditate upon it until it inflames our hearts, and teach and defend it with all the resources of the church.”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 1: Revelation and God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 1: 879.

“The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost” by Thomas Watson

“Highly prize the Scriptures. ‘The law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72)

Prize this Book of God above all other books. Gregory calls the Bible the heart and soul of God. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect.’ (Psalm 19:7)

The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost; it is a code of divine knowledge, an exact model, and platform of religion.

The Scripture contains in it the Credenda, the things which we are to believe, and the Agenda, the things which we are to practice; it is able to make us wise unto salvation. (2 Tim. 3:15)

The Scripture is the standard of truth, the judge of controversy; it is the pole star to direct us to heaven. The Scripture is the compass by which the rudder of our will is to be steered.

It is the field in which Christ, the pearl of price, is hidden. It is a rock of diamond;. It is a spiritual optic glass in which the glory of God is resplendent.

It is the panacea or universal medicine for the soul. The leaves of Scripture are like ‘the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations.’ (Rev. 22:2)

The Scripture is the breeder and feeder of grace. How is the convert born, but by ‘the word of truth?’ (James 1:18)

How does a believer grow but by ‘the sincere milk of the Word?’ (1 Peter 2:2)

The Word written is the book out of which our evidences for heaven are fetched; it is the sea-mark which shows us the rocks of sin; it is the antidote against error and apostasy; it is the two-edged sword which wounds the old serpent.

It is our bulwark to withstand the force of lust. The Scripture is the tower of David, whereon the shields of our faith hang. Take away the Word, and you deprive us of the sun, said Luther.

The word written is above an angelical embassy, or a voice from heaven. ‘This voice which came from heaven we heard; we have also a more sure word.’ (2 Peter 1:18)

How should we estimate the sacred oracles of God? ‘I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.’ (Job 23:12)

King Edward VI., on the day of his coronation, had presented before him three swords, signifying that he was the monarch of three kingdoms. The King said there was one sword wanting; being asked what that was, he answered, ‘the Holy Bible, which is the sword of the Spirit, and is to be preferred before all these ensigns of royalty.’

Robert, King of Sicily, did so prize God’s word, that, speaking to his friend Petrarch, he said, ‘I protest the Scriptures are dearer to me than my kingdom, and if I must be deprived of one of them, I had rather lose my diadem than the Scriptures.'”

—Thomas Watson, “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit,” in Heaven Taken by Storm, Showing the Holy Violence a Christian is to Put Forth in Pursuit After Glory (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1810/1992), 120-121.

“Professed loud sticklers for free grace” by John Newton

“I hope when this comes, it will find you and your’s comfortable, and your heart and mouth full of gratitude to Him who crowneth the year with His goodness. Well, these returning years each bear away a large portion of our time, and the last year cannot be far off.

Oh, that precious name which can enable a sinner to think of his last year and his last hour without dismay! What do we owe to Him who has disarmed death of its sting and horrors, and shown us the land of light and immortality beyond the grave!

May He be with us in the new year. Yea, He has promised He will, even unto death. Therefore, though we know not what a day may bring forth, we need fear no evil; for He knows all, and will provide accordingly.

Oh, what a relief is it, to be enabled to cast every care and burden upon Him that careth for us! Though the night should be dark, the storm loud, and the billows high, the infallible Pilot will steer our barks safely through.

Let us help each other with our prayers, that the little uncertain remainder of life may be filled up to the praise of our dear Lord; that we may be united to His will, conformed to His image, and devoted to His service.

Thus we shall show forth His praise; if we aim to walk as He walked, and, by a sweet constraining sense of His love, are formed into an habitual imitation of His spirit and temper, in meekness, integrity, benevolence towards men; in humility, dependence, resignation, confidence, and gratitude towards Him.

I pity such wise-headed Calvinists as you speak of. I am afraid there are no people more fully answer the character, and live in the spirit of the Pharisees of old, than some professed loud sticklers for free grace.

They are wise in their own eyes; their notions, which the pride of their hearts tells them are so bright and clear, serve them for a righteousness, and they trust in themselves and despise others.

One modest, inquiring Arminian is worth a thousand such Calvinists in my esteem.

You will do well to preach quietly in your own way, not minding what others say, while your own conscience testifies that you preach the truth. If you are travelling the right road, (to London for instance,) though fifty people should meet you and say you are wrong, you, knowing you are right, need not mind them.

But, alas! the spirit of self, which makes us unwilling to hear of contradiction, is not easily subdued.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 196-197.

“I am sure a minister had need be a jack of all trades” by John Newton

“Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart.

May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes.

May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth.

In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience.

You know the common expression of a jack of all trades. I am sure a minister had need be such a one: a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse.

But let him not be discouraged; he has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 102-103.