The Spiritual Chymist, Meditation LV


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Upon a Looking Glass



What is that which commends this glass? Is it the pearl and other precious stones that the frame is set in, is richly decked and enameled? Or is the impartial and just representation that it makes according to the face everyone who beholds himself bring unto it? Surely the ornaments are wholly foreign and contributing no more to its real worth than the case does onto the goodness of the wine into which it is put; or the richness of the plate [silver] to the cordial in which it is administered?

That for which the glass is to be esteemed is the true and genuine resemblance it makes of the object which is seen in it, when it neither flatters the face by giving any false beauty to it, nor yet injures it by detract ought [anything] from it.

To slight [think less than proper of] then or neglect the glass for the meanness [lowliness, lack of ornaments] of its case, and to value it only for its gaiety [beauty, appearance] is no better than the folly of children or the brutish ignorance of those who judge a book by its cover and not by the learning that is in it.

For quarreling with a glass for its returning a most exact and absolute likeness of the face that is seen in it is to despise it for its excellency and come from no other ground than a conscious of some guilt [here, a fault, not necessarily a moral failing].

Is it not for this very respect that beautiful persons both prize it and use it happily too much? It being the only means whereby they come to be acquainted with their own comeliness [beauty] and to understand what it is that allures the hearts and eyes of all toward them.

Who then but those who features nature has drawn with a coal rather than a pencil, or whom age and sickness have robbed them of what they formerly prided themselves in, shun the familiar use of it [use a mirror regularly]. Or be angry when they look into it, as if it upbraided them [rebuked them], rather than resemble them.

Phyrnethe famous harlot throws passionately away her glass saying, As I am, I will not; as I was, I cannot behold myself. And yet is this not anger against the glass causeless [without a reason]? Does it make gray hears upon the head? Or the pock-marks and wrinkles upon the face? Or does it discovery only what age and disease have done? And let them see what they cannot conceal from others?

Now what does all this argue but an averseness in men to understood the truth of their condition and a willingness through self-flattery to deceive themselves in thinking of what ever they have above what is meet [appropriate, fitting]? Great must be the impatience against truth, when the silent elections of the glass that vanish as soon as it is turned from, kindle such dislikes in the breast as to make it cast them from them [one anger throwing the mirror] for doing only the same to them which it does to others.

Here methinks [I think] we may find the ground that carnal men [one who is in the flesh, and does not have the Spirit of God] are offended at the Word, both in putting scorn and contempt upon it by the low and mean [base, foul] thoughts they have of it; or else by the anger they express against it, in throwing this blessed mirror from them in as great, though not so good, a heat as Moses did the tables which he brake beneath [at the foot of] the Mount [Ex. 32:19].

Some pick a quarrel with the plainness of the Word, as if it wholly wanted [lacked] those embroideries of wit and art that other writings and discourses abound with, and had none of those quaint expressions that might win the affections of them that converse [here, read] with it.

But is not this to make such use of the Word as young children do the glass, more to behold the babies in their own eyes, than to make any observance of themselves.

Is the Word writ or preached to have its reflections upon the fancy [vain imagination] or upon the conscience? Is it to inform only the head or reform the heart? If the inward man be the proper subject of it, the simplicity of conduces to that great end than the contemperation [accommodation] of it with humane mixtures [adding or mixing in something which would make it accommodating to “polite” speech].

It is not the painted but crystal glass by which the object is best discerned.

Others again are not a little displeased with the Law or the Word of God, because when they look into it both their persons and their sins are represented in a far differing manner from those conceptions they ever had of one or the other. In their own eyes, they are as Absaloms without any blemish; but in this glass they are as deformed lepers and spread with a uniform uncleanness: and who can bear it to see himself thus suddenly transformed into a monster?

Now their sins which they judged to be as little as the motes [a mote is a speck of dust] in sunbeams, appear in amazing dimensions, and it is to them not a looking glass but a magnifying glass. Thoughts of the heart, glances of the eye, words of the lips, irruptions of the passions are all censured by it as deserving death, and there is nothing can escape it, which as a rule it will not guide or as a judge condemn.

O how irksome this must needs be to carnal and unregenerate men who abound with self-flattery and presumptions of their own innocence and righteousness who can as with little patience endure the convincing power of the Word as sore eyes the severe searchings of the light.

We need not wonder that the Word has so many adversaries who take part with Nature against Grace, setting their works on wits by distinctions and blended interpretations to make it as a glass breathed and blown upon, which yields nothing but dim and imperfect reflections.

Is there anything that the Word does more clearly assert than the loathsome condition of Man’s nature with which comes into the world? Is it not expressed by the filthiness of the birth every child is encompassed with when it breaks forth from the womb? Is it not resembled to the rottenness and stench of the grave into which Man is resolved when he is said to be dead in sins and trespasses?

And yet how many when they view themselves in this glass give out to the world that they can see no such thing?

Celestius of old [a follower of the heretic Pelagius, 5th century] thought the original sin was matter [of the substance] of dispute rather than faith. And some have been so bold of late as to call it [original sin] Austin’s figment [a figment of Augustine’s imagination].

But the more injurious to this divine mirror of truth, the more it behooves every good Christian to be studious in vindicating it from the scorns of such as despise it for its simplicity [clarity] and from the impieties of others that seek to corrupt its purity; and to show for what cause others hate it, he [the Christian] most affectionately loves and prizes it.

Thy Word is very pure, says David, therefore thy servant loves it. [Ps. 119:140]. Can you do God better service, while you honor his Word which he has magnified above all his Name? [Ps. 138:2] Or can you do yourselves more right than to judge yourselves by that which is so pure that it can neither deceived nor be deceived.

What though it present you with sad spectacle of your sins, which may justly fill you with shame and self-abhorrence; does it not also show you your Savior, who is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. And cannot this joyful sight raise you more than the other sight can cast you down?

O fear not to see your sin, when you may at the same time behold your Savior. A mourning heart is the best preparation for a spiritual joy, and serves to intend the height of it, as dark colors do set off the gold that is laid upon them.

Give me, therefore, O Lord a broken and relenting heart
That sin may be my sorrow
And Christ may be my joy;
Let my tears drop from the eyes of faith
That I may not mourn without hope
Nor yet rejoice without trembling.
Let me see my sins in the glass of the Law
To humble me,
And my Savior in the glass of the Gospel
To comfort me
Yea, let me with open so behold his glory
As to be changed into the same image
From glory to glory.

The Spiritual Chymist, Meditation LIV


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The prior post in this series may be found here

Upon Health of Body & Peace of Conscience

It was a high and eminent testimony given by St. John the Elder to Gaius in the prayer that he made for him, with an earnest the he might prosper and be in health, even as his soul prospered. (3 John 2) It is a crown that I could heartily desire might be deservedly set upon the head of everyone that is called by the honorable name of Christian; than I doubt not, but those reproaches which are daily cast upon them would fall as far short of them as stones that thrown at the Sun; and those scandals at which those who are without do stumble would be removed, and they also won by their own conversation [conduct/manner of life] to the obedience of faith.

But alas, I must invert the apostle’s wish, and I will wish true prosperity to the saints themselves; and pray that their souls may prosper and be in health as their bodies prosper: so unequal is the welfare for the most part that is between the one and the other. Where may I find the man? Or, who can tell me what is his name whose care and observance has so far prevailed as to make his soul an equal plight [agreement: he has agreed with his soul to take care of it to the same degree he has agreed to take care of his body] with his body; and to keep one as free from lusts as the other from diseases?

Whoever thought it necessary that pension should be given to orators to dissuade men from running into infected houses [a house where people were suffering from the plague]? Or to be out of love with moral poisons? Is not the least jealousy and suspicion of such things an argument enough to secure themselves against managers that may fall out?

But is there not need to admonish and warm the best and holiest of men that they abstain from fleshly lusts which war against these soul? Is it not requisite to bid the most watchful to take heed of lethargy when the Wise Virgins fall aside [Matt. 25:1, et seq.]? Did not Christ himself caution his disciples against having their hearts at any time over-charge with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life [Luke 8:14 & 12:37]?

And yet the meanest [lowly, not-noble] of their condition might seem to exempt them from such snares?

From whence then is ti that the welfare of the body should be mores studiously endeavored by all than the well-being of the soul in peace and serenity is almost by any? Is it not from the strength of fleshy principles which abide in the best and darken oft times the eye of understanding that it cannot right apprehend its concernments?

If there were but a clear insight into that blessedness into which peace of conscience does estate a believer, it could not be but that, it being laid in the balance with the health of the body, it should as far overweigh it as a full bucket a single drop, or as the vintage of a particular wine [to a] cluster [of grapes].

True it is that health of the body is a salt of all outward blessing which without it have no relish or flavor; neither riches nor honors nor delights for the belly or back, can yield the least pleasure where this is wanting; so the the enjoyment of it alone may be set against many other wants [things which are lacking]. And better it is to enjoy health without other additional comforts than to posses them under a load of infirmities.

And yet I may still say, What is the chaff to the wheat. Though it be the greatest outward good that God bestows in this life, it is nothing to that peace which passes understanding. Sickness destroys it [the body]; age enfeebles it; and extremities embitter it. But is the excellency of this divine peace that works joy in tribulation, that supports in bodily languish, and creates confidence in death.

Who is it that can throw forth the gauntlet, and bid defiance to the armies of trials, to persecutions, distress, famine, nakedness, perils, and sword [Rom. 8:35], but he whose heart is established with this peace (the ground of which is God’s free love; the price of which is Christ’s satisfaction [atoning death on the cross]; and the worker of which is the Holy Spirit; and the subject of which is a good conscience).

This was that that filled Simeon’s heart with joy and made him to beg a dimission [permission to depart] of his Savior [Luke 2:29] whom his eye had seen, his arms embraced and his soul trusted in. What a strange thing it is then that there should be so few merchant men that seek this godly pearl, which is far above all treasures of the earth, that are either hid in it or extracted from it?

Many say, Who will show us any good. [Ps. 4:6a]. But is David only that prays, Lord lift up the light of thy countenance upon us. [Ps. 4:6b] Others, like the scattered Israelites in Egypt go up and down gathering straw and stubble [Ex. 5:12]; when he, like an Israelite indeed, in the wilderness of this world, seeks mana which his spirit gathers up and seeds upon with delight and cries, Thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increase. [Ps. 4:7]

It is the love of God shed abroad in the heart [Rom. 5:5] that doubles the sweetness of prosperity and sweetens also the bitterness of affliction: A wonder only therefore it is, not that few should seek but a much greater that any in this world should live without it.

Can any live well with the King’s favor, either in court or kingdom? And yet there are many places wherein such persons may lie hid in his dominions, when the utmost ends of the earth cannot secure the against God’s frowns. But if any be so profligate as Cleopatra-like to dissolve this jewel of peace in his lusts, and to drink down, in one prodigious draught that which exceeds the world in its price, and yet think they can live well enough without it; let them consider how they will do to die without it.

Sweet it is in life, but will be more sweet in death. It is not then the sunshine of his creatures but the Savior-shine that refresh them. It is not the wine that can cheer the heart, but the blood of sprinkling that will pacify it. [Heb. 10:22]

The more perpendicular death comes to be over our head, the lesser will the shadow of all earthly comforts grow and proves useless, either to assuage the pains of it or to mitigate the fears of it.

What is a fragrant posey put into the hands of a malefactor [here a condemned criminal] who is in the sight of the place of execution, and his friends bidding him to smell on it? Or, what is the delivering to him a sealed conveyance that entitles him to great revenues who has only minutes to live?

But, O what excess of joy does fill and overflow such a poor man’s heart when a pardon form his Prince comes happily in to prevent the stroke of death and to assure him both of life and estate?

This indeed is health and marrow to the bones.

And is it not thus to a dying sinner, who expects in a few moments to be swallowed up by those flames of wrath, the heat of which already scorches his conscience and cause agonies and terrors which embitter all the comforts of life and extract cries from him that are like the yelling of the damned: I am undone, without hope of recovery! Eternity itself will as soon end as my misery: God will forever hold me as his enemy, and with his own breath will enliven those coals that must be heaped upon me.

Of what value now would one smile of God’s face be to such a person? How joyfully would the softest whisper of the Spirit be that speaks any hope of pardon or peace. Would not one drop of this sovereign balm of God’s favor, let fall upon the conscience, heal and ease more than a river of all other delights whatsoever?

Think therefore upon it, O Christians, so as not any longer through your own default to be without the sense of blessing in your heart; that so in file as well as in death you may be filled with this Peace of God which passes understanding. [Phil. 4:7]

If prayer will obtain it, beg every day a good look form Him, the light of whose countenance is the only health of yours. If a holy and humble walking will preserve it, be more careful of doing anything to lose your peace than to endanger your health; remember that peace is so much better than health, as the soul is better than the body.

But grant, Holy Father
However others may neglect or defer to seek peace with Thee
And from thee
Yet I may now find thy peace in me
By thy pardoning all my iniquities
And may be found of thee in peace without spot
And blameless in the great day.

Delusional Misidentification Syndrome

I’m dealing with delusions in a current lawsuit (was a particular dead woman’s believe a delusion or not), and that has entailed a great deal of reading to prepare for trial. A delusion is basically a persistent belief held without or even contrary to evidence.

While not directly relevant to my case, one type of delusion which makes frequent appearance in literature and movies is the “delusional misidentification syndrome” here someone believes others are replaced with an imposter (and now that robots are crossing the “uncanny valley” this might even become possible); that the person in the mirror is an imposture, that someone else has been doubled or tripled, that I have been doubled:

Intermetamorphosis is a misidentification syndrome in which an individual has the erroneous belief that familiar persons have exchanged identities. In the syndrome of subjective doubles, patients believe that there are other persons who look like them, but that they have different traits and live different lives. This situation has been commonly depicted in movies, such as The Sixth Day,9where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is cloned without his knowledge or consent, and in TV shows, such as Battlestar Galactica10 and Star Trek,11 where clones represent the main rivals to the shows’ heroes. Mirrored-self misidentification involves the misperception that one’s reflection in the mirror is a stranger. Individuals affected with the syndrome of delusional companions believe nonliving objects possess consciousness, can think independently, and feel emotion. The movie Night at the Museum12 features objects exhibited at a museum that appear alive to the protagonist. Clonal pluralization of the self differs from the syndrome of subjective doubles, in that the patient believes that there are multiple copies of himself who are physically and psychologically similar to themselves.

The Masks of Identity For all this strangeness, misidentification syndromes entail not believing that either oneself or another is the person they appear to be.

For example, a man named Arthur, following an automobile accident believed that his parents had been replaced with impostors. His father set up a means of responding this delusion:

The next day, Arthur’s father entered his son’s bedroom and announced cheerfully, “Arthur, guess what! That man you’ve been living with all these days is an impostor. He really isn’t your father. You were right all along. So I have sent him away to China. I am your real father.” He moved over to Arthur’s side and clapped him on the shoulder. “It’s good to see you, son!”

Arthur blinked hard at the news but seemed to accept it. When he came to our laboratory the next day I said, “Who’s that man who brought you in today?”

“That’s my real father.”

“Who was taking care of you last week?”

“Oh,” said Arthur, “that guy has gone back to China. He looks similar to my father, but he’s gone now.”

Alas, this intellectual acceptance of his parents did not last. One week later Arthur reverted to his original delusion, claiming that the impostor had returned.

Arthur was suffering from Capgras’ delusion, one of the rarest and most colorful syndromes in neurology. The patient, who is often mentally quite lucid, comes to regard close acquaintances – usually his parents, children, spouse or siblings – as impostors. Although such bizarre delusions can crop up in psychotic states, more than a third of the documented cases of Capgras‘ syndrome have occurred in conjunction with traumatic brain lesions, like the head injury that Arthur suffered. This suggests to me that the syndrome has an organic basis. But the majority of Capgras’ patients are dispatched to psychiatrists, who tend to favour a Freudian explanation of the disorder.

The Unbearable Likeness of Being, The Independent November 22, 1998.  The how and why of these delusions are the subject of great debate. The “Masks of Identity”, cited above, lists out of the various potential causes and treatments; but there is no universal consensus.

As a psychiatric condition, it is unimaginably sad. How can love and friendship exist, where those closest to one (the delusions seem to center upon those closest; although there are delusions about those who are not close in fact, such as believing a famous person is in love with me) may not be “real.”

What the delusions do raise is questions about what constitutes a “self”. The question seems obvious — even silly to ask: of course I know who I am and who you are. But when we begin to specify precisely what makes one-self consistently the same, problems arise.

If we merely limit it to the body, why do we hold someone in prison for more than a few years? If all of the cells in the body have been replaced, then the original person no longer exists. If self is a matter of behavior, then is an actor the same person? If self is a matter of self identification (which is a common delusion at present), then if someone self-identifies as someone different today than they were yesterday, has someone new taken over the same body?

And so, when we trace out the radical self-identification chic of our present, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish it from delusion.

Who is the “Old Man” in Romans 6? (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)


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Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538

In his sermon on Romans 6:5,6, Dr. Lloyd-Jones considers the issue of what is meant by the “old man” who has been crucified. He rejects one common understanding  that the old man is “the carnal nature and all its propensities”. Rather, the old man “the man that I used to be in Adam” (Rom. 6, p. 62). “As a Christian I am no longer in Adam; I am in Christ….It is not my carnal, sinful nature. That is still here, but the old man has gone, he has been crucified.” (Rom. 6, p. 63).

That is why those who are in Christ are no longer under condemnation. Rom. 8:1. The condemned man has been crucified; I am someone else.

And here is the implication:

We are never called to crucify our old man. Why? Because it has already happened — the old man was crucified with Christ on the Cross…nowhere does the Scripture call upon you to get rid of your old man, for the obvious reason that he is already gone….What you and I are called upon to do is to cease to live as if were were still in Adam. Understand that the “old man” is not there The only way to stop living as if he were still there is to realize that he is not there. That is the New Testament method of sanctification. the whole trouble with us, says the New Testament, is that we do not realize what we are, that we still go on thinking we are the old man and go on trying to do things to the old man. That has already been done; the old man was crucified with Christ.

Consider the Lilies in Kierkegaard.


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This is not a comprehensive analysis of Kierkegaard on this point — just a demonstration that one cannot simply quote from one of his books and say, “Kierkegaard” says. In book II of Either/Or, Judge Wilhelm  (Equilibrium) extols work for a man:

The question whether it might not be possible to imagine a world in which it was not necessary to work in order to live is really  an idle question since it does not deal with the given reality but with a feigned situation. This, however, is always an attempt to belittle the ethical view. For if it were a perfection on the part of existence not to have to work, then man’s life would be the most perfect who didn’t have to. Then one could say that it was a duty to work only by attaching the word duty to a sense of dolorous necessity….The duty of working in order to live expresses the universal-human, and it expresses the universal also in another sense because it expresses freedom. It is precisely by working that man makes himself free, by working he become lord over nature, by working he shows he is higher than nature.

Or might life lose its beauty for the fact that a man must work in order to live? We are back again at the same only point: everything depends upon what one understands by beauty. It is beautiful to see the lilies of the field (though they sew not neither do they spin) so clothed that even Solomon in all his glory was not so magnificent; it is beautiful to see birds without anxiety finding their food; it is beautiful to see Adam and Eve in Paradise whether they could get everything they pointed at; but it is still more beautiful to see a man earning by his work what he has need of. (Loire, 286-287).

Now there are number of problems with Judge Wilhelm’s statement. Just to take two, Adam and Eve did have work in the Garden, and the work we experience now suffers from the Curse.  He captures the duty (but misses all else). He also gets the lilies wrong. He treats the lilies and birds, as yes, yes, but the important thing is duty and effort.

In Consider the Lilies, Kierkegaard also takes up Jesus’ observation from the Sermon on the Mount to, “consider the lilies”:

This is how it is with the gospel. The most important thing for the gospel is not to reprimand and scold; what is most important for the gospel is to get human beings to follow its guidance. That is why it says, “Seek first.” In so doing, it muzzles, so to speak, all of a  persona objects, brings him to silence, and gets him actually to being first this seeking. And then this seeking satisfies a human being in such a way that it now becomes true that he simply and solely seeks God’s kingdom.

(Kirmmse, 38). Finally, let us consider the original and ask which Kierkegaard came more in line with Jesus:

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Heart of Christ in Heaven, to Sinners on Earth (Thomas Goodwin) 3


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Sant’Apollonia, Florence

As Goodwin explains, John 13 gives us a view into the heart of Christ as prepares to leave his disciples. Next Goodwin considers this aspect of Christ’s “long sermon” on leaving, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it is to your advantage that I go away”. John 16:7 Christ will (1) send the comforter (John 16:7), and (2) prepare a place for them. John 14:3. He goes on ahead to prepare a place for them, to make certain it is done. And like the High Priest, he carries their names over his heart when enters into the holiest place.

Goodwin then draws out the implications of this going and coming, sinking deep into the concept of marriage which runs throughout the Scripture:

“I will come to you again and receive you to myself.” He condescends to the very laws of bridegrooms, for notwithstanding all his greatness, no lover shall put him down in any expression of true love. It is the maker of bridegrooms, hen they have made all ready in their father’s house, then to come themselves and fetch their brides, and not to send for them by others, because it is the time of love.

Love descends better than ascends, and so doth the love Christ, who indeed is love itself, and therefore comes down to us himself.

….”Heaven shall not hold me, nor my Father’s company, if I have not you with me, my heart is so set up you; and if I have any glory, you shall have a part of it.”

….He will not stay a minute longer than needs must, he tarries only till he hath throughout all ages by his intercession prepared every room for each saint, that he may entertain them all at once together, and have the all about him.

4 Goodwin, “The Heart of Christ in Heaven”, 100.

Theophilus of Antioch on the False Accusations Against Christians


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Theophilus makes an interesting move, because he seeks to pry his reader (Autolycus) his prejudice; notice the move here:

Nor indeed was there any necessity for my refuting these, except that I see you still in dubiety about the word of the truth. For though yourself prudent, you endure fools gladly. Otherwise you would not have been moved by senseless men to yield yourself to empty words, and to give credit to the prevalent rumor wherewith godless lips falsely accuse us, who are worshippers of God, and are called Christians,

This comes immediately after Theophilus has made the point that Hebrew prophets wrote of what they knew — as opposed to the poets who have no reason for their belief. He then turns to the accusations against the Christians. These accusations seem to come from both Christian use of the concept of “family” and the Lord’s Supper wildly distorted through rumor of a group not well understood:

alleging that the wives of us all are held in common and made promiscuous use of; and that we even commit incest with our own sisters, and, what is most impious and barbarous of all, that we eat human flesh.

Finally, it is the apparent newness of Christianity that seems to be a trouble:

But further, they say that our doctrine has but recently come to light, and that we have nothing to allege in proof of what we receive as truth, nor of our teaching, but that our doctrine is foolishness. I wonder, then, chiefly that you, who in other matters are studious, and a scrutinizer of all things, give but a careless hearing to us. For, if it were possible for you, you would not grudge to spend the night in the libraries

Then in the next several chapters, Theophilus recounts instances of Heathen poets and philosophers espousing the very things of which the Christians had been (falsely) accused (such as cannibalism and holding wives in common). Following that, he again recounts the contradictory opinions of the poets on matters the gods:

And one can see how inconsistent with each other are the things which others, and indeed almost the majority, have said about God and providence. For some have absolutely cancelled God and providence; and others, again, have affirmed God, and have avowed that all things are governed by providence. The intelligent hearer and reader must therefore give minute attention to their expressions; as also Simylus said: “It is the custom of the poets to name by a common designation the surpassingly wicked and the excellent; we therefore must discriminate.” As also Philemon says: “A senseless man who sits and merely hears is a troublesome feature; for he does not blame himself, so foolish is he.” We must then give attention, and consider what is said, critically inquiring into what has been uttered by the philosophers and the poets.

And also the depravity of the gods:

They who elaborated such a philosophy regarding either the non-existence of God, or promiscuous intercourse and beastly concubinage, are themselves condemned by their own teachings. Moreover, we find from the writings they composed that the eating of human flesh was received among them; and they record that those whom they honour as gods were the first to do these things.

Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 113.

Next Edition of the Journal of Biblical Soul Care


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“The foundational issue for human psychology lies in the relationship between God and Man. While the sufficiency of scripture is a hallmark of Biblical Counseling, the more fundamental characteristic is the insufficiency of man.”
—Ed Wilde, “Why Common Grace is Not Enough
For Christians Who Counsel,”
The Journal of Biblical Soul Care (1:2)
The Journal of Biblical Soul Care Vol. I, Issue II.

Forthcoming Articles (April 1, 2018)  for the Spring Issue of the JBSC:

  • “Key Sources of Conflict in Multi-Ethnic Marriages” by Matthew Akers (Mid-American Baptist Theological Seminary)


  • “Why Common Grace is Not Enough for Christians Who Counsel” by Ed Wilde (The Master’s University).


  • “Toward an Exegetical Practical Theology” by Joshua Clutterham (Brookes Bible College).

Also, we will also have two book reviews in this issue. One review is on Mike Emlet’s Descriptions and Prescriptions, and the other is on Mark McMinn’s Science of Virtue. I think you will find the reviews to be helpfully evaluative of these two books. Also note that if you are receiving this email, the next issue of the JBSC will be emailed to you on April 1st. And you will be able to access the archived Volume 1, Issue 1 at the below link.

Yours for the biblical care of souls,
Greg E. Gifford

Managing Editor

Martin Lloyd-Jones, The glorious thing about salvation.

I argue, therefore, that we are not evangelizing truly unless we present this truth — that in salvation we are not merely forgiven and not only justified; the doctrine of salvation includes the base truth that we were in Ada but now are in Christ, that we are taken out of the one position and put into another. That is primitive evangelism, that is one of the basic elements in the presentation of the gospel; and therefore if we do not give it due emphasis we are not evangelizing truly. Evangelism is not simply saying ‘Come to Christ; He will do this or that and the other for you.’ No! The glorious thing about salvation is that I am taken out of Adam and that I have finished with him, and am dead to sin. I am in Christ, and all the blessings that come to me come because of my union with Christ. I want to emphasize this. ‘Know ye not.” Haven’t you realized, haven’t you grasped, haven’t you understood.

Martin Lloyd Jones, The New Man, Romans 6:3