A Richard Baxter Hymn in the Trinity Hymnal

Today my church sang hymn #17 from the Trinity Hymnal.

It is written by Richard Baxter. Here is the text:

1 Ye holy angels bright,
Who wait at God’s right hand,
Or through the realms of light
Fly at your Lord’s command,
Assist our song,
For else the theme
Too high doth seem
For mortal tongue.

2 Ye blessed souls at rest,
Who ran this earthly race,
And now, from sin released,
Behold the Saviour’s face,
God’s praises sound,
As in his sight
With sweet delight
Ye do abound.

3 All nations of the earth,
Extol the world’s great King;
With melody and mirth
His glorious praises sing;
For he still reigns,
And will bring low
The proudest foe
That him disdains.

4 Sing forth Jehovah’s praise,
Ye saints, that on him call!
Him magnify always
His holy churches all!
In him rejoice,
And there proclaim
His holy Name
With sounding voice.

5 My soul, bear thou thy part,
Triumph in God above;
With a well-tuned heart
Sing thou the songs of love;
Thou art his own,
Whose precious blood
Shed for thy good
His love made known.

6 Away, distrustful care!
I have thy promise, Lord:
To banish all despair,
I have thine oath and word:
And therefore I
Shall see thy face
And there thy grace
Shall magnify.

7 With thy triumphant flock,
Then I shall numbered be;
Built on th’eternal Rock,
His glory we shall see.
The heav’ns so high
With praise shall ring
And all shall sing
In harmony.

Amen.

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A Review of Chance and the Sovereignty of God by Vern Poythress

chanceChance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events by Vern S. Poythress

Essentially, this book seeks to apply the Biblical worldview to topics like chance, happenstance, and probability. Poythress is fascinating thinker and really has a great way of communicating his ideas.

I began this book with a great deal of excitement, having recently listened to the author’s interview on the Reformed Forum. It’s a highly ambitious project. I would say that not only did he avoid failing, he succeeded in bringing forward a highly readable and helpful resource on the subject.

Poythress seeks to show how a proper view of chance and probability is bound up in the nature of God and the worldview which most accurately reflects the universe God created. For instance, Poythress says that “the very concept of probability depends on the relationship of God’s faithfulness to his creativity”

Poythress is relentless at bringing the Bible to bear on these topics. He reveals the breadth of Biblical revelation on the subjects and presents it all in a very digestible format, even with many helpful diagrams!

If you really dig the rest of the book, don’t forget the appendices! It’s loaded with material. The essays there, especially the one on the probabilities of gambling, are worth the price of the book. The appendices are probably almost 1/4 of the book!

One caution: If you don’t have a strong mathematical background, you may find certain parts of this book rather overwhelming and will need to skip through some parts. I found certain parts a bit “over my head”, though I generally stuck through with it. I simply don’t have a strong enough math background to be able to digest the top 1% of this book in terms of complexity. I sort of wish he simplified some of it, or perhaps pushed it into the appendix, though I must say that the appendix is so loaded that that probably wasn’t be an option. Don’t get too worried about this, though. You could basically skip half of this book and still find a ton of meat to “chew on”. There’s so much to this book beyond the most complex mathematical parts. The handling of the instances of “happenstance” in the Biblical narratives is excellent.

As one other minor critique, I feel like the “Alternatives are not really better” section in the “Disasters and Suffering” chapter could have used some further development. It seems like Poythress sort of rushed through that part.

All in all, this is a unique, momentous book, and Poythress has done a valuable service to Christians who want to think thoroughly through issues like probability and chance.

 

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Out And About (2014/09/16)

Literature

  • Kevin DeYoung has an excellent post on one of my favorite authors, P. G. Wodehouse. He advises: “For your own growth in writing and facility with the English language, and most of all for sheer delight, read P.G. Wodehouse”

Theology

  • Mark Jones has had an excellent string of Reformation 21 articles, including: Republication Debates, The (Gracious?) Covenant of Works and Did Jesus Live By Faith.
  • I wish Christian “culture warriors” who like to rant about how violent a religion Islam is and how it is a threat to Western society would, in their activities, occasionally pause to pray this prayer by Samuel Zwemer shared by Kevin DeYoung.
  • The Confessing Baptist did an interview with Albert Martin. It’s very much worth listening to.

Foreign Policy

  • Micah Zenko has a fantastic article which touches on why Americans shouldn’t be looking for a “tough guy” president when it comes to foreign policy. It also debunks the claim that more Pentagon spending results in less terrorism
  • The Intercept speaks of Obama’s Coalition of the Unwilling to be Named
  • Long time U.S. friend and ally (and recipient of U.S. weapons), Saudi Arabia, is arresting Christians within its borders.
  • This article, speaking of an incident with Ted Cruz, shows how blind and zealous the devotion of some American Conservatives to the state of Israel is.
  • Cuba is saying that the 54 year embargo placed on them by the U.S. cost them $1.1 trillion dollars.

Other

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The Life and Theology of Nathaniel Kendrick (1777-1848)

kendrickIntroduction

I encountered the Baptist pastor and educator Nathaniel Kendrick (1777-1848) in my research on John Newton Brown.[1] I’ve found him to be a fascinating figure for at least three reasons. First, like Andrew Fuller, he’s an example of a thoroughly Edwardsian Baptist. Second, he was a major influence on some very important Baptists in the nineteenth century, such as John Newton Brown and the Judsons. Third, he briefly served as a missionary in my home province, Ontario, Canada.

It is rather entertaining to read descriptions of Kendrick’s physique. At 6″3 or 6″4, he was regarded as a giant. “He was one of nature’s and of grace’s noblemen, formed alike physically, intellectually and morally, on a large and generous scale.”[3]

A Few Details About His Life

Kendrick was born in Hanover, New Hampshire. He left New Hampshire in 1802 and studied theology under “several eminent divines”.[2] He was spent most of his life as a theology professor at Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution.[4] He also served the Lord as a pastor at churches in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.

In 1808 and 1809, Nathaniel made some missionary tours of Upper Canada for the Shaftsbury Association.[5] Apparently his work there was so greatly appreciated that he was asked to settle in with a church in Clinton, Ontario.

In 1817, together with Daniel Hascall, Nathaniel founded the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, which in turn planted Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute, which is where John Newton Brown was educated. Kendrick would labor at the school, which eventually would become known as Colgate University, for the rest of his life.

A Few Details About His Theology

In this section I am going to summarize Kendrick’s theology based on a memoir written about him. I will also provide a few quotes. [6]

Though one of Kendrick’s professors, Nathanael Emmons, was a “New Divinity” man, Kendrick was said to be more of an “old divinity” man.

Kendrick strongly held to the necessity of regeneration. He held that man’s corrupt nature comes from his connection with the first Adam. He taught that Adam’s guilt was imputed to his posterity and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to his people.

Kendrick believed in the divine sovereignty of God in his eternal purposes and election. These were not “dry metaphysical speculations for him” but comfort giving doctrines. When his wife died,  he wrote this in his journal:

“The ushering in of this day is marked with the most trying dispensation of providence that I have ever experienced….She is gone! alas! She will never return! And can I ask for her back? O no. God’s will is done. I am alone with two motherless children, but God is able to provide. O thou Divine Spirit, be entreated to write the law of submission upon my heart. O grant thy supporting presence; and by this wise and holy chastisement, wean thy sinful creature more from this world. O do thou prepare him more for thy service. May he not be left to dishonor the profession he has made; but may he glorify God in this affliction….may it please thee, O God, to sanctify this stroke to us all.”

Kendrick believed God’s own glory was God’s ultimate end in all his operations. He said that “God can no more act below the dignity of his character, than he can deny himself” and “God delights in seeing the perfections of his character portrayed upon the face of his system. The whole created system is not the power of God, but the effect of his power. The created system is no further valuable in the sight of God, than it makes his glory known.”

He believed in the substitutionary nature of the atonement, an atonement which had no possibility of failure and had special reference to “a definite number.” He also believed  that the atonement was made on covenant principles, a contract between the persons of the Godhead to pardon, regeneration, sanctify, and eternally save the elect. He would say that “The atonement was not necessary to dispose God to the exercise of mercy, or to be merciful… The atonement of Christ is necessary to secure and display the justice of God..It was necessary to show God’s sense of wickedness, and magnify the law and render it honorable.”

A Conclusion and a Request

More remains to be said about Nathaniel Kendrick. I hope to do so some time in the future, though I am not sure now is the right time for me to take this further.

I would also love to see some of Kendrick’s sermons and addresses put into the public domain. It would be a great project for someone with typing skills, free time, and access to one of the following libraries:

  • New York University – Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
  • College of Staten Island, CUNY
  • Utica College Library – Frank E. Gannett Memorial Library
  • University of Delaware Library
  • West Chester University (PA) – Francis Harvey Green Library
  • University of Pennsylvania Libraries- Van Pelt Library
  • Princeton University Library
  • New-York Historical Society Library
  • University of Virginia Libraries; University of Virginia Library
  • Syracuse University
  • Middlebury College (VT)
  • Andover Newton Theological School – Franklin Trask Library
  • Brown University Library (RI)
  • Peabody Essex Museum (MA)
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – Goddard Library

[1] Lord willing, my research on Brown will be shortly released in the form of two papers.

[2] L. M. Hammond, History of Madison County, State of New York (Syracuse: Truair, Smith & Co., 1872), 468. The “eminent divines” include Dr. Nathanael Emmons of Frankin, Massachusetts, Dr. Asa Burton (1752-1836)–who was a Congregationalist minister from Vermont–as well as a Dr. Baldwin and a Dr. Stillman.

[3] From S. W. Adams, Memoirs of Rev. Nathaniel Kendrick, D.D., and Silas N. Kendrick (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1860), 230. I’ve listed further description of Kendrick’s physique in one of my forthcoming papers on John Newton Brown.

[4] His title was Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, though he also taught Moral Philosophy and Theology.

[5] The association was formed in the 1780s and had churches in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Upper Canada.

[6] The summaries and quotes in this section are largely based on S. W. Adams, Memoirs of Rev. Nathaniel Kendrick, D.D., and Silas N. Kendrick (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1860).

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Andrew Fuller: Holiness Necessary to Salvation

In a personal confession of faith Andrew Fuller delivered in 1783 when he was installed at the Baptist  Church in Kettering (printed in Haykin’s The armies of the Lamb), item 17 said:

“Although I disclaim personal holiness as having any share in our justification, I consider it absolutely necessary to salvation, for without it ‘no man shall see the Lord.'”

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Early Calvinistic Baptists in Bethel, Maine – Part 7

Following up on a previously posted series of six parts, here is a seventh post looking at one particular Calvinistic Baptist in Bethel, Maine.

Moses Mason Jr. (1757-1837) was a member of the church and also served as Revolutionary War solider, being part of the march on Ticonderoga. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1777, when he was 21 years old, he is described as being 5’6 tall.

In 1799, he moved to Bethel, Maine and bought a farm “on the north side of Barker’s Ferry.” He married Eunice from Dublin, New Hampshire. They had a total of eleven children, one of which, also named Moses (1789-1866)–who went on to become the first postmaster in Bethel.

Moses was very active in the town as a highway surveyor, constable, a representative, selectman, justice of the peace, and was also responsible for 4th of July celebrations.  With the gracious help of my nephew Tyler, I was able to secure a copy of an oration Mason gave “before a respectable audience” on July 4th, 1809. It was printed in 1810 by Sewall Goodridge in Sutton, Massachusetts.

It is rather patriotic, with a balance between optimism and concern for the future. Here is a small portion of the speech which I’ve transcribed:

“We ought to rejoice that our lot is fallen in so favorable a spot, that in confirming our independence and sovereignty, we have had an opportunity of becoming a respectable nation. Will not that day wherein our Independence was declared, be ever had in remembrance as long as the continuance of time? Shall it ever be said we shall be subdued by any one of the powerful Belligerents, which do exist? we hope not. But when we behold the convulsions of Europe, when we see desolation, destruction, and all other concomitant evils of war, spreading wide their baneful influence over the whole earth. Do we not anticipate the approach of that dreaded period, when we shall be involved in that calamitous whirlpool?”

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Out And About (2014-09-08)

Literature

Foreign Policy

  • Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton says she owes a lot to Henry Kissinger–and it shows, her foreign policy very much follows in his tradition. I can only imagine what Christopher Hitchens would have said if he were still alive. Imagine that. Hillary and Kissinger. In one article.
  • The White House is saying that destroying ISIS may take three years. Sounds like an underestimate.
  • Just Say No by Eric Margolis is worth a read.
  • This article is fascinating. Especially the quote from the Iraqi exile from before the overthrow of Saddam’s government: “Of course the Americans will get rid of Saddam…but what will we have then? A thousand little Saddams.”

Israel

  • This post over at Reformed Libertarian is helpful in showing the problem with the common supposition that part of God’s plan is to have the temple rebuilt in Israel.

Immigration

  • This graphic is helpful in showing how important immigrants have been in the founding of the major tech companies in the U.S.

Civil Liberties

  • This data about police militarization is stunning.
  • This sounds “Orwellian” to me.

History

  • This photo of Simone de Beauvoir and John Paul Sartre (from when they first met) is pretty neat!
  • This photography project, featuring mapped photos from the 1930s and 1940s is AMAZING.

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Book Reviewing Tips

readingI am by no means an authority on writing book reviews. However, a friend asked and I figured I would share some thoughts and pointers about reviewing books.

  1. Take notes while you read. Put it somewhere: either in the book itself, on the computer, or on paper. Nothing makes reviewing harder than suddenly have to summon to mind all the details of 300 pages and your reactions to it without having your previous reactions to reference.
  2. Review every book you read (for a while). Then only review books you want to review (for a while). These extremes, the obligation and whimsical choice, will improve your reviews.
  3. Write non-review essays and read books on writing. Read the likes of Christopher Hitchens, P. G. Wodehouse, and Mark Twain.
  4. No matter what position you take on the book, you should aim to be right of contrarian and left of fan-boy stooge. No matter how good or bad the book is, your readers shouldn’t be running for their umbrella to protect themselves from your awe-drool or rage-spit. As a book reviewer, you should aim for a bit of aloofness. You can’t be totally aloof and passionless, but on the other hand there is a sort of coolness that one expects when reading a critic.
  5. Though you may not use it every time, learn to use a scalpel. Make a game of it. Take a 750 word review down to 700, then 650. It’s harder that you think. However, a pared down review will rarely be worse. It will take time and effort, though!
  6. It isn’t a book report. So don’t write a book report. And make it lively and depending on its purpose, more personal.
  7. Briefly check out the other reviews. Of course you’ll want to avoid being influenced by what others say, but on the flip aside, you’ll be a far better reviewer if you are aware of what others are saying.
  8. Your review should be focused on the book, but not myopic either–don’t ignore things like other relevant works, current events, trends, etc. Your readers, if they pick up the book, will not do so in a vacuum.
  9. If you have something to say about it, don’t hesitate to comment on the physical aspects if the book, like ours design, layout, cover, feel, page quality, etc. It’s important to many readers.
  10. Like so many other activities, you should just do it. Stop over-thinking it. No preparation can equal just rolling up your sleeves and writing. You will even learn from your failures.
  11. Rarely, if ever, use words like: timely, magisterial, multi-layered, lyrical, or beguiling. The same applies to phrases like “artfully written”, “consumate ease”, “luminous prose”, or “tour de force”. Just don’t do it, even if you think it makes you sound smart.

That’s all I have for now. Does anyone have any other tips to add?

Image credit:  Image from Magdalena Roeseler’s flickr account, and licensed under the terms of a Creative Commons license. It has been cropped and scaled.

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