Hymnus Deo

Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Christ Victorious

Nothing has to destroy your life, if Christ is risen.

-- Father Thomas Hopko

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thoughts on Halloween

Halloween is less than two weeks away, and most Christian families have already taken a position on whether or not to celebrate it. I’m not a family man, so I haven’t had to make the decision for anyone other than myself. I do have some thoughts on it, though.

Most Americans treat Halloween as they do other holidays – as a day to celebrate for no particular reason, according to traditional practices that people don’t know the origin or purpose of. If I had no other wish, I would that people actually recognized the significance of the days they observe, and questioned in an informed and intelligent fashion why they do what they do.

Halloween has historically been recognized a couple of different ways. The older form is as All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve. The other is, as it is in Reformation circles, as Reformation Day, because it is the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

I consider both observances as legitimate and compatible, though I know my Catholic brethren would disagree. And while I don’t think anything is wrong with the custom of putting on costumes and knocking on doors, of yelling “trick or treat” and getting candy, I wish that the average Christian home would seek a return to a recognition of this day as it historically has been, as a “holy day” – a day of celebration for God’s work in the lives of his saints. While I believe God can truly be honored through mindless fun, I think that an observance of the Church Calendar is irreplaceable as providing order, stability, purpose, and meaning in a Christian’s life as well as in the Christian family and community. I also believe that the Church Calendar is one of the greatest testimonies of Christ’s Kingdom, in showing that the kingdoms of this world are truly His. In observing the church calendar, we stand against the forces of paganism and secularism that seek to encroach upon more and more of our lives every day, and instead testify that we are Christ’s, that we belong to no other, and that every knee will one day bow to Him.

I would also like to add some thoughts on the “Holyween” or “Hallelujah” festivals that Evangelicals have the past few years taken to holding in an effort to provide an alternative to Halloween. I know some of these things have sprung up due to the fact that in many or most communities it is unsafe to take your children (or, in some cases of parental neglect, allowing them to go without a chaperone) to the doors of your neighbors for “trick or treat”. Part of the problem here lies in the fact that most of us don’t know our neighbors anymore. We choose rather to isolate ourselves in our houses whenever we are at home, which is growing more rare as the years go by. Increasingly, we are using our houses for little more than sleeping at night. (This is a subject worthy of its own blog entry, so I'll save further comment for another time.)

Another part of the problem lies in the fact that our country is growing more and more wicked. Insofar as the churches are simply seeking to protect children, I applaud them.

But there is a problem here in the approach. The Evangelical church has been largely secularized for years, giving up the culture to non-Christians to run. And those non-Christians have done their best to take our Holy Days and turn them into non-descript days of celebration for all to observe and exploit. Now the Evangelical church has realized (late, as usual) that they have a problem on their hands. The pagans have done with this what they always do – by removing God from the equation, they expose us to the gradual erosion and eventual disappearance of God’s Moral Law. They think they can maintain some vague notion of “civility” without God, and they have once again provided us with evidence that this isn’t possible.

Evangelicals, finding their children in danger as a formerly decent holiday becomes a celebration of death, are left scrambling and looking for answers. Some simply consider the holiday to be pagan and shut it out of their homes. Most try to set up alternatives at their local church. But Evangelicals meet with little success, and what success they meet with is of a fleeting character. With an incomplete understanding of the sufficiency of the work of Christ, they have allowed the pagan to “assume the center”, while they are off in the corner, acting as if Jesus isn’t really King. And with no historic understanding of the church, they are left to take what the pagans do for Halloween and “clean it up”.

The problems in this are manifold, but I’ve run out of time and I’ll have to pick this back up another day. For now, I would simply like to point Evangelicals back to the historic celebrations of the church. These are sufficient for what is needed.

For some more elaborate thoughts on Halloween, here is James Jordan’s essay about it.

Not Really a Music Recommendation

About a month ago, I expressed my intention to begin posting a weekly music recommendation here. After doing this once, it began to appear as if I had just laid another brick on the road to hell. In spite of my failure, I’m going to take another run at this. This week’s recommendation, though, will only be partly music.

Charlie Brown. Everybody loves the round-headed kid, that icon of the underdog in every one of us. And if you don’t think much of him any other time of year, I would expect that this is the season that you do.

The Peanuts cartoon specials have become as much a part of American pop culture as anything else. Most of America still looks each year in anticipation for the showing of the three most well known Charlie Brown specials: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; and A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’ve had people tell me that there’s just something special about making sure you’re home to catch them when they come on each year. But it seems like I miss them each year, so I bought them on DVD.

If you buy the boxed set, you get three additional shows: You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown; The Mayflower Voyagers; and It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. If there’s a dud in here, it’s The Mayflower Voyagers. It is a good cartoon introduction for children to the story of the English Separatists, their trip to America, and the first few months leading up to the first Thanksgiving. And there is no shying away from mentioning God or (though somewhat ambiguously) faith. But there is still a decidedly secularist cast to the program. The Peanuts characters are the children on the Mayflower, and while there is some humorous interaction between them, the dialogue is pretty poor. I think it is simply impossible for us sometimes to imagine what conversation would have been like between godly people like these – namely, the type of conversation in which God is assumed, believed, worshipped, and trusted, and in which the name and works of God flow from the tongue as easily as anything else. Schulz failed to really capture this aspect of the Pilgrims. In addition, while Miles Standish, Samoset, and Squanto are presented, there is no mention of William Bradford (whose Of Plymouth Plantation is our main source of information on the Pilgrims’ experience), or of Pastor John Robinson or Elder William Brewster. While the previous three were certainly important, this was a pursuit of religious freedom by people who considered themselves above all to be Christians, and the importance of the latter three godly men would have been just as great or greater to them. So while there’s nothing wrong with your children watching this one, don’t trust it to give them a fully accurate telling of the story.

So this is hardly a revolutionary recommendation. It’s not exactly some imported or hard-to-find cd. But you really need to own this, so I’m recommending it.

And while you’re at it, go ahead and buy the original A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I know there have been other versions of the songs recorded since, but I love the original. Buy it now before the stores sell out for Christmas. You’ll love it. Your friends and acquaintances will love it. You’ll win friends and influence people. Life will be great.

That’s my recommendations for this week. I hope to get back to music exclusively next week, but we’ll see what happens.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Watson on Affliction, Part X

(10). Afflictions work for good, as they make way for glory (2 Cor. iv. 17). Not that they merit glory, but they prepare for it. As ploughing prepares the earth for a crop, so afflictions prepare and make us meet for glory. The painter lays his gold upon dark colours, so God first lays the dark colours of affliction, and then He lays the golden colour of glory. The vessel is first seasoned before wine is poured into it: the vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in. Thus we see afflictions are not prejudicial, but beneficial, to the saints. We should not so much look at the evil of affliction, as the good; not so much at the dark side of the cloud, as the light. The worst that God does to His children is to whip them to heaven.

Occasional Riddle #5

What determines whether or not a ketchup is "fancy"?

Watson on Affliction, Part IX

(9). Afflictions work for good, as they put to silence the wicked. How ready are they to asperse and calumniate the godly, that they serve God only for self interest. Therefore God will have His people endure sufferings for religion, that He may put a padlock on the lying lips of wicked men. When the atheists of the world see that God has a people, who serve Him not for a livery, but for love, this stops their mouths. The devil accused Job of hypocrisy, that he was a mercenary man, all his religion was made up of ends of gold and silver. " Doth Job serve God for naught? Hast not thou made a hedge about him? " Etc. " Well, " says God, " put forth thy hand, touch his estate " (Job i. 9). The devil had no sooner received a commission, but he falls a breaking down Job's hedge; but still Job worships God (Job. i. 20), and professes his faith in Him. " Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him " (Job. xiii. 15). This silenced the devil himself. How it strikes a damp into wicked men, when they see that the godly will keep close to God in a suffering condition, and that, when they lose all, they yet will hold fast their integrity.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Watson on Affliction, Part VIII

(8.) Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. " Happy is the man whom God correcteth " (Job v. 17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. " Happy is the man whom God correcteth. "

It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom (2 Sam. xiv. 30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father (Luke xv. 13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Watson on Affliction, Part VII

(7). Afflictions work for good, as they are a magnifying of us. " What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest visit him every morning? " (Job vii. 17). God does by affliction magnify us three ways. (1st.) In that He will condescend so low as to take notice of us. It is an honour that God will mind dust and ashes. It is a magnifying of us, that God thinks us worthy to be smitten. God's not striking is a slighting: " Why should ye be stricken any more? " (Isa. i. 5). If you will go on in sin, take your course, sin yourselves into hell. (2nd.) Afflictions also magnify us, as they are ensigns of glory, signs of sonship. " If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons " (Heb. xii. 7). Every print of the rod is a badge of honour. (3rd.) Afflictions tend to the magnifying of the saints, as they make them renowned in the world. Soldiers have never been so admired for their victories, as the saints have been for their sufferings. The zeal and constancy of the martyrs in their trials have rendered them famous to posterity. How eminent was Job for his patience! God leaves his name upon record: " Ye have heard of the patience of Job " (James v. 11). Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander the conqueror.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tannahill Weavers in concert

Next Saturday, October 14, the traditional Scottish band Tannahill Weavers will be performing at the Arts Center in Carrboro, NC, beginning at 8:30 pm. If you’ve never heard the Tannahill Weavers, you’re missing out on the best Scottish music around.

Be there or be English.

Watson on Affliction, Part VI

(6). Afflictions work for good, as they make way for comfort. " In the valley of Achor is a door of hope " (Hos. ii. 15). Achor signifies trouble. God sweetens outward pain with inward peace. " Your sorrow shall be turned into joy'' (John xvi. 20). Here is the water turned into wine. After a bitter pill, God gives sugar. Paul had his prison songs. God's rod has honey at the end of it. The saints in affliction have had such sweet raptures of joy, that they thought themselves in the borders of the heavenly Canaan.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Watson on Affliction, Part V

(5). Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of loosening our hearts from the world. When you dig away the earth from the root of a tree, it is to loosen the tree from the earth: so God digs away our earthly comforts to loosen our hearts from the earth. A thorn grows up with every flower. God would have the world hang as a loose tooth which, being twitched away does not much trouble us. Is it not good to be weaned? The oldest saints need it. Why does the Lord break the conduit pipe, but that we may go to Him, in whom are " all our fresh springs " (Psalm lxxxvii. 7).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Of Visions and Revelations

…I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:1

Those that know me know that I am about as non-Charismatic as they come. This is true by my practices in worship, no matter who I’m worshipping with. I’ve never raised my hands in worship, for instance, even when worshipping with Charismatic folks - unless it was to scratch my head.

This is also true in my theology. I grew up in a church that was Cessationist in its viewpoint, meaning that they believed that certain gifts that they called the “sign gifts” ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture around the end of the first century. Those sign gifts, in their view, included things like miraculous healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, and discernment of spirits. These were supposedly in existence for the purpose of supporting the church in its infant stages, but, when the perfect came (as they interpret I Cor. 13:10), these gifts ceased. I have for the most part adopted this viewpoint.

I have had some variation in this through the years, though, as I have come to have a broader view of God’s working in the world. I think my cessationist friends would agree with me that God actually heals miraculously sometimes. I think the problem with the cessationist view is more foundational, though. Without knowing it, the Christian who takes this line has adopted a basically Deistic approach to viewing the world, which says that God only steps in every once in a while to tamper with what He created. Otherwise, the world has continued on since He first created and stepped away from it, leaving it to operate by itself according to Naturalistic principles. It seems to me that the Reformed doctrine of Providence specifically counters this idea. God is always active in the world, down to the smallest detail, taking it the direction moment by moment that He wants it to go. Then again, one has to be a Calvinist to believe that, and most Evangelicals aren’t Calvinists or are at least inconsistent in their Calvinism. But I’m digressing from my topic.

Another hit to my cessationism has been through my adopting a Sacramental view of the world. This is really just an extension of what I just addressed. God, through the work of His Second Person, has procured salvation for all His people. He then extends the fullness of that salvation to them in this world through sacramental means. This is, as the Reformed theologians have taught us, primarily through the means of grace given to the Church, but, as Doug Wilson has pointed out in his book Mother Kirk, this is broader than just the means of grace as they are traditionally defined. All of the world is sacramental, in that it communicates or delivers salvation to the one being saved.

I haven’t generally thought about these things in relation to cessationism, however. The question of what spiritual gifts continue today and in what capacity they continue is a question I have yet to address sufficiently in my theological studies, and I recognize it as a gap in my thinking. I have known of Reformed theologians who are decidedly non-cessationist. One immediately thinks of John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Gordon Fee, and the late David Chilton. I also think of James Jordan who, in his book The Sociology of the Church, proposes that God can and occasionally does work “language miracles” today. Although Jordan would probably still classify himself as a cessationist, he distinguishes the speaking of tongues that took place before the establishing of the canon and these “language miracles” he speaks of. Jordan rightly connects the developments that have taken place in the lands most impacted by the Reformation to the rationalism and mechanism of the Newtonian world view. It is no coincidence that Newton himself rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

I also know that a number of theologians both past and present have addressed these issues. Some of their books are on my shelves, relatively untouched.

There have been those who claimed to have a conversion of sorts to the Charismatic movement and have later recanted it. Dave Hunt, who documented his own Charismatic experience in his book Confessions of a Heretic (or so I am told – I haven’t read the book), is an example of this.

My church background was somewhat inconsistent in its teaching on this. I was taught that I was to be led by the Spirit, and this was cast in terms that were decidedly Charismatic, although my fellow church members didn’t recognize this and wouldn’t have admitted it. In fact, the worship of the Plymouth Brethren is based around the principle that the Holy Spirit would lead worship himself rather than any man. But with the idea of free will running around, this caused no small measure of confusion. I was to listen for “the still, small voice” of God in prayer, a misappropriation of Elijah’s experience (I Kings 19:12) if I’ve ever heard one. I tried listening for that still small voice, believing as I had been taught that that was the way God would communicate to me. When I didn’t hear it, I believed that it was because I wasn’t holy enough, and that there was some unconfessed sin in my life. This was a source of much unnecessary emotional struggle in my young adult life. I later discovered that I wasn’t the only one to suffer under this sort of teaching. Here are a couple of articles that address these very issues, and they are articles that I would still recommend to anyone considering these things.

Having said this, I have had unusual experiences in my life that I have been unable to explain and that have left me wondering how they fit into God’s normal means of working in the world. Sometimes these seemed to be sudden and profound spiritual workings of God in my life. Sometimes these have seemed to be sudden spiritual afflictions of the “principalities and powers”, as Paul refers to them. These have been very rare in my life, but they have happened. I won’t relate the specifics. I can’t say I’ve always known why those things happened. In fact, maybe I’ve never really known. I haven’t ever been able to nail those experiences down theologically.

The reason I raise all this now is two-fold. I have a friend who had a serious emotional experience recently through which God communicated something very important to him. I won’t go into the details here, but the nature of the situation gave the clear impression that this wasn’t just something the guy ate for lunch coming back to haunt him. God actually seemed to tell him something that he wouldn’t have known apart from some miraculous revelation.

The other reason is an experience I just had earlier this week, being an unusual dream experience. Now unusual dreams, especially right before I get up, are nothing uncommon for me. One morning a few weeks ago, right before I woke up, I was dreaming I was sitting on what appeared to be a college campus listening to Ravi Zacharias speaking in the open air. As it turns out, my clock radio had come on and Ravi’s radio show was on. My mind had simply brought this into the dream.

This dream, however, was a bit more unusual, as I think you’ll see. In the dream, I was at what seemed to be a retreat center of sorts. I was there with some friends, and we had met there to talk about some serious matters that remained undefined in the dream. This part of the dream I could make sense of. I had had a similar experience over the weekend, and this was just turning up again in my dream. At this point, the setting in the dream shifted somewhat, as dreams often do. It turned out that I was actually at the Bible camp that I grew up at as a child and worked at as an adult. I then went into the chapel where worship and Bible classes were held. The dream chapel was different from the real chapel, however. It was definitely the same chapel, but much larger, more the size of a small auditorium. It had the same floor, the same folding chairs, and the same cinder block walls. And pretty close to the same color paint.

Worship was about to begin. The room was full of people. I was up front by the stage where those who led worship would be standing. At the camp I grew up at, I began to help leading the singing in my later teen years. So I spent a lot of time on the stage, and therefore my being there in the dream made sense. In the dream, I started to go get my guitar (which apparently wasn’t with me). Realizing that worship was starting and that I wouldn’t have time to get it, I sat down off to the side of the stage next to a girl in a group of people. It turned out to be a girl that I had had a crush on during my teen years. This girl was one of the few girls that I had ever regarded as being godly. And to this day, she still is. She and I have hardly ever spoken even until now. But I always admired her from afar. The strange thing about this is that through the years I attended the camp, she hardly ever came. After I first saw her, I always hoped she’d be there at the next year of camp, and she never was again until we were young adults. When we met again, I was recovering from a breakup, and we didn’t really seem to hit it off. She has since married, and in the dream I was aware of that.

During worship at the camp, we would at best have two or three guitarists and maybe a pianist. In the dream, however, there was a whole worship team on the stage, complete with male and female singers. Everybody in the room stood up as they began to sing. Normally with music in my dreams I wouldn’t actually hear a song, I would just know music was playing. But in this dream, I actually heard the song. Strangely, it wasn’t a song I think we ever sang at camp. It was instead a song we sang when I served at His Mansion Ministries. It is called You Are Worthy of My Praise. It is sung in a round, with the men taking the initial line and the women echoing immediately with the same line. And the men and women in the chapel were singing the parts in my dream. I haven’t heard that song in years, and I never play it on guitar. I don’t even like praise and worship music anymore. So this was a bit strange too. To add a bit of kookiness to the dream, the men were dancing and signing the lyrics to the song as they sang. I guess there had to be some humor in there somewhere.

And then I woke up. During the worship scene and right after I woke up I found myself overwhelmed with feelings of longing for those things from my past. And I guess all this would have been bizarre enough if not for what happened right after I awoke. I hadn’t been awake for a minute when, in my sleepy stupor, these verses popped into my head:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

It was verse fifteen in particular that I thought of, though I didn’t have any of these memorized, and the passage was vague in mind. I hadn’t read Hebrews recently, and, so far as I can remember, I haven’t heard it read in church or on the radio recently either. Considering that I hadn’t heard them or read them recently, the fact that these verses came immediately to mind was the strangest part of the whole event. I would have counted the dream as being like any other aside from this.

So, what should I make of all this? Was God attempting to communicate something to me through this? Obviously the more Charismatic of us would say “yes”. And the cessationist would say “no”. And a whole bunch of people in between wouldn’t know what to say.

Do I think that God was attempting to communicate to me through this? The best answer I’ve been able to come up with as I’ve thought about it is, “Yes. I think. I’m not entirely sure. Maybe.”

I know that the past several years for me since I left the church I grew up at have been difficult in their own way. I have moved from church to church, just looking for a place I could call home. I have often felt like Adam as God brought the animals to him to name. Adam finished naming them all, and not a one of them was a suitable mate for him. And I haven’t found the church that I really feel like is suitable for me. Ending the analogy here, I’ve just dealt with each situation as best I could while I was in it.

I’ve never really regretted leaving my home church. I wouldn’t go back there. But I left much security, much certainty, and much community behind, and I wish I could have it again. But in a larger sense, I didn’t leave a church behind - I left who I was behind. This wasn’t such a voluntary thing. If I was going to mature, I had to leave. I had no idea it would lead to such a wandering in the wilderness. But I still wouldn’t go back.

Having said all of this, the best I have been able to make out of my experience is this: God has His hand on me. He is taking me to a better country than the one I left. And I may never live to see the fruit of anything I’ve done in this life. But those things done in the name of Christ and for the sake of His kingdom shall not fail, but shall serve to accomplish the goal they are purposed for. And I can rest assured that this is true.

But, as I’ve said, this is the best I can make out of the experience. I’m not going to change my theology over what happened to me. I’m not going to start attending the local Pentecostal church because of this. God has left this, as he has other experiences in my life, hidden behind a veil of mystery. If He wants to lift that veil, He can do it at any time. And until He sees fit to do that, I will strive to continue according to the truth I know from His word. That is sufficient.

Watson on Affliction, Part IV

(4). Afflictions work for good to the godly, as they are destructive to sin. Sin is the mother, affliction is the daughter; the daughter helps to destroy the mother. Sin is like the tree that breeds the worm, and affliction is like the worm that eats the tree. There is much corruption in the best heart: affliction does by degrees work it out, as the fire works out the dross from the gold, "This is all the fruit, to take away his sin" (Isa. xxvii. 9). What if we have more of the rough file, if we have less rust! Afflictions carry away nothing but the dross of sin. If a physician should say to a patient, "Your body is distempered, and full of bad humours, which must be cleared out, or you die; but I will prescribe physic (1) which, though it may make you sick, yet it will carry away the dregs of your disease, and save your life" : would not this be for the good of the patient? Afflictions are the medicine which God uses to carry off our spiritual diseases; they cure the timpani (2) of pride, the fever of lust, the dropsy of covetousness. Do they not then work for good?

(1) Medicine.
(2) A tumour, a swelling.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I don’t get what’s up with the current obsession by a certain portion of our society with small dogs. You know which ones I’m talking about. The tiny ones. The ankle biters. The toe snappers. That’s the dogs, not the ones obsessed with them. And, of course, you know who the “certain portion of our society” is. I’ll say no more.

I was on my way to church this past Sunday when I passed by a lady with one of these dogs in her car. She was driving one of those cars just a hair smaller than the QE II – I think it was a Cadillac. She was steering the car with one hand and holding her dog in the other. Which makes sense, of course. When transporting a small dog in a car, there’s no safer place for it than carefully sandwiched between the driver and the steering wheel. I guess if you wanted to do one better, you could just strap that puppy to the front bumper. Everybody knows that the majority of people injured in a car accident are inside the car at the moment of impact. (And dogs are people, too.) Then again, I guess it’s kind of hard to keep the warm fuzzies going with half a ton of steel between you and your poochie-woochie.

It occurred to me later that she was probably on her way to one of those “Blessing of the Animals” services. At the rate that dog’s life was going, it needed some blessing.

Watson on Affliction, Part III

(3). Afflictions work for good, as they conform us to Christ. God's rod is a pencil to draw Christ's image more lively upon us. It is good that there should be symmetry and proportion between the Head and the members. Would we be parts of Christ's mystical body, and not like Him? His life, as Calvin says, was a series of sufferings, " a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief " (Isa. liii. 3). He wept, and bled. Was His head crowned with thorns, and do we think to be crowned with roses? It is good to be like Christ, though it be by sufferings. Jesus Christ drank a bitter cup, it made Him sweat drops of blood to think of it; and, though it be true He drank the poison in the cup (the wrath of God) yet there is some wormwood in the cup left, which the saints must drink: only here is the difference between Christ's sufferings and ours; His were satisfactory (1), ours are only castigatory (2).

(1)To make satisfaction for (pay the price of) sin.
(2)By way of chastisement.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Watson on Affliction, Part II

(2). Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making the heart more upright. In prosperity the heart is apt to be divided (Hos. x. 2). The heart cleaves partly to God, and partly to the world. It is like a needle between two loadstones: God draws, and the world draws. Now God takes away the world, that the heart may cleave more to Him in sincerity. Correction is a setting the heart right and straight. As we sometimes hold a crooked rod over the fire to straighten it; so God holds us over the fire of affliction to make us more straight and upright. Oh, how good it is, when sin has bent the soul awry from God, that affliction should straighten it again!