James Harvey Linsley’s Reading

James Harvey Linsley (1787-1843) was a Connecticut Baptist pastor and, after having to step down from the ministry due to health reasons, a prominent naturalist. He is also the father-in-law of S. Dryden Phelps, whom I’ve written about before.

In November 1837, he wrote to his mother from Stratford, Connecticut. He mentions giving her a Jonathan Edwards book and also reading a Richard Baxter book. He said “I give Bro. J. ‘Edwards on the Affections,’ and I hope some of these long winter evenings may be occupied by hearing it read aloud around the family fireside, where you and your children may many of htem surround it. It is a searching and interesting work. I wish it could be read in every family in the nation, that can understand the language and spiritual distinctions. I have recently read ‘[Richard] Baxter’s Dying Thoughts,’ but have no room to speak of them. They are excellent.” Memoir of the Rev. James H. Linsley (Hartford: Robins and Smith, 1845), 151.

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Books Finished in April

(2 paper books, 6 ebooks, 2 audio books)

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Tom Carson Defending Freedom of Religion

Theologian D. A. Carson wrote a memoir about his father (Canadian Baptist pastor Tom Carson) and recounts how he stood up for religious freedom:

“there was a rather celebrated court case in Montreal against some Jehovah’s Witnesses. A great deal of public opinion had been stirred up against them. Tom wrote to the editorial page of The Montreal Star supporting the constitutional right of the Witnesses to freedom of religion. Tom had worked out the separation of church and state to his own satisfaction, and he saw that however much he disliked the theology of the Witnesses, defense of their freedom was part and parcel of the defense of freedom of all religious persons. His letter was picked up by the national press and printed across the country.” – D. A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 44.

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“An Eloquence in Nature’s Voice” The Pastor-Poet S. Dryden Phelps (1816-1895)

As an offshoot” of my research on J. Newton Brown, I’ve been doing some research on the 19th century Connecticut Baptist poet, hymn writer, travel-writer, and pastor, S. Dryden Phelps. I’ve posted a draft of a paper I’ve written on him, “An Eloquence in Nature’s Voice”: The Pastor-Poet S. Dryden Phelps (1816-1895). It’s just over 30 pages and probably needs some more work, however I think it is dealing with a neglected figure who is worth exploring.

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S. D. Phelps: Travel Writing to the Glory of God

I am doing some research on the Connecticut Baptist Sylvanus Dryden Phelps. I hope to complete a paper on him some day, but in the mean time here is a shorter, more informal preview S. D. Phelps: Travel Writing to the Glory of God over at Kuyperian Commentary.

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Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom

22216201A Review of Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom by Carl R. Trueman

This is now the third book I’ve read in the “Theologians on the Christian life” series by Crossway, edited by Justin Taylor and Stephen J. Nicholls. The author, Carl Trueman (apparently not related to the other Mr. Trueman, the jailor in John Bunyan’s Holy War), is perhaps the Reformed/Presbyterian community’s “resident Luther expert.”

Though I will freely grant his importance as a Reformer and influence on Western Christianity and I respect him as “the father of Protestantism,” for whatever reason I’ve rarely found myself excited to read a book by or about Martin Luther. But I have an inability to say no to books that call my name, so alas, here I go.

This book has a different flavor than the other two I’ve read. Certainly there is less of a popular feel to it, and it gets into more involved areas of theology and ecclesiology to an extent which I haven’t seen in other books in this series. Trueman’s command of his subject shines through a bit more brightly than Nicholls on Bonhoeffer or Ortlund on Edwards. Though Ortlund and Nicholls’ books have some areas of strength comparatively speaking, Trueman generally handles his subject in a way that instills more confidence in the accuracy and evenness of the portrayal.

Trueman paints Luther skilfully and fairly. I especially appreciated Trueman’s discussion of humor in the conclusionand also the section where he speaks about the misunderstanding of Luther’s teaching on sanctification. I also found the discussion of “anfechtungen” to be surprisingly lucid.

I can’t say that Trueman has “blown me away” with this book, either. On the negative side, I feel like he sort of got bogged down in discussing historical aspects of Luther’s views and practices on liturgy and the sacraments. I’m not saying that these things aren’t relevant. They clearly are. However, I feel like they sort of crowded out other aspects that may have been slightly underdeveloped. It seems that he was just sort of rushing to fit in vocation, marriage, children,  etc.

That said, though, Trueman has delivered a solid presentation on what we can learn from Martin Luther on the Christian life. It is detailed, well-organized, conveys enthusiasm, interesting, and useful. What more can we ask for? It is a profitable read and well worth taking the time to work through.

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The Scriptures as “High Art”

“The Holy Ghost in penning the Scriptures delights himself, not only with propriety, but with a delicacy, and a harmony, and melody of language; with height of Metaphors, and other figures, which may work greater impressions upon the Readers” – John Donne

“Let us pay attention to the style of Isaiah which is not only pure and elegant, but also is ornamented with high art–from which we may learn that eloquence may be of great service to faith.” – John Calvin

“the Bible is filled with every manner of literary device to add natural impact: acrostics, alliteration, analogies, anthropomorphism, assonance, cadence, chiasmus, consonance, dialogue, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, meter, onomatopoeia, paradox, parallelism, repetition, rhyme, satire, simile–they’re all there, and more.” – John Piper

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Books Finished in March

(4 paper books, 2 ebooks, 2 audio books)

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