‘Eminent Christians’ Category

William Ames’s Holy Logic

April 15th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Eminent Christians, Philosophy, Puritans

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

One of the few things I remember from my freshman philosophy class is learning about the syllogism. The syllogism is a logical tool used to deduce a conclusion from a major and minor premise (for example: A: All students wear red. B: John is a student. C: Therefore, John wears red). You’ve probably seen it before, but have you seen it used as a formula for holy living?

The Puritan theologian William Ames (1576–1633) believed that the syllogism—when used rightly—offered considerable moral guidance, for it contained the “force and nature of conscience (I.3).”[1] Ames defined the human conscience as “man’s judgment of himself, according to the judgment of God of him (I.1).” The syllogism provided the means for the conscience’s operation of accusing, excusing, and comforting the moral agent. It consists of three elements:

  1. The Proposition: The proposition fulfills the role of the major premise. The Latin term Ames employed is synteresis, meaning a source for principles of moral action.Ames also referred to the proposition as a “light” and a “law.” God’s will and commandments furnish this “storehouse of principles.” While nature can often lead men and women in moral living, God’s revealed will is the only perfect rule of conscience, illuminating mankind’s moral duty (I.4–7).
  2. The Witness: the witness, which Ames also termed the “index,” “book,” “review,” or “assumption,” functions as the minor proposition. The witness is a subjective statement about the self for the purpose of considering one’s moral condition in reference to the proposition. It measures the moral agent alongside the law. The moral state of the human will is compared with the standard of God’s will (I.21–25).
  3. The Conclusion: the conclusion, also referred to as the “judgment,” derives partly from the proposition and partly from the witness. In the conclusion, “God’s commandment and man’s fact are mutually joined together.” The conclusion passes the sentence, or “application,” of either comfort or condemnation for the man or woman in light of the major and minor premises (I.28–32).

In sum, “in the Proposition God’s Law is declared, and in the Assumption, the fact or condition of man is examined, according to that Law; so in the Conclusion, the sentence concerning man is pronounced according to his fact…by virtue of the Law that hath been declared” (I.28).

Ames provides two examples. The first delivers accusation but the second comfort:

1. [A] “He that lives in sin, shall die”
[B] “I live in sin”
[C] “Therefore, I shall die”

2. [A] “Whoever believes in Christ, shall not die but live”
[B] “I believe in Christ”
[C] “Therefore, I shall not die but live (I.3)”

For Ames, the objective of the syllogism was to assist men and women in assessing their moral condition in light of God’s commandments and in conforming their wills to God’s will. Ultimately, it shows us how desperately short we fall, pointing to our need to rest faith in the Christ who followed God’s will perfectly.


[1] William Ames, Conscience with the Power and Cases Thereof (London, 1639). You can access the text at this link.

 

Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are the parents of one child.

“We Reap on Zion’s Hill”

April 10th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

After a life consumed in service to Christ, on April 12, 1850, Adoniram Judson entered his heavenly rest.  Judson’s eminent biographer, Francis Wayland, comments on the effect of Judson’s heavenly-minded piety on his life and virtue.

In treating of his religious character, it would be an omission not to refer to his habitual heavenly mindedness. In his letters, I know of no topic that is so frequently referred to as the nearness of the heavenly glory.  If his loved ones died, his consolation was that they should all so soon meet in paradise.  If an untoward event occurred, it was of no great consequence, for soon we should be in heaven, where all such trials would either be forgotten, or where the recollection of them would render our bliss the more intense.  Thither his social feelings pointed, and he was ever thinking of the meeting that awaited him with those who with him had fought the good fight, and were now wearing the crown of victory. So habitual were these trains of thought, that a person well acquainted with him remarks, that “meditation on death was his common solace in all the troubles of life.”  I do not know that the habitual temper of his mind can in any words be so well expressed as in the following lines, which he wrote in pencil on the inner cover of a book that he was using in the compilation of his dictionary:

“—In joy or sorrow, health or pain,
Our course be onward still;
We sow on Burmah’s barren plain,
We reap on Zion’s hill.”[1]


[1]Wayland, Memoir, 2:381-382.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Audio of Conference on Adoniram Judson Now Online

March 31st, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Eminent Christians, Missions

By Steve Weaver

We have posted the audio of our recent mini-conference with Dr. Jason Duesing (Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) on the conference page (see left hand column). There are two lectures on the life and ministry of Judson and a Q&A session with Dr. Duesing.

The audio of the lectures are below:

Lecture 1: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 1:  Conversion, Consecration, & Commission, 1788-1812 (MP3)

Lecture 2: The Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson, Part 2:  Baptism, Burma, & the Bible, 1812-1850 (MP3)

Q&A: Q&A on the Life and Ministry of Adoniram Judson(MP3)

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children.

Preaching from the “Spiritual Sense”

March 27th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Pastoral Ministry, Puritans

By Evan D. Burns

The Puritan John Owen argued that preachers must have “experience of the power of the truth which they preach in and upon their own souls….  A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul.”[1]  So his resolution was: “I hold myself bound in conscience and in honour, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, ‘I have believed, and therefore I have spoken.’”[2]

Would that the Holy Spirit raise up more preachers who would resolve never to preach a text unless they have already tasted its spiritual sense.


[1] Owen, Works, XVI: 76.

[2] Works, X: 488.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

 

Samuel Davies on Meditation

March 24th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Joe Harrod

Samuel Davies (1723­–1761) expected Christians to meditate. He included meditation among various “duties of religion” and encouraged his hearers to make meditation a habitual practice.[1] By meditating, believers were following Christ’s own practice of devotion.[2] Davies never defined “meditation” or offered specific details on its mechanics, nor did he describe his own practice of this discipline; rather he expected that his hearers were acquainted with this practice. For him, meditation was an act of the mind that involved sustained, attentive reflection on God, his attributes, works, creation, and word, for the purpose of stirring one’s affections toward God.

Davies proposed several subjects upon which his hearers could affix their thoughts: God’s infinite and saving love[3]; heaven and hell[4]; “the glories of God displayed in a crucified Jesus . . . the scheme of salvation through his blood”[5]; as well as God’s glory and kindness.[6] He also encouraged meditation upon Scripture: “Read, and hear, and meditate upon his word, till you know your danger and remedy.”[7] Davies mentioned his own deliberate, meditative study of Romans.[8] By citing these objects, Davies placed himself within the Puritan tradition of meditation. Yet Davies believed that even unbelievers who were spiritually dead could “meditate upon divine things,” warning his hearers against adherence to spiritual disciplines as a sure indication of genuine faith.[9] Believers ought to meditate before taking the Lord’s Supper.[10] Davies believed that meditation afforded the believer delight and helped one to grow in holiness, which fueled happiness.[11]


[1]Samuel Davies, “Sinners Entreated,” in Sermons by the Rev. Samuel Davies, A.M. President of the College of New Jersey, vol. 1 (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1854, repr. 1993), 148. Cited henceforth as Sermons. See also idem., “Present Holiness and Future Felicity,” in Sermons, 1:281, and idem., “A Sermon on the New Year,” in Sermons, 2:207.

[2]Samuel Davies, “The Sacred Import of the Christian Name,” in Sermons, 1:348.

[3]Samuel Davies, “The Method of Salvation through Jesus Christ,” in Sermons, 1:130–31.

[4]Samuel Davies, “The Nature and Process of Spiritual Life,” in Sermons, 1:194. Here Davies suggested subjects upon which believers ought to meditate by mentioning subjects upon which unbelievers may ponder without affect.

[5]Samuel Davies, “The Divine Perfections Illustrated in the Method of Salvation, through the Sufferings of Christ,” in Sermons, 2:273.

[6] Davies, “Nature of Love to God,” in Sermons, 2:480.

[7]Samuel Davies, “The Christian Feast,” in Sermons, 2:167–68.

[8]Samuel Davies, “The Nature of Justification, and the Nature and Concern of Faith in it,” in Sermons, 2:663.

[9]Samuel Davies, “The Nature and Universality of Spiritual Death,” in Sermons, 1:166.

[10]Davies, “The Christian Feast,” in Sermons, 2:167.

[11]Samuel Davies, “Present Holiness and Future Felicity,” in Sermons, 1:278. See also Samuel Davies, “The One Thing Needful,” in Sermons, 1:556.

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jch_cropJoe Harrod serves as Director for Institutional Assessment at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he is a doctoral candidate in the areas of Biblical Spirituality and Church History. He and his wife, Tracy, have three sons.

Samuel Davies on Reading Scripture

March 17th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Joe Harrod

Although Samuel Davies (1723­–1761) defended Scripture’s divine authority from various eighteenth century detractors, notably the Deists, his devotion to Scripture as God’s word was greater than a series of doctrinal propositions and interpretive strategies. He found Scripture of matchless spiritual value: “The word of Christ has been the treasure, the support, and the joy of believers in all ages.”[1] When instructing congregants in using various means to pursue holiness, Davies’ frequently mentioned personal disciplines which involved Scripture.[2]

Hearing the Bible read and proclaimed was part of congregational spiritual exercises and domestic responsibilities, but public piety was only part of the Christian’s duty, for genuine spirituality thrived in a believer’s “secret” or personal duties. For Davies, reading the Bible was a necessary and vital way of pursuing personal holiness.[3] He exhorted congregants to “read the word of God and other good books, with diligence, attention, and self-application.”[4] As his people read Scripture, God would meet with them.[5] Reading might also stir the affections, as Davies recalled from his own reading of 1 Thessalonians 2: “I can remember the time, when the reading of [this chapter] has drawn tears even from [a] heart so hard as mine.”[6] On the other hand, the neglect of reading Scripture often contributes to “cooling in religion.”[7] The diligent reading of Scripture may also convince the unsaved sinner of their need for Christ.[8] Hearing and reading Scripture are a delight for Christians, because through these disciplines they enjoy filial and communal fellowship with God.[9]


[1]Samuel Davies, “Christ Precious to all True Believers,” in Sermons by the Rev. Samuel Davies, A.M. President of the College of New Jersey, vol. 1 (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1854, repr. 1993), 384. Cited henceforth as Sermons.

[2]See Samuel Davies, “A Sermon on the New Year,” in Sermons, 2:207; idem., “Tender Anxieties,” in Sermons, 2:424; idem., “The Nature of Love to God and Christ Opened and Enforced,” in Sermons, 2:464–65; and idem., “Christians Solemnly Reminded,” in Sermons, 3:608.

[3]Samuel Davies, “A Sermon on the New Year,” in Sermons, 2:207.

[4]Samuel Davies, “The Connection between Present Holiness and Future Felicity,” in Sermons, 1:281.

[5]Davies, “Nature of Love to God,” in Sermons, 2:464–65.

[6]Davies, “Love of Souls,” in Sermons, 3:501.

[7]Davies, “Christians Solemnly Reminded,” in Sermons, 3:608.

[8]Davies, “Tender Anxieties,” in Sermons, 2:424.

[9]Davies, “Nature of Love to God,” in Sermons, 2:464–65.

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jch_cropJoe Harrod serves as Director for Institutional Assessment at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he is a doctoral candidate in the areas of Biblical Spirituality and Church History. He and his wife, Tracy, have three sons.

Reclaiming St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th, 2014 Posted in Ancient Church: 4th & 5th Centuries, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church Fathers, Church History, Eminent Christians, Missions

By Steve Weaver
Patrick Cover

Michael Haykin’s new biography of Patrick. See below for a free giveaway opportunity.

We are blessed in our society today to have holidays such as Easter, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day which are filled with Christian significance. Unfortunately, almost all of the Christian meaning for these important markers on the Christian calendar has been forgotten. As much as we Christians like to blame the nebulous society around us, I don’t think it is the “world’s” fault that these holidays have not retained their Christian meaning. Instead, I fault Christians who are either unaware of their heritage or just plain derelict in their duty to educate their children. We shouldn’t expect unbelievers to celebrate Christianity, but we should expect Christians to seek to pass their heritage on to the next generation.

Hopefully you do use the holidays of Christmas and Easter as opportunities to talk to your children about the birth and resurrection of Christ respectively. However, days like St. Valentine’s Day and especially St. Patrick’s Day are often missed opportunities in evangelical homes. Perhaps we’re frightened away by the fact that these individuals are often associated with the Roman Catholic Church. But there is no need to fear Patrick for in him evangelicals have not a foe but a friend.

Patrick was a courageous Christian missionary to Ireland in the 5th century. His story of being kidnapped as a boy in Britain to become a slave in Ireland, his escape back to Britain, and his call as a missionary to return is a fascinating tale of God’s providence and grace. His dedication to the doctrine of the Trinity is both admirable and worthy of emulation. Talking to your children about how Patrick taught the Trinity to the pagans of his day provides a tremendous opportunity to explain this difficult biblical teaching to them. This is an opportunity that should not be missed. Likewise, Patrick’s commitment to take the gospel to unreached peoples (Ireland at the time would have been considered the “end of the world.”) is another important teachable aspect of this remarkable life for our children. Read, in Patrick’s own words, his commitment to take the gospel to Ireland:

I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, bearing the reproach of my going abroad and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others; and, should I be worthy, I am prepared to give even my life without hesitation and most gladly for his name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord would grant it to me. (Confession 37)

In short, St. Patrick should be introduced to our children as a courageous missionary hero who believed and taught the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.

Many legends are attached to the story of Patrick and though I believe most are grounded in some true events, the discerning reader must be aware of the mixture of legend and history on this early Christian figure. However, we are not dependent merely on legends to know about the life of Patrick. His autobiographical Confession has survived the centuries and is a fascinating recounting of his life.

For those interested in learning more, there is a helpful modern biography of Patrick by Philip Freeman. For parents wanting a good introduction that can be ready by or to their children, I highly recommend Patrick: Saint of Ireland by Joyce Denham. In addition, a new biography of Patrick has been penned by Michael Haykin, which is already available in the UK and is available for pre-order in the US. We are going to give away a free copy of this book today. Enter the contest below!

A few short, but very helpful articles about Patrick’s modern-day relevance are available online.

This post originally appeared on March 17, 2012 on pastorhistorian.com. It has been lightly edited and reposted today on that blog in honor of St. Patrick’s Day 2014.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children.

New Series on Early Church Fathers Edited by Michael Haykin

March 14th, 2014 Posted in Ancient Church: 4th & 5th Centuries, Books, Church Fathers, Church History, Eminent Christians, Historians

By Steve Weaver

A new series of books featuring biographies of the early church fathers is being published by Christian Focus Publications of the United Kingdom. Noted Patristic scholar Michael A.G. Haykin is serving as the series editor. According to the publisher’s website:  ”this series relates the magnificent impact that these fathers of the early church made for our world today. They encountered challenges similar to ones that we face in our postmodern world, and they met them with extraordinary values that will encourage and inspire us today.”

Basil CoverThe first volume, authored by Marvin Jones, focuses on Basil of Caesarea. The publisher’s website provides the following description:

Basil of Caesarea (329-379 AD) was a Greek Bishop in what is now Turkey. A thoughtful theologian, he was instrumental in the formation of the Nicene Creed. He fought a growing heresy, Arianism, that had found converts, including those in high positions of state. In the face of such a threat he showed courage, wisdom and complete confidence in God that we would do well to emulate today.

Patrick CoverThe second volume in the series was authored by Haykin and is an exploration of the life and impact of Patrick of Ireland. The publisher’s website provides this description:

Patrick ministered to kings and slaves alike in the culture that had enslaved him. Patrick’s faith and his commitment to the Word of God through hard times is a true example of the way that God calls us to grow and to bless those around us through our suffering. Michael Haykin’s masterful biography of Patrick’s life and faith will show you how you can follow God’s call in your life.

Both these books are available in the UK. They will not be available in the US until May, but are available for pre-order now on Amazon:

Other books scheduled in the series include:

  • Athanasius by Carl Trueman
  • Cyril of Alexandria by Steve McKinion
  • Augustine by Brad Green
  • Irenaeus of Lyons by Ligon Duncan
  • Tertullian by David Robinson

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children.

 

Spurgeon’s Missiology: “Go and Teach Them”

March 13th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon equally upheld a passion for converting lost souls and for making disciples of all nations.  In his sermon, “The Missionaries’ Charge and Charter,” on April 21, 1861, Spurgeon unpacked the role of teaching disciples in missions, as commanded in the Great Commission:

First, my Brethren and very briefly, indeed, a few things about the COMMAND.  And we must remark, first, what a singularly loving one it is….  It is the voice of love, not of wrath. “Go and teach them the power of My blood to cleanse, the willingness of My arms to embrace, the yearning of My heart to save! Go and teach them. Teach them no more to despise Me, no more to think My Father an angry and implacable Deity. Teach them to bow the knee, and kiss the Son, and find peace in Me for all their troubles, and a balm for all their woes. Go—speak as I have spoken—weep as I have wept; invite as I have invited; exhort, entreat, beseech and pray, as I have done before you. Tell them to come unto Me, if they are weary and heavy laden, and I will give them rest….

Note, too, how exceedingly plain is the command, “Go you, teach all nations.”…  Why, it is the mother’s work with her child! It is the tutor’s work with the boy and with the girl—“go you and teach.” How simple! Illustrate; explain; expound; tell; inform; narrate! Take from them the darkness of ignorance; reveal to them the light of Revelation. Teach! Be content to sit down, and tell them the very plainest and most common things. It is not your eloquence that shall convert them; it is not your gaudy language or your polished periods that shall sway their intellects….  Go you and teach them first the very simplicities of the Cross of Christ!…

There has been heroism in every land for Christ—men of every color and of every race have died for Him; upon His altar has been found the blood of all kindreds who are upon the face of the earth. Oh, tell me not they cannot be taught! Sirs, they can be taught to die for Christ; and this is more than some of you have learned. They can rehearse the very highest lesson of the Christian religion—that self-sacrifice which knows not itself, but gives up all for Him. At this day there are Karen missionaries preaching among the Karens with as fervid an eloquence as ever was known by Whitefield! There are Chinese teaching in Borneo, Sumatra, and Australia, with as much earnestness as Morison or Milne first taught in China. There are Hindu Evangelists who are not ashamed to have given up the Brahmian thread, and to eat with the Pariah, and to preach with him the riches of Christ!… Well was that command warranted by future facts, when Christ said, “Go you, teach all nations.”

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Judson’s Farewell Hymn

March 6th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Hymnody, Poetry

By Evan D. Burns

Yesterday, at the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, a mini-conference was held on Adoniram Judson (1788-1850).  In honor of Judson, below is a portion of the farewell hymn written by Mrs. A. M. O. Edmond in 1846 for his final commissioning back to Burma.  Here is part of the hymn sung by the assembly in Boston:[1]

Fare ye well, O friends beloved!
Speed ye on your mission high;
Give to lands of gloomy error
Living truths that never die.
Tell, O tell them,
Their redemption draweth nigh.

Bear abroad the gospel standard,
Till its folds triumphant wave,
And the hosts of sin and darkness
Find forevermore a grave:
Till, victorious,
Jesus reigns, who died to save.

Fearless ride the stormy billows,
Fearless every danger dare;
Onward! in your steadfast purpose,
We will follow you with prayer.
Glorious mission!
‘Tis the Cross of Christ ye bear.

Though our parting waken sadness,
‘Tis not all the grief of woe;
There are tears of Christian gladness
Mingling with the drops that flow.
‘Tis for Jesus
That we freely bid you go.

 Man of God! once more departing
Hence, to preach a Saviour slain,
With a full, warm heart we give thee
To the glorious work again.
Faithful servant,
Thou with Christ shall rest and reign.


[1]John Dowling, The Judson Offering, 287-288;  Robert T. Middleditch, Burmah’s Great Missionary, 400-401.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.