Notes from Sermon 1 of Thomas Manton’s Sermons on Psalm 119

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” – Psalm 119:1

As God implanted in us affections of aversation to avoid what is evil; so affections of choice and pursuit, to follow after what is good. Well then, out of a principal of self-love, all would be happy; they would have good, and they would have it forever…

To ask whether men would be happy or not, is to ask whether they love themselves yea or nay; but whether holy, is another thing.

All would live forever; but when they must follow a despised Christ up and down in the world, and incur censures and dangers, they like none of that…

Heaven is a good place, but men must get to it with much difficulty; therefore they are loth to be at the cost. Men would be happy, with that kind happiness which is true happiness; but not in the way God propoundeth, being possessed with carnal fancies. It is counted a foolish thing to wait upon God in the midst of straits, conflicts, and temptations… More prejudices lie against the means than the end.

Till a hungry conscience be provided for, we cannot be happy… Nothing can give us solid peace, but what make us eternally happy.

That a poor godly man should who is counted the filth and off-scouring of all things, should be the only happy man; and that the great men of this world who have all things at will, should be poor, blind, miserable, and naked; is a paradox that will never enter into the heart of a natural man, that hath only the light of sense and carnal reason to judge of things, for to sight and reason it is nothing so.

Many times we are doctrinally right in point of blessedness, but not practically; we content ourselves with mere notion, but are not brought under the power of these truths; that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

If the law might be disannulled as to new creatures, then why doth the Spirit of God write it with such legible characters in their hearts? This is promised as the great blessing of the covenant of grace (Heb. viii, 10). Now that which the Spirit engraves upon the heart, would Christ come to deface and abolish?

To convince us of sin, to humble the heart, to reduce and bring men back to God, there is no rule for this but the law of God.

There is no escaping condemnation and the curse, if God should deal with us according to strict justice, and require an absolute undefiledness. Well then, this qualification must be understood in the sense of the second covenant; and what is that? sincerity of sanctification; when a man doth carefully endeavour to keep his garments unspotted from the world, and to approve himself to God… when he is humbled more for his pollutions, when he is always purging his heart, and doth endeavour to walk in the way of God; here is the undefiled in a Gospel sense.

He commandeth one thing as well as another, and conscience takes hold of all. To single out what pleaseth us, is to make ourselves God.

A hypocrite is best when he is taken in pieces; but a sincere man is best when he is taken altogether. A Christian is always like himself.

‘He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded’ (Prov. xiii, 13). Would you have blessings from God? fear the commandment. It is not he that fears wrath, punishment, inconviences, troubles of the world, molestations of the flesh; no, but he that dares not make bold with a commandment.

You will fail within a little while; then your poor, shiftless, naked souls must launch out into another world, and immediately come to God. How comfortable will it be then to have walked closely according to the line of obedience!

Our Lord hath made over a blessed inheritance to us upon Gospel terms, but we are full of prejudices, in that to keep close to the rule may bring trouble, and deprive us of many advantages of gain, and we think we shall never see good day more: but we are assured there is a great blessing goeth along with God’s yoke; and we having a promise of the enjoyment of God’s presence, where there ‘are pleasures for evermore,’ this should make us rouse up ourselves in the work of the Lord.

Assumptions or requirements?

It looks more and more like the Supreme Court is going to take up the question of homosexual marriage and more and more like they’ll probably find that it’s okay. It seems that the justices don’t even know what the basis of marriage is, based on this article from March of 2014.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who along with Kagan and Sotomayor are the court’s liberal wing, were also skeptical of the idea that marriage exists to encourage couples to have children. Infertile couples are allowed to marry, they noted, as are convicted felons with no chance of parole.

“I mean, there are lots of people who get married who can’t have children,” Breyer said.

Is the ability to have children a requirement for marriage? I don’t think anyone would ever say so. But, is it assumed that most people who marry at a younger age will have children? Yes, of course it is. That older adults, or those who are unable, don’t have children in no way undermines the original purposes of marriage. Marriage allows us to have and raise legitimate children, as opposed to those who are illegitimate, born outside of marriage, the result of adultery or fornication. According to the Bible, sex and children are the only things you can do as married, that you couldn’t do before (legally, in God’s sight) as unmarried.

That no one has brought up the idea of morality or legitimacy as reasons to bar gay marriage is something of a surprise. As far as I can tell, it’s the only basis by which gay marriage fails. And it seems that lawyers and justices would really be concerned with things like legitimacy. But, then again, why should they care if no one else does and no one brings it up?

Here you have a breakdown in the understanding of basic concepts of law and language as exhibited by our Supreme Court. If these are the sorts of questions being asked, then we are in big trouble, and have been for some time already. This is the fruit of almost 100 years of liberalism in our churches and what happens when we attempt to redefine what God has already defined.

The Book of Common Prayer dealt with the reasons for marriage 500 years ago – see them here.

Tullian Tchividjian vs. Thomas Scott on the Gospel

The new self Paul speaks of will emerge more and more as we allow the gospel to remove idolatry’s shackles. Suddenly, stepping out into the gospel’s freedom, we can see ourselves as we really are and not be panic-stricken. We’re released from the pressure of having to do and be everything in order to meet our vast unmet inner needs. We finally sense how Jesus is the everything who meets those needs.

The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not – though we try very hard to convince other people we are. But the gospel tells us, “Relax, it is finished.”

Because of the gospel, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we’re something that we’re not. The gospel frees us from what one writer calls “the law of capability” – the law, he says, “that judges us wanting if we are not capable, if we cannot handle it all, if we are not competent to balance our diverse commitments without a slip.” The gospel grants us the strength to admit we’re weak and needy and restless – knowing that Christ’s finished work has proven to be all the strength and fulfillment and peace we could ever want, and more.

– Tullian Tchividjian, 2011

Leave out the holy character of God, the holy excellence of his law, the holy condemnation to which transgressors are doomed, the holy loveliness of the Saviour’s character, the holy nature of redemption, the holy tendency of Christ’s doctrine, and the holy tempers and conduct of all true believers: then dress up a scheme of religion of the unholy sort: represent mankind in a pitiable condition, rather through misfortune than crime: speak much of Christ’s bleeding love to them, of his agonies in the garden and on the cross; without showing the need of the nature of satisfaction for sin; of the freeness with which he dispenses pardons; of the privileges which believers enjoy here, and of the happiness and glory reserved for them hereafter: clog this with nothing about regeneration and sanctification, or represent holiness as somewhat else than conformity to the holy character and law of God: and you make up a plausible gospel, calculated to humour the pride, soothe the consciences, engage the hearts, and raise the affections of natural men, who love nobody but themselves.

– Thomas Scott, 1824

A Tale of Two Baseball Cards

Surviving cancer can make people do strange or different things. Some people decide to travel. Some quit their old jobs and get new ones. Some take up new hobbies.

I can’t afford to travel much. I like my job. But instead of taking up new hobbies, I found myself attracted again to some old hobbies to which I haven’t paid much attention over the past 30 years – collecting coins and baseball cards.

mlb_e_jacksoncard_gb1_200When I was growing up in the 1970’s, I was the baseball card king at school. Fellow students would sometimes give me their baseball cards when their moms would force them to get rid of them. I got several very nice cards this way, with a 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson rookie card being one that I remember.

I didn’t do much collecting after high school and eventually ended up selling some of my best cards to pay some hospital bills. Sometime after that I lost track of my baseball card collection, only remembering that I left it at my parents’ house.

For some reason, I found myself interested in the cards again. Perhaps it was nostalgia or perhaps it was because of job pressures, but whatever the reason I found that it was something that I enjoyed again. So I set out to try to find my collection and then to rebuild it. So far, I’ve only been partially successful.

Finding my collection has proven to be somewhat difficult. My father got involved with baseball cards back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and his basement is filled with boxes upon boxes of these cards from the “junk wax” era. My parents also like to visit yard sales and bring things back to store in the same basement. So when I visit, I’ll spend some time looking around to see if I can find something. Every time I go, I find a different box of my cards, but, so far, haven’t found them all. I don’t even necessarily remember what I had, but I know it when I see it. But I do know there’s some 1969 deckle-edge cards, 1962 Fleers, two sets of Yankees Burger King cards from 1977 and 1978, and a 1955 Jackie Robinson that I said I would never sell.

nolan-ryanRebuilding my collection is just as hard because some of the cards that I sold for good money in 1988 are worth even more money in 2014. A Nolan Ryan rookie card (or two!), a few Mickey Mantles, Hank Aarons, Willie Mays, and lots of great cards from the 1960’s and 1970’s are proving to be somewhat expensive to reclaim. So I have to be judicious in what I spend and when I spend it.

That leads me to the two cards that are mentioned in the title, both from 1973 – Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente.

73Topps050Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash on the last day of 1972. Later that year, probably when I was in the 4th Grade, I ordered a biography about him from the school book order (and I still have the book). I was fascinated to read about how he died attempting to take supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. This was the first time that I remember thinking about the finality of death and how Roberto Clemente wasn’t here any more. I also remember thinking that if he had just stayed home, he’d probably still be alive – deep thoughts for a ten-year-old! The 1973 card was his last and I was able to buy it again and it brought back all those memories.

maysThat year was also the same year I acquired Willie Mays’s last regular baseball card. And I can remember exactly how I got it. I was with my grandfather who drove a car he called “the Pot-pot.” He also knew the guy who drove one of the snack trucks and I can remember him stopping the snack truck one day and buying me a Suzy-Q. Well, this day when we went to the store he told me to get something, so I got a pack of baseball cards. Then he told me something wonderful – don’t just get one, get some more! So I got five packs and was delighted to find Willie Mays in there. I was able to re-obtain the Willie Mays card at the same time as the Roberto Clemente, which I thought was very fitting.

Ultimately, I know it’s just cardboard, which isn’t really worth very much. But the memories attached to those pieces of cardboard are priceless.

Gurnall on sacrificing Isaac

Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused the most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down – and all this now, before thou hast one embrace more from it.

– William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour