Calvin on the “empty excuse” of baptism and the gospel…

“…once we have placed our full trust in Him, we call upon Him for every need, we are patient when He chooses to chastise us with the rod, and we deal uprightly with our neighbor. At the same time we should continually invoke Him in prayer and be always praising Him for His blessings. When we have that kind of fear, we may be sure that God will be faithful to us to the very end. Let us not, however, advance the empty excuse that we have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and have the gospel as our possession. Let us rather serve God who has called us with a pure heart, and let our manner of life and our conduct among men be honest, so that we may truly show that we are the children of Him who is pleased to be a Father to us.”

-Calvin in a sermon on Luke 1:49-51

Jonathan Edwards in Northampton…

cover_issue_27_en_USThere is some fascinating reading in the Jonathan Edwards Studies journal from Yale. University of Richmond professor Douglas Winiarski has worked through a mass of documents and detailed the events surrounding Edwards’ dismissal from the church in Northampton. A number of things stand out in the articles, not the least of which is to see congregational polity working in a very presbyterian manner. And, did you know that Edwards was open to and very close to affiliating with the Scots-Irish Presbyterians to set-up a new church in Northampton? The first four of five articles have been published…

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy I: David Hall’s Diary & Letter to Edward Billing

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy II: Relations, Professions, & Experiences, 1748-1760

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy III: Count Vivasor’s Tirade & The Second Council, 1751

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy IV: Experience Mayhew’s Dissertation on Edwards’s Humble Inquiry 


Clearnote Songbook…

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 1.08.29 PMMy dear friends in Bloomington, IN have been working on the Clearnote Songbook project for many years. Check out their great work which includes the songbook (audio, lead sheets, etc.), the War Horn blog, some liturgical guides (calls to worship, sacraments), beautifully-formatted confessions (Westminster here), and more.

Follow this link to run through all the audio they have up on the site.


Tuesday Thomas Watson…

Let us show our thankfulness to Christ by fruitfulness.

Let us not be a dry tree, but by the grace of Christ, send forth a fruitful bough (Ambrose). Let us bring forth the sweet fruits of patience, heavenly mindedness and good works. This is to live, not to ourselves, but to him who died for us, and rose again (2 Cor. 5:15). If we would rejoice the heart of Christ, and make him not repent of his sufferings, let us be fertile in obedience. The wise men did not only worship Christ, but presented unto him gifts, ‘gold, and frankincense, and myrrh’ (Matt. 2:11).

Let us present Christ with the best fruits of our garden; let us give him our love, that flower of delight. The saints are not only compared to stars for their knowledge, but spice-trees for their fertileness. Christ delighted in the breasts of his spouse because they were like ‘clusters of grapes’ (Song of Sol. 7:7). The blood of Christ, received in a spiritual manner, is like the ‘water of jealousy’, which had the virtue both to kill and to make fruitful (Num. 5:27-28). Christ’s blood kills sin, and makes the heart fructify in grace.

-from Thomas Watson’s The Lord’s Supper

PCA Position Papers

Wayne Sparkman, director of the PCA Historical Center, has been posting PCA-related materials to the internet for many years. On one helpful page he’s posted the PCA position papers. If you have wondered what the PCA’s position is on various doctrinal or social issues or how the General Assembly has addressed certain topics, that page is the place to look. As it says in the preface of my print copy, it should be remembered that some of these positions were merely received as information. Even if a position is adopted by the GA, it may only “reflect the pious advice of that particular GA and have no constitutional force unless changes were adopted to the Book of Church Order or other standards of the Church.” Keeping that in mind, though, you will find the general stance of the PCA on topics such as abortion, alcohol, creation, fencing the Table, homosexuality, nuclear warfare, racial reconciliation, theonomy, and women in the military.

"…to baptize is not the principal work for which Christian ministers are ordained."

Found the following in J. C. Ryle’s excellent commentary on John (Expository Thoughts on John)…

We should observe, for one thing, what is said about baptism. We read that “Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples.”

The expression here used is a very remarkable one. In reading it we seem irresistibly led to one instructive conclusion. That conclusion is, that baptism is not the principal part of Christianity, and that to baptize is not the principal work for which Christian ministers are ordained. Frequently we read of our Lord preaching and praying. Once we read of His administering the Lord’s Supper. But we have not a single instance recorded of His ever baptizing any one. And here we are distinctly told that it was a subordinate work, which He left to others. Jesus “Himself baptized not, but His disciples.”

The lesson is one of peculiar importance in the present day. Baptism, as a sacrament ordained by Christ Himself, is an honourable ordinance, and ought never to be lightly esteemed in the Churches. It cannot be neglected or despised without great sin. When rightly used, with faith and prayer, it is calculated to convey the highest blessings. But baptism was never meant to be exalted to the position which many now-a-days assign to it in religion. It does not act as a charm. It does not necessarily convey the grace of the Holy Ghost. The benefit of it depends greatly on the manner in which it is used. The doctrine taught, and the language employed about it in some quarters, are utterly inconsistent with the fact announced in the text. If baptism was all that some say it is, we should never have been told that “Jesus Himself baptized not.”

Let it be a settled principle in our minds that the first and chief business of the Church of Christ is to preach the Gospel. The words of St. Paul ought to be constantly remembered: “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” (1 Cor. i. 17.) When the Gospel of Christ is faithfully and fully preached we need not fear that the sacraments will be undervalued. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will always be most truly reverenced in those churches where the truth as it is in Jesus is most fully taught and known.