Archive for the ‘WPE Audio’ Category

Just finished reading and recording Alexander Shield’s Church Communion Inquired Into (1706). Listen to it here, or read it below. This treatise is such a highwater-mark of classic Presbyterianism, with particular focus on the visible unity of the Church of Christ. It was his heartfelt, pastoral appeal to his brethren who refused to enter the Revolution Church of 1690 on account of its putative corruptions, urging them to reconsider their separation. It is not the easiest of reads, for sure, as it was written in the midst of controversy, among other things. But it is a definitive work on Presbyterian catholicity, right after James Durham’s On Scandal. Here is a very moving appeal from his conclusion:

“Keep your Zeal lively against all sin, but let it have two edges, to resent the Dishonour done to God, by Schism as well as defection; let it be Ballanced with Charity, and managed with Discretion. And we request you, that you study Uniformity in your Zeal, that you be not like Cake unturned, hot for some lesser Points in Religion, and cold for other Duties, but with a regular Proportion to their Concern in the Vitals of Religion. Let Religion be more in your Heart than Head, in Practice than in Controversie. Neglect not the Duties of your General Calling of Piety towards God, Sobriety in your selves, Righteousness and Mercy to Men, Brotherly Love, and Holy Christian Fellowship; And forget not the relative Duties of your particular Callings. Have a care of the Idleness of busy Bodies. 1 Thess. 4.11. But study to be quiet, and do your own business, and to work with your own hands. Beware of them that cause Divisions and Offenses, and avoid them. And look on them that blow the Bellows of Contention as no Friends to your or the Church’s Interest. Finally, study to be United one with another, and with your Pastors make Acquaintance, and entertain frequent and Friendly Converse with them, receive the Law at their Mouth, for they are the Messengers of the Lord of Hosts: Grieve them not by your Contempt, or continued Withdrawing, lest they be put to Complain of you to God, and it become Sin unto you.”

Here is a summary of the author by Matthew Vogan: “Alexander Shields (1660?–1700) is less well known than other field preachers such as Donald Cargill, Richard Cameron, and James Renwick. One of the last of the field preachers and a close associate of James Renwick, he was also a prisoner on the Bass Rock. He was a prolific writer and ably defended the Covenanter principles in the classic book A Hind Let Loose. After the Revolution of 1689, he was chaplain to the Cameronian regiment fighting against France in defence of Holland and the Protestant cause. In 1699, he was also among the first foreign missionaries of the Church of Scotland in the infamous Darien venture to what is now known as Panama. He died and was buried in Jamaica in 1700 at the age of forty. John Macleod well describes him as ‘one of the most striking figures of his epoch’. The life of this zealous young man is uniquely interesting and instructive.” Learn more about Shields and this treatise in Vogan’s two-part article, “Alexander Shields, the Revolution Settlement and the Unity of the Visible Church” (2013).

Listen to other titles at WPE Audio

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Have a listen to recorded sermons by the Second Reformation divine, the great architect of the Church of Scotland in that era, Alexander Henderson. More titles from this and other expanding shelves in my audio library here.

Principal John Macleod in his definitive work, Scottish Theology in Relation to Church History (1943), wrote the following:

“There are great times in which a crop of great men is raised up. In one sense all times are great by reason of the opportunities which they offer and the duties for which they call. Men in quiet times, however, live in an age that tells on the more stirring times ahead and their influence will contribute to the stir and bustle of those times when they come. The quiet times see the stream of life running a more smooth and less exciting course. They may be said to be the days of the average man or of the leading man that is distinctly small. The days of the Second Reformation were not of the tame an uneventful kind. They were days when things happened that are not forgotten and great men appeared on the field and had the chance to show their quality. The leader of the Church of Scotland in those days was not one of the creatures of the court exalted to dignified office above his brethren. There were such men with honours thrust upon them—yet not against their will—strutting their petty hour upon the stage. They were, however, but the puppets and tools of the royal policy. The leader who emerged when the call his work came was the minister of a quiet parish in Fife where he had almost as his next neighbor the Archbishop of St Andrews. The Archbishop was Spottiswoode, and the minister was Alexander Henderson.”

[Is a link broken? Please drop me a note! mjives dot refparish at gmail dot com]

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Just finished recording this masterful article by Principle John Macleod (1872-1948) of the Free Church of Scotland. While it is somewhat encumbered by historical details less familiar to the American reader, it is still a fresh, perceptive, and prophetic appeal for the old adherence to full, good faith subscription to the Confession of Faith. If you’re a historic Presbyterian belonging to or respectful of the old Church of Scotland and Free Church testimonies, you owe it to yourself. The PDF of the article is below; and here is a ‘handful of purpose’:

“The Churches of Scotland were unprepared for the day that had overtaken them. In their halting uncertainty they suffered a tendency that was inimical to their historical faith to effect a lodgment in their bosom. They lost sight of the essential simplicity of the Christian position- “Heaven’s easy artless unencumbered plan.” When John tells us that he wrote his Gospel that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing we might have life through His Name he thought the witness borne by his fellows and himself to be ground enough for the faith of Christians to build upon. Christian faith through the ages has responded to this claim. It was the claim not only of the Apostle but of the Holy Ghost who spoke in him. It is undoubtedly the mind of the Spirit that the evidence which He thus bore to the truth as it is in Jesus should suffice for the Church of God to the end of time and to the ends of the earth. What was thus in the Gospels claimed by the Apostles for the witness that they bore they claimed for their teaching in the Epistles. They spoke not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Ghost teaches. They could say, ‘We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.’ Such claims were in full keeping with the promises given to them in the Upper Chamber. There has been from the beginning a Holy Catholic Church -define it how we may- to whose care and keeping the New Testament books were committed and from whose hands in successive generations her children have received them as being alike in their witness and in their teaching the crystallised and perpetuated ministry of the Apostles. As many as are willing to sit at their feet, as they thus continue to bear witness and to teach, will learn to treat the Old Testament. Scriptures as the Lord and His Apostles did. Here we have the common view of Holy Writ held throughout historical Christendom. On this view the whole structure of Christian Theology is built. To maintain the superstructure we must defend the substructure.”

Check out my growing audio library here.

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“Our Reformers were men of great wisdom, undaunted courage, irrepressible zeal and strong faith. They relied not on human expediency, vain traditions, or worldly wisdom, but on God’s promised blessing on His own means. They went direct to the Bible for all their plans, and the result was that every rag of rotten Popery, and every relic of the Amorite was purged away, and cast forth as things accursed into the region of eternal detestation, and the pure evangel set up instead. In the language of George Gillespie:

‘The Church of Scotland was blessed with a more glorious and perfect reformation than any of our neighbor Churches. The doctrine, discipline, regiment, and policy established here by ecclesiastical and civil laws, and sworn and subscribed unto by the king’s majesty and [the] several presbyteries and parish churches of the land, as it had the applause of foreign divines; so was it in all points agreeable unto the word; neither could the most rigid Aristarchus of these times challenge any irregularity of the same.'”

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These words are drawn from the opening of David Hay Fleming’s four-part series of articles in the Original Secession Magazine in 1878 entitled, “The Discipline of the Reformation.” I’ve just finished recording the fourth today. Listen to them here. The PDF is below. And check out more titles in my expanding amateur audio library.

I do not suggest that everything our fathers in the Reformation and Second Reformation did or said regarding discipline should be carried over in toto today. Nor do I think Fleming himself thought this. But before we too quickly dismiss what we may judge austere or harsh, let us consider that we are just as much creatures of our time as they were. And if we shouldn’t be slaves to their judgments, yet we still ought to honor father and mother. And listen to them in the first case!

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Ever read this classic of pastoral theology? Perhaps you should. But if you could use it in audio format, I’m making progress in recording it into mp3. Access it here (and more to follow).

Consider these contemporary endorsements from the Banner edition, then I challenge you not to ‘take up and read.’ Or, now listen, if you prefer!

“This book has been my companion for almost fifty years. First published in 1830, it is arguably more needed now than then. It is a classic, serving as a guide to all who are aware of the perils and privileges of pastoral ministry.” — Alistair Begg

“People ask me, “What’s the very best book for Ministers?” Overall for the ministry, and for passionate preaching, and how to preach to different kinds of people – there’s nothing like The Christian Ministry.” — Joel Beeke

For more titles, see my growing amateur audio library. [And if any links fail, kindly drop me a note: mjves dot refparish at gmail dot com. Thanks!]

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Here is a truly momentous and historic sermon by John Cotton. Richly theological, eminently practical, and tenderly pastoral. On the occasion of the embarking of John Winthrop and company to the Massachusetts Bay in 1630.

The sermon is especially valuable for its contribution to a “theology of place” and the Christian ethics of travel, relocation, and lawful acquiring of land. Have a listen!

One precious gem: “Ruth dwelt well for outward respects while shee dwelt in Moab, but when shee cometh to dwell in Israel, shee is said to come under the wings of God: Ruth 2. 12 . When God wrappes us in with his Ordinances, and warmes us with the life and power of them as with wings, there is a land of promise.”

And check out my growing audio library, including the Puritan fathers of New England.

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[video now posted here]

Watch by FacebookLive, or tune in at linktr.ee/prcofri

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This message was delivered at the Presbytery Conference of the Presbyterian Reformed Church on June 16, 2022. The audio is available here. Special thanks to Susan Abel for her selfless efforts in transcription!

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Isaiah 35:7-10, “And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Revelation 21:1-3, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. Amen, this is the Word of the living God.”

Last month I had the personal privilege of going back to my old stomping grounds—at least, one of them— as a boy. I had not been to Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami, since I was about fourteen years old, not long after my father went to glory. It was a place, notwithstanding the bitterness of the memories of the loss of my father, [that] was overall a time of great delight: many good memories, especially on this particular street. And I am sure my children can tell you, that I would mention the many late nights when we would play a pick-up game of baseball, and take some charcoal and make some bases, and have an awful lot of fun. Well, as we drove up and came into the neighborhood, memories started flooding back—a lot of good memories. And finally I came with my wife to this home, and there it was, largely as I remembered it, although it had a new coat of paint. And much was the same, and much was so very sweet and so very special. I even got to meet the next-door neighbor whom I did remember as a boy (and I got to have a selfie with them!). So it was quite special.


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It is very common for professing Christians to draw a distinction between essentials and non-essentials in religion, and to infer that, if any fact or doctrine rightly belongs to the latter class, it must be a matter of very little import­ance, and may in practice be safely set at naught. The great bulk of men take their opinions on trust; they will not undergo the toil of thinking, searching, and reasoning about anything, and one of the most usual expedients adopted to save them the trouble of inquiry, and to turn aside the force of any disagreeable fact, is to meet it by saying, ”The matter is not essential to salvation; therefore we need give ourselves little concern on the subject.”

If the distinction here specified is safe, the inference drawn from it is certainly dangerous. To say that, because a fact of Divine revelation is not essential to salvation, it must of necessity be unimportant, and may or may not be received by us, is to assert a principle, the application of which would make havoc of our Christianity. For, what are the truths essential to salvation? Are they not these: That there is a God; that all men are sinners; that the Son of God died upon the cross to make atonement for the guilty; and that whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved? There is good reason for believing that not a few souls arc now in happiness, who in life knew little more than these—the first principles of the oracles of God—the very alphabet of the Christian system; and if so, no other Divine truths can be counted absolutely essential to salvation. But if all the other truths of revelation are unimportant, because they happen to be non-essentials, it follows that the Word of God itself is in the main unimportant; for by far the greatest portion of it is occupied with matters, the knowledge of which, in the case supposed, is not absolutely indispensable to the everlasting happiness of men. Nor does it alter the case, if we regard the number of fundamental truths to be much greater. Let a man once persuade himself that importance attaches only to what he is pleased to call essentials, what­ever their number, and he will, no doubt, shorten his creed and cut away the foundation of many controversies; but he will practically set aside all except a very small part of the Scriptures. If such a principle does not mutilate the Bible, it stigmatizes much of it as trivial. Revelation is all gold for preciousness and purity, but the very touch of such a principle would transmute the most of it into dross.

Read the entire treatise, Which is the Apostolic Church?, by Thomas Witherow, below. Or, listen to an audio version here.

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