Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Proclaimer, Spring 2009

"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"

Standing for prayer (part 2)
Special Meetings
Quotes from Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity (2)
News of the fellowship
Book reviews
The Free Offer of the Gospel by Ebenezer Erskine
This is my friend
Metrical Psalm 5
Spurgeon on Tribulation

Latest online sermon: Christ the Mediator: King preached on the evening of Wednesday 4th March 2009.

Spurgeon on Tribulation

"In the world ye shall have tribulation." --John 16:33

Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold Him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like Him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to His image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy's country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God's friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, "I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee."

Metrical Psalm 5

Notes by John Brown of Haddington.

To the chief Musician, upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David.

Here, (1.) The man according to God's heart, in the assured faith of God's hearing his prayers, and hating his sins, fixeth a daily, an early, an earnest, a steady, a grace- founded correspondence with God, in his ordinances of meditation, prayer, praise, etc., ver. 1-7. (2.) Behold him humbly requesting God's special direction in duties which his enemies had rendered difficult to perform; supplicating and predicting the ruin of his implacable foes; and, in the assured faith of obtaining it, imploring comfort and prosperity to his fellow saints, ver. 8-12.

While I sing, let my heart and flesh cry out, and my soul pant and wait for the Lord. In the firm faith of infinite mercy to forgive all my crimes, and wash out all my sinful stains, let me blush at, and detest my own abominations. Let me cultivate the closest familiarity with the Lord my God. Let my prayers correspond with his promises, and with the particular condition of myself or others.

1 Give ear unto my words, O Lord,
my meditation weigh.
2 Hear my loud cry, my King, my God;
for I to thee will pray.

3 Lord, thou shalt early hear my voice:
I early will direct
My pray'r to thee; and, looking up,
an answer will expect.

4 For thou art not a God that doth
in wickedness delight;
Neither shall evil dwell with thee,
5 Nor fools stand in thy sight.

All that ill-doers are thou hat'st;
6 Cutt'st off that liars be:
The bloody and deceitful man
abhorred is by thee.

7 But I into thy house will come
in thine abundant grace;
And I will worship in thy fear
toward thy holy place.

8 Because of those mine enemies,
Lord, in thy righteousness
Do thou me lead; do thou thy way
make straight before my face.

9 For in their mouth there is no truth,
their inward part is ill;
Their throat's an open sepulchre,
their tongue doth flatter still.

10 O God, destroy them; let them be
by their own counsel quell'd:
Them for their many sins cast out,
for they 'gainst thee rebell'd.

11 But let all joy that trust in thee,
and still make shouting noise;
For them thou sav'st; let all that love
thy name in thee rejoice.

12 For, Lord, unto the righteous man
thou wilt thy blessing yield:
With favour thou wilt compass him
about, as with a shield.

Book Reviews

A View of the Covenant of Grace by Thomas Boston
Brown's Dictionary of Bible Characters edited by Geoffrey Stonier

Brown's Dictionary of Bible Characters ed Stonier

John Brown was born in 1722, and, by the will of God became an eminent Bible theologian. His Dictionary is Christ centred, and covers practically everything, making it useful for gospel preachers.

From this Dictionary, Geoffrey Stonier, (International Director of Preacher's Help), has extracted the most significant Bible names, to produce this helpful volume. After a comprehensive memoir, (43 pages long, by John Brown's grandson), Mr. Stonier begins with Aaron and ends with Zuph.

Hundreds of Bible names are helpfully arranged in alphabetical order, and once we start to dig into these pages, they will light up with spark and fire. Names perhaps previously skimmed over begin to develop special spiritual relevance.

John Brown's Dictionary demonstrates to us that we can so easily miss priceless information which could make our knowledge of God's grace in redemption so much the more vibrant.

The volume ends with a helpful index of some sixty three authors quoted in Brown's Dictionary.

Publisher: Christian Focus Publications (March 2009)
ISBN-10: 1845502663
ISBN-13: 978-1845502663

A View of the Covenant of Grace by Thomas Boston

Thomas Boston, a truly prolific Puritan writer, lived only to the age of 56 years. He was licensed to preach in 1697, and was ordained to the gospel ministry at Simprin in 1699. “With joy”, he says, “I saw myself in Simprin as in a nest, under the shadow of Christ's wings”.

His volume, “A View of the Covenant of Grace”, is thoroughly Scriptural, (as are all his works), and to read it is a spiritually enriching experience. It is undoubtedly one of the best books on the Covenant of Grace, and it ought to be read more widely than it is. Boston emphasises the importance of the Covenant of Grace, as it underlies the theme of the whole of Scripture. The doctrine is strongly Trinitarian, emphasising the sovereignty of God, preserving the truth of human responsibility, affording the possibility of true experimental religion, guaranteeing the believer's perseverance in grace, and his eternal security.

It is the Covenant of Grace that establishes the unity and the continuity of the true Church. Hebrews 9:15, “And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance”.

This book is in print as part of Volume 8 (which also includes "Human Nature in its Fourfold State") of the Works of Thomas Boston.

Publisher: Sovereign Grace Publishers (September 2001)
ISBN-10: 1589602064
ISBN-13: 978-1589602064

It is also available online at Google Books.

News of the fellowship

It was a great encouragement to have Rev William Macleod from Glasgow come to preach for us last Autumn. Although the heavy rain had caused flooding in the area, we were pleased to see a good number come, and felt the Lord's presence with us.

We were all very pleased to hear of the safe arrival of Isabel Lani Adamson born on November 17th, we rejoice with Emma & John and pray that they will continue to know God's grace & blessing upon their family.

On December 1st Nathanael James Lewis was born to our Pastor & wife Sharon, what a joy it is to see babies & children being brought to God's House.

Our Annual Luncheon was a very enjoyable time, with friends gathering from the village and other churches around. Our Pastor spoke on the words; “Christ liveth in me”.

In January we were very pleased to welcome Mr Chris Main into membership and pray he and his family will know God's richest
blessing. They have already been a great encouragement and help to us.

Quotes from Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity (2)

God's mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. 'I will love them freely'.

What cause have we to be thankful, that we have the knowledge of the only true God! How many are brought up in blindness! God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promise.

Admire the love of Christ our Mediator; that He should humble Himself, and take our flesh, that He might redeem us.

See your need of Christ's teaching. Go to Christ to teach you. Jesus Christ is very willing to teach us.

Let those admire God's free grace who were once under the power and tyranny of Satan.

Christ took our flesh upon Him, that He might take our sins upon Him

Let the wind and storms be up, and the church almost covered with waves, yet Christ is in the ship of the church, and there is no danger of shipwreck.

Standing for Prayer (continued)

The teaching of the Word of God, beyond all dispute, appoints standing as the most appropriate posture for public prayer.


It is written in 2 Samuel 7: 18 that King David went in, and “sat before the LORD” (cf. 1 Chronicles 17:16). This may mean no more than that he sat back while on his knees; but the Hebrew word here translated “sat” conveys the basic idea of “remaining” or “continuing” (as in Genesis 24:55 and 29:19), without any allusion to a particular posture. David spent time before God. That is not in dispute. But that he actually “sat” when in the exercise of prayer cannot be proved from this verse.

In the New Testament, Acts 2:1–2 records that “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” On the basis of this scripture, some have argued for sitting, rather than standing, in public prayer. But what is said here is only that when the Holy Spirit came, in that extraordinary and miraculous way, the disciples were sitting. It is important to notice that it is not said that they were praying. It may well have been that they were singing psalms or, more likely, that they were listening to Peter.

If we would have warrant for any given practice, we must make very sure that it is clear and certain warrant – and not just mere surmise or conjecture.


In the history of the Christian Church, many believers have faithfully held to the biblical teaching on posture and therefore have maintained the practice of standing in public prayer.

Justin Martyr (AD 155) observed that, after the minister had concluded his sermon, ‘they (the Christians of his day) rose up and offered their prayers to God’.

Origen, born around eighty-five years after the time of the Apostles, said at the close of one of his sermons, “Wherefore, standing up, let us beg help from God that we may be blessed of Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen”. At the close of another, he said, “Wherefore, rising up, let us pray to God that we may be made worthy of Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.”

Cyprian (died AD 258) exhorts that “when we stand to pray, we should watch and join in the prayers with our whole heart.”

Chrysostom (AD 347-407) refers to the form of the expression used when calling to prayer: “Let us stand in a becoming manner.”

Augustine (AD 354-430) wrote, “We pray standing, which is a sign of the resurrection”.

John Climacus (AD 570-640) writes, “Stand trembling during this prayer...”

In AD 325, The Council of Nice ordered that the churches everywhere should conform to the custom of standing in prayer: “That all things may be uniformly performed in every seems good to the holy synod that prayers be made to God standing.”

Joseph Hall, the godly Anglican (1574-1656), said, “God is Lord of my body also: and therefore challengeth as well reverent gestures inward devotion. I will ever, in my prayers, either stand, as a servant, before my Master; or kneel, as a subject, to my Prince.”

John Willison, the Scottish Minister, wrote in 1712 or 1713: “If weakness of nature require(s) a person to sit in time of public prayer, I do not quarrel it, but, when no just cause can be pleaded for it, I cannot say that it is a suitable posture at public worship. A lazy, sluggish posture in prayer tends to bring on sleep and drowsiness, and makes us forget what we are about; whereas, when we stand up, and universally change our position when public prayer begins, it helps to awaken people to think upon the solemn addresses they are making to the great God.”

Isaac Watts, the eighteenth century Independent Minister, taught in his book, “A Guide to Prayer”, that “standing is a posture not unfit for worship”, and he added that “standing seems to have been the common gesture of worship in a large and public assembly, 2 Chronicles 20:4,5, 13”. “I cannot think” says the Doctor, “that sitting, or other postures of rest and laziness, ought to be indulged in solemn seasons of prayer.”

Samuel Miller, an American Presbyterian and a Professor at Princeton Seminary, wrote in one of his books about “standing” in Prayer, and he said: ‘this it is well known, was the posture in the Church of Scotland; by our fathers, the Puritans, in England; and by the descendants of both on this side of the Atlantic. There is much to recommend this posture. We spontaneously rise in the presence of a superior. It is expressive of respect and reverence.”

Francis Wayland, a nineteenth century Baptist, makes mention of both kneeling and standing in prayer; but then he adds, “To stand is expressive of reverence, when we approach into the presence of God. To sit listlessly gazing around, when we profess to be offering up our supplications to God, can surely be justified neither by religion nor good taste.”

The practice has been retained in many congregations in Scotland and Ireland, but, sadly, in England, along with other departures, standing for prayer has for some time been discontinued. However, and thankfully, there are signs in some quarters of a growing concern for the purity of worship and, in consequence, there has been a return to the biblically recognized posture for public prayer. It is our prayer that other churches will follow the lead given and that soon we shall see a general reformation in this area.


Thomas Watson wrote, “posture in worship is too often imposture.” This, of course, is true, and great care should therefore be taken to ensure that when praying together we really do seek His face. It would be a very serious fault indeed if we glorified God with our bodies only, and not with our spirits (as required of us in 1 Corinthians 6:20).

Let us resolve to worship in a way that is pleasing to Him, being mindful of the counsel He has given in His Word. If He has taught us to stand, then we should stand in prayer. Of course we are mindful of the aged and the infirm who, although they might wish to stand with the congregation, cannot do so by reason of their physical weakness. They may sit, assured that the Lord accepts the “will” for the “deed”, “for if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted...” (2 Corinthians 8:12). To such the Lord says, as He once said to David, “thou didst well that it was in thine heart” (1 Kings 8:18).

As Samuel Miller once observed, “It is, undoubtedly, desirable that there be uniformity in our habits of worship. This uniformity is not likely to be attained or established without the employment of means for the purpose. Every Pastor is responsible for much in this respect, and has much in his power. Let him drop a hint in the pulpit, and let him impart a suggestion, now and then, to the young and old in his parochial visits, and he may generally arrest undesirable practices in the bud, and keep most external habits in the a state of decorum and order”.

Reformation is urgently needed, and some measure of uniformity is most desirable: therefore let us all consider the Scriptures, and then be found to be as the “doers of the word”. Whatever is done in the worship of Almighty God must never be done on account of preference, but always on account of obedience to His revealed Will. Although sitting for prayer is contemporary practice, standing is evidently required by the clear teaching of God’s written Word.

[ This article is a continuation of Standing for Prayer; both articles have been published in a single booklet. ]