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Greetings


Welcome to my blog! My name is Jessica. I am a Reformed Presbyterian who enjoys reading 16th-17th century Puritans, learning more of God, playing piano, and old-fashioned things. This is a place where I write on things I read or learn in my pilgrimage (as a sort of commonplace book), to aid me in remembering helpful things.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Search the Scriptures (John 5:39)

The Christian Sabbath

Alexander Smellie, On the Hour of Silence, on a comparison between the Sabbath here and the eternal Sabbath:

There remaineth a Sabbatism for the people of God.

The Sabbath here brings release from task-work and solicitude; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it the very service will be repose and the very labour peace and joy.  The irksomeness of toil will be gone for ever.  The burdensomeness of care will not be felt again.  Through all my duties I shall carry music in my heart.

The Sabbath here brings the sweet and solemn worship of God’s holy house; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it my praises will ring louder, and my prayers will have more thanksgiving and triumph in them than they could have meantime, and His truth will shine with brighter meaning and glow.

The Sabbath here brings happy communion with the saints; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it I shall walk in company with the seraphim, and with the redeemed taken from every country and kindred.  O goodly fellowship!  O banquet-hall of Christ, thronged by guests robed in fair linen clean and white!

The Sabbath here brings the sight by faith of my dear Lord’s face; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it faith will give place to undimmed vision. My eyes will look into His.  My hand will grasp His pierced hand.  My feet will follow His blessed feet, through the sinless, sorrowless, deathless land.

Too soon the Sabbath on earth is ended and past.  But the Sabbath of heaven has no ending at all.  Its day never passes into night.  Its glory lasts through cycle after cycle of blessedness. May the Lord of the Sabbath lead me to its consummate joy!

 

RPCNA Synod, 1910, Report on the Committee of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is the mountain day between the weeks.  Here Jesus is found teaching and pronouncing blessings.  They, who will, may have this high day with Jesus, and enjoy His fellowship – the very essence of happiness.  How rich and numerous the blessings that come to such!  This mountain is strewn with precious gifts: comfort for the sad; pardon for the guilty; bread for the hungry; rest for the weary; riches for the poor; visions for the pure; society for the lonely; crowns for the humble; heaven for the persecuted; the Holy Spirit for all.  What happy experiences the Sabbath brings to those who worship in the Spirit!  What views of life, of destiny, of eternity!  What stirrings of the soul, what incoming power, what feelings of holy awe, what consciousness of kinship with God!  How the horizon bounds back, and life grows large!  How near heaven seems to be!  How real the Throne, the Lamb, the angels, and the Redeemed!  Blessing upon blessing for the Sabbath-keeper.  “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keep the Sabbath” (Is. 56:2)!

 

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk:

Neither is there any ordinary means of gaining strength and grace in the inward man like this, of due observing the sabbath.  For this is God’s great mart or fair-day for the soul, on which you may buy of Christ wine, milk, bread, marrow and fatness, gold, white raiment, eye salve, — even all things which are necessary, and which will satisfy, and cause the soul to live.  It is the special day of proclaiming and sealing of pardons to penitent sinners.  It is God’s special day of publishing and sealing your patent of eternal life.  It is a blessed day, sanctified for all these blessed purposes.

 

Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 3:

Observation [of the Fourth Commandment re: Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath] not only consists in resting — as if that were the whole or part of its observance.  It also does not consist in serving God in a more spiritual manner than on other days.  Neither does it consist in a narrow-minded ‘touch not and taste not,’ nor in asking, ‘May I do this or may I do that?’  The sabbath is not a snare, but rather a day of delight–not, however, for sinful flesh.  Those who are spiritually minded will almost always know what either favors or impedes the spirituality of the sabbath and the hallowing of this day.

 

William Ames:

Our souls are burdened for six days with worldly occupations in some way, being turned towards the earth.  It was instituted by the most wise counsel of God that at least on the seventh day we may lift up our souls anew, being turned towards heaven, and that by all means our souls are roused, and in their own degree they are restored.  This restoration is necessary because we even contract filthiness from those worldly occupations; they are scrubbed completely clean and we are cleansed by these exercises of sanctification.  While many occurrences happen on other days that bear their own difficulties and temptations with them, on this day we are outfitted and fortified, so that it occurs like a day for mustering as far as our spiritual arms are concerned; like a day of purgation with respect to putting off our filth; and like a day of our ascension into heaven, to the extent that faith and charity, with the rest of the heavenly gifts, are ascending in our hearts.

 

Keep the Heart as Keeping a Garden

From Thomas Watson’s Sermon, The Spiritual Watch:

Keep your heart as you would keep a garden.  Your heart is a garden (Song of Solomon 4:12); weed all sin out of your heart.  Among the flowers of the heart, weeds will be growing—the weeds of pride, malice, and covetousness: these grow without planting and cultivating.  Therefore be weeding your heart daily by prayer, examination, and repentance.

Weeds hinder the herbs and flowers from growing; the weeds of corruption—hinder the growth of grace.  Where the weed of unbelief grows—it hinders the flower of faith from growing.

Weeds spoil the walkways.  Christ will not walk in a heart overgrown with weeds and briars.  Christ was sometimes among the lilies (Song of Solomon 6:3)—but never among the thistles.

James Durham on Providence

Reading a troubling news yesterday made this quotation poignant to me:

“And therefore: Let us stay our faith here, that our Lord is still working in all these confusions.  And when matters are turned upside down to human appearance, our blessed Lord is not nonplussed and at a stand when we are; he knows well what he is doing, and will make all things most certainly, infallibly, and infrustrably to work for his own glory, and for the good of his people.” –James Durham, Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53, Sermon 34 (on Isa. 53.9), p. 358

 

A World of Thought
old-library-trinity-college

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

 

Bishop Joseph Hall, “Meditation on the Sight of a Large Library”:

What a world of thought is here packed up together!  I know not whether this sight doth more dismay or comfort me.  It dismays me to think that here is so much that I cannot know; it comforts me to think that this variety affords so much assistance to know what I should.  There is no truer word than that of Solomon; ‘There is no end of making many books.’  This sight verifies it.  There is no end: indeed it were a pity there should…  What a happiness is it that, without the aid of necromancy, I can here call up any of the ancient worthies of learning, whether human or divine, and confer with them upon all my doubts; that I can at pleasure summon whole synods of reverend fathers and acute doctors from all the coasts of the earth, to give their well-studied judgments in all doubtful points which I propose.  Nor can I cast my eye casually upon any of these silent masters but I must learn somewhat.  It is a wantonness to complain of choice.  No law binds us to read all; but the more we can take in and digest, the greater will be our improvement.

Blessed be God who hath set up so many clear lamps in his church: none but the wilfully blind can plead darkness.  And blessed be the memory of those, his faithful servants, who have left their blood, their spirits, their lives, in these precious papers; and have willingly wasted themselves into these enduring monuments to give light to others.

 

From John Flavel’s Epistle to the Reader in preface to The Righteous Man’s Refuge:

“If Heinsius, when he had shut up himself in the library at Leyden, reckoned himself placed in the very lap of eternity, because he conversed there with so many divine souls, and professed, he took his seat in it with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that he heartily pitied all the great and rich men of the world, that were ignorant of the happiness he there daily enjoyed;” How much more may that soul rejoice in its own happiness, who hath shut himself up in the chambers of the Divine Attributes, and exerciseth pity for the exposed and miserable multitude that are left as a prey to the temptations and troubles of the world.

 

One-Year Reading Plan for Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour

Christian in Complete ArmourI found a one-year reading plan for William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour.  It could seem a bit intimidating to tackle this unabridged volume of 1,100+ pages.  The grand theme of this book is spiritual warfare and how the Christian can furnish with ‘spiritual arms for the battle’ against the Satanic foe.

Sin never relaxes.  It never takes a vacation.  Our indwelling sin doesn’t lie down and wake up the next moment.  The Puritan John Owen wrote that sin may be most active when it seems to be the most dormant to us, hence we must be vigilant and vigorous against it in our spiritual warfare at all times and in all conditions, even when there is least suspicion.

The reading plan (available here) breaks it down into manageable chunks of reading only a few pages per day.  Because it is a 5-day-a-week reading plan, it allows two days within the week to catch up if needed or to reflect on what has been read throughout the week.

 

Books

Came across this super charming picture.  I like the details that went into it.  The thick black-framed glasses adorning the girl’s face, along with two pigtails.  The piles of books.  Her little hands framing an overwhelmed facial expression.  Her dainty, old-fashioned, retro dress.  She could be a mini Librarian.

 

 

This picture somehow reminds me of a time, when I was perhaps an eight- or nine-year-old girl, browsing through my Dad’s bookshelves at home.  At that age I didn’t have the capacity to fully comprehend what I was trying to read from those books, but I’ve always loved books for as long as I can remember.  I recall turning the pages, pondering what was being written and thinking along the lines of, “When I grow up someday, maybe I’ll then be able to read many books and understand what I read . . .”

 

 “I’ve traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I’ve been where no-one’s been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
~Janice James

 

Give Me Scotland: John Knox

I’m happy to hear about an upcoming feature length documentary on the life and legacy of Scotland’s Reformer, John Knox.

About the film (excerpt from its campaign website):

“The film would retell the engaging and dramatic story of Knox and explore the relevance of the man and of his Reformational message in the 21st Century . . . We believe that a visually gripping film on Knox will achieve a wide audience both in Scotland and around the world, and we believe that this film could be a powerful challenge for the church to live up to Reformational standards and be once again a great force for good in the world. Perhaps it could even spread the vision for a new Reformation.”

To stay up to date with the latest events in the production of the film, simply join its Facebook page.

 

 

 

Charles Spurgeon
spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

If I were to pick any Baptist preacher in Church history whom I’d like to meet, the beloved “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon would be amongst the top of my list.  He has a way with words that often encouraged me upon reading his sermons.  He provides concrete examples with which his layman audience could easily understand.  His diction and delivery are inspirational; they enhance the beauty and force of his message.  After reading Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore, I’ve come to appreciate also his character, wit, and humor.  I think that Spurgeon showed with his ready humor how it is possible for the highest spirituality to be exemplified in the cheeriest character.  His wit is as abundant as his wisdom.

Some favorite sayings and writings of Spurgeon which I find rather memorable (some are funny, and others edifying)…

On criticism:

Spurgeon was well-known as a cigar smoker, mostly for medicinal reasons as he faced certain health problems in his life.  He didn’t view cigar smoking as intrinsically wrong, if not in excess, and said he would quit if he finds himself smoking too much.  At one time, someone (who was particularly critical of Spurgeon) asked him how much is “too much”; to which Spurgeon replied, “Two at a time, of course.” :-)

 

On head of family:

In speaking to a couple getting married one time, he encouraged that they would both be “dearly-beloved” not only at the beginning of their marriage, but all through the end; and that, while their sorrows would be mutually shared, their joys would all be multiplied.  Referring to Ephesians 5:23, he addressed the bride and said:

“According to the teaching of the apostle, ‘The husband is the head of the wife.’  Don’t you try to be the head; but you be the neck, then you can turn the head whichever way you like.”

 

On his age:

Spurgeon had incredible oratory skills even as a teenager.  On his very first effort at preaching in the pulpit, an elderly woman, who was enthusiastic of his preaching, cried out, “Bless your heart, how old are you?”  He replied that there should not be interruption in the service.  After the last hymn was sung she asked the same question again.  He replied, “I am under sixty.”  “Yes, and under sixteen!” the lady replied.  The congregation asked him to come and preach to them again as soon as possible.

 

On the truly Christian marriage:

From his sermon titled “The Saint One With His Savior” in which he beautifully describes a happy marriage and the true wife, all the while describing his beloved wife Susannah:

charlesandsusannahspurgeon

Charles & Susannah Spurgeon

Sometimes we have seen a model marriage, founded on pure love, and cemented in mutual esteem.  Therein, the husband acts as a tender head; and the wife, as a true spouse, realizes the model marriage-relation, and sets forth what our oneness with the Lord ought to be.  She delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection; to her, he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes he is all-in-all; her heart’s love belongs to him, and to him only.  She finds sweetest content and solace in his company, his fellowship, his fondness; he is her little world, her Paradise, her choice treasure.  At any time, she would gladly lay aside her own pleasure to find it doubled in gratifying him.  She is glad to sink her individuality in his.  She seeks no renown for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it.  She would defend his name with her dying breath; safe enough is he where she can speak for him.  The domestic circle is her kingdom; that she may there create happiness and comfort, is her lifework; and his smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks.  Even in her dress, she thinks of him; without constraint she consults his taste and considers nothing beautiful which is distasteful to him.

A tear from his eye, because of any unkindness on her part, would grievously torment her.  She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger, or how another’s judgment may approve her conduct; let her beloved be content, and she is glad.  He has many objects in life, some of which she does not quite understand; but she believes in them all, and anything she can do to promote them, she delights to perform.  He lavishes love on her, and, in return, she lavishes love on him.  Their object in life is common.  There are points where their affections so intimately unite that none could tell which is first and which is second.  To watch their children growing up in health and strength, to see them holding posts of usefulness and honor, is their mutual concern; in this and other matters, they are fully one.  Their wishes blend, their hearts are indivisible.  By degrees, they come to think very much the same thoughts. Intimate association creates conformity; I have known this to become so complete that, at the same moment, the same utterance has leaped to both their lips.

Happy woman and happy man!  If heaven be found on earth, they have it!  At last the two are so welded, so engrafted on one stem, that their old age presents a lovely attachment, a common sympathy, by which its infirmities are greatly alleviated, and its burdens are transformed into fresh bonds of love.  So happy a union of will, sentiment, thought, and heart exists between them, that the two streams of their life have washed away the dividing bank, and run on as one broad current of united existence, until their common joy falls into the main ocean of felicity.

 

On agnosticism:

A gentleman said to Spurgeon, “Ah! Mr. Spurgeon, I don’t agree with you about religion; I am an agnostic.”  Spurgeon replied, “Yes!  That is a Greek word, and the exact equivalent is ignoramus; if you like to claim that title, you are quite welcome to.”

 

On God’s providence:

From Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening; Or, Readings at Eventide for the Family or the Closet (p. 318):

Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you.  Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition.  A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is sand-bank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel, and deviate so much from a straight line?” his answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.”  So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction, where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession.  Some plants die if they have too much sunshine.  It may be that you are planted where you get but little; you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection.  Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.  You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.”  Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good.  Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.  Down, busy self and proud impatience; it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

 

A Divine Shelter

In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian goes through trials, temptations, and triumphs as he goes on his pilgrimage in a fallen world to the Celestial City.

Sin makes this world a dry and weary land.  I’m reminded through Pastor Rob McCurley’s sermon recently, that although the road to the Heavenly City is always an ascent (Psalm 24:3), the Lord Jesus Christ is a place of Shelter.  He is a large Rock that is higher than us (Psalm 61:2) in the wilderness, casting a shadow and providing coolness from the blistering heat of the sun.  He is the Shade upon which I may take refuge.  Anything else is a tree of broken branches with no leaves, leaving us exposed.  Christ is the cool, clear Water which I may drink to the satisfaction of my parched soul.  He is the Shelter from the storm of affliction and rain.

 

On Reading

“Take heed what books thou readest: for as water relisheth of the soil it runs through, so does the soul of the authors that a man reads.” –John Trapp

“It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet.  It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.” –Thomas Brooks

“Ministers are living Books, and Books are dead Ministers; and yet though dead, they speak.  When you cannot hear the one, you may read the other.” –Matthew Poole

“Choose an author as you choose a friend.” –Sir Christopher Wren

“The godly man is a man set apart, Ps. iii, not only because God hath set him apart by election, but because he hath set himself apart by devotion … Begin the day with God, visit God in the morning before you make any other visit; wind up your hearts towards heaven in the morning, and they will go better all the day after!  Oh turn your closets into temples; read the scriptures.  The two Testaments are the two lips by which God speaks to us; these will make you wise unto salvation: the scripture is both a glass to shew you your spots, and a laver to wash them away; besiege heaven every day with your prayer, thus perfume your houses, and keep a constant intercourse with heaven.  Secondly, Get books into your houses, when you have not the spring near to you, then get water into your cisterns: so when you have not that wholesome preaching that you desire, good books are cisterns that hold the water of life in them to refresh you.  When David’s natural heat was taken away, they covered him with warm clothes, 1 Kings i.  So when you find a chillness upon your souls, and that your former heat begins to abate, ply yourselves with warm clothes, get those good books that may acquaint you with such truths as may warm and affect your hearts.” –Thomas Watson

 

Commonplaces

A little lie is like a little pregnancy; it doesn’t take long before everyone knows. — C.S. Lewis

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Great Books

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” —Charles Spurgeon