Thursday, November 22, 2007

James Durham on Revelation 2:1-3 - Excerpt

There is no sort of men more hurtful to the church by obstructing Christ's end in his ordinances, viz. the edification of his people. For such profit them not at all, Jer. xxiii. yea they stand in the way of their profiting sometimes by corrupt doctrine, sometimes by example, sometimes by saddening and weakening of these who look more tenderly to the practice of Godliness. And if no other way, yet by filling the room, and so standing in the way of peoples being provided with such as might be helpful and faithful. Now considering the great respect that our Lord Jesus hath to the edification of his people, and considering the weight that he has placed upon his ministry, as a means for promoting of that end, and withal the great obstruction that follows to that end, when this means disappoints it cannot but be accounted acceptable to him to remove such an obstruction.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Qualifications for Public Office

The is a continuation of the 10-28 post from Messiah the Prince or, The Mediatorial Dominion of Jesus Christ by William Symington, D.D., 1884 Edition, Chapter VIII The Mediatorial Dominion Over the Nations, Part Three: Moral and Religious Qualifications:

It is not every individual who is qualified to hold office in a nation. Good natural talents, a cultivated mind, and a due share of acquaintance with the constitution and laws of the country, seem indispensable. Scripture, not less than common sense, discountences the practice of setting feeble intellect to bear rule. 'Wo unto thee, O land, when thy king is a child! Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men. Take ye wise men and understanding, and I will make them rulers over you.' (Eccl. x. 16; Exod. xviii. 21; Deut. i. 13)

Not less essential are moral qualifications. High and incorruptable integrity, well regulated mercy, strict veracity, and exemplary temperance, are all specified with approbation in the Word of God. 'Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people men of truth, hating covetousness. He that ruleth over men must be just. Mercy and truth preserve the king, and his throne is upholden by mercy. If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes to strong drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the judgement of any of the afflicted.' (Exod. xviii. 21; 2 Sam. xxiii. 3; Prov. xx. 28, xxxi 4, 5.)

Nay, more than this, religious qualifications are required in the Scriptures. A profession of religion would seem to be implied in the canon: 'One from among thy brethren shall thou set over thee; thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, who is not thy brother.' (Deut. xvii. 15.)

But true religion of the soul is also specified. 'Thou shalt provide out of all the people such as fear God. (Exod. xviii. 21; 2 Sam. xxiii. 3.)

It is needless to say, that the fear of God is spoken of in Scripture as the very essence and sum of true piety. 'The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me.'

Saturday, November 3, 2007

James Durham on Revelation 2:5

Reverend James Durham (d.1658, age 36), a Gospel minister of Scotland who worked mightely to restore unity between the Resolutioners and the Protesters when they were so divided, wrote and lectured upon Revelation 2:5 as follows:

"Wonder not why God quarrels with Scotland; we need not say it is for corruption in doctrine or discipline, nor for our zealous going about it; that was not his quarrel with Ephesus; therefore he commendeth them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, neither is it his quarrel with us: but as it was his quarrel with Ephesus; that she was fallen from her first love; so it is with us.

There has been much profession of love to God, and zeal for him in professors, and in the outward face of judicatories, which we are not to call in question, nor lay quarrel on it; our Lord Jesus would never have quarreled Ephesus, nor us for zeal and faithfullness: but if we look to his quarrel with Scotland, it is defection, not an outward defection from the truth and purity of doctrine, nor from the external duties of religion; but an inward defection, a declining in the exercise of grace; we have not been so careful to keep up the exercise of grace before God, as to be seen of men.

2. There is a declining in love, especially love to God, and love to one another, which may be seen in our walking uncharitably and untenderly.

3. A defection, in the manner of performing duties; our fasts have not been from a right principle, our centures not in love to the souls of people, much roughness and untenderness in drawing them forth. The duty may be commendable, but the principle from which it flowed may be a ground of quarrel.

Therefore look upon this epistle, as if Christ were writing a letter to Scotland; and in his letter, saying, for as much purity and zeal as ye have, yet ye are fallen from your first love; much of your love, warmness, and tenderness is away; there is a declining and defection from grace in the exercise of it, or from that which seemed to be grace: this will be found to be our sin before God.

The state we are in, looks so like Ephesus, whether we compare the outward state of our church with that before these late confusions came in, some things among us being commendable, like unto the things commendable here; or whether we look to our outward distemper, or whether we look to God's threatening to remove our candlestick, which is the threatening applied to this sin of declining in love, that should make us all take with our guilt, and make use of the warning; and would to God that we could make right use of it.

Certainly we are called to look on this letter as directed to Scotland and to Glasgow; the sin is ours; the duty is ours; and the threatening doth also belong to us, and if there be any thing commendable, it is more in outward form than reality.

Believers are liable to this declining from their first love, though not from their steadfastness, and may have a deep hand in drawing on the strokes here threatened; therefore let them so much the more guard against it."

Source: The Life of the Author, preface to A Complete Commentary Upon the Book of Revelation, by Mr. James Durham.