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Archive for the ‘Light of Eternity’ Category

“Thus, then, it is that God is saving the world—the world, mind you, and not merely some individuals out of the world—by a process which involves not supplanting but reformation, re-creation. We look for new heavens and a new earth, it is true; but these new heavens and new earth are not another heaven and another earth, but the old heaven and old earth renewed; or, as the Scriptures phrase it, “regenerated.” For not the individual merely, but the fabric of the world itself, is to be regenerated in that “regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19:28). During the process, there may be much that is discarded. But when the process is completed, then also shall be completed the task which the Son of Man has taken upon himself, and the “world” shall be saved—this wicked world of sinful men transformed into a world of righteousness.”

“Surely, we shall not wish to measure the saving work of God by what has been already accomplished in these unripe days in which our lot is cast. The sands of time have not yet run out. And before us stretch, not merely the reaches of the ages, but the infinitely resourceful reaches of the promise of God. Are not the saints to inherit the earth? Is not the re-created earth theirs? Are not the kingdoms of the world to become the kingdom of God? Is not the knowledge of the glory of God to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea? Shall not the day dawn when no man need say to his neighbor, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know him from the least unto the greatest?”

-Warfield, “God’s Immeasurable Love”

-Vos, “Eschatology of the Psalter”

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Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 5. “In Scripture symbolism the grave is the gateway to hell. Accordingly, Sheol in the one sense is the anteroom of Sheol in the other sense.”

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4

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Just finished recording the lengthy chapter “The Biblical Argument” in W. G. T. Shedd’s theological treatise, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment. Truly the definitive modern work on the subject. Listen to them here. Among other insightful and profound passages is the following on the apocalyptic, revelatory nature of death:

“. . . in Scripture death is represented as the deciding epoch in a man’s existence. It is the boundary between the two Biblical aeons, or worlds. Until man dies, he is in ‘this world’ (ho nun aion); after death, he is in ‘the future world’ (aion ho mellon). The common understanding of the teaching of Scripture is, that men are in ‘time,’ so long as they live, but when they die, they enter ‘eternity.’ ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after that judgment,’ Heb. 9:27. This teaches that prior to death man’s destiny is not decided, he being not yet sentenced; but after death his destiny is settled. When he dies, the ‘private judgment,’ that is, the immediate personal consciousness either of penitence or impenitence, occurs. Every human spirit, in that supreme moment when it ‘returns to God who gave it,’ knows by direct self-consciousness whether it is a child or an enemy of God, in temper and disposition; whether it is humble and contrite, or proud, hard, and impenitent; whether it welcomes or rejects the Divine mercy in Christ. The article of death is an event in human existence which strips off all disguises, and shows the person what he really is in moral character. He knows ‘as he is known,’ and in this flashing light passes a sentence upon himself that is accurate. This ‘private judgment’ at death, is reaffirmed in the ‘general judgment’ of the last day.”

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Chalmers, A Single Human Being

Image. Gordon, Sir John Watson. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 – 1847. Preacher and Social Reformer. About 1838. Scottish National Print Gallery, Edinburgh. Accessed December 19, 2019. [URL]

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This late 17th century treatise on ministerial catechesis by Robert Doolittle is simply masterful. A few highlights are worth mentioning. He argues that catechesis should not just be a discipline for the young, but also for the old. One is also struck by the great importance he places on stocking the mind with the furniture of foundational, biblical doctrine. And it is hardly an academic exercise – eternity hangs in the balance. No knowledge, no salvation!

Below is a sample. I’ve simply inserted images from the document. Yes, it’s in an old script. But give it a go, and it will come before long. Note that some s’s look like f’s.

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“February 15th, 1813. — I know not a more serious drawback to mixed society than the exclusion of all conversation about the one thing needful ; and it comes to be a seriousquestion, How are you to get the better of it? Are you to lift your testimony against it? This zeal would prompt; but we are also called to walk in wisdom toward those that are without. There must be a way of introducing the topic, so as to make a useful impression, so as to conciliate prejudice, so as to win, if possible, rather than repel. I confess it is to me a thing beset with many difficulties, and I fear thatan unmanly shame may have some share in it. It is certainly wrong to disguise it from others that you look uponeternity as your uppermost concern. Disguise this, and you add the sanction of your example to their exclusive indulgence in the frivolities of time — you add to the multitude of stumbling-blocks or offenses which lie in the way of others. It is delightful that there is a promise annexed to the prayer for wisdom; and I know not a more delicate subject for the application of wisdom than the one I am now insisting on.”

-Thomas Chalmers, from his private journal

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“.  . . a single human being called out of darkness, though he lives in some putrid lane or unheard of obscurity in your great city, is a brighter testimony than all the applauses of all the fashionables.”

-Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)

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In this quote, we see that while Chalmers’ was deeply concerned to alleviate poverty, yet there is a benevolence that is higher still!

Does it never occur to you, that in a few years this favourite will die—that he will go to the place where neither cold nor hunger will reach him, but that a mighty interest remains, of which, both of us may know the certainty, though neither you nor I can calculate the extent. Your benevolence is too short—it does not shoot far enough a-head—it is like regaling a child with a sweetmeat or a toy, and then abandoning the happy unreflecting infant to exposure. You make the poor old man happy with your crumbs and your fragments, but he is an infant on the mighty range of infinite duration; and will you leave the soul, which has this infinity to go through, to its chance? How comes it that the grave should throw so impenetrable a shroud over the realities of eternity? How comes it that heaven, and hell, and judgment, should be treated as so many nonentities; and that there should be as little real and operative sympathy felt for the soul, which lives for ever, as for the body after it is dead, or for the dust into which it moulders? Eternity is longer than time; the arithmetic, my brethren, is all on our side upon this question; and the wisdom which calculates, and guides itself by calculation, gives its weighty and respectable support to what may be called the benevolence of faith.”

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469px-Jacopo_Bassano_-_The_Good_Samaritan_-_Google_Art_ProjectHere is a sermon Thomas Chalmers preached to a benevolent society that sets forth his principles for Christian benevolence.  He advocates at once a very practical, thorough-going humanitarianism, steering a course between the pitfalls of merely throwing cash at poverty on the one hand and a this-worldly focus on outward needs (anticipating the Social Gospel?).  He was a stalwart evangelical, both ‘practical and pious.’

Again, remember that Chalmers’ sermons are nowhere near as generally accessible as other 19th century preachers such as Spurgeon and Ryle.  If you haven’t read or listened to a Chalmers sermon, you may want to read my short intro under the ‘Audio’ tab.  But while going through Chalmers can be hard work, it is work well spent!

Psa. 41:1 – “On the Blessedness of Considering the Case of the Poor”

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In the following, Thomas Chalmers writes a letter to a former mathematics professor  of his, whom he greatly admired.  Evidently, he thought he might be unconverted.  It also seems, judging from the way he writes here, that he was pricked in his conscience for having delayed so long to share the Gospel with him.  It’s worth noting that only two years later, Chalmers would enter eternity.

Is there someone we know and love, to whom we have a ‘debt’ to settle?  Is there someone who ought to be hearing the Gospel from us, and yet we have been slow to do so?  Let us then make haste, as Dr. Chalmers did, for the day is coming when no man can work!

* * *

To Professor Duncan.

Edinburgh, 14th December, 1845.

My Dear Sir—I should not have written you on Sabbath, but for the subject on which I mean to address you, and to which I shall confine myself. I have long had the utmost regard for you. There is not a human being whom, without the circle of my relationship, I like nearly so well. But, though affectionate toward you, I have not been faithful. Consider how soon both you and I will be mouldering in our coffins. Heaven grant that we may both share in a blessed resurrection, through our common interest in Him who hath said, ” I am the resurrection and the life,” &c Ever believe me, my dear sir, yours very affectionately and truly,

Thomas Chalmers.

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