A Marvelous Word

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We have an high-priest which can be (and is) touched with the feeling of our infirmities. How a sinless man as Christ ever was, can be touched with the feeling of the infirmities of sinners, and many of these infirmities sinful ones; how a glorified man, as Christ now is, exalted to, and possessed of the highest glory and bliss, can be, and is touched with the feeling of all the infirmities of all his people, is what the word plainly reveals to be believed; but it is not to be fully known till we come to heaven. But he is the head, and all his people are his body, his members, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. 5:30. A marvellous word! Can the flesh be torn, and the bones be broken, and the head not feel it? Though he be glorified above what we can conceive, he is a living, sensible, and compassionate head; and as nearly and closely united to all his members now, as when they saw with their eyes, and heard with their ears, and with their hands handled the word of life, 1 John 1:1. There is nothing ails a poor believer in Christ, there is no groan riseth from his distressed heart, but it is immediately felt at the tender heart of the Lord Jesus, at the Father’s right-hand. We would groan and sing with the same breath, if we believed this firmly.

 

Robert Traill, The Works of Robert Traill, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1810), 12–13.

Microbes controlling your genes

First, no one can know all environmental data. Second, no one can know all physiological data. Third, no one has a comprehensive knowledge of all workings of the human heart. Even the devout materialist cannot know the mere functioning of the nervous system. I here cite to recent studies which concern neuro-physiology which were not even considered until a few years ago:

Duke researchers have shown that microbes can control the actions of their animal hosts by manipulating the molecular machinery of animal cells, triggering patterns of gene expression that consequently contribute to health and disease. The work, which was conducted in zebrafish and mice, could have implications for human inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The findings appear in the journal Genome Research.

“Our results suggest that ancient parts of our genome and ancient interactions with our microbes are relevant to modern-day human diseases,” said John F. Rawls, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine.

In recent years, scientists have uncovered abundant links between our trillions of resident bacteria, viruses and fungi—known collectively as the microbiome—and a spectrum of human conditions, ranging from anorexia to diabetes. But Rawls says important gaps remain in our understanding of how these microbes influence health and cause disease in humans as well as other members of the animal kingdom.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-microbes-action-host-genes.html#jCp

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When people speak about separation of religion and politics, particularly “legislating morality” as improper, they display a stupendous ignorance. 

For example, why is it wrong to lie to get someone’s money? Well, that is fraud. Why is fraud wrong? Because it is lying? Why is lying wrong? The answer to that question is itself a moral proposition. 

Morality is either a type of aesthetics or is based upon some sort of transcendent proposition: some morals may be more functional than others (everyone lying would soon destroy all commerce), but even caring about the effects is a moral decision.

The basic premises of Western law have a theological basis – a legislative morality: Consider this proposition:

God has ordained contracts of various kinds, Melanchthon wrote, to facilitate tate the sale, lease, or exchange of property, the procurement of labor and employment, and the lending of money and extension of credit.” God has called his political officials to promulgate general contract laws that prescribe “fair, equal, and equitable” agreements, that invalidate contracts based on fraud, duress, mistake, or coercion, and that proscribe contracts that are unconscionable, conscionable, immoral, or offensive to the public good. Melanchthon was content, for the most part, to state these general principles of contract law in categorical form. Occasionally he applied these general principles to specific cases. He condemned with particular vehemence loan contracts that obligated debtors to pay excessive rates of interest or entitled creditors to secure the loan with property whose value far exceeded the amount of the loan, unilateral labor and employment contracts that conditioned a master’s obligation to pay on full performance from the servant, and contracts of purchase and sale that were based on inequality of the exchange.

Law and Revolution II

Howard J. Berman

Harvard University Press 2003

Kierkegaard: Human Happiness Depends Upon An Immutable God

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Kierkegaard’s treatise The Changelessness of God. Published in 1855, just a few months before his death, it is an exposition of one of Kierkegaard’s most cherished biblical passages: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Kierkegaard begins by noting that the text contains an implicit contrast between God, the “Father of lights,” and the world. To observe the latter is to observe constant change: one moment gives way to the next; the sunrise comes and goes; each human being will one day die. “How depressing,” notes Kierkegaard, “how exhausting, that all is corruptibility, that human beings are changefulness, you, my listener, and I!” But there is good news. Above and beyond all of this change is God, whose good and perfect nature never varies. It is this truth that the Apostle James has disclosed, and, for Kierkegaard, it is “simply and solely sheer consolation, peace, joy, blessedness.”The reason for this happiness has to do with God himself, who, as Kierkegaard explains, is changeless, omnipotent, omnipresent, pure, and luminous. He moves earthly affairs, but is not moved by them.
From Despair to Faith: The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard

Christopher B. Barnett

Pages 27-28

The Spiritual Chymist, Meditation XLIX

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(From The Spiritual Chymist, William Spurstowe, 1666). This an interesting discussion as to what a Puritan would have thought the duty of politicians:
Upon a Spring in a High Ground

The additional blessing which Achsah sought of Caleb her father was springs of water for her dry land, who gave her the upper and the nether springs. If the distinct recording of this particular Scripture Carry anything of importance with it, it is not that he gave her some portion of land that was well watered, As the low valleys for the most part art. And that he also gave such springs that by their high lying were apt to convey their stream to the enriching of other parts that stood in need of such help to make them fruitful.

Now what is it that can more commend a spring than a free diffusion of its waters and spreading of its moisture, not only to the grounds that are near, But to such as are at a distance from it; and what can more conduce onto this commodious usefulness then the Springs rise from some hill or place of ascent?

Another spring may haply serve to water some little spot I’ve ground, To benefit some private garden, but an upper spring will greatly advantage a large inheritance.

Such a late difference methinks there is in the moral wellsprings of grace and holiness as is between the natural, according to the diversity of subjects in which they are seated.

Grace and a poor man is as a nether spring, which is not less useful through a defective water let’s ruining capacity to make any large Communication of it in regard of the circumstances in which he stands. His wants, his paucity of friends, a the world takes of him, the slightings that poverty exposes most men unto, are all great obstacles to the eternal diffusions of his grace, though not to the intrinsical fulness of it. But Grace and a great person is like an upper spring, which may convey itself far and near, because of the many advantages which he has above others. His councils will sooner be hearkened onto, his reproofs will over-awe more, his conversation [manner of conduct, not just speech] Will win more, his example having the force of law.

So willing have many been to make greatness their pattern, as that they have imitated their infirmities. Dionysius’ courtiers affected to be purblind and jostle against one another that’s so they may be like their prince. Alexander’s followers would imitate him in their gesture, and go as if their shoulders were one higher than the other, because there was some inequality in his. Among the Persians, they were wont to highly esteem a long and narrow head because some of their kings’ heads of that figure.

Oh what pity is it then that the greatness in goodness should be ever out of conjunction together, or to be stars of different hemispheres, that are never seen shining at the same time? Yes, why should not those who are the highest among men affect also to be the best, that so they might bring a beauty and shine into the world, that they might allure others not only did the hold it, but also to imitate, by conforming themselves to their happy example?

It is the saying of Plutarch, that rare moralist, that God is angry with them that counterfeit his thunder and lightning; his scepter and his Trident; and his thunderbolts he would not have any meddle with: he loves not that any should imitate him an absolute dominion and sovereignty: but he delights to see them guarding for those amiable and cherishing beams of justice, goodness, and clemency. Without these things be conveyed down to others by those who have the reigns of power and government in their hands, though they look upon themselves as gods on earth, yet they are is unlike to the God of heaven as a blazing comment is to a bright and glorious sun, or deceitful glow worm to a heavenly star.

What low thought Solomon himself has of sovereignty when put into an ill hand, we may read in his book of the preacher, we’re he tells us that better is a poor and a wise child, then an old and foolish king who will not be instructed to manage his power and authority for the good of those that are under him.

It is wisdom that makes a man’s face to shine, most of all those that are in highest places. Good in them is most conspicuous, And both more applauded and imitated then in others. What evil can a king not forbid, whose wrath is as the roaring of a lion? What good can he not encourage, whose favor is as a cloud of the latter rain, which promises at a harvest of blessings.
I cannot but wonder at the great changes which this scripture reports to have been made by godly princess in the midst of a general apostasy, such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah who purged the land from a spreading idolatry and restored sabbaths, and temple worship to their power and purity, who have bowed the heart of the people towards them like to the top of a fisher’s angling rod, this way or that as it pleases them.

Who but princes that had grace in their hearts, and power in their hands could have ever affected such things as might well seem to be insuperable difficulty? Oh that I could therefore suggest such considerations that might prevail with all whose conditions God has raised above others, to be accordingly instrumental in the doing of good to others that move in the lower sphere. Shall I say, God expects it from you? If I do, it is no other than what he himself has spoken, when he has said, He will get him up to the great man, four they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God.

Or shall I say, that God signally commands it from you above others? Is it not to you that he particularly calls, Be wise now O ye Kings, Be instructed ye judges of the earth, serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son lest he be angry and ye perish from the way.

Do you think that greatness does rather exempt from been obliged to obedience, or that you shall have a more favorable audit at the last day when every man must give an account of himself unto God? Be not deceived, God will require what you have done more from him about others, as he has for you about thousands, and will be on to you if you be found too light.

Your exultation in this life will serve only to make your casting down to be the more dismal in the other, and to confirm the truth of that proverb, that hell is paved with the corslets of noble men and the skulls of priests.

Advice on Words from Charles Dickens: a “retinue of words”

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Again, Mr. Micawber had a relish in this formal piling up of words, which, however ludicrously displayed in his case, was, I must say, not at all peculiar to him. I have observed it, in the course of my life, in numbers of men. It seems to me to be a general rule. In the taking of legal oaths, for instance, deponents seem to enjoy themselves mightily when they come to several good words in succession, for the expression of one idea; as, that they utterly detest, abominate, and abjure, or so forth; and the old anathemas were made relishing on the same principle. We talk about the tyranny of words, but we like to tyrannize over them too; we are fond of having a large superfluous establishment of words to wait upon us on great occasions; we think it looks important, and sounds well. As we are not particular about the meaning of our liveries on state occasions, if they be but fine and numerous enough, so, the meaning or necessity of our words is a secondary consideration, if there be but a great parade of them. And as individuals get into trouble by making too great a show of liveries, or as slaves when they are too numerous rise against their masters, so I think I could mention a nation that has got into many great difficulties, and will get into many greater, from maintaining too large a retinue of words. Mr. Micawber read on, almost smacking his lips:

David Copperfield

We become monsters

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One big idea unifies all of Nietzsche’s offspring — the Marxists, the Freudians, the French Existentialists, the critical theorists, the Deconstructionists, the queer theorists — and that is the right to self-invention. That is the cruelest hoax ever perpetrated on human beings, for we are not clever or strong enough to reinvent ourselves. To the extent we succeed, we become monsters.

David P. Goldman on self-invention

The Spiritual Chymist, Meditation XLVII

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Upon a Perching of a Piece of Cloth

Laws signally good oft time derive their birth according to the comment saying, from evil manners springing like a fair and beautiful flowers from a black and deformed root. And so likewise the many and ingenuous explorations of finding out the difference between things of worth and their counterfeits; and so seeing into the particular defects of commodities have been occasioned from the multiplicity of deceits, which ever is an either from natural semblances or corrupt practices.

The skillful lapidary has, by his observation, learned to know a false stone from a true, which common eye cannot distinguish. The herbalist do difference plants sometimes by the root, sometimes by the taste, when the likeness of the leaf is perfectly the same. The cautious receiver, that he be not cozened by the adulterated coin for the true, makes an artificial touchstone of his senses, he bends it, he rings it, he will rubs it, and smells to it, that thereby he may find out what it is. The circumspect merchant contents not himself with the seeing and feeling of his cloth as it lies made-up, but he puts it upon the perch and draws it leisurely over; and so discovers not only the rents and holes that are in it, but the inequality of threads and the unevenness of spinning, the spots and stains that are in it, and what not, that may make it either to be rejected for its defects for its goodness.

O how impartial a judge is light, which neither flatters friends, Nor wrongs enemies; which manifests the good as well as the evil to whatever it is applied. This kind of trial hints to me the best manner of doing that work, which every Christian ought to perform at the greatest care, the searching and examining of his own ways. I may learn from what is done to the cloth to do the same spiritually to myself, by setting my actions between the light of the Word, and the discerning power of conscience, that’s so the one may discover and the other may judge what there will rectitude or pravity [depravity] is. And this is best done when every parcel of the conversation [conduct, manner of life] is looked into and scanned, as the cloth that is drawn over the perch. Then it is that I find the on evenness of my duties, the distraction of my thoughts, and the unbelief of my heart, which runs as a continuing thread from one to end of the duty onto the other. Then it is that I espy those secret stains of hypocrisy which discolor my services and blemish them onto God, when they seem fair to the eye of man. Then it is that convinced of my filthiness I cry out, My person wants the priest, which is the form with infinite guilt, It without him cannot be discovered. My nature wants a priest, which is overrun with the universal leprosy, that without him cannot be cured. My send wants a priest, which are for their number as the sands, and for their greatness as the mountains, that without him can never be pardoned. My holy things want to priest, which are defile with the daily eruptions of sin in folly, that without him can never be accepted. And who is it that thus views himself by this perfect law of liberty, that is not thus affected?

What’s says Paul of himself? I was alive without the Law once, but when the Commandment came sin revived and I died. Who was wants more full of conceited abilities to perform the righteousness of the law without blame? Who is more presumptuous in self-justifications and elated thoughts of his perfection, than the Apostle while he was without the law? That is, not without the letter but without the spiritual sense and penetrative power of it. But when the commandment came in its vigor and life, how’s suddenly did those mist persuasions of his own righteousness vanish into nothing? He then lost his confidence of being saved by his obedience to the law. And by the light of it discover those inward lustings and desires to be sinful, and such as subjected him on to death, which before were wholly neglected and unseen.

As I would therefore incite Christians to an exact discussion of their ways, so what I also direct them to look up on them through no other medium than the light of the Word: Wherewith (as David says) shall a young man cleanse his way (or, as the original imports, make clear as crystal) by taking heed thereto according to thy Word?

The Heathen we’re not altogether aliens to the studio self-examination; it was Sextius his custom, as Seneca reports, when he betook his night’s rest to question his soul, Quod hodie malum tuum sanasti? cui vitio obstetisti? What malady have you this day cured? What vice have you withstood? It was also Pythagoras his counsel to his scholars the each man should demand of himself, Wherein have I offended? What good have I done?

But alas! How confused and indistinct was that light which they made to search. How little can the candle light of nature discover of the evil of sin, Whose rules and principles do so much falling and suit with the wills of the flesh? What camel sins did the very best of them swallow down, without straining at them? What swarms are there sins, which Christians complaint of, but the natural man is totally ignorant of an can no more discover without the aid of the Word, than the eye can discern of its own blood shed without the help of a glass?

We have Paul’s own confession in this particular, I had not known lust, except the Law had said, thou shalt not covet. Before he only saw some sins that were as beams for their magnitude, but now he is sensible of the smallest motes. To the law then, and to the testimony do you betake yourselves, O you sincere an upright ones when you go about this work! Fear not its purity, but love it; shrink not added searching power, but you up your selves to a free and voluntary admission of its light; yes rejoice and be exceeding glad, the by the Light of the Word you can trace in home onto its receptacle, and can both judge it and mortify it in the seed and root of it, which is the sheerest and best way of destroying it. He is among the first born of Christians, who communes most often with his own heart and looks most often into the books of conscience, which rights journals and not annals, and is most likely to obtain a double portion both of peace and grace; but when he has done all, let him make David’s prayer the close:
Search me, O Lord, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my thoughts,
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.