Quotations for February, 2007
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525
We can all call to mind movements which have begun as pure upsurges of fresh spiritual vitality, breaking through and revolting against the hardened structure of the older body, and claiming, in the name of the Spirit, liberty from outward forms and institutions. And we have seen how rapidly they develop their own forms, their own structures of thought, of language, and of organization. It would surely be a very unbiblical view of human nature and history to think—as we so often, in our pagan way, do—that this is just an example of the tendency of all things to slide down from a golden age to an age of iron, to identify the spiritual with the disembodied, and to regard visible structure as equivalent to sin. We must rather recognise here a testimony to the fact that Christianity is, in its very heart and essence, not a disembodied spirituality, but life in a visible fellowship, a life which makes such total claim upon us, and so engages our total powers, that nothing less than the closest and most binding association of men with one another can serve its purpose.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Household of God, London, SCM Press, 1953, New York: Friendship Press, 1954, p. 76-77
(see the book; see also Matt. 13:45,46; 18:20; 1 Cor. 12:12,13; Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 1:7; more at Church)
Friday, February 2, 2007
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
Persons that are well affected to religion, that receive instructions of piety with pleasure and satisfaction, often wonder how it comes to pass that they make no greater progress in that religion which they so much admire.Now the reason of it is this: it is because religion lives only in their head, but something else has possession of their heart; and therefore they continue from year to year mere admirers and praisers of piety, without ever coming up to the reality and perfection of its precepts.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life , London: Methuen, 1899, p. 93
(see the book; see also Eze. 36:26; Hos. 13:6; Acts 28:26,27; Rom. 1:21; more at Authenticity, Heart, Instruction, Perfection, Progress, Religion, Year)
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
But sons who are more generously and candidly treated by their fathers do not hesitate to offer them incomplete and halfdone and even defective works, trusting that their obedience and readiness of mind will be accepted by their fathers, even though they have not quite achieved what their fathers intended. Such children ought we to be, firmly trusting that our services will be approved by our most merciful Father, however small, rude, and imperfect these may be.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.xix.5, p. 65
(see the book; see also James 1:25; more at Obedience)
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189
Christ became ever more and more painfully convinced that men did not know God. They can’t, He said, or they could not live as they are doing. Some of them are so anxious and worried, with all God’s care and strength and love to lean against! They cannot know of it, and be so fidgety and nervous as they are. Some of them are afraid. Their consciences have drawn so grim a picture of Him that fearfully they shrink out of His presence, wish there were not God! Frightened of God, with His free and full and eager forgiveness, with His incredible generosity, with His compassionate heart that nobody can sour into ill-will, do what he may. And even the best of them are not quite sure. Their faith at most is but a timorous hope, and a trembling perhaps; no more. Often in the Synagogue He had watched them sobbing out their penitential psalms and begging God to turn from anger and be gracious toward them... And it amazed Christ. Look at His sun, He cries, how it streams down in all its midday fullness on the most unworthy, and at the rain, how it falls healingly upon the fields of the least grateful, and how He keeps thrusting His benefits and blessings into the most soiled hands, loading the most impossible people with His kindnesses. If only I could make them see God as He really is: if only they could realize that He is their Father, that what their own child is to them, that and far more, each of them is to Him.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 102
(see the book; see also Matt. 7:9-11; John 10:10; more at Child, Christ, Conscience, Faith, Father, Fullness, God, Gratitude, Hope, Knowing God, Life, Rain, Strength)
Monday, February 5, 2007
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597
It is not true that the assertion of spiritual principle is vain because we can not see at the moment how to express that principle in action. It would assuredly make a difference if Christians, in their approach one to another, realized that, in spite of appearances, they were in fact one. If, in their seeking after external reunion, they realized that they were seeking not to create a unity which does not yet exist, but to find an expression for a unity which does exist, which is indeed the one elemental reality, they would approach one another in a better frame of mind. The common recognition of the principle would in itself be a unifying force of great value, and would dispose those who shared it to approach questions of difference in a spirit of unity which would immensely assist their deliberations.
... Roland Allen (1869-1947), Pentecost and the World, London: Oxford University Press, 1917, included in The Ministry of the Spirit, David M. Paton, ed., London: World Dominion Press, 1960, p. 58 fn.
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 12:4-6; more at Church)
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
The man who will and can go to our Lord in all freedom... must be such that his love for the Sacrament and for our Lord grows more and more by this [Holy Communion], and that the reverence is not diminished by frequently approaching it. For often what is one man’s life may be another’s death. Therefore you should observe yourself, whether your love for God is growing and your reverence is not destroyed. Then, the more frequently you go to the Sacrament, the better you will become, and the better and more profitable it will be. And therefore be not turned away from your God by words and sermons.
... Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?), Works of Meister Eckhart, London: J. M. Watkins, 1924, p. 27
(see the book; see also John 14:23; more at Church, Communion, Death, God, Reverence, Sacrament)
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Common experience declares... how momentary and how useless are those violent fits and gusts of endeavours which proceed from fear and uncertainty, both in things spiritual and temporal, or civil. Whilst men are under the power of actual impressions from such fears, they will convert to God, yea, they will [turn in a moment], and perfect their holiness in an instant; but so soon as that impression wears off (as it will do on every occasion, and upon none at all) such persons are as dead and cold towards God as the lead or iron, which ran but now in a fiery stream, is when the heat is departed from it.
... John Owen (1616-1683), V.2 in A Discourse Concerning Holy Spirit, bk. I-V , in Works of John Owen, v. III, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 603
(see the book; see also Judg. 21:25; Heb. 6:10-20; more at Authenticity, Conversion, Death, Endeavor, Experience, Fear, God, Holiness, Uncertainty)
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Here [in His holy House of Prayer] we may come on our day of rest, and be safe, if we will, from any thoughts but those of the world to come. Here we gather together for no earthly business, but for a purpose of one sort only; and that purpose is the same for which saints and angels are met together in that innumerable company before the throne of God. If there is a place on earth which, however faintly and dimly, shadows out the courts of God on high, surely it is where His people are met together, in all their weakness and ignorance and sin, in their poor and low estate, yet with humble and faithful hearts, in His House of Prayer.
... R. W. Church (1815-1890), Village Sermons, New York: Macmillan Company, 1897, p. 111
(see the book; see also Ps. 66:16; more at Angel, Faith, Heaven, Humility, Ignorance, Poverty, Prayer, Rest, Saint, Sin, Weakness)
Friday, February 9, 2007
Some of us have not much time to lose [to begin loving]. Remember, once more, that this is a matter of life or death. I cannot help speaking urgently, for myself, for yourselves. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” That is to say, it is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to have lived than not to love.
... Henry Drummond (1851-1897), “The Greatest Thing in the World”, in Addresses, H. Altemus, 1891, p. 46-47
(see the book; see also Matt. 18:4-7; more at Love)
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543
Since becoming a disciple of Christ, Paul knows that all mere orthodoxy, all mere knowledge concerning God’s will, is not only nothing but less than nothing. The more knowledge, the more obligation. The maintaining of revealed doctrine becomes blasphemy if it is not borne out by the corresponding testimony of the life. He who is always appealing to the Word of God without his life and conduct corresponding to this knowledge of God, dishonours God’s name, making Him an object of mockery and hatred. It is just those who know so well how to talk about God who make His name hateful among men, because their lives darken the picture of God and turn it into a caricature. The Lord is judged by the life of His servants; this is the truer, the more zealously they appeal to Him.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Letter to the Romans, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1959, p. 22-23
(see the book; see also Rom. 2:21-23; more at Authenticity)
Sunday, February 11, 2007
We must not content ourselves with the gift of prayer, or with liberty and consolation and gust in prayer. We must come out from prayer the most rapturous and sweet, only to do harder and ever harder works for God and our neighbors. Otherwise the prayer is not good, and the gusts are not from God.
... Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Santa Teresa, an Appreciation, Alexander Whyte, ed., London: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1897, p. 72
(see the book; see also Luke 22:45-46; more at Consolation, Gifts, God, Liberty, Neighbor, Prayer, Work)
Monday, February 12, 2007
“What Thou wilt, when Thou wilt, how Thou wilt.” I had rather speak these three sentences from my heart, in my mother tongue, than be master of all the languages in Europe.
... John Newton (1725-1807), in a letter, 1779, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, v. II, New York: Williams and Whiting, 1810, p. 251
(see the book; see also Mark 14:36; more at Heart, Will of God, Worship)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
For the Christian, heaven is where Jesus is. We do not need to speculate on what heaven will be like. It is enough to know that we will be forever with Him. When we love anyone with our whole hearts, life begins when we are with that person; it is only in their company that we are really and truly alive. It is so with Christ. In this world our contact with Him is shadowy, for we can only see through a glass darkly. It is spasmodic, for we are poor creatures and cannot live always on the heights. But the best definition of it is to say that heaven is that state where we will always be with Jesus, and where nothing will separate us from Him any more.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of John, v. 2, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, p. 181-182
(see the book; see also John 14:3; more at Christ, Darkness, Heaven, Jesus, Knowledge, Life, Love, Sight, World)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
Look heavenward, if you wish, but never to the horizon; that way danger lies. Truth is not there, happiness is not there, certainty is not there, but the falsehoods, the frauds, the quackeries, the ignes fatui (false beacons) which have deceived each generation all beckon from the horizon and lure the men not content to look for the truth and happiness that tumble out at their feet.
... William Osler (1849-1919), A Way of Life, New York: P. B. Hoeber Inc., 1937, p. 31
(see the book; see also Eph. 5:6; more at Faith)
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
The indwelling of Christ’s Spirit means not only moral discernment but moral power. Paul’s count against the Law is that it was impotent through the flesh. Against this impotence Paul sets the ethical competence of the Spirit. “I can do anything in Him who makes me strong,” (Phil. 4:13) he exclaims. For his friends in Asia he prays “that God may grant you, according to the wealth of His splendour, to be made strong with power through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your trust in Him.” (Eph. 3:16-17) This is the antithesis of the dismal picture presented in Romans 7, and it comes, just as evidently as that, out of experience. Indeed, we may say that the thing above all which distinguished the early Christian community from its environment was the moral competence of its members. In order to maintain this we need not idealize unduly the early Christians. There were sins and scandals at Corinth and Ephesus, but it was impossible to miss the note of genuine power of renewal and recuperation—the power of the simple person progressively to approximate to his moral ideals in spite of failures. The very fact that the term “Spirit” is used points to a sense of something essentially “supernatural” in such ethical attainment. For the primitive Christians the Spirit was manifested in what they regarded as miraculous. Paul does not whittle away the miraculous sense when he transfers it to the moral sphere. He concentrates attention on the moral miracle as something more wonderful far than any “speaking with tongues.” So fully convinced is he of the new and miraculous nature of this moral power that he can regard the Christian as a “new creation.” (II Cor. 5:17) This is not the old person at all: it is a “new man,” “created in Christ Jesus for good deeds.” (Eph. 2:10) [Continued tomorrow]
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 134-135
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; 3:16-17; Phil. 4:13; more at Bible)
Friday, February 16, 2007
[Continued from yesterday]The result of all this is that the Christian is a free man. It is here to be observed that the term “freedom” is ambiguous in common usage. It is sometimes used to imply that a man can do just as he likes, undetermined by any external force. To this the determinist replies that as a matter of fact this freedom is so limited by the laws which condition man’s empirical existence as to be illusory. The rejoinder from the advocates of free will is that no external force can determine a man’s moral conduct (and with mere automatism we are not concerned), unless it is presented in consciousness, and that in being so presented it becomes a desire, a temptation, or a motive. In suffering himself to be determined by these, the man is not submitting to external control, but to something which he has already made a part of himself, for good or ill. When, however, we have said that, we are faced with a further problem. Not all that is desired is desirable, and in being moved by my immediate desire I may be balking myself of that ultimate satisfaction which is the real object of all effort. If that is so, then to “do as I like” may well be no freedom at all. There is a law of our being which forbids satisfaction to be found along that line, as it is written, “He gave them their desire, and sent leanness into their souls.” (Ps. 106:15) [Continued tomorrow]
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 135
(see the book; see also Ps. 106:15; 2 Cor. 5:17; more at Bible)
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
[Continued from yesterday]He, then, whose action is governed by mere desire is not free to attain the satisfaction which alone gives meaning to that desire. There is no breaking through this law of our being. Every attempt to do so proves itself in experience to be futile. Hence we are in a more hopeless state of bondage than that which materialistic determinism holds; for the tyrant is established within our own consciousness. One way, and one way only, out of this bondage remains. If we can discover how to make our own immediate desire, and the act of will springing out of it, accord with the supreme law of our being, then to “do as we like” will no longer be to run our heads against the stone wall of necessity which shuts us out from the heaven of satisfaction. For we shall only “like” doing what we “ought.” This introduces a new sense of the word “freedom.” It does not now mean freedom from restrains to follow our desires, but freedom from the tyranny of futile desires to follow what is really good. [Continued tomorrow]
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 135-136
(see the book; see also Rom. 7:5-6; more at Bible)
Sunday, February 18, 2007
[Continued from yesterday]This is Paul’s meaning. The state of slavery described in Romans 7 is a slavery to wrong desires; not merely to “flesh” in the abstract, as implying our material nature and environment, but to the “mind of the flesh”—the lower nature and environment made a part of one’s conscious self. What the Law could not do, God has done by the gift of the Spirit of Christ: He has given the victory to the higher self. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (II Cor. 3:17) “The Law of the Spirit—the law of a life in communion with Christ Jesus—has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2) Whereas life was a hopeless struggle, ... it now becomes a struggle in which the handicap is removed, and victory already secured in principle, because God has come into the life. The Law was external; it was a taskmaster set over against the troubled and fettered will of man. The Spirit is within, the mind of the Spirit is the mind of the man himself, and from within works out a growing perfection of life which satisfies the real longing of the soul. In the full sense freedom is still an object of hope; but the liberty already attained makes possible the building up of a Christian morality.
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 136-137
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:17; Phil. 4:13; more at Bible)
Monday, February 19, 2007
As Christians we believe that man is not a thing; he is not a commodity to be bought and sold, and he is not to be used in an impersonal way. Man, a child of God, is a person with a personal destiny and with eternal value. This Christian belief underlies the democratic principle that the State, first of all, exists for the sake of its citizens; the individual is important...As Christians we also believe that we are made for one another because we are made for God. “Solidarity” is a good word for our essential condition. Beneath all our differences is a unity... This Christian belief underlies a second basic democratic principle, which is, in governing themselves, people of a community—in a town, a city, a state, a nation—can, despite inevitable conflicts, press effectively toward the goal of justice and liberty for all.
... Arthur Lichtenberger (1900-1968), The Day is at Hand, New York: Seabury Press, 1964, p. 104-105
(see the book; see also Eze. 45:9; more at Social)
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
Most Christians live in confusion in regard to their scales of values and priorities. Many honest Christian people experience the shock of a revelation when they are brought to realize that their membership of the Church constitutes a loyalty prior to their loyalty to the nation to which they belong. Patriotism is one of the powerful underground pseudo-religions of to-day, not merely nationalism. The fundamental notion that the Christians are a “peculiar people” that never is identical, or even can be, with a people in the biological, national sense of the word, is largely asleep. It can only become awake by a new grasp of the biblical truth that the Church is the “people of God,” an elect race composed of people out of all nations, transcending all nations and races.
... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity, London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 157
(see the book; see also 1 Pet. 2:9; more at Church)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Faith is not belief in spite of evidence, but life in scorn of consequences—a courageous trust in the great purpose of all things, and pressing forward to finish the work which is in sight, whatever the price may be.
... Kirsopp Lake (1872-1946), Landmarks in the History of Early Christianity, London: Macmillan, 1922, p. 74
(see the book; see also Rom. 1:16,17; 4:19,20; 8:28; 2 Tim. 1:12; more at Belief, Courage, Faith, Life, Purpose, Scorn, Work)
Thursday, February 22, 2007
In the communities of the faithful, men had to impress upon themselves and upon others what Jesus said and did, for the more convinced they were that he was neither a Jewish pretender nor an unsubstantial deity like one of the deities of the cults, the more urgent it was for them to recall that his words were the rule of their life, and that his actions in history had created their position in the world; they had to think out their faith, to state it against outside criticism, and to teach it within their own circle, instead of being content with it as a mere emotion; they had also to refresh their courage by anticipating the future, which they believed was in the hands of their Lord... The common basis of their life was the conviction that they enjoyed a new relationship with God, for which they were indebted to Jesus. The technical term for this relationship was “covenant,” and “covenant” became eventually in their vocabulary “testament.” Hence the later name for these writings of the church, when gathered into a sacred collection, was “The New Testament”—New because the older relationship of God to his people, which had obtained under Judaism with its Old Testament, was superseded by the faith and fellowship which Jesus Christ his Son had inaugurated. It was the consciousness of this that inspired the early Christians to live, and to write about the origin and applications of this new life. They wrote for their own age, without a thought of posterity, and they did not write in unison but in harmony.
... James Moffatt (1870-1944), A New Translation of the Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1935, New York: Harper, 1935, Introduction, p. xxii
(see the book; see also Jer. 31:31-34; more at Bible)
Friday, February 23, 2007
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
He who was raised from the dead will raise us also, if we do His will and live by His commands and love what He loved, refraining from all injustice, covetousness, love of money, evil-speaking, false witness, not returning evil for evil or abuse for abuse, or blow for blow, or curse for curse, but remembering what the Lord said when He taught: Do not judge, so that you may not be judged; forgive and you will be forgiven; have mercy so that you may be shown mercy; with the measure you use men will measure back to you; and blessed are the poor and those who are persecuted for their uprightness, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
... Polycarp (69?-155?), Letter to the Philippians, 2:2-3
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 6:14; more at Obedience)
Saturday, February 24, 2007
In church government... our primary concern is to reflect the nature of God. Christ became man in order that He might redeem men from their fallen state, from their selfishness and self-isolating divisions from God and from each other; so that, gathered together in one in Him, man may offer to God that likeness to Himself in love for which he was created. Church government is primarily concerned with this: with worship, with the drawing of the whole life of the whole world into this reflection of the nature of God. It is secondly—and only secondly—concerned with the quarrels and peccadilloes of those who are not, as a matter of fact, imitating God’s nature very faithfully.
... Michael Bruce, “The Layman and Church Government”, in Layman’s Church, ed. John A. T. Robinson, London: Lutterworth Press, 1963, p. 64-65
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 1:13; more at Christ, Church, God, Love, Offering, Quarrel, Redemption, Worship)
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The pure eye for the true vision of another’s claims can only go with the loving heart. The man who hates can hardly be delicate in doing justice, say to his neighbor’s love, to his neighbor’s predilections and peculiarities. It is hard enough to be just to our friends; and how shall our enemies fare with us?
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “Love Thine Enemy”, in Unspoken Sermons [First Series], London: A. Strahan, 1867, p. 224-225
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:43-45; more at Love)
Monday, February 26, 2007
Freedom is thrust upon us, and we must take it whether we will or not. Happiest is he who takes it most completely and most joyfully, but also most seriously and with the deepest sense of its dangers.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Life and letters of Phillips Brooks, v. III, Alexander V. G. Allen, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1901, p. 91
(see the book; see also John 8:36; more at Freedom)
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
Immortal Love, author of this great frame,Sprung from that beauty which can never fade;How hath man parcel’d out thy glorious name,And thrown it on that dust which thou hast made, While mortal love doth all the title gain!Which siding with invention, they togetherBear all the sway, possessing heart and brain(Thy workmanship), and give thee share in neither. Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit:The world is theirs; they two play out the game,Thou standing by: and though thy glorious nameWrought our deliverance from th’ infernal pit, Who sings thy praise? only a scarf or gloveDoth warm our hands, and make them write of love.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 65
(see the book; see also Ps. 98; more at Worship)
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit: these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 65
(see the book; see also Matt. 10:19,20; 1 Cor. 1:17-22; 2:4,5; Col. 2:18,19; more at Authenticity, Devotion, Evil, Fellowship, Philosophy, Soul, Trust)
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