Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reflections from Charles Spurgeon on ushering in a new year

    Now, Brothers and Sisters, concerning this next year upon which we are entering, I hope it will be a year of happiness to you—I very emphatically wish you all a Happy New Year—but nobody can be confident that it will be a year free from trouble. On the contrary, you may be pretty confident that it will not be so, for man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward! [Job 5:7] We have each, beloved Friends, some dear faces in which we rejoice—may they long smile upon us! But remember that each one of these may be an occasion of sorrow during the next year, for we have neither an immortal child, nor an immortal husband, nor an immortal wife, nor an immortal friend and, therefore, some of these may die within the year. 
    Moreover the comforts with which we are surrounded may take to themselves wings before another year shall fulfill its months. Earthly joys are as if they were all made of snow—they melt even as the hoar frost and are gone before we conclude our thanksgiving for their coming. It may be you will have a year of drought and shortness of bread—years lean and ill-favored may be your portion. Yes, and yet more—perhaps during the year which has almost dawned, you may have to gather up your feet in the bed and die to meet your father's God. Well now, concerning this approaching year and its mournful possibilities, shall we grow gloomy and desponding? Shall we wish we had never been born or ask that we may die? By no means! 
    Shall we, on the other hand, grow frivolous and laugh at all things? No, that were ill-becoming in heirs of God. What shall we do? We will breathe this prayer, "Father, glorify Your name." That is to say, if I must lose my property, glorify Your name by my poverty! If I must be bereaved, glorify Your name in my sorrows! If I must die, glorify Your name in my departure. Now, when you pray in that fashion, your conflict is over! No outward fright nor inward fear remains if that prayer rises from the heart! You have now cast aside all gloomy forebodings and you can thoughtfully and placidly pursue your way into the unknown tomorrow. Pass on, O caravan, into the trackless desert! Still proceed into the wilderness of the future which no mortal eye has seen, for yonder fiery cloudy pillar leads the way and all is well!
"A Golden Prayer"
Metropolitan Tabernacle, morning service
December 30, 1877

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Life is Like a Painted Dream"

"For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." Psalm 48:14

The world passes away. Everything here in this present world is changing.

"Life is like a painted dream;
Like the rapid summer stream;
Like the fleeting meteor's ray;
Like the shortest winter's day;
Like the fitful breeze that sighs;
Like the waning flame that dies;
Darting, dazzling on the eye;
Fading in eternity."

A rope of sand, a spider's web, a silken thread, a passing shadow, an ebbing wave, are the most fitting and expressive emblems of all things belonging to this present earthly state. The homes that sheltered us in childhood we leave. The land which gave us birth we leave. The loved ones who encircled our hearths pass away. The friends of early years depart. And the world that was so sunny, and life that was so sweet, is all beclouded and embittered—the whole scenery of existence changed into wintry gloom. Such are the saddening, depressing effects of life's vicissitudes.

But in the midst of all, "this God is our God for ever and ever!" All beings change but God. All things change but heaven. The evolutions of time revolve, the events of earth go onward, but He upon whom all things hang, and by whom all events are shaped and controlled, moves not. "For I am the Lord, I change not." Our affairs may alter. Our circumstances may change. Our relations and friends may depart one by one. Our souls in a single day pass through many fluctuations of spiritual feeling. But He who chose us to be His own, and who has kept us to the present moment, is our covenant God and Father forever and ever, and will never throw us off and cast us away. "For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death."
 --Octavius Winslow, Christ's Sympathy to Weary Pilgrims

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The First Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

[But first, the resolution discussed and passed by the 1st Session of the House of Representatives]

Mr. Boudinot said, he could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:
Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.
Mr. Burke did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings. Two parties at war frequently sung Te Deum for the same event, though to one it was a victory, and to the other a defeat.

Mr. Boudinot was sorry to hear arguments drawn from the abuse of a good thing against the use of it. He hoped no gentleman would make a serious opposition to a measure both prudent and just.

Mr. Tucker thought the House had no business to interfere in a matter which did not concern them. Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do? They may not be inclined to return thanks for a Constitution until they have experienced that it promotes their safety and happiness. We do not yet know but they may have reason to be dissatisfied with the effects it has already produced; but whether this be so or not, it is a business with which Congress have nothing to do; it is a religious matter, and, as such, is proscribed to us. If a day of thanksgiving must take place, let it be done by the authority of the several States; they know best what reason their constituents have to be pleased with the establishment of this Constitution.

Mr. Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving, on any signal event, not only as a laudable one in itself, but as warranted by a number of precedents in holy writ: for instance, the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple, was a case in point. This example, he thought, worthy of Christian imitation on the present occasion; and he would agree with the gentleman who moved the resolution.

Mr. Boudinot quoted further precedents from the practice of the late Congress [Continental Congress]; and hoped the motion would meet a ready acquiescence.

The question was now put on the resolution, and it was carried in the affirmative; and Messrs. Boudinot, Sherman, and Sylvester were appointed a committee on the part of the House.

Annals of Congress
House of Representatives
1st Congress, 1st Session
September 25, 1789

************************************************************************

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Harvard: Then and Now

Rules, and Precepts that are observed in the Colledge (1643)

[...]

2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17. 3. and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.
  And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himselfe by prayer in secret to seeke it of him Prov 2, 3.

3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoretticall observations of the Language, and Logick, and in Practicall and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm. 119. 130.

4. That they eschewing all profanation of Gods Name, Attributes, Word, Ordinances, and times of Worship, doe studie with good conscience, carefully to retaine God, and the love of his truth in their mindes else let them know, that (notwithstanding their Learning) God may give them up to strong delusions, and in the end to a reprobate minde, 2 Thes. 2. 11, 12. Rom. 1. 28.

[...]

6. None shall under any pretense whatsoever, frequent the company and society of such men as lead an unfit, and dissolute life.
  Nor shall any without his Tutors leave, or (in his absence) the call of Parents or Guardians, goe abroad to other Townes.

7. Every Schollar shall be present in his Tutors chamber at the 7th. houre in the morning, immediately after the sound of the Bell, at his opening the Scripture and prayer, so also at the 5th. houre at night, and then give account of his owne private reading, as aforesaid in Particular the third [rule], and constantly attend Lectures in the Hall at the houres appointed.  But if any (without necessary impediment) shall absent himself from prayer or Lectures, he shall bee lyable to Admonition, if he offend above once a weeke.

8. If any Schollar shall be found to transgresse any of the Lawes of God, or the Schoole, after twice Admonition, he shall be lyable, if not adultus ["of age"] to correction, if adultus, his name shall be given up to the Overseers of the Colledge, that he may bee admonished at the publick monethly A&t.

--New England's First Fruits, pp. 26-28

=========================================================

November 29, 2012: “College Approves BDSM Group”

--The Crimson

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Hymn: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.


Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Refrain

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Refrain

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Refrain

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
[or Jesus! I do now adore Him,]
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Refrain

Words: John Wilbur Chapman
Music: Rowland Huw Prichard

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Hymn: Hallelujah Chorus

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
[...]
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
[...]
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

(Rev 19:6; Rev 11:15; Rev 19:16)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Hymn: The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Chorus

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Chorus

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

Chorus

Words and Music: Keith Getty & Stuart Townend