Archive for February, 2006

Another Beddome Saying

February 23rd, 2006 Posted in Great Quotes

Here is another pithy gem from Benjamin Beddome:

“The holy Spirit always dips the arrows of conviction in the blood of Christ.”

[Twenty Short Discourses adapted to Village Worship (London: Burton, Smith and Co., 1820), I, 144].

Beddome on Revelation 3:20

February 23rd, 2006 Posted in 18th Century, Great Quotes

On Wednesday past I noted the Puritan emphasis on the balance of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the matter of conversion. Beddome, the 18th century Baptist minister of Bourton-on-the-Water, had this balance as well. His words quoted below are so similar to those of the Puritan Flavel (see PURITAN BALANCE ABOUT COMING TO CHRIST). He even has the same Scriptural references.

In a sermon that he preached on Revelation 3:20, Beddome stated:

“If the heart be opened, it is the Lord’s doing. He alone who made the heart can find his way into it. …Though the Lord opens the heart, yet it is in a way perfectly agreeable to the party himself. We are not the less willing, because we are made so in the day of his power. That which is an act of power with regard to the Holy Spirit, is a voluntary act with regard to the human will.”

[Twenty Short Discourses adapted to Village Worship (London: Burton & Smith/Simpkin and Marshall, 1823), VI, 52].

Rightly is Beddome seen to be representative of a strain of Baptist life in the 18th century that is both evangelical and Calvinistic, and not at all hyper-Calvinistic.

Beddome, Heir to 17th Century Divines

February 23rd, 2006 Posted in 18th Century

Benjamin Beddome, about whom I blogged a few days ago, had an excellent library, which contained numerous Puritan works, to whom he was deeply indebted. A good portion of that library is housed today as the “Beddome Collection” in the Archives of the Angus Library at Regent’s Park College, the University of Oxford. That indebtedness can be seen in the occasional comments he made in these precious volumes.

In his copy of Abraham Cheare’s Words in Season (London, 1668)—on Cheare, the Baptist minister of Plymouth, see my blog for September 26, 2005—for instance, Beddome noted of Cheare’s work:

“Many excellent Things in it especially in 2 first Discourses. The Author seems to have a great Depth & Reach of Understanding—& very pertinent Manner of applying Scriptures.”

Many of the Baptist works of the 17th century, like this one by Cheare, were never reprinted. And yet it is clear that they continued to influence divines in the 18th century.

The Use of the Poetic Faculty

February 23rd, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

What is the use of reading/writing poetry? Well, for one thing reading/writing poetry requires the reader/poet to ponder and meditate. This is one literary genre that slows us down and helps us to truly observe the world.

Now, that’s a good thing in our world of instant communication—blogs included!—and fast food.

The Folly of Faculty-Run Schools

February 23rd, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

The recent debacle at Harvard with the resignation of the President, Lawrence Summers, reveals—as Albert Mohler rightly notes in his blog for February 23, 2006—the folly of faculty-run schools. Given the nature of academia, it is vital that schools have a strong board of governance that is hands-on in the running of the school, setting its vision and direction. Can this be combined with a significant degree of academic freedom? Of course, as many past examples of academia in North America show.

Chalmers on Reading Biographies

February 22nd, 2006 Posted in 19th Century, Books, Great Quotes

Here is a great quote from Thomas Chalmers that George Grant has noted. Chalmers once asserted, “I am thankful to say that no reading so occupies and engages me as the biography of those who have made it most their business to prosecute the sanctification of their souls.” See Chalmers Conference for details of a conference on Chalmers that George is hosting. Looks great—wish I could go. One of my heroes, Horatius Bonar, believed Chalmers to have been one of the greatest Christians he had ever known.

George also mentions that he is writing a biography of Chalmers. This is really good news. It does amaze me sometimes that highly significant figures in the history of the church should be lacking in good biographies. Others would be the Bonar brothers themselves. They are long overdue for a large biographical study that goes all the way back through their remarkable forebears, many of whom were ministers. The bigger the better!

And who has really done justice to Spurgeon as a Calvinist? For that matter, despite the fact that there are tens of biographies of William Carey, none of them really grapples with Carey the Calvinist, apart from that by Timothy George. And what about the Southern Baptists Boyce and Broadus? There are older ones available, but we need new studies that show the value of their lives for the present day. And speaking of Baptists, we surely need a good solid study of that remarkable Irish Baptist, Alexander Carson.

And why have so many of the Puritans been ignored? We have the great study of Sibbes by Dever and much written on Owen and Baxter. But where is a contemporary biography of Thomas Goodwin? Or John Flavel? Or even that latter-day Puritan Matthew Henry? Or what about William Perkins? And then one biography this non-Welsh-speaking lover of Wales would love to get his hands on is a big solidly-researched biography of William Williams Pantycelyn, that “sweet singer of Wales.”

There is enough here for several lifetimes of work. May God raise up historians for the task!

Puritan Balance about Coming to Christ

February 22nd, 2006 Posted in Puritans

One of the great dangers of the current recovery of biblical truth, namely evangelical Calvinism—in which I heartily rejoice—is for some to veer too far to the right and end up in genuine hyper-Calvinism. To be sure, some of what is claimed as hyper-Calvinism is not that at all. It is simply that those making the charge of hyper-Calvinism have never really encountered robust Calvinism before. But this not to say that there is no such thing as hyper-Calvinism in which passion for the salvation of the lost is a thing hardly thought about and zeal for the expansion of the Kingdom of God simply something by-the-by.

The Puritans—as in many things—can be such great guides here. They knew where to find the balance when it came to divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Listen to this text by John Flavel (c.1630-1691), said to be Spurgeon’s favourite Puritan, on Matthew 11:28—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Flavel is discussing what it means to come to Christ.

“Coming to Christ shows the voluntariness of the soul in its motion to Christ. True, there is no coming without the Father’s drawing; but that drawing has nothing of compulsion in it; it does not destroy, but powerfully and with an overcoming sweetness persuades the will. It is not forced or driven, but it comes; being made willing in the day of God’s power. Psalm 110:3.” [The Method of Grace (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.), 201].

Benjamin Beddome: Two Pithy Sayings

February 18th, 2006 Posted in Great Quotes

It is the Puritans who are often remembered in Evangelical circles for their wisdom encapsulated in pithy sayings. But there is gold in the generation of men who succeeded them in the days of awakening and revival in the 18th century. Here are two gems from Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795), minister for fifty-five years or so of the Baptist work in Bourton-on-the-Water, now sometimes called the Venice of the Cotswolds:

  • “If the head be like the summer’s sun, full of light, the heart will not be like the winter’s earth, void of fruit”—very Edwardsean this statement!
  • “Love is the sacred fire within, and prayer the rising flame.”

Gender Issues & the Culture of Death

February 13th, 2006 Posted in Current Affairs

Gender issues, as I blogged yesterday, are one of the key areas where the battle is raging in today’s Western world. For instance, a major issue for the West in the past forty years has been the issue of hegemonic control of the body: do women have rights over their bodies to the point that they violate the rights of others, namely, the unborn that from time to time inhabit their wombs?

The answer of the West has been a resounding yes. In making this affirmation, these nations think that they have liberated women from the patriarchal tyranny of past generations when men set the agenda for society without reference to women. To be sure, some of the patriarchy of the past was tyrannical. But the liberty the West is pursuing will prove to be a will-of-the-wisp, for in “freeing” women the West has been brutalizing and tyrannizing the unborn.

Is what the West is doing in this regard really any different from the genocidal “experiments” of the twentieth century carried out by the Turks on the Armenians or the Nazis on the Jews or the Serbs on the Bosnians? For these unborn are human beings and abortion is not about choice but about the snuffing out of tiny, helpless lives!

Here, there is a clear parting of the road. The Church and Western culture cannot walk together on this path, for Western culture has chosen the path of death, while the Church seeks to affirm life.

Gender Issues: Where the Battle Is Raging

February 13th, 2006 Posted in Current Affairs

Was it Martin Luther who said that if we as Christians are not responding at the very points where the Devil is attacking, then we are failing in our duty? If I understand this thought aright, it is emphasizing that we may be correct and orthodox and say much that is good, but if we fail to emphasize the very areas where the Christian gospel and worldview is under attack in our day, then we are failing as Christians.

There are definitely a number of areas where biblical Christianity is being assailed in our day, but prominent among them are gender issues. While I agree fully with James Spurgeon that we Evangelicals are to be known most of all for our commitment to the Gospel (see his Known for the gospel?), yet surely one reason why many Evangelicals are emphasizing family values and heterosexual marriage is that these areas are under heavy attack in our day. This was simply not the case fifty years ago. We need to achieve that elusive balance of the Christian life: keep our eye on the central things of the gospel—but at the same time reply in strength to where the enemy is attacking.

In this regard, here are two thoughtful reflections on marriage and patriarchy respectively: see this quote and article on Canadian Liberal thought about marriage, Paul Martin’s posting: Stanley Kurtz on Marriage in Canada; and this insightful one on the battle in our culture between two forms of patriarchy: Russ Moore’s Vanity Fair Celebrates Patriarchy.

An addendum: in standing firm for the gospel and all of its ancillaries, we must be careful to do so with a right spirit. This blog by Sean Michael Lucas is helpful here: The Calvary Contender.