Friday, March 9, 2007

"Town and Gown" Preaching

One of the joys of my dissertation research is that it gives me the opportunity to read about men like William Perkins (He occupies a minor chapter in my work, but he certainly was not minor). Today I enjoyed a description of his preaching taken from Thomas Fuller's
The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), p. 81

" His sermons were not so plain but that the piously learned did admire them, nor so learned that the plain did not understand them...our Perkins brought the schools into the pulpit and, unshelling their controversies out of their hard school terms, made thereof plain and wholesome meat for his people."

Fuller continues...
"He would pronounce the word damn with such an emphasis, as left a doleful echoe in the auditor's ears a good while after; and when catechist of Christ-College, in expounding the Commandments, applied them so home, able almost to make his hearers fall down, and hairs to stand upright."

In Ramism in William Perkin's Theology (1987), Donald K. McKim wrote that the amazing thing about Perkins was how effectively he preached to both "town and gown." (p.7).

Just a reminder for me that learned preaching is not learned, until it helps people learn.


The Cross, the Cross, the Cross ... and the Spirit

As some of you know, because of the pressures of doctoral research I will be taking an indefinite hiatus from contributing here at the Conventicle. I thought this would be an appropriate last post. It reminds me of something I once heard Tommy Nelson, the pastor of Denton Bible Church, say: "No matter how much you grow as a Christian, and no matter how theologically astute you become, you will never get any higher than the Cross." Amen! Here's the Puritan version of that sentiment, by the "Sweet Dropper" himself, Richard Sibbes:

"[Christ] is our Sanctifier as well as our Saviour, our Saviour as well by the effectual power of his Spirit from the power of sin as by the merit of his death from the guilt thereof; provided these things are remembered:
  1. The first and chief ground of our comfort is that Christ as a priest offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father for us. The guilty soul flies to Christ crucified, made a curse for us. Thence it is that Christ has right to govern us; thence it is that he gives us his Spirit as our guide to lead us home.
  2. In the course of our life, after we are in a state of grace, if we are overtaken with any sin, we must remember to have our recourse first to Christ's mercy to pardon us, and then to the promise of his Spirit to govern us.
  3. And when we feel ourselves cold in affection and duty, the best way is to warm ourselves at this fire of his love and mercy in giving himself for us.
  4. Again, remember this, that Christ rules us by a spirit of love, from a sense of his love, whereby his commandments are easy to us. He leads us by his free Spirit, a Spirit of liberty. His subjects are voluntaries. The constraint that he lays upon his subjects is that of love. He draws us sweetly with the cords of love. Yet remember also that he draws us strongly by a Spirit of power, for it is not sufficient that we have motives and encouragements to love and obey Christ from that love of his, whereby he gave himself for us to justify us; but Christ's Spirit must likewise subdue our hearts, and sanctify them to love him, without which all motives would be ineffectual ... First we are made partakers of the divine nature, and then we are easily induced and led by Christ's Spirit to spiritual duties."
- Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed (Banner of Truth), 80-82

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Robert Letham on John Owen on the Trinity

Justin Taylor has posted an unedited copy of Robert Letham's lecture from the recent Westminster Conference in London entitled, "John Owen's Doctrine of the Trinity in its Catholic Context and its Significance for Today."

Our own Edwin Tay was at this conference. Read his reflections here.


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