(Taken from The Theology of the French Reformed Churches by Martin I. Klauber)

The theologians of the seventeenth ­century French Reformed churches displayed a theological richness rarely remembered even among Reformed believers in the centuries following their labor. This particular volume is an attempt to resurrect some of this vitality to a new audience. The book is divided into two sections. The first focuses on the history of the movement and the second on particular theolo­gians. The idea is that we must get a sense of the historical context in which they ministered to gain a full appreciation for the depth of their thought. The period was an unusual one in which France boasted two state religions, Roman Catholic and Protestant, due to the protections afforded the latter by the Edict of Nantes. These protections limited the locations in which they could worship, but the clergy were supported by the state. The Edict also afforded them military protection. Few of the French Reformed theologians of the early seventeenth century still had personal memories of the religious wars, but they had heard the stories and never regained trust for the Roman Catholic elite, although they remained loyal to the king.

The opening salvo in Roman Catholic ­Protestant polemics in seventeenth­ century France began with a major theological debate at Fontainebleau, the palace of King Henri IV. The major combatants were the Roman Catholic Jacques­Davy du Perron and the Huguenot leader, Philippe du Plessis­Mornay at the famed Conference at Fontainebleau presided over by King Henri IV. Du Perron was one of the most capable Roman Catholic scholars of his generation. He was raised in the Reformed faith of his father, a physician turned Reformed pas­ tor who fled to Bern to escape persecution in France. As a teenager, Jacques­Davy converted to Roman Catholicism while under the tutelage of the French abbot and poet Philippe Desportes, and then devoted himself to the study of theology and service in the Roman Catholic Church. He then returned to Normandy and became such an impressive scholar that he was made a reader to King Henri III. He also delivered the funeral oration for the famous poet Ronsard and delivered the eulogy for Mary, queen of Scots. Having obtained the bishopric of Évreux in 1591, he then was responsible for the negotiations with Henri IV that led to the king’s conversion to Rome, leading the delegation sent to Rome to obtain Henri’s official absolution from the pope.

The focus of the conference was to determine the accuracy of Mornay’s five thousand citations from the church fathers cited in his De l’institution, usage et doctrine du Saint Sacrament de l’Eucharistie en l’Eglise ancienne (1598). This was a comprehensive treatise that served as a foundational document for the debates on the church fathers that raged between Protestant and Roman Catholic polemicists through­ out the following century. It also became the talk of the town within the French intellectual and religious world because Mornay challenged the twofold argument that the teachings of the early church supported Roman Catholic theology and that Protestantism was an innovation. Mornay claimed that transubstantiation had been a theological innovation, unknown in the early church. His use of patristic sources continued the trend that went back to the earliest days of the Reformation. Although the early Reformers held to sola Scriptura, they also believed that they had the testimony of the fathers to support them and to show that Protestant theology was not new, but could trace its roots back to the New Testament era. Mornay’s defeat at Fontainebleau threatened this narrative, and many of his followers took up the pen to vindicate his honor.

Although the Lord’s Supper was the subject of much controversy, there were a host of other matters that occupied the attention of Reformed theologians. One major issue was how they were going to respond to the canons of the Synod of Dort in 1618–1619. King Louis XIII would not allow the French Reformed delegates to attend the conference, so the French input was limited. However, the French Reformed synods weighed in and adopted the Canons of Dort at the Synod of Alais in 1620. Acceptance of these decisions was by no means unanimous; many, most prominently the theologians at the Academy of Saumur led by Moïse Amyraut, posited a response to the doc­ trine of limited atonement, referred to as hypothetical universalism or sublapsarianism. The real architect of this view was John Cameron, a Scotsman, who taught briefly at Saumur and influenced a host of French theologians, including Amyraut and Jean Daillé.

cultivating

(Review by Dr. S. Westcott, British Church Newspaper)

Reformation Heritage Books is rapidly emerging as a major supplier of Puritan and modern Reformed theology books. It has recently supplemented its range of more weighty volumes with a series of small, easily read, cheep to acquire booklets, typically ranging from 20 to 30 pages, on the basic truths of the Biblical Christian faith.

With the overall title of ‘Cultivating Biblical Godliness’ the emphasis is on establishing sound doctrine, and then making very practical applications for today’s Christians.

What is a Christian? – Ryan M. McGraw

In thirty pages the writer first clears away false concepts of what it is to be (or become) a Christian, such as reliance on good works, Church attendance, or taking the sacraments, and then he focuses on the fact that a true Christian may be defined by belief in the Bible as God’s inspired and infallible word, accepting it teaching on creation, the fall, and redemption only b saving faith in the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Proofs that a person is a true Christian flow from altered lives, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and spiritual union with Christ.

Fallen man as a sinner, and Christ as a Divine Redeemer are contrasted throughout, and practical questions asked: Do you practice an obedient love for God? Do you love and strive to keep God’s law?

What Does it Mean to Love God? – Maurice Roberts

Love is a much misused and devalued word these days. Love to God is a wholly different thing, the writer emphasis in this booklet, for wholehearted love to God is the duty of all men, punishable when it is lacking, but a daily living reality for those redeemed in Christ. Visible proof of love to God is love to the church family with a continual desire for their increased sanctification and growth in grace, and love for our neighbor, shown especially in a deep desire that souls will be saved and brought from death to life in Christ, all to the end that God may receive the glory.

We do not love God for what he can do for us (wonderful as those things are) but for what he is: his perfections and holiness. Love for God in the soul brings the truest and greatest happiness on earth. By it the believer can rejoice in the greatest suffering and hardship, and its consummation lies in a blessed eternity to come when we shall see our Father, and be like Christ our Redeemer. Heaven after all, as Jonathan Edwards said, “is a world of love.” This is another very practical contribution to the series.

For the eleventh week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of Puritan Reformed Spirituality.


puritanIn these pages Dr Joel Beeke provides us with a first-class tour of some of the great sites of Reformed theology and spirituality. Here we meet John Calvin, reformer extraordinaire; then we encounter the learned Dr William Ames and the insightful Anthony Burgess. Soon we have traveled north to meet the Scotsmen John Brown of Haddington, the great Thomas Boston and the remarkable brothers, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine. Predictably, but happily our guide brings us to The Netherlands and to the time of the Nadere Reformatie, before taking us back to the New World in the company of the remarkable Theodorus Jacobus Freylinghuysen. But the climax of this tour is not reached until our trusted guide has brought us to the family roots from which all these theologians and pastors came — to the strong foundations of Christian living in justification by faith and sanctification in life, nourished by the power of biblical preaching.

For the tenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of The Path of True Godliness.

teellinckpath_mom__42061__46253.1294352906.1280.1280In nine short "books," this remarkable work by Teellinck shows believers the character of true godliness and the kingdom of darkness that opposes it. Dr. Joel R. Beeke, editor of the book, has included an introduction that chronicles Teellinck’s life and times.

This is one of the best books ever written on the subject of sanctification. How does one flee from temptation? What is the best way for believers to open their hearts to God? Packed with scriptural guidance, this book answers these questions and many more about how to live godly in Christ Jesus.

 

(Review from the British Church Newspaper)Songs_front__13143.1387215298.1280.1280

This Reviewer is especially pleased to recommend this little book. Its theme is the value and enduring place of the Biblical Psalms in the worship of the Christian church, but it contains far more than just arguments for the use of inspired Psalms as against modern hymns. Fesko’s point is that the Book of Psalms has been widely neglected by the modern evangelical church; often written off as ‘Old Testament stuff’ by those who rarely stray outside the New Testament. This is great mistake for, as the author shows, the Psalms are central to our faith (not only placed in the very center of our Bibles!) for their prime subject is always Christ and His atonement, and their secondary one is the exercised believer, striving to live out his faith and experience in living fellowship with God in this life, and assurance of acceptance and bliss in eternity. Returning these sentiments to God in worship song is thus not only to employ the words of inspiration, but to exercise a unique combination of prayer and praise.

To make his point the author, after his Preface and Introduction, provides brief but thorough expositions of the first eight Psalms. Psalm 1, ‘The song of the righteous man’: the two ways, that of the righteous or the wicked man. Christ is the truly righteous man. Sin and its consequences can only be conquered by spiritual union with him. Psalm 2, ‘Song of the Lord’s Messiah’: Christ’s Sonship, and the world’s hostility to him and his people. Psalm 3, ‘Song of deliverance’: lamentation and repentance under suffering, appeal to God in faith. Psalm 4, ‘Song of hope’: complaint against the wicked world, and assured safety in Christ. Psalm 5, ‘Song of protection’: lament for personal sin, battle prayer against the wicked, assurance that God will do right. Psalm 6, ‘Song of forgiveness’: deep contrition for sin, self humiliation and cry to God who alone can save and sanctify. Psalm 7, ‘Song of vindication’: we, like Job and Christ himself, can be falsely accused of wrongdoing, but God will vindicate us in his own time, and Psalm 8. ‘Song of majesty’: a song of amazed wonder and praise for God’s goodness.

These can only be ‘tasters’ of the contents, which leave us wishing that the author had continued through the entire 150 Psalms.

The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in nurseryWorship

Daniel R. Hyde

Our Price: $13.00/ Our Price: $11.50

Paperback, 69 pages

As you enter the sanctuary, you notice them at once. Then, as you take your seat next to a family, they are right there beside you. Throughout the ensuing service, you see them – and hear them. The presence of children in public worship in not only striking, but also increasingly strange in modern American church life. In fact, the idea of your children sitting or standing next you during prayer, singing, or the pastor’s sermon can be downright scary. This book is based in the conviction that public worship is the nursery of the Holy Spirit and that bringing children in is both beneficial and a blessing. The Nursery of the Holy Spirit offers practical advice on how to make this ideal a reality in you children’s lives.

 

(Taken from the Blessed and Boundless God by George Swinnock)

When we give Him our love, awe, and trust, we actually give Him nothing.

God is a perfect being. When we describe a being as perfect, we mean one of two things. First, a being is perfect when it posses all that is necessary to its kind (that is, its particular species). So we say a man is perfect because he has all that is necessary to a man – a body with all its parts and members, and a soul with all its powers and faculties. Second, a being is perfect when it is impossible to add to it or take from it. That is to say, it is incapable of the least increase or decrease.

God alone is perfect in the second sense. He is absolutely perfect. The sun neither gains anything when the moon is bright nor loses anything when the moon is dark. Likewise, the self-sufficient God neither gains anything from our service nor loses anything by our neglect. He is above the influence of our actions. Our holiness adds nothing to His happiness: “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? It is any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou are righteous? Or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?” (Job 22:2-3). As our holiness does not help Him, so our sinfulness does not hurt Him: “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? Or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? Or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou are; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man” (Job 35:6-8). The weapons of unrightouesness might inure flesh and blood, but not the Rock of Ages. He is impenetrable.

God is also above our praises and blessings. What does a fountain gain if people drink its water and commend it rather than despise it? What would God gain if He were to make millions of worlds to magnify Him? What would God lose if there were no world at all? God has given to everyone all that they possess, but not one has ever given anything to Him. When we give Him our love, awe, and trust, we actually give Him nothing. We can give nothing to Him because we owe everything to Him. All of His essential glory admits no increase or decrease.

No other being is absolutely perfect like God. We stand in continual need. We need air to sustain us, food to strengthen us, clothing to cover us, fire to warm us, and sleep to refresh us. We need righteousness to justify us, grace to sanctify us, love to comfort us, and mercy to save us. We are a heap of infirmities, a hospital of diseases, and a bundle of imperfections.

Angels are more perfect than we are, yet they too are imperfect. Something can be added to the,, and something can be taken from them. The highest angel can be higher, the holiest angel holier, and the best angel better. Although the stars differ from each other in brightness, none of them are the sun. Although angels differ from each other in honor and excellency, none of them are God – none of them are absolutely perfect.

For the ninth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away the set of 'Family Guidance Series' a 2002 publication

1. Family Worship

With pastoral insight and care the author provides practical and valuable answers to the practice of family worship and at the same time addresses objections raised against it. In a world of impossible standards and idealism, this book is a helpful and motivating guide to implement or increase the depth of your family devotions.

FamilyGuidanceSeries2. Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children

After showing that Christians today fail to understand the role of the covenant in their children’s lives, Joel R. Beeke offers insight on the covenant relationship between God and man, and its implications for home and family. He then teaches parents how to instruct their children in the gospel, with detailed guidelines on how to use prayer, family worship, teaching, conversation, and mentoring to evangelize children.

3. The Family at Church

This book contains guidance on two important areas of family life. First, it explains how we should prepare our families for public worship. Second, it addresses the subject of prayer meetings, their importance and the scriptural warrant for them. Dr. Beeke's approach involves a sketch of the past uses of such practices and a detailed exposition, in such a way, that the reader can apply it to everyday living.

1 Comment

able faithful(British Church Newspaper - Book Review)

There are few things that Britain needs more today than ‘an able and faithful ministry’: evangelical pastors who can, and will, preach and teach the whole council of God without fear of man, who have the Biblical knowledge and insights and shepherd’s hearts to gather and nurture flocks of God’s dear ones in difficult times, and who have the skills and experience to teach and train others, and so to multiply a faithful gospel ministry in this nation. A tall order, certainly, and a situation in which a careful study of men who have been used of the Lord in exactly that way in the past can be a vital asset.

It is in just that way that James M. Garretson’s detailed study of Samuel Miller (1769-1850) will prove much more valuable. Now little known in the UK, Miller is regarded as having been one of the most influential leaders of nineteenth-century American Presbyterian, a man whose career saw blessing in pastoral ministry, whose sanctified wisdom and deep knowledge of church polity helped guide the church through troubled times, and who was, above all, a gifted teacher and mentor for generations of young men training for the gospel ministry.

In Part One of this interesting book Garretson provides a short but detailed life of Miller, from his birth into a godly home as the sixth son of Rev. John miller of Delaware (the family was of Scottish descent), conversion, ministerial training and early pastorate in New York (1793-1813), followed by his call to a Professorship at Princeton Theological Seminary on its formation in 1813, and his long and eminently successful career in pastoral training until his home-call in 1850.

Parts Two and Three (the core of the book) consists of a well-selected sample of Miller’s writings, covering all aspects of the evangelical ministry in a very practical and readable fashion, with introductions and explanations by Garretson. Subjects covered include: importance o the ministry, importance of study, holding fast the faithful word, preaching and pastoring in big cities, clerical (pastoral) manners, preparation of sermons and choice of text, theology of public worship, and many others. Miller did not believe that pastors could be manufactured by Seminaries: a divine call must come first, developed by ‘piety, talents, learning, and diligence’, leading to a ministry that ‘is essential not only to the well-being, but to the very essence, of the church’.

Part Four returns to biography with an account of his final days, and a summary of ‘a life well lived.’