Orthodox Paradoxes, Miscellaneous Part 5


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More from Ralph Venning’s Orthodox Paradoxes (1650):

He is careful in nothing, yet none so careful as he.
He believes that though he lie in the grave a thousand years, yet he shall be with God as soon as he dies.
He esteems his name a precious ointment, yet cares not who reviles him.
He importunate to prevail with God, yet he think not to prevail for his importunity.
he believes that none know the heart of God, and yet he meets with many saints who can tell him his heart.
He believes ’tis life eternal to know God, and yet he accounts it his happiness to be known of God.
He finds that grace never waxes old, though it be ever growing; but that elder ’tis, the new ’tis.
He believes that a man converted is the same man that he was before; and yet he believes that he is more man and more than man.
He does not know his own wants, and yet he makes them known to God.
He is no prophet and yet his prayers are prophecies.
He is afraid to think of God, least he wrong him; and yet he believes that he should wrong God should not think of him.
He knows that idiots are not fit for counsellors, and yet one of them God takes his sages.
he finds that love of God has height and depth without ends, length without points, breadth, yet no lines, that it is circular (emblem of eternity) and yet fills every angle.
He would be anything rather than nothing, yet he would be nothing if that would exalt his God.
He believes that man’s will does freely turn to God, and yet that man has not freewill to turn to God.
He gives no price for grace, and yet he values it above all price.
He loves the consolations of God; but the God of consolation is his love.
He fears God, and yet is not afraid of God.
He knows that similitude has some loveliness in it; yet he does account hypocrisy the more odious because of its similitude to Religion.
He believes that some have grace who cannot define it; and that some can define it who have it not.
He is always in pilgrimage, and yet he is never from home.
He believes that God tempts no man; and yet believes that God tempted Abraham.
He is very jealous lest God should leave him, and yet he believes God will never do it.
he believes that having made a promise, he ought to be as good as his word, and yet he thinks he may go from his word to go to truth.
He believes that a saint has a vocation on earth, but that earth is his advocation.
God has commanded him to love his neighbor, and yet God requires all his heart for himself.
He seems much folly in the world and much confusion, and yet he sees wisdom and order therein.

Orthodox Paradoxes, Miscellaneous Part 4


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You can find the previous section from Ralph Venning’s Orthodox Paradoxes (1650) here:

He believes that God saves men freely, and yet be believes that Christ bought salvation for them.
He believe that God will reward him for all he does for good; and yet whatsoever he does for God, God does it in him.
He believes that God is always giving out himself to the being of creates and faith of saints, and yet remains as full as he ever was.
There is nothing so clear to him as godliness, and yet there is nothing more mysterious.
There is no man denies himself but he, and yet there is no man who seeks himself so much as he.
He sometimes misses what he would have, and yet he think not his will to be therein crossed.
He knows he does not live by bread, and yet he eats to maintain his life.
He believes that his prayers do purchase nothing; and yet he could not expect to enjoy what he does if he did not pray.
He is by the Spirit led into duties, and led out of them by the same Spirit.
He cannot demonstrate what he knows in believing, and yet his knowledge by faith is as clear as any demonstration.
He believes that his qualification do not cause God’s love; and yet he might question whether God loved him if he were not qualified.
He prises righteousness at a high rate, and yet he counts his righteousness no better than dung.
He knows that he can never attain to the perfection of God; and yet he labors to be perfect as God is perfect.
He is all men most humble, yet none has a heart so lifted up as he.
He drinks gall and wormwood, yet accounts it sweeter than honey or the honey-comb.
There is no so vile among men as he; there is none among men so honorable.
He thinks highly of himself, though the world despise him; and yet despises himself though God should think highly of him
He is the meekest man upon all the earth, yet none so angry as he.
He would willing be the best of saints, yet is willing that everyone be better than himself.
He believes that God does always hear his prayers, and yet he often goes without that he prays for.
There are none so much in love peace as he, yet none maintain such a constant warfare.
He believes that he shall never be infinite; and yet he believes that he shall be filled with an infinite God.

Growing Peace in a Garden


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(Monet, Garden Gate, 1881)

Beginning this week, I have been tasked with teaching a series to help create a peacemaking culture in the local congregation. We hope that this will be something which may be of use to others in the future. Anyway, here is the series introduction:

The Goal of this Series

I have a garden. But nothing will grow there, if I do not plant and water; care for the soil, drive off pests, prune, support. Nothing I do makes the seed grow; but if I do not work, nothing will grow.

My garden takes constant care. If I fail to water, the plants will die. If I do not tend the soil, the plants will be weak. If I do not drive off insects and vermin, I will lose all my work. My garden may never be perfect; but if I do my work, my garden will be fruitful.

A congregation of God’s people, gathered for worship is a garden, a vineyard. God calls his people his vineyard from whom God expects fruit. And one of sweetest fruits, one with a beautiful color and a ravishing scent is the fruit of peace.

Paul begins each of his letter with a prayer for peace: “and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Peter prays, “peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:2). If we must pray for it, then it is something given to us. And if it something which the apostles constantly pray that God will bestow, then peace must be very precious.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ….” (Gal. 5:22). Jesus says that he is the one who gives peace, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27).  Paul says that God is the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33).

Jesus is “our peace” (Eph. 2:14). And so we have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), and there is also peace among men. (Eph. 2:14-15). Indeed, when the Son came into the world, the angels sang of the peace brought into creation:

Glory to God in the highest

And on earth peace among those with whom he is well pleased.

Luke 2:14. This peace of God, this peace which passes all understanding, is the divine gift of the sovereign God. Just as the gardener cannot make the seed grow, so the Christian cannot force the gift of peace.

Although we know that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can so desire the good of peace and unity that we can try and force a peace. There can be a peace of silence and acquiescence, in which we are peaceful because we simply don’t care. There is a political peace, where we are peace in our actions but not in our hearts. It is a lack of fighting, and yet without any divine love. We can have a manipulative peace, or a fearful peace. We can have a peace which is based upon all of us getting along – but it is a peace which does not require Christ.

These false varieties of peace are like weeds growing bright green in the garden – they may even be strong and healthy, but there is no fruit. Or perhaps we could think of them like plastic grapes and silk flowers which look real from a distance.

And so we cannot obtain peace directly anymore than we can make the seed grow. Rather, to obtain peace we must learn to tend the garden of the church in such a way that peace naturally grows from the soil. We will have a great deal of work; we will need to water, and prune and support and drive off squirrels. But, we know from the promise of God and the constant demonstration of his work in the church, that peace – not perfect, due to our ongoing sin – will blossom and come to fruition.

In this series, our goal is to learn and live that sort of life which most naturally flowers into peace.  To do that, we will work through the Sermon on the Mount.

As obvious as it may be to jump ahead to love one’s enemies, or turn the other check, we are going to start at the beginning. We will trust there is wisdom in the Scripture to teach us in the right order, to uncover our weakness and correct those thing which are twisted in just the right order.



The Master of Misrule in the World





PRIDE is the greatest master of misrule in the world; it is the great incendiary in the soul of man, in families, in towns, in cities, in all societies, in church and state: this wind causeth tempests to arise. Prov. 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention.” The Holy Ghost singles out PRIDE, as the only cause of all contentions, because it is the chief; though there be many in a riot, the whole is usually laid upon the ringleaders. Pride is the ringleader to all riots, divisions, disturbances among us. Prov. 21:24: “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.” Pride may be well indicated for the great common barrator, or wrangler, in all our towns and cities; it makes woful troubles wherever it comes.

Jeremiah Burroughs, Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions (New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1855), 7–8.

It is not for their confusion


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But albeit that God doth seem sometimes to forsake his servants, it is not for their confusion, but for their consolation; for by this means they come to be poor in spirit, and wonderfully emptied of themselves. And it is very observable that when such as are thoroughly wounded and afflicted inwardly come to recover strength and peace again, they often prove the most comfortable Christians of all others, walking with more care to avoid offence all their lives after.

Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 5 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 258.


21 Uses of Affliction


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To have compassion on those who are suffering.
To prize your current comforts more, and yet to “dote upon them less”.
Self-denial and willing obedience to the will of God.
To learn Humility and meekness.
To expose unknown corruption in the heart.
To pray.
To become more acquainted with the Word of God.
To learn necessity of assurance of salvation and heaven as the basis of our happiness.
To see what an evil it is to grieve the Holy Spirit.
To draw us into communion with God.
To increase our grace.
To better know God.
To attend more to our duty than our deliverance.
It is a privilege to be in a suffering condition.
Affliction is the one thing necessary.
To be diligent to redeem our time.
To rightly estimate the sufferings of Jesus.
To prize and long for heaven.
The sinfulness of sin.
The emptiness of earthly things.
God reveals to the soul the fullness of Jesus Christ.


Adapted from Thomas Case, When Christian Suffering

Banner of Truth (great book).

Background on a riot at Ephesus


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Acts 19 records a riot in Ephesus. The work of Paul in Ephesus led to a decline in the idolatrous worship of Artemis. The worshippers of Artemis took great offense at the declining worship of their goddess and proceeded to riot; but like all riots, “most of them did not know why they had come together.”

Antipater says the beauty of that temple outshone all other wonders of the world:

I have gazed upon the towering walls of Babylon, where chariots raced;
And upon the Zeus of Alpheus
And upon the hanging gardens
And upon the Colossus of the Sun
And upon endless work for towering pyramids;
But when I saw
The divine house of Artemis,
They all did fade away:
Apart from Olympus itself,
The sun never gazed upon such a sight.


Greek Anthology, Book IX, number 58.

Here is the record of the riot:

Continue reading

Raising a Wolf: A Parable


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I don’t want to nurse this wolf from my breasts
But — gods! – the shepherd makes me.
The wolf will grow — because of me —
To become a fierce beast who will tear me apart:
Grace does not change nature.

From the Loeb Greek Anthology, Book IX, number 47, there entitled, “On a goat that suckled a wolf”.

Greek text and notes for this translation:

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