Quotations for February, 2004
Sunday, February 1, 2004
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525
There is a cowardice in this age which is not Christian. We shrink from the consequences of truth. We look round and cling dependently. We ask what men will think; what others will say—whether they will not stare in astonishment. Perhaps they will; but he who is calculating that, will accomplish nothing in this life. The Father—the Father which is with us and in us—what does He think? God’s work cannot be done without a spirit of independence. A man is got some way in the Christian life when he has learned to say humbly and yet majestically, “I dare to be alone.”
... Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853), Sermons, v. I, Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1861, v. 1, p.238
(see the book; more at Attitudes)
Monday, February 2, 2004
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
The church has severely under-estimated the fundamental antagonism between Christianity and contemporary neo-pagan values.
... Max Champion, “The Religious Crisis of Western Civilisation”
(more at Social)
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
Only when a man tries to live the divine life can the divine Christ manifest Himself to him. Therefore, the true way for you to find Christ is not to go groping in a thousand books. It is not for you to try evidences about a thousand things that people have believed of Him, but it is for you to undertake so great a life, so devoted a life, so pure a life, so serviceable a life, that you cannot do it except by Christ, and then see whether Christ helps you. See then whether there comes to you the certainty that you are a child of God, and the manifestation of the child of God becomes the most credible, the most certain thing to you in all of history.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Addresses, Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1895, p. 53
(see the book; see also John 11:25,26; more at Authenticity, Belief, Book, Certainty, Christ, Devotion, God, Life, Purity, Revelation)
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189
I love poverty because He loved it. I love riches because they afford me the means of helping the very poor. I keep faith with everybody; I do not render evil to those who wrong me, but I wish them a situation like mine, in which I receive neither good nor evil from men. I try to be just, true, sincere, and faithful to all men; I have a tender heart for those to whom God has more closely united me; and whether I am alone, or seen by people, I do all my actions in the sight of God, who must judge them, and to whom I have consecrated them all.These are my sentiments; and every day of my life, I bless my Redeemer, who has implanted them in me, and who, out of a man full of weakness, of miseries, of lust, of pride, and of ambition, has made a man free from all these evils by the power of His grace, to which all the glory of it is due, as of myself I have only misery and error.
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) , P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #550, p. 178
(see the book; see also Job 29:11-16; Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:30; 11:41; 14:12-14; Gal. 6:10; Jas. 2:5; more at Ambition, Blessing, Error, Faith, Jesus, Love, Poverty, Pride, Sincerity, Weakness, Wealth)
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597
Pardon comes not to the soul alone, or rather, Christ comes not to the soul with pardon only; it is that which He opens the door and enters by, but He comes with a Spirit of life and power.
... John Owen (1616-1683), An Exposition upon Psalm CXXX , in Works of John Owen, v. VI, New York: R. Carter & Bros., 1851, p. 535
(see the book; see also Ps. 130:4; Acts 2:38; more at Christ, Door, Forgiveness, Life, Power, Soul, Spirit)
Friday, February 6, 2004
Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were, at least, far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbours, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild.
... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), The Everlasting Man, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925, Wilder Publications, 2008, p. 201
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:36; more at Duty, Fire, Historical, Meekness, Philosophy, Social)
Saturday, February 7, 2004
One of Paul’s most important teachings... is the doctrine of what we call “justification by faith.” It frequently appears to the non-Christian mind that this is an immoral or at least unmoral doctrine. Paul appears to be saying that a man is justified before God, not by his goodness or badness, not by his good deeds or bad deeds, but by believing in a certain doctrine of Atonement.Of course, when we come to examine the matter more closely, we can see that there is nothing unmoral in this teaching at all. For if “faith” means using a God-given faculty to apprehend the unseen divine order, and means, moreover, involving oneself in that order by personal commitment, we can at once see how different that is from merely accepting a certain view of Christian redemption... That which man in every religion, every century, every country, was powerless to effect, God has achieved by the devastating humility of His action and suffering in Jesus Christ. Now, accepting such an action as a fait accompli is only possible by this perceptive faculty of “faith.” It requires not merely intellectual assent but a shifting of personal trust from the achievements of the self to the completely undeserved action of God. To accept this teaching by mind and heart does, indeed, require a metanoia [Gr. “transformation”], a revolution in the outlook of both heart and mind.
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), New Testament Christianity, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1956, chapt. iv, p. 45-46
(see the book; see also Rom. 12:2; more at Atonement, Faith, Heart, Justification, Mind)
Sunday, February 8, 2004
Some misapprehension, I say, some obliquity, or some slavish adherence to old prejudices, may thus cause us to refuse the true interpretation, but we are none the less bound to refuse and wait for more light. To accept that as the will of our Lord which to us is inconsistent with what we learned to worship in him already, is to introduce discord into that harmony whose end is to unite our hearts, and make them whole.“Is it for us,” says the objector who, by some sleight of will, believes in the word apart from the meaning for which it stands, “to judge the character of our Lord?” I answer, “This very thing he requires of us.” He requires of us that we should do Him no injustice. He would come and dwell with us, if we would but open our chambers to receive Him. How shall we receive Him if, avoiding judgment, we hold this or that daub of authority or tradition hanging upon our walls to be the real likeness of our Lord?
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “It Shall Not Be Forgiven”, in Unspoken Sermons [First Series], London: A. Strahan, 1867, p. 68-69
(see the book; see also Matt. 12:31,32; Luke 12:10; more at Knowing God)
Monday, February 9, 2004
A life devoted unto God, looking wholly unto Him in all our actions, and doing all things suitably to His glory, is so far from being dull, and uncomfortable, that it creates new comforts in everything that we do.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life , London: Methuen, 1899, p. 183
(see the book; see also Ps. 23:5; more at Comfort, Conversion, Devotion, Dullness, God, Life)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543
As the great test of medical practice is that it heals the patient, so the great test of preaching is that it converts and builds up the hearers.
... Herman L. Wayland (1830-1898)
(see the book; see also Acts 20:28,32; more at Church, Conversion, Strength, Trial)
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
He has great tranquillity of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ , Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, II.vi.2, p. 93
(see the book; see also Ps. 11:4; 139:1; Pr. 25:27; Matt. 6:1-2; Luke 16:15; John 5:41-44; 7:18; 12:42-43; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4-7; 1 Tim. 1:5; 3:9; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; more at Contentment, Gold, Holiness, Tranquility)
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Were Christians duly instructed how many lesser differences, in mind, and judgment, and practice, are really consistent with the nature, ends, and genuine fruit of the unity that Christ requires among them, it would undoubtedly prevail with them so as to manage themselves in their differences, by mutual forbearance and condescension in their love, as not to contract the guilt of being disturbers or breakers of it... To speak plainly, among all the churches in the world which are free from idolatry and persecution, it is not different opinions, nor a difference in judgment about revealed truths, nor a different practice in sacred administrations, but pride, self-interest, love of honour, reputation, and dominion, with the influence of civil or political intrigues and considerations, that are the true cause of that defect of evangelical unity that is at this day amongst them.
... John Owen (1616-1683), A Discourse Concerning Evangelical Love , in Works of John Owen, v. XV, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1851, P. 113
(see the book; see also Eph. 4:4-6; more at Church)
Friday, February 13, 2004
Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification; and as without this, without holiness, no man shall see God, though he pore whole nights upon his Bible; so without that, without humility, no man shall hear God speak to his soul, though he hear three two-hours’ sermons every day.
... John Donne (1573-1631), Works of John Donne, vol. I, London: John W. Parker, 1839, p. 149
(see the book; see also Ps. 25:8-9; Matt. 11:15; John 10:10; Rom. 12:3; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:4; 5:5; more at Bible, Holiness, Humility, Knowing God, Sanctification, Sermon)
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
I will tell you what to hate. Hate hypocrisy—hate cant—hate intolerance, oppression, injustice—hate Pharisaism. Hate them as Christ hated them, with a deep, living, godlike hatred.
... Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853), Sermons, v. II, Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1861, p. 253
(see the book; see also Matt. 23:27,28; more at Legalism)
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
The fortitude of a Christian consists in patience,... not in enterprises which the poets call heroic, and which are commonly the effects of interest, pride, and worldly honor.
... John Dryden (1631-1700), The Poetical Works of John Dryden, v. II, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909, p. 288
(see the book; see also 1 Thess. 5:14; more at Patience)
Monday, February 16, 2004
Perfection does not consist in the knowledge of God’s order, but in submission to it. The order of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the action of God, grace—all these are one and the same thing in this life... Perfection is nothing else than the faithful cooperation of the soul with the work of God. This ultimate purpose of our life grows and increases in our souls secretly and without our knowledge.
... Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751), Abandonment to Divine Providence, I.i.4
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:48; 12:50; Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 3:12; Jas. 1:22; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; more at Cooperation, Faith, God, Knowledge, Life, Perfection, Purpose, Will of God)
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
Prodigal sons, forgiven and reconciled with their heavenly Father—could they do other than forgive one another? A fellowship of prodigal sons came into being—the Church of Christ. Love begets love. A new power ... was let loose upon our suffering world, the power to love those who have not deserved love, the unworthy, the unlovely and unlovable, a man’s enemies, and even his torturers. Christians, in imitation of the Saviour, became, as it were, Christs to one another and to the world.
... Theodore O. Wedel (1892-1970), The Holy Catholic Church, Cincinnati: Forward Movement Publications, 19--, p. 6
(see the book; see also Eph. 1:18-21; Matt. 9:10-13; 11:19; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32; 7:36-38; 15:1-2; 19:1-10; John 13:34; Rom. 5:8; 12:21; 14:13; more at Christ, Church, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Love, Power, Prodigal, Reconciliation, Savior, Son, World)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Jeremiah refutes the popular, modern notion that the end of religion is an integrated personality, freed of its fears, its doubts, and its frustrations. Certainly Jeremiah was no integrated personality. It is doubtful if... he ever knew the meaning of the word “peace.” We have no evidence that his internal struggle was ever ended, although the passing years no doubt brought an increasing acceptance of destiny. Jeremiah, if his “confessions” are any index, needed a course in pastoral psychiatry in the very worst way... The feeling cannot be escaped that if Jeremiah had been integrated, it would have been at the cost of ceasing to be Jeremiah! A man at peace simply could not be a Jeremiah. Spiritual health is good; mental assurance is good; but the summons of faith is neither to an integrated personality nor to the laying by of all questions, but to the dedication of personality—with all its fears and questions—to its duty and destiny under God.
... John Bright (b. 1908), The Kingdom of God, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1953, p. 120
(see the book; see also Jer. 9:25-26; 15:10; Hos. 1:2; Matt. 10:34-36; Luke 12:49-53; John 7:40-49; Acts 14:1-6; Rom. 2:28-29; 2 Cor. 11:23-27; more at Bible, Confession, Destiny, Doubt, Duty, Fear, God, Peace, Religion, Struggle)
Thursday, February 19, 2004
It is common to hear churchmen speak as though they did not really regard Christian unity as a serious question this side of the End. This is a disastrous illusion. Christians cannot behave as though time were unreal. God gives us time, but not an infinite amount of time. It is His purpose that the Gospel should be preached to all nations, and that all men should be brought into one family in Jesus Christ. His purpose looks to a real End, and therefore requires of us real decisions. If we misconstrue His patience, and think that there is an infinity of time for debate while we perpetuate before the world the scandal of our dismemberment of the Body of Christ, we deceive ourselves. In an issue concerning the doing of the will of God there is no final neutrality.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Reunion of the Church, London: SCM Press, 1960, p. xiii-xiv
(see the book; see also Matt. 11:15; John 17:20,21; more at Church)
Friday, February 20, 2004
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
Christ did not enchant men; He demanded that they believe in Him: except on one occasion, the Transfiguration. For a brief while, Peter, James, and John were permitted to see Him in His glory. For that brief while they had no need of faith. The vision vanished, and the memory of it did not prevent them from all forsaking Him when He was arrested, or Peter from denying that he had ever known Him.
... W. H. Auden (1907-1973), A Certain World, London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 150
(see the book; see also 2 Pet. 1:17-18; Matt.13:58; 17:1-8; 26:33-35,69-75; Mark 6:5-6; 9:2-9; 14:29-31,66-72; Luke 9:28-36; 22:31-34,55-62; John 1:14; 13:36-38; 18:17-18,25-27; Rom. 11:19-21; Heb. 3:12; Rev. 1:13-18; more at Belief, Betrayal, Faith, Glory, Jesus, Sight, Vision)
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Newton, Pascal, Bossuet, Racine, Fénelon—that is to say, some of the most enlightened men on earth, in the most philosophical of all ages—have been believers in Jesus Christ; and the great Condé, when dying, repeated these noble words, “Yes, I shall see God as He is, face to face!”
... Vauvenargues (1715-1747), quoted in Luc de Clapiers: Marquis de Vauvenargues, May Graham Wallas, University Press, 1928, p. 174
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 13:12; more at Historical)
Sunday, February 22, 2004
The secular university is scandalized by the claims of revelation. Those who have, for whatever historical reasons, become seekers-on-principle, cannot tolerate the allegation that truth is a gift. To have to receive offends those who have determined to take.
... Louis Mackey (1926-2004)
(see also Jas. 1:17; more at Education)
Monday, February 23, 2004
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
There can be no end without means; and God furnishes no means that exempt us from the task and duty of joining our own best endeavors. The original stock, or wild olive tree, of our natural powers, was not given to us to be burnt or blighted, but to be grafted on.
... Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), The Friend: a series of essays, London: Gale & Curtis, 1812, p. 373
(see the book; see also Rom. 11:17-21; more at Weakness)
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
After a trip to Mexico [in 1984]... I fell ill... The illness was protracted... I suffered a mild depression... When [an episcopal priest] prayed for my recovery, I choked up and wept. The only prayer I knew word for word was the Pater Noster. On that day and in the days after it, I found myself repeating the Lord’s Prayer, again and again, and meaning every word of it. Quite suddenly, when I was awake one night, a light dawned on me, and I realized what had happened... After many years of affirming God’s existence and trying to give adequate reasons for that affirmation, I found myself believing in God.
... Mortimer J. Adler (1902-2001), quoted in Philosophers Who Believe, Kelly James Clark, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993, p. 215-216
(see the book; see also John 4:41; more at Historical)
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
As the wife of a state Supreme Court justice in Arkansas put it, “My husband has been a Methodist all his life, but if it comes to choosing between being a Methodist and an American, he’ll be an American every time.” But this was not the issue, quite. In this case the choice was between being a good Methodist and a good American, and being a tribal religionist. But the theological problem of churches without discipline comes into stark outline in the quotation. Inadequately trained for membership, admitted without preparatory training, without the proper instruments of voluntary discipline, many members have never had the discontinuity between life in Christ and life in the world brought home to them. Here the ordinary members are less at fault than the leadership of the churches, who—though sworn to uphold the form of sound words and doctrine—neglect catechetical instruction and concentrate solely on the acquisition of more new members at any price.
... Franklin H. Littell (1917-2009), From State Church to Pluralism, Chicago: Aldine Publishers, 1962, reprinted by Transaction Publishers, 2007, p. 134
(see the book; see also Matt. 21:23-27; more at Church)
Thursday, February 26, 2004
The most perfect way of seeking God, and the most suitable order, is not for us to attempt with bold curiosity to penetrate to the investigation of His essence, which we ought more to adore than meticulously to search out, but for us to contemplate Him in His works, whereby He renders Himself near and familiar to us, and in some manner communicates Himself.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I , tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, I.v.9, p. 65
(see the book; see also Ps. 111:2; Gen. 1:31; Ps. 8:3-4; 92:4-5; 104:24; 139:14; Eccl. 3:11,14; Jer. 10:12; Eph. 2:6-7; more at Contemplation, God, Knowing God, Search, Way)
Friday, February 27, 2004
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?My God, no hymn for Thee?My soul’s a shepherd too: a flock it feedsOf thoughts, and words, and deeds.The pasture is Thy Word, the streams, Thy GraceEnriching all the place.Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powersOut-sing the daylight hours.Then we will chide the sun for letting nightTake up his place and right:We sing one common Lord; wherefore he shouldHimself the candle hold.I will go searching, till I find a sunShall stay, till we have done;A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,As frost-nipt suns look sadly.Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,And one another pay:His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,Till ev’n his beams sing, and my music shine.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 102
(see the book; see also Luke 2:20; more at Cheer, Day, Gladness, God, Music, Search, Silence, Song, Worship)
Saturday, February 28, 2004
All theological language is necessarily analogical, but it was singularly unfortunate that the Church, in speaking of punishment for sin, should have chosen the analogy of criminal law, for the analogy is incompatible with the Christian belief in God as the creator of Man.Criminal laws are laws-for, imposed on men, who are already in existence, with or without their consent, and, with the possible exception of capital punishment for murder, there is no logical relation between the nature of a crime and the penalty inflicted for committing it.If God created man, then the laws of man’s spiritual nature must, like the laws of his physical nature, be laws-of—laws, that is to say, which he is free to defy but no more free to break than he can break the law of gravity by jumping out of the window, or the laws of biochemistry by getting drunk—and the consequences of defying them must be as inevitable and as intrinsically related to their nature as a broken leg or a hangover.To state spiritual laws in the imperative—Thou shalt love God with all thy being, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself—is simply a pedagogical technique, as when a mother says to her small son, “Stay away from the window!” because the child does not yet know what will happen if he falls out of it.
... W. H. Auden (1907-1973), A Certain World, London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 180-181
(see the book; see also Deut. 6:4-5; Rom. 7:14-23; 8:1-2; Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11; more at Freedom, God, Knowledge, Law, Love, Man, Nature, Punishment, Sin, Theology)
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Lord, before I commit a sin, it seems to me so shallow, that I may wade through it dry-shod from any guiltiness: but when I have committed it, it often seems so deep that I cannot escape without drowning.
... Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), Good Thoughts in Bad Times , Chicago: United Society of Christian Endeavor, Boston, 1898, “Personal Meditations”, VII
(see the book; see also Ps. 130:1-5; more at Conscience, Guilt, Sin)
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