Historia ecclesiastica
The Weblog of Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin & friends

Remembering Matthew Henry

June 22nd, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Church History, Eminent Christians, Puritans

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Matthew Henry (1662-1714), who died June 22 exactly three hundred years ago, is rightly remembered as a leading figure among early eighteenth-century Dissent. His devotional commentary on the entire Bible, the Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, was the first such work in English and is a prism of late Puritan piety. If one wishes to get a good feel for the thinking of late seventeenth-century Puritanism read Henry on the Bible. By the early Victorian period this work had gone through some 25 editions and is still in use today. It is well known that George Whitefield, the  tercentennial of whose birth will be celebrated later this year, used this exposition widely in his ministry and prayer life. Henry ‘s twenty-five year ministry in Chester bore other fruit as well: a sterling witness in a degenerate age, the edification of God’s people under his charge  and about 30 other publications that ministered to the church at large both in his day and subsequent ages. A conference on his ministry and thought will be held July 14-16 this year at the University of Chester, England. Dr Ligon Duncan is to be one of the speakers.

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Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

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“The Divine Harmony of Truth”

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

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon challenged his students to preach the Word—all of it.  To withhold certain doctrines which do not appeal to the minister or which might be disagreeable to the people would be like withholding nutritious food necessary for bodily health.  The doctrines of Scripture are seen as most excellent when they come together in harmony as music in a grand symphonic orchestra.

The glory of God being our chief object, we aim at it by seeking the edification of saints and the salvation of sinners . It is a noble work to instruct the people of God, and to build them up in their most holy faith: we may by no means neglect this duty. To this end we must give clear statements of gospel doctrine, of vital experience, and of Christian duty, and never shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God. In too many cases sublime truths are held in abeyance under the pretence that they are not practical; whereas the very fact that they are revealed proves that the Lord thinks them to be of value, and woe unto us if we pretend to be wiser than He. We may say of any and every doctrine of Scripture—To give it then a tongue is wise in man. If any one note is dropped from the divine harmony of truth the music may be sadly marred. Your people may fall into grave spiritual diseases through the lack of a certain form of spiritual nutriment, which can only be supplied by the doctrines which you withhold. In the food which we eat there are ingredients which do not at first appear to be necessary to life; but experience shows that they are requisite to health and strength. Phosphorus will not make flesh, but it is wanted for bone; many earths and salts come under the same description— they are necessary in due proportion to the human economy. Even thus certain truths which appear to be little adapted for spiritual nutriment are, nevertheless, very beneficial in furnishing believers with backbone and muscle, and in repairing the varied organs of Christian manhood. We must preach “the whole truth,” that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [1]


[1]Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 336-337.

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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.

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The Key of Prayer

June 12th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon, in his lectures to his students, commended the practice of prayer for the sake of unlocking the door of Scripture in order to find its hidden treasures.  Let us not forget the sacred union of prayer and Bible intake:

Your prayers will be your ablest assistants while your discourses are yet upon the anvil.  While other men, like Esau, are hunting for their portion, you, by the aid of prayer, will find the savoury meat near at home, and may say in truth what Jacob said so falsely, “The Lord brought it to me.” If you can dip your pens into your hearts, appealing in earnestness to the Lord, you will write well; and if you can gather your matter on your knees at the gate of heaven, you will not fail to speak well. Prayer, as a mental exercise, will bring many subjects before the mind, and so help in the selection of a topic, while as a high spiritual engagement it will cleanse your inner eye that you may see truth in the light of God. Texts will often refuse to reveal their treasures till you open them with the key of prayer. How wonderfully were the books opened to Daniel when he was in supplication! How much Peter learned upon the housetop! The closet is the best study. The commentators are good instructors, but the Author Himself is far better, and prayer makes a direct appeal to Him and enlists Him in our cause. It is a great thing to pray one’s self into the spirit and marrow of a text; working into it by sacred feeding thereon, even as the worm bores its way into the kernel of the nut. Prayer supplies a leverage for the uplifting of ponderous truths.[1]


[1]Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 43-44.

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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.

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What Are You Doing with Your Bible?

June 5th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

For those of us who are prone to buy good books, aspire to read them though they go on the shelf, and then rarely read them let alone read the Bible itself, J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) issues a clarion call to wake up from lethargic Bible intake:

Next to praying, there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading. God has mercifully given us a book which is “able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3: 15.).  By reading that book, we may learn what to believe, what to be, what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace. Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it— but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice! Nevertheless, it is a sorrowful fact that man has an unhappy skill in abusing God’s gifts….  And just as man naturally makes a bad use of his other mercies, so he does of the written Word. One sweeping charge may be brought against the whole of Christendom, and that charge is neglect and abuse of the Bible. To prove this charge we have no need to look abroad: the proof lies at our own doors. I have no doubt that there are more Bibles in Great Britain at this moment than there ever were since the world began. There is more Bible buying and Bible selling, more Bible printing and Bible distributing—than ever was since England was a nation. We see Bibles in every bookseller’s shop— Bibles of every size, price, and style; Bibles great, and Bibles small— Bibles for the rich, and Bibles for the poor. There are Bibles in almost every house in the land. But all this time I fear we are in danger of forgetting, that to have the Bible is one thing— and to read it quite another….  Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with the Bible. Surely, when the plague is abroad, you should search and see, whether the plague-spot is on you.[1]


 [1]J.C. Ryle, “Introduction”, Bible Reading.

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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.

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Propagate or Perish

May 29th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

At the centennial celebration of Adoniram Judson’s arrival in Burma (July 13, 1813), many mission leaders came together to commemorate Judson’s life and labour and to reflect on the missionary impulse that dawned during the nineteenth century.  In one interesting address, Rev. H. C. Mabie, D.D., of Boston, traced the influence of evangelical theology upon the missionary movement:

The act of Judson in becoming a Baptist under the circumstances en route to India, was the foremost factor in awakening a body of Christians in America to a denominational and missionary self-consciousness which it had not before known.  This action on the part of Judson and Luther Rice, his associate, served also to broaden all Christendom as concerned active endeavours to reach the heathen.  These pioneers, together with Judson’s predecessor, William Carey, as seconded by Andrew Fuller, the ripest theologian of his time, stood out as a new type of religionist even among the people whose name they bore.  The action thus inaugurated proved not a separatist action, but the addition of a new dynamic to Christendom in the epoch of a hundred years now closed.  The combined influence of the men named in England and America was so transforming that every self-respecting evangelical body throughout the world now has its foreign mission work.  It only illustrates the fact that Christianity must propagate itself or perish.  Life must be lost for the sake of others, if it would be saved.  This is the central paradox in Christ’s religion, the law underlying all divine redemption….  They were but simple expositors of apostolic Christianity.  They served in Providence to bring the Church back to its normal ideas and passion.[1]


[1]Rev. H. C. Mabie, D.D., “The Baptists in World Relations,” The Judson Centennial Celebrations in Burma: 1813-1913, (Rangoon: American Baptist Mission Press, 1914), 79-80.

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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.

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Andrew Fuller and Antinomianism

May 27th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Books, Church History, Current Affairs, Eminent Christians, Historians, Pastoral Ministry, Theology

By Nathan A. Finn

In recent months, a debate has been stirring mostly among our conservative Presbyterian friends over antinomianism, or the idea that because believers live under grace God’s moral law should not be considered an appointed means used in our sanctification. Most antinomians are not libertines (a common misperception), but because they downplay the necessity of good works in the life of a Christian, mainstream Reformed believers argue that antinomian views do lead to a stunted understanding of sanctification.

The Reformed version of antinomianism (there are many versions of this particular error) that has often appeared among Calvinists argues against the necessity of the moral law based upon a fatalistic view of predestination and/or a too-sharp distinction between law and gospel. PCA pastor-theologian Mark Jones’s new book Antinomianism retraces the history of Reformed antinomianism and makes some contemporary application. In fact, Jones’s comments about some well-known Calvinist pastors, especially Tullian Tchividjian, have played a key role in bringing the current controversy to a head. You can read more about the dust-up at The Gospel Coalition, Reformation 21, and Tchividjian’s website. For a timely and edifying word that is inspired by this controversy, see Nick Batzig’s excellent blog post “Dangers of Theological Controversy.”

Once upon a time, the English Calvinists Baptists faced their own kerfuffle over antinomianism. Robert Oliver discusses this topic at length in his book History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771-1892: From John Gill to C.H. Spurgeon (Banner of Truth, 2006). This issue played a key role in the separation of the Strict and Particular Baptists from the majority Particular Baptist movement during the first half of the eighteenth century. Among Particular Baptists, there was often a connection between antinomianism and High Calvinism, though this wasn’t always the case.

Andrew Fuller wrote against the Reformed version of antinomianism in a posthumously published treatise titled Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion Taught and Exemplified in the Holy Scriptures (1816). Fuller’s treatise can be found in the second volume of the “Sprinkle Edition” of The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. Fuller argued that antinomianism is, at root, a species of spiritual selfishness that is concerned more with the spiritual benefits of the faith than a wholehearted devotion to Lord that is evidenced, in part, though the pursuit of ongoing spiritual maturity.

For an excellent introduction to Fuller’s critique of antinomianism, check out Mark Jones’s plenary address on that topic from last fall’s Andrew Fuller Center Conference.

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Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

 

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“A Supreme Desire to Please Him”

May 22nd, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

In addressing the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Adoniram Judson commended the great calling of following Christ on the missionary road.  A supreme desire to please God is the great motive for missionary service.  This statement captures well the prevailing drive in Judson’s life and labor:

It is of great importance that all who engage in missionary efforts should be influenced by evangelical motives.  It is worse than useless to be prompted by ostentation or a love of notoriety.  Neither should we enter on this work to assure ourselves of our own personal interest in Christ, though such assurance may be desirable.  Neither should the salvation of the heathen be the motive—the primary consideration—though this is unquestionably a legitimate end. What, then, is the prominent, all-constraining impulse that should urge us to make sacrifices in this cause?  There is one Being in the universe that unites in himself all the perfections of Deity with all the purest and tenderest of human nature.  He has at great expense set up a kingdom in this world.  He has set his heart on the enlargement of that kingdom, and is constantly exerting his Divine agency to accomplish that purpose.  A supreme desire to please him is the grand motive that should animate Christians in their missionary efforts.  And in every concern of life we should often look up to that lovely Being and inquire, “Does this please him?”

When I commenced my labors in India there was not an individual beyond the Ganges that had any idea of a God.  Now, in all those extensive regions, the people believe in one Supreme Intelligence.  Then there was not an individual that prayed to the Christian’s God.  Now there are many lovely churches and hundreds of happy Christians.  I mention this, not because the Gospel has not been equally successful in other parts of the world, but because I am better acquainted with that field of missionary labor, and I desired to give you some idea of the success of the Gospel in Eastern Asia.[1]


[1]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 384-385.

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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.

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Historiae ecclesiasticae collecta: a weekly roundup of blogs, articles, books, and more

May 16th, 2014 Posted in Books, Church History

By Dustin Bruce

News of the Tom Nettles retirement from full-time teaching has been making its way around the Internet this week. Check out this Baptist Press article for coverage. Also, see this reflection by John Fea and this list of Nettles’ books from Books-at-a-Glance.

Blogs

  1. On Canon & Culture, a blog of the ERLC, Noah Braymen offers a look at the great John Leyland in a three-part series. Check out part one, “The Life of John Leland: Sinner Saved by Faith Alone,” and part two, “The Life of John Leland: Preacher Evangelist.”
  2. Don’t miss this Baptist history rap written and performed by a SEBTS student and mother of two.
  3. John Fea discusses a new book, Why Church History Matters: An Invitation to Love and Learn from Our Past (InterVarsity Press, July 2014), with the author, Robert Rea of Lincoln Christian University.
  4. Over at The Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor highlights a George Marsden lecture on the great Jonathan Edwards.
  5. Taylor also posts an excerpt from Timothy Larsen on “Evangelical Narratives of Declension.”
  6. On Miscellanies, Tony Reinke posts an insightful interview with Mark Jones, “The Nature and Scope of the Atonement in the Calvinist – Arminian Debates (Interview with Mark Jones).”
  7. Matthew Emerson interacts with “Steve Harmom and Baptist Catholicity” on Secundum Scripturas.
  8. On Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian, Steve Weaver posts “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Books and the Preacher.”
  9. Weaver also published a “Letter from C.H. Spurgeon to A.G. Fuller Commending Andrew Fuller.
  10. On Reformedish, Derek Rishmawy discusses Calvin’s “Unexpected English Fruit.”
  11. On The Founder’s Blog, Jon English Lee discusses Sabbatarianism prior to English Puritanism.
  12. Check out “How to study St. Thomas Aquinas: An interview with Therese Scarpelli Cory” at Medievalists.net.
  13. Over at The Anxious Bench, John Turner discusses “American Religion and Freemasonry.
  14. On First Things, Peter Leithart comments on a new book dealing with post-Reformation Reformed thology in a post entitled “Ussher’s Soteriology.”
  15. Don’t miss the latest Beeson podcast, a fascinating lecture on “Augustine and Time” delivered by Timothy George himself.
  16. Finally, check out this recommendation of a new book by AFC director, Michael Haykin, and Jeff Robinson, entitled To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy.

Recent Book Releases

  1. J. A. I. Champion, The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and its Enemies, 1660-1730 (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History), Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  2. Charles E. Raven, Apollinarianism: An Essay on the Christology of the Early Church, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  3. Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, From Words to Deeds: The Effectiveness of Preaching in the Late Middle Ages (Sermo), Brepols Publishers, 2014.
  4. Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade, HarperOne, 2014.

From the Fuller Center

  1. Contributor Evan Burns posts on a letter from Adoniram Judson to Ann Haseltine, in “Irrevocably Gone, Indelibly Marked.”

What did I miss this week?  Share in the comments or on Twitter: @AFCBS or @dustinbruce.

Note: Inclusion of an article, book, or any other form of media on the Historiae ecclesiasticae collecta does not constitute a theological endorsement by the compiler, Michael Haykin, the Andrew Fuller Center or Southern Seminary.

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Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

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“Irrevocably Gone, Indelibly Marked”

May 15th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

On December 30, 1810, in a letter written to Miss Ann Hasseltine, Adoniram Judson mused on the number of his days in light of eternity, that he would live wisely and faithfully (cf. Ps 90:12).  Every moment is gone forever and irreversibly spent, for better or for worse.  He said:

We have a general intention of living religion; but we intend to begin to-morrow or next year.  The present moment we prefer giving to the world.  ‘A little more sleep, a little more slumber.’  Well, a little more sleep, and we shall sleep in the grave.  A few days, and our work will be done.  And when it is once done, it is done to all eternity.  A life once spent is irrevocable.  It will remain to be contemplated through eternity.  If it be marked with sins, the marks will be indelible.  If it has been a useless life, it can never be improved.  Such it will stand forever and ever.  The same may be said of each day.  When it is once past, it is gone forever.  All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever.  It will never become less true that such a day was spent in such a manner.  Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny.  No day will lose its share of influence in determining where shall be our seat in heaven.  How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness!  It will then be too late to mend its appearance.  It is too late to mend the days that are past.  The future is in our power.  Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever.  And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked.  Good-night.”[1]


[1]Edward Judson,  Adoniram Judson D.D., His Life and Labours, (13).

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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.

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Historiae ecclesiasticae collecta: a weekly roundup of blogs, articles, books, and more

May 9th, 2014 Posted in Books, Church History

By Dustin Bruce

Blogs

  1. Mark Movsesian writes on the latest Bonhoeffer biography, Strange Glory, at First Things.
  2. Thomas Kidd celebrates five years of Patheos with a roundup of his top five Anxious Bench posts. Also, make sure and sign up for his weekly newsletter.
  3. Check out John Fea’s recent interview with Todd Brenneman based on his new book Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, December 2013).
  4. Learn about the influential systematic theologian John Murray.
  5. Check out this odd but interesting piece on “A Short History of Christian Matchmaking” by Paul Putz.
  6. American Puritanism and pop culture intersect on Books and Culture in “Cotton Mather and Uppity Women.”
  7. Douglas Bond posts on “Isaac Watts: A Child Poet” over on the Ligonier blog.
  8. Justin Taylor highlights a new book due out in October by Thomas Kidd in “George Whitefield: Lessons from Eighteenth Century’s Greatest Evangelist.”
  9. See the latest from Tom Nettles on The Founder’s Blog, “Fuller and Irresistible Grace: The Necessity of Regeneration as Prior to Repentance and Faith.”

Recent Book Releases

  1. Apollinarianism: An Essay on the Christology of the Early Church by Charles E. Raven.
  2. Original Bishops, The: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities by Alistair C. Stewart.
  3. Clothing the Clergy: Virtue and Power in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200 by Maureen C. Miller.
  4. He Leadeth Me by Walter J. Ciszek S.J. and Daniel L. Flaherty S.J.
  5. The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and its Enemies, 1660-1730 (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) by J. A. I. Champion.

From the Fuller Center

  1. Junior Fellow, Evan Burns, highlights Adoniram Judson’s piety amidst grief in “To Hold Myself in Readiness.”
  2. Don’t forget to check out our “Whitefield & the Great Awakening” conference page.

What did I miss this week?  Share in the comments or on Twitter: @AFCBS or @dustinbruce.

Note: Inclusion of an article, book, or any other form of media on the Historiae ecclesiasticae collecta does not constitute a theological endorsement by the compiler, Michael Haykin, the Andrew Fuller Center or Southern Seminary.

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Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.

 

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