Quotations for December, 1998
Tuesday, December 1, 1998
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
No heart can conceive that treasury of mercies which lies in this one privilege, in having liberty and ability to approach unto God at all times, according to His mind and will.
... John Owen (1616-1683), A Discourse Concerning Holy Spirit, bk. VI-IX , in Works of John Owen, v. IV, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 316
(see the book; see also Mark 11:24; more at God, Liberty, Mercy, Prayer)
Wednesday, December 2, 1998
The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light. When we see them as dispensed by the hand of God, when we know that it is our loving Father who abases and distresses us, our sufferings will lose their bitterness and become even a matter of consolation.
... Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, p. 43-44
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:18; more at Abasement, Affliction, Consolation, Light, Weakness)
Thursday, December 3, 1998
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
We see him exalting love for neighbor along with love for God. He reaches out to foreigners who are beyond the borders of the “Israel of God.” He seeks the release of captives, prisoners, and slaves. He denounces the scribes and religious leaders who “devour the houses of widows.” Despite his well-known requirement of loyalty that surpasses family ties, he insists that a man put the care of his own parents ahead of his obligations to his religion. His treatment of women is radically opposed to the strictures of that day. He exhibits sympathy and understanding toward children. He operates an out-patient clinic wherever he happens to be. He insists upon justice as the basis for everyday dealings between citizens. The social teaching of parables like “the good Samaritan” and incidents such as the encounter with the rich young ruler have had an effect upon his followers that cannot easily be measured. If one summary statement of Jesus’ ethics can be made, it is that love of God is best shown by love of fellow man.
... Sherwood Eliot Wirt (1911-2008), The Social Conscience of the Evangelical, New York: Harper & Row, 1968, p. 23
(see the book; see also Matt. 7:16-20; more at Love)
Friday, December 4, 1998
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
Many a congregation when it assembles in church must look to the angels like a muddy puddly shore at low tide; littered with every kind of rubbish and odds and ends—a distressing sort of spectacle. And then the tide of worship comes in, and it’s all gone: the dead sea-urchins and jelly-fish, the paper and the empty tins and the nameless bits of rubbish. The cleansing sea flows over the whole lot. So we are released from a narrow, selfish outlook on the universe by a common act of worship. Our little human affairs are reduced to their proper proportion when seen over against the spaceless Majesty and Beauty of God.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Collected Papers of Evelyn Underhill, Longmans, Green and Co., 1946, p. 89
(see the book; see also John 4:23,24; 1 Tim. 2:8; more at Church, Congregation, Glory of God, Selfish, Worship)
Saturday, December 5, 1998
Christianity is a source; no one supply of water and refreshment that comes from it can be called the sum of Christianity... It is a mistake, and may lead to much error, to exhibit any series of maxims, even those of the Sermon on the Mount, as the ultimate sum and formula into which Christianity may be run up.
... Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), Literature and Dogma, New York: The Macmillian Company, 1875, p. 188,187
(see the book; see also Ps. 147:4,5; Luke 10:21; John 21:25; more at Religion)
Sunday, December 6, 1998
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
If we with earnest effort could succeedTo make our life one long, connected prayer,As lives of some perhaps have been and are,If never leaving Thee, we have no needOur wandering spirits back again to leadInto Thy presence, but continued thereLike angels standing on the highest stairOf the Sapphire Throne: this were to pray indeed!But if distractions manifold prevail,And if in this we must confess we fail,Grant us to keep at least a prompt desire,Continual readiness for prayer and praise,An altar heaped and waiting to take fireWith the least spark, and leap into a blaze.
... Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886), Poems, London: Macmillan, 1874, p. 141
(see the book; see also Ex. 24:9-10; more at Prayer)
Monday, December 7, 1998
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
What will you do if your product still further increases next year? You should then destroy again the warehouses which you are now preparing to build, and build bigger. For the reason why God has given you fruitful harvests is that He might either overcome your avarice or condemn it; wherefore you can have no excuse. But you keep for yourself what He wished to be produced through you for the benefit of many—nay, rather, you rob even yourself of it, since you would better preserve it for yourself if you distributed it to others.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), De Nabuthe Jezraelite [ca.395], in Journal of the History of Ideas, v. III, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942, VII.37, p. 464
(see the book; see also 1 Kings 21:1-19; Luke 12:16-21; more at Attitudes, Builder, Condemnation, God, Harvest, Reason)
Tuesday, December 8, 1998
There is not anything I know [which] hath done more mischief to Christianity, as the disparagement of Reason, under pretence of respect and favour to Religion; since hereby the very Foundations of Christian Faith have been undermined, and the World prepared for Atheism. For if Reason must not be heard, the Being of a GOD, and the Authority of Scripture, can neither be proved nor defended; and so our Faith drops to the ground like a house that hath no foundation.
... Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680), Philosophia Pia, London: James Collins, 1671, p. 147-148
(see the book; see also Isa. 1:18; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 1:25; more at Apologetics, Atheism, Faith, Reason, Religion, Scripture)
Wednesday, December 9, 1998
How can we know that what Jesus has shown us of God is the truth; ... how do we know when we look into the face of Jesus that we are looking into the face of God? ... The answer is so plain and simple that it is a marvel how intelligent men can manage to miss it as they do... Look at what Christ has done for the soul of man: that is your answer. Christianity is just Christ—nothing more and nothing less. It is a way of life, and He is that way. It is the truth about human destiny, and He is that truth. It is the offer of life lived in the sunshine of eternal love, and He is that life. To know this is to know God, and every need is satisfied in that one word.
... R. J. Campbell (1867-1956), The Call of Christ, London: Skeffington & Son, n.d. (before 1932), p. 89-90
(see the book; see also Luke 10:21, John 14:5-6; 16:6-7; more at Jesus)
Thursday, December 10, 1998
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968
The great thing, and the only thing, is to adore and praise God.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), from the entry for Aug. 28-29, 1956, A Search for Solitude: pursuing the monk’s true life, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996, p. 75
(see the book; see also Ps. 95:1-6; more at God, Praise, Worship)
Friday, December 11, 1998
God of pity and love, return to this earth.Go not so far away, leaving us to evil.Darkness is loose upon the world, the DevilWalks in the land, and there is nothing worth.Death like a dog runs howling from his lair;His bite has made men mad, they follow afterAll howling too, and their demoniac laughterDrowns like a sea our solitary prayer.Return, O Lord, return. Come with the day,Come with the light, that men may see once moreAcross this earth’s uncomfortable floorThe kindly paths, the old and loving way.Let us not die of evil in the night.Let there be God again. Let there be light.
... Robert Nathan (1894-1985), Selected Poems of Robert Nathan, A. A. Knopf, 1935, p. xiii
(see the book; see also John 1:14; more at Prayers)
Saturday, December 12, 1998
The Christian should participate in social and political efforts in order to have an influence in the world, not with the hope of making a paradise (of the earth), but simply to make it more tolerable. Not to diminish the opposition between this world and the Kingdom of God, but simply to modify the opposition between the disorder of this world and the order of preservation that God wants it to have. Not to bring in the Kingdom of God, but so that the Gospel might be proclaimed in order that all men might truly hear the good news.
... Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), The Presence of the Kingdom, tr. Olive Wyon, Philadelphia: Wesminster Press, 1951, p. 47
(see the book; see also 1 Peter 1:24,25; more at God, Gospel, Influence, Kingdom, Preach, Social, World)
Sunday, December 13, 1998
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784
Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws?She tells them of Life and Death, and of all they would forget.She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.They constantly try to escapeFrom the darkness outside and withinBy dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
... T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), Chorus VI from The Rock , The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952, p. 106
(see the book; see also Luke 20:17-18; 1 Cor. 1:17-25; 1 Pet. 2:6-8; more at Church, Evil, Goodness, Instruction, Law, Love, Man, Sin)
Monday, December 14, 1998
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591
Sometimes, when the soul least thinks of it, and when it least desires it, God touches it divinely causing certain recollections of Himself.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), The Ascent of Mount Carmel, London: Thomas Baker, 1906, p. 208
(see the book; see also Ps. 77:11; Matt. 26:74-75; Luke 22:19; John 2:22; 12:16; 14:26; 1 Cor. 11:23-25; more at God, Knowing God, Memory, Soul, Thought)
Tuesday, December 15, 1998
Whomever the Lord has adopted and deemed worthy of his fellowship ought to prepare themselves for a hard, toilsome, and unquiet life, crammed with very many and various kinds of evil. It is the Heavenly Father’s will thus to exercise them so as to put his own children to a definite test. Beginning with Christ, his first-born, he follows this plan with all his children.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I , tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.viii.1, p. 629
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:38,39; more at Child, Christ, Evil, Father, Fellowship, God, Life, Weakness)
Wednesday, December 16, 1998
I cannot answer all the curious questions of the brain, concerning Prayer and Law; not half of them, indeed; and I will not attempt it; but ... I will cast my anchor here, in this revealing fact that He, the Holiest of the holy and the Wisest of the wise, He prays: therefore I am assured this anchorage of Divine example will hold the vessel in the tossings of the wildest sea of doubt, and that I shall be safe as He was if the vessel itself is engulfed in the waves of suffering and sorrow. His act is an argument. His prayer is an inspiration. His achievements are the everlasting and all-sufficient vindication of prayer.
... John Clifford (1836-1923), Social Worship, London: James Clarke & Co., 1899, p. 54
(see the book; see also Matt. 14:23; 26:36; Mark 6:46; 14:32; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 11:1; John 17; more at Prayer)
Thursday, December 17, 1998
Commemoration of Eglantine Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928
I do not wish to imply that God the Son could not, absolutely speaking, have become incarnate by a non-virginal conception, any more than I should wish to deny that God might, absolutely speaking, have redeemed mankind without becoming incarnate at all; it is always unwise to place limits to the power of God. What we can see is that both an incarnation and a virginal conception were thoroughly appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the case and were more “natural,” in the sense of more appropriate, than the alternatives... In practice, denial of the virginal conception or inability to see its relevance almost always goes with an inadequate understanding of the Incarnation and of the Christian religion in general.
... E. L. Mascall (1905-1993), The Secularization of Christianity, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1966, p. 270-271 fn
(see the book; see also Matt. 1:18-25; more at Christmas)
Friday, December 18, 1998
Only on recognizing the true, may we lay down our task of searching further for truth; and only on being satisfied that we have found the holy, are we justified in submitting to its guidance... The duty of following truth at all hazards is not altered, and it is only a false wisdom and prudence which shuns the search. The one chief reason why so much more may be revealed to babes than to the wise and prudent is still simply that, with less calculation and prejudice, they entirely abandon themselves to the leading of truth.
... John Oman (1860-1939), Vision and Authority, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1928, p. 73-74
(see the book; see also Luke 10:21; more at Attitudes)
Saturday, December 19, 1998
Pray Him to give you what Scripture calls “an honest and good heart,” or “a perfect heart;” and, without waiting, begin at once to obey Him with the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than none. ... You have to seek His face; obedience is the only way of seeking Him. All your duties are obediences. ... To do what He bids is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to approach Him. Every act of obedience is an approach—an approach to Him who is not far off, though He seems so, but close behind this visible screen of things which hides Him from us.
... John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), Parochial Sermons, v. IV, J. G. & F. Rivington, 1839, p. 379
(see the book; see also Ps. 24:3,4; 101:1,2; Luke 8:15; more at Obedience)
Sunday, December 20, 1998
Justice and Judgment are thy throneYet wondrous is thy grace;While truth and mercy joined in one,Invite us near thy face.
... Isaac Watts (1674-1748),  Psalms of David Imitated , in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, ed. Samuel Melanchthon Worcester, Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1834, Ps. 89, second part, p. 182
(see the book; see also Ps. 89:7-15; more at Providence)
Monday, December 21, 1998
I have put no emphasis on the virgin birth in the course of this chapter. This is not because I do not believe in it, for I do; but because, as I understand it, the account of Christ’s miraculous birth was given in the Gospels for the sake of those who had already come to believe in him and who wished to know the facts, but was never used as a means of evoking faith in those who were not yet convinced on other grounds as to who he was. After all, a virgin birth would be possible without any implications of deity.
... J. N. D. Anderson (1908-1994), Christianity: the Witness of History, Tyndale Press, 1969, p. 59
(see the book; see also Luke 1:26-28; more at Apologetics, Belief, Christ, Faith, Knowledge, Miracle)
Tuesday, December 22, 1998
Faith is not only commitment to the promises of Christ; faith is also commitment to his demands.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Letters of James and Peter, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1976, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, p. 345
(see the book; see also Jas. 2:20-23; more at Christ, Commandment, Commitment, Faith, Promise)
Wednesday, December 23, 1998
Such is our dependence upon God that we are obliged not only to do everything for His sake, but also to seek from Him the very power. This happy necessity of having recourse to Him in all our wants, instead of being grievous to us, should be our greatest consolation. What a happiness is it, that we are allowed to speak to Him with confidence, to open our hearts and hold familiar conversation with him by prayer! He Himself invites us to it.
... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Pious Reflections for Every Day in the Month, London: H. D. Symonds, 1800, p. 26
(see the book; see also Isaiah 26:8-9; more at Prayer)
Thursday, December 24, 1998
Come worship the King,That little dear thing,Asleep on His Mother’s soft breast.Ye bright stars, bow down,Weave for Him a crown,Christ Jesus by angels confessed. Come, children, and peep,But hush ye, and creepOn tiptoe to where the Babe lies;Then whisper His NameAnd lo! like a flameThe glory light shines in His eyes. Come strong men, and seeThis high mystery,Tread firm where the shepherds have trod,And watch, `mid the hairOf the Maiden so fair,The five little fingers of God. Come, old men and grey,The star leads the way,It halts and your wanderings cease;Look down on His FaceThen, filled with His Grace,Depart ye, God’s servants, in Peace.
... G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929)
(see also Luke 2:8-14; more at Christmas)
Friday, December 25, 1998
The King of glory sends his Son,To make his entrance on this earth;Behold the midnight bright as noon,And heav’nly hosts declare his birth! About the young Redeemer’s head,What wonders, and what glories meet!An unknown star arose, and ledThe eastern sages to his feet. Simeon and Anna both conspireThe infant Saviour to proclaim;Inward they felt the sacred fire,And bless’d the babe, and own’d his name. Let pagan hordes blaspheme aloud,And treat the holy child with scorn;Our souls adore th’ eternal GodWho condescended to be born.
... Isaac Watts (1674-1748), Hymns and Spiritual Songs , in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, ed. Samuel Melanchthon Worcester, Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1834, Book II, hymn 136, p. 454
(see the book; see also Matt. 2:1-11; Luke 2:1-20, 25-38; more at Christmas)
Saturday, December 26, 1998
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr
The Mother sits by the rough-hewn byrewhere her Baby smiles, and the secret fireshines on her face. Her hand rests byan iron spike from the wood thrust high(“The nails in His hands!”) An open chink in the rude, cold shedlets in the sky, and the Star that ledshepherds and kings pours down its light:a silver shaft through the frosty night(“The spear in His side!”) Her hands reach out, as to push awaythe cross-crowned hill and the bloody day;they touch a rough, unyielding wall:the stable side, of stone piled tall(“The stone—rolled away!”)
... Alesander Flandreau
(see also Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 2:19; more at Christmas)
Sunday, December 27, 1998
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist
The why of natural law is the living Voice of God immanent in His creation. And this word of God which brought all worlds into being cannot be understood to mean the Bible, for it is not a written or printed word at all, but the expression of the will of God spoken into the structure of all things. This word of God is the breath of God filling the world with living potentiality. The Voice of God is the most powerful force in nature, indeed the only force in nature, for all energy is here only because the power-filled Word is being spoken. [Continued tomorrow]
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 70
(see the book; see also John 6:63; more at Bible, God, Law, Life, Nature, Power, Will of God, World)
Monday, December 28, 1998
Feast of the Holy Innocents
[Continued from yesterday]The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” The life is in the speaking words. God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written Word all-powerful.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 70
(see the book; see also John 6:63; more at Bible, Freedom, God, Life, Power, Spirit)
Tuesday, December 29, 1998
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
A Christian and an unbelieving poet may both be equally original ... and draw on resources peculiar to themselves, but with this difference. The unbeliever may take his own temperament and experience, just as they happen to stand, and consider them worth communicating simply because they are his. To the Christian his own temperament and experience, as mere fact, and as merely his, are of no value or importance whatsoever: he will deal with them, if at all, only because they are the medium through which, or the position from which, something universally profitable appeared to him.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “Christianity and Literature”, in Rehabilitations and other essays, Oxford University Press, 1939, p. 193
(see the book; see also 1 Samuel 1:22; more at Attitudes)
Wednesday, December 30, 1998
I have a capacity in my soul for taking in God entirely. I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.
... Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?), Meister Eckhart’s Sermons, tr., Claud Field, H. R. Allenson, London, 1909, p. 19-20
(see the book; see also 1 John 4:12-13; more at Presence of God)
Thursday, December 31, 1998
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384
While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits. And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men’s hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism.
... Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), The Gospel of Sadhu Sundar Singh, Friedrich Heiler & Olive Wyon, G. Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1927, p. 89
(see the book; see also John 12:37-40; more at Attitudes)
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