Friday, August 08, 2008

The Proclaimer, Summer 2008

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 5
David Brainerd
Quotes from Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity (1)
News of the fellowship
Book Recommendations

'Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching'.

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 5

Question 5: Are there more Gods than one?

Answer: There is but One only, the living and true God.

God Himself makes it abundantly plain, in His word, putting it beyond any shadow of doubt, that He is the only true and living God. In Isaiah 45:21,22, we read, “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”. He is the only living and true God.

There are, as God reveals in His word, others, or certain things which are called gods, or are referred to as being a god.

Firstly. Angels. Psalm 97:7, “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods”. The apostle citing this verse in Hebrews 1:6, calls them “angels”.

Secondly. Magistrates. Exodus 22:28, “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people”. (margin, “judges”). See also John 10:34.

Thirdly. Idols. Deuteronomy 32:16,17, “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not”. Further in 1 Kings 11:33, we read of “Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Mil-com the god of the children of Ammon”.

Fourthly. Satan. The devil is called the god of this world. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. John Brown of Haddington writes, “He is believed, obeyed, adored, under various form, by most of the inhabitants (of this world)”.

Fifthly. Man's belly. Philippians 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things”. Such a man has a carnal appetite, being chiefly concerned about themselves.

John Flavel writes, “But doth not the Scriptures say”, (in 1 Corinthians 8:5), “that there are gods many, and lords many? Yes; there are many in title, and many in opinion, but only one in truth”. There is, as the Scriptures make plain, and further as the catechism states, “but one only, the living and true God. Jeremiah writes, “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation”. Jeremiah 10:10.

Firstly. He is the true God. James Fisher asks, “Why is he called the true God?” And then answers, “In opposition to all false and imaginary gods”. “Thus shall ye say unto them, the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens”. Jeremiah 10: 11. Other gods are false gods, but our God, who is ours through grace, is the true God, the real God. The first command of the Decalogue says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. He alone is to be worshipped in a religious way, why? For other gods are false. In seeking to keep that command we wholeheartedly acknowledge and humbly confess before God, that He is the only true God. Ebenezer Erskine speaking of the positive duty of obeying the first commandment writes, “to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God”.

As being true, He is referred to as “A God of truth”. Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4 said, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he”. God is infinitely holy, pure and just. The Psalmist, in Psalm 92:15 says, “there is no unrighteousness in him”. There is none whatsoever in God, He is free from, and, is the complete opposite to sin.

We know him to be true, for in all his words and works, He speaks and acts in perfection.

First, His words. Christ in that High priestly prayer to His Father said, “Thy word is truth”. John 17:17. The apostle writes in Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie”.

Second, His works. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4. In the work of creation, then in His unfolding providence, and further by the work of Redemption we bear testimony to the truth of God.

Secondly, He is the living God. These two words “true” and “living” go together. If He were not the true God, He would not be the living God, if He were not the living God, He could not be the true God. His name “Jehovah” in itself, conveys to us that He is the living God. The name Jehovah means the eternal, self existent one. “I am that I am”. Exodus 3:14. He has always been there, He is there, and will always be there. Christ says in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. He needs none other. He exists by His own infinite power. He is the living God. The Psalmist in Psalm 90:2 writes, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God”.

Pause and reflect on those words: “Thou art God!” He knows God to be there. We, as believers, know God to be there.

Consider firstly, by our existence here upon earth. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being”. We breathe, walk, talk, sing, eat, drink and sleep. We exist because He is the living God.

Secondly, by the existence of that new Spiritual life within. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, that principle of grace, has been implanted within us. Faith along with those other graces from Christ have been put within. We have faith in Him, we love Him, we live for Him, our new life bears evidence that He is a living God. Recall what Paul said, “Christ liveth in me”. Galatians 2:20. Job could say by faith, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. Job 19:25. The apostle Paul, in writing his first epistle to the brethren that were at Thessalonica, wrote concerning their faith that was being spoken of by many. In verse 9 of the first chapter he wrote, “how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God”.

My dear friends , let us pause and consider, we serve and worship the living and true God, He who is the only God.

David Brainerd

In volume 2 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, BOT 1974, pages 313-458, there is recorded, (double columned), the spiritual journey of David Brainerd, (Edwards' son in law). We witness Brainerd's struggles with faith, his discouragements as well as his awareness of God's comfort and guidance. He was much concerned for the souls of the American Indians at a time when such concern was unpopular among white men. Riding horse back to Indian villages, he travelled alone through the wilderness of eighteenth century New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, braving harsh weather, ‘hideous’ mountains, and many dangers.

At first, the results of Brainerd's efforts were not very rewarding. He had to overcome the language barrier and the mistrust of the Indians. Many times Brainerd records that he preached, “yet there appeared nothing of the power of God among them”. Though much of his disappointment is recorded, he makes more of the goodness and mercy of God. As he worked among the Indians, there were many joyful moments when they responded to his preaching in repentance and faith towards God in Christ.

Brainerd's life was brief, (he died at the age of twenty nine), but it was given to God with an intensity and wholeheartedness that few experience. As we consider just a fragment of his ministry may we be inspired to greater service in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

David Brainerd was born in America, April 20th. 1718, of godly parents. Awakened by the Spirit of God, he was born again at the age of twenty. He attended for the next three years Yale College, and began to preach when he was twenty four and continued to do so among the Indians from 1743 to 1747. It was most fitting that his life story should be written and his journal published. Men like William Carey were influenced by it. He urged his fellow labourers in India to “think of David Brainerd wrestling in prayer among the solitudes of the backwoods of America”. Henry Martyn, brilliant scholar of Cambridge University was also influenced by Brainerd, “I longed to be a flame of fire continually glowing in the divine service, and building up Christ's kingdom to my last and dying to burn out for God!”

Among his other graces, David Brainerd had a supreme desire for God's glory, a deep longing after holiness, and a daily practice of intercessory prayer. “O that I could spend every moment of my life to God's glory!” he once said. “Here I am, Lord, send me to the rough, savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort even to death itself, if it be Thy service and to promote Thy kingdom. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. On other occasion he burst out, “Oh that my soul was holy as He is holy! Oh that it were pure even as He is pure!” One cannot but believe that if he had applied more to the all cleansing blood of Christ of which so little is said in his diary, we should not have had those bitter upbraidings and bemoaning of corruption, nor those awful melancholy complaints which at length he came to regard as “sinful dejection”, and which hindered his usefulness.

On April 1st. 1742, at the age of twenty four, he writes, “I seem to be declining with respect to my warmth in divine things. Oh that God would humble me deeply in the dust before Him”. During the night of October 19th. of that same year, he records, “I felt a sweet longing in my soul after holiness”. These intense longings after sanctification are soon followed by confessions of failure and defeat that might seem discouraging to us who read these things in the experience of a man of God. In the following November, he records, “Had still a sense of my great vileness.... Oh, what a nothing, what dust and ashes am I”.
However, on a Sabbath in December there was a gleam of brightness on his dejected soul, “I preached with some sweetness on Matthew 6:33. This has been a sweet Sabbath to me”. This temporary relief was soon after succeeded by such fresh gloom and darkness of soul that, in unworthiness he shrank from ever going to the heathen with the gospel. Jonathan Edwards says that “his mind was overwhelmed with an exceeding gloominess and melancholy”.

On April 1st. 1743 Brainerd arrived among the Indians of Kaunaumeek and writes this, “ was greatly exercised with inward trials and distresses all day, and seemed to have no God to go to. However, preached to the Indians both forenoon and afternoon”. He was only twenty five, and records these words, “Enjoyed not much sweetness this morning, was very weak in body throughout the day; and thought that this frail body would soon drop in the dust, and had some very realising apprehensions of a speedy entrance into another world”.

On a Sabbath in that same year Brainerd mentions this, “Was much perplexed with some very irreligious Dutchmen. All their discourse turned upon the things of this world. O what a hell it would be to spend an eternity with such men! Well might David say, “I beheld the transgressors, and was much grieved”, Psalm 119:158. Soon after he writes, “I spent this whole day alone in prayer and fasting, being very dull and lifeless, melancholy and discouraged, but having read 2 Kings 19, my soul was moved and affected. I saw there was no other way for the afflicted people of God to take, but to go to God with all their sorrows as Hezekiah did, in his great distress, went and spread his complaint before the Lord”.

Another entry in his diary records this, “studying the Indian language, need to be alone in the back woods to do this, where I can also spend much time in prayer”. His father in law, Jonathan Edwards comments, “this study of the Indian language necessitated his frequent riding twenty four miles backward and forward through uninhabited woods, and exposed him often to extreme hardship especially in the winter”.

On the Sabbath of February 24th. 1745, Brainerd discovered this vital truth: “My discourse was well suited to my own case, for of late I have found a great want of apprehension of divine grace, and have often been greatly distressed in my soul, because I did not suitably apprehend this fountain opened to purge away sin; and so have been too much labouring for spiritual life, and peace of conscience, and progressive holiness in my own strength. But now God has shown me in some measure the arm of all strength and the fountain of all grace”. Edwards comments, “This is the secret of holiness that even earnest souls often miss. They magnify law rather than grace, they see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and forget the omnipotent Saviour, they deplore their guilt and stain, but do not extol the precious blood of Jesus”.

Next we find Brainerd in the lovely Susquehannah valley, to preach to another tribe of Indians, but even there he finds himself disconsolate, weak and exhausted. He writes, “I feel what Job must have felt, in 9:16, “If I had called, and He had answered me, yet would I not believe that He had hearkened to my voice”. But from that moment were there were conversions among the Indians, which brought such joy to his heart, he wrote, “God was pleased to assist me in prayer and give me souls for my hire”.

At this time we read of Brainerd's increasing weakness, and the alarming symptoms preceding his home call. Once, this weakness was so great that he almost fell off his horse when riding through the woods. He spent his last months in the home of Jonathan Edwards who notes Brainerd`s last words, “O why is His chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the wheels? I am very willing to part with all to be for ever with the Lord. I am almost in eternity. I long to be there. My work is done. All the world is nothing to me. I long to be in Heaven praising the Lord with the holy angels. All my desire is to glorify God. My parting prayer is for gospel ministers, that they may be filled with the Spirit.

Let us, as we watch David Brainerd's heavenward translation, pray like Elisha. “Oh that I might receive a double portion of his spirit” – his love for the heathen, and his longing for the kingdom of God to come.

Quotes from Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity (1)

Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun.

We glorify God, by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us.

Though nothing can add to God's essential glory, yet praise exalts Him in the eyes of others.

Let us lead Scripture lives. Oh that the Bible might be seen printed in our lives! Do what the Bible commands. Obedience is an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible.

What a mercy is it that God has not only acquainted us with what His will is, but that He has made it known by writing.

God knows whatever is knowable.

He is God, and has a sovereignty over us; therefore, as we received life from Him, so must we receive a law from Him, and submit to His will in all things.

Oh study the shortness of life and length of eternity!

God has decreed troubles for the church's good. The troubles of God's church is like the angel's troubling the water, which made way for healing His people.

I fear I shall not hold out. Christian, dost thou believe the power of God? Has not God preserved thy grace thus far? Mayest thou not set up thy Ebenezer? God has kept thy grace hitherto as a spark in the main ocean; and is He able to still keep it?

This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of His eye, the pearl of His crown; which He guards, as He did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appointed, else it is strange fire.

Thanksgiving does not stand in church-music, the melody of an organ, but rather in making melody in the heart to the Lord.

News of the Fellowship

We were being greatly blessed through the faithful ministry of Rev. John Thackway from Holywell at our 157th Church Anniversary. The three sermons are available on the Church website.

On May 28th, we set apart Mr. John Adamson as our Deacon. We thank God for guiding us as a congregation.

We continue to witness in the open air at Ringwood, and visit homes in Fordingbridge where gospels and tracts are distributed. Every home has received “The Gospel according to Luke”, and then further visited. We pray for the Lord’s assistance in visiting the whole town again, the Lord willing, in the next few years. The Proclaimer is currently being distributed around the local hamlets.

We are praying for our young people who come to Sabbath School, Thursday Club, Senior and Junior Clubs. We are very pleased to have at least six young people at our Sabbath Services. The monthly Ladies Coffee Mornings continue to be a great blessing.

We continue to support Stephen and Yolanda at the New Tribes Mission H.Q.

Book Recommendations

Religion Our True Interest (Thomas Watson)
Meet The Puritans (Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson)
Letters (Samuel Rutherford)

Letters of Samuel Rutherford

The letters of Samuel Rutherford have for long been the constant companion of the most devout minds. Therein we have a treasure, for they are an extolling of the virtues of Christ, and record of “love banquets with my royal, high, and princely King Jesus”. Yes, the glorious greatness of Emmanuel is his constant theme. His heart is full of Christ, and “out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaketh”. While love to God was the ruling affection of his heart, love to man breathes from every page of his spiritual letters.

In a short review only one example may be given. It is in a letter to John Gordon at Rusco, “Remember, many go far on and reform many things, and can find tears, as Esau did; and suffer hunger for truth, as Judas did; and desire the end of the righteous as Balaam did; and fight for the Lord, as Saul did; and desire the saints to pray for them, as Pharoah did; and prophesy of Christ, as Caiaphas did; and fear God`s judgements, as Ahab did; and put away idolatry, as Jehu did; and hear the Word of God gladly, as Herod did; and offer to follow Christ, as the servant did, (Matthew 8:19). “And yet”, Rutherford says, “all these are but like gold in colour only”.

“But let us try ourselves, and not rest till we be a step nearer to Christ. I commend Christ and His love to you in all things. Let Him have the flower of your heart and love”.

Publisher: Banner of Truth (April 2006)
ISBN-10: 0851513881
ISBN-13: 978-0851513881

Meet The Puritans With A Guide To Modern Reprints by Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson

“Meet the Puritans” is a remarkable portrait gallery and a wonderful library of biographies. It is a reader's guide to great Christian literature and a record of an international movement of the Spirit. It is also a personal tutorial in Puritan history and theology, and much more.

The revival in interest and commitment to the truths of Reformed Theology over the last fifty years is due largely to the rediscovery of Puritan literature. “Meet the Puritans” introduces the leading figures of the Puritan movement in England, Scotland, Holland and America, with brief biographies and extracts from their works. All that you ever needed to know about the Puritans and Puritanism has come from the pens of these two distinguished scholars, Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson, who have given their lives to making the Puritan men and their works known and accessible to this present generation. Their work has been painstaking, thorough and comprehensive – a splendid achievement!

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (2006)
ISBN-10: 1601780003
ISBN-13: 978-1601780003

Religion Our True Interest by Thomas Watson

Here we have Thomas Watson's most helpful exposition of Malachi 3:16,17. We can do no better than to give the famous preacher's own outline:

,1, A Character of the Godly: i) In general, they were fearers of God; “they that feared the Lord”. ii) in special, a. “They spake often one to another”. b. “They thought upon God's Name”.

,2, The Good Effects of their Piety: i) The Lord regarded; “He hearkened and heard”. ii) He recorded it; “a book of remembrance was written”.

,3, He rewarded it; and this reward consisted in three things. i) God's owning them; “they shall be mine”. ii) God's honouring them; “in that day when I make up my jewels”. iii) God's sparing them; “I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him”.

Thomas Watson himself says that the main design of this excellent Scripture, is to encourage solid piety, and confute the atheists of this world, who imagine that there is no gain in godliness. Will the world, or men's lusts, give them such noble recompenses of reward, as God bestows upon His followers? It is an unhappiness that, in these luxuriant times, religion should for the most part run either into notion or ceremony.

Publisher: Banner of Truth (June 2006 but re-titled "The Great Gain of Godliness")
ISBN-10: 0851519388
ISBN-13: 978-0851519388