Some Notes on Written for a Personal Epitath, by Dylan Thomas

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In his poem, Written for a Personal Epitath, Dylan Thomas begins his epitaph with the observation that he is “feeding the worm”. This is a commonplace, going back at least to Hamlet

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A
certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at
him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We
fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is
but variable service—two dishes but to one table.
That’s the end. (4.3.19-28)

Thomas avoids the obvious cliche but makes the point. He then turns to a question, “Who I blame”: blame for the fact of his death. He repeats the question in line 6, “Who do I blame?” He does state he has been “laid down/At last by time”. Again an allusion to Shakespeare: in Sonnet 19 he refers to “Devouring time”. In Sonnet 16, time is “bloody time”.

It is interesting how Thomas describes the place of death, “under the earth with girl and thief”: sex and violence.

So whom does Thomas blame?

 Mother I blame
     Whose loving crime
     Molded my form
     Within her womb,
Who gave me life and then the grave,
     Mother I blame.

Her love and effort gave birth to death:

     Here is her labour’s end,
     Dead limb and mind,
     All love and sweat
     Gone now to rot.

There is a very physical aspect to his creation, “love and sweat”. There was work and desire which brought forth the poet: and to what end? “Dead limb and mind.”

“Labour” is a useful pun: both effort and the time of giving birth.

One thing to note about these lines is the scansion: HERE is HER LABour’s END/DEAD LIMB and MIND/ALL LOVE and SWEAT/GONE NOW to ROT

The accumulation of accented syllables makes the going very slow, and with the subject matter, very solemn.

The poem then ends with an unrhymed couplet, which drags the reader into his despair:

I am man’s reply to every question,
His aim and destination.

This blank despair makes sense of Thomas’ famous poem, Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night. Death is a blank, pointless end. There is nothing beyond current existence. There is no basis for hope.  It is an interesting position, because Thomas also seems life as a power which works through all living things. Yet there is no merger of “life” with in his thought, as there often is in this often pagan pantheism. There is no god, thus, there is no perpetuation. There is a chemical process, called “life” which we have — and which we cling to (for some reason), but there is no point.

Thomas Manton Sermon on Titus 2:11-14 1.1

[This is an outline of the first quarter of Thomas Manton’s first sermon on Titus 2:11-14

SERMON I
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—TITUS 2:11–14.

Having made some general observations on the structure of text he announces the first doctrine:

Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.
I. Survey all the blessings of the covenant, and from first to last you will see grace doth all. Election, vocation, justification, sanctification, glorification, all is from grace. There is a clue of scriptures which will lead us through all these steps, and direct us to grace.

A. For election: Rom. 11:5, 6, There is an election; and why is there election? It is according to grace.

B. Our calling, 2 Tim. 1:9, Why doth God pick and choose, and cull here and there? The only reason is his own grace and his own purpose.

C. Justification: Rom. 3:24, ‘Being justified freely by his grace.’

D. Sanctification, all the parts whereof are called the graces of the Spirit; ….The same grace that giveth Christ, giveth faith to believe in Christ, that we may be possessed of his grace.

E. Glorification, which is the complement of all salvation. … So that when we come to heaven, this will be our great work, to sing forth the praises of grace, and to admire and glorify the grace of God to all eternity.

II. Secondly, To limit the point. Though it is of grace, yet not to exclude Christ, not to exclude the means of salvation.

A. Not to exclude Christ. [Both the giving of Christ and the imputation of his merit were the result of grace.]. Well, then, it is grace to find out the merit, and grace by which we are interested in it. Christ’s merit is most free, both on the part of God the Father freely sending Christ, and on the part of Christ taking this office upon him. It was grace that moved God to give Christ, and grace that moved Christ to give himself, ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me,’ Gal. 2:20. Nay, after all this, it is grace that gives us faith, that so we may be interested in the merit of Christ, that we which sinned with both hands earnestly, might take hold of God with both hands.

B. Not to exclude the means of salvation; not faith, nor obedience also, if rightly understood.[Do not confuse means and merit.]

1. Not faith; There is a condition required, and that is faith; but God himself gives the condition that he requireth. Grace cannot stand with anything that is in man, and of man as the condition of the covenant

2. And then for obedience, that is also subordinate to faith, as a necessary fruit and effect of it. As faith is the instrument, so obedience is required as a fruit of faith.

a. Though it come not into justification, yet it is an evidence of our interest in salvation. It is required as a testimony of faith, yet not as a condition, which is a cause of the thing promised. It is required, because though it be not of man, yet it is in man; it is given of God, but it is our work.

b. …There is a concurrence of works, but not by way of causality, but order. God will first justify, then sanctify, then glorify, and all of grace. Obedience is the conditio sine qua non—the condition without which we cannot be saved. The grace of God is the first moving cause; Christ is the meritorious procuring cause; faith is the instrument; and obedience is the fruit of faith.

III. Thirdly, My nest work shall be to give you some reasons why it must be so that grace is the original cause of all the blessings we receive from God; because it is most for the glory of God, and most for the comfort of the creature.

A. It is most convenient for the glory of God, to keep up the respects of the creature to him in a way suitable to his majesty.

1. Mark, God would dispense blessings in such a way as might beat down despair and carnal confidence at the same time. Man had need of mercy, but deserveth none. Despair would keep us from returning to God, and carnal confidence from ascribing all to God. Therefore, as the Lord would not have flesh to glory, so neither to be cut off from all hope.

2. It is of grace that we may hope, and keep up our respect to God; for there is nothing that keeps up the devotion and respects of the creature to God so much as grace.

3. If God did not deal with us upon terms of grace, despair would make us let go all sense of duty, and a guilty creature would stand at a distance, and fly from the sight of God. Some think that the only way to gain men to a sense of religion is by rubbing the conscience, and keeping it raw and sore with terror; but the psalmist saith, ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.’ This is the best way to keep up the creature’s respects. False worships are merely supported by terror and fear; but God, that hath the best title to the heart, will gain it by love and grace.

B. It is most for the comfort of the creature. Grace is the original cause of all the good we expect and receive from God, that we may seek the favour of God with hope, and retain it with certainty.
1. That we may seek the favour of God with hope.

a. If we had to do with justice there could be no hope, for justice giveth only what is due, and doth not consider what we need, but what we deserve.

b. Merit-mongers are best confuted by experience. Let them use the same plea in their prayers which they do in their disputes, and plead the merit of their works, and say, Lord, give me not eternal life, and grace, and favour, till I deserve it at thy hand. Let them thus dispute with God or with their own consciences in the agonies of death, and under horrors of the Lord’s wrath. Surely those that cry up the merits of works are men of little spiritual experience, and seldom look into their own consciences, Dare they thus plead with God?—Lord, never look upon me in mercy if I do not deserve it.

c. So we read in the Life of Bernard, seeming to be cited before the tribunal of God, when Satan had spoken in his conscience, What! thou look for any favour at God’s hand? thou art not worthy. He replies, I confess I am not worthy, nor can I by my own deserts obtain the kingdom of heaven; but I have a double right, Hœreditate patris, et merito passionis—by the grace of my father, and by the merit of Christ’s passion; hereby I can take hold of God with both hands. by grace and merit; not my own, but Christ’s. Thus God’s best servants, their hopes have been established this way, by casting themselves upon mercy and grace.

2. That we may retain the favour of God with certainty: Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ We should never else be secured against doubts and fears. Believers, that offend daily, would be left to a sad uncertainty; but now we can the better expect glory when the foundation of it is laid in grace. I remember the great patron of the merit of works, Bellarmine, concludeth out of Bernard, propter incertitudinem propriæ justitiæ, et periculum inanis gloriæ, tutissimumi est fiduciam totam in solâ Dei misericordia et benignitate reponere—Because of the uncertainty of our own righteousness, and the danger of vain-glory, I confess it is the safest course to put our trust in the sole mercy and grace of God.

A Brief Biblical Theology of Hosea’s Two Children: Lo-ami and Lo-ruhamah

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(note for a Bible Study)
In Hosea 1, the prophet has two children who received the God-given names, Lo-ami (not my people) and Lo-ruhamah (no-mercy/compassion). These children will be emblems for the rejection of the Kingdom of Israel – and also tokens of hope, because God will again show mercy upon “my people”.

To rightly understand the significance of these names, we need to understand the biblical theology which underscores these names. The names have roots in the covenant and tie us to the New Testament.

“my people”

While the primary uses for Hosea come from Exodus, there uses in Genesis which help us understand the significance.

The phrase “my people” has the obvious significance of one’s own familial relations. So Ephron the Hittite uses the phrase “my people” in Genesis 23:11 to refer to his relations. It used in a similar way by Jacob in Genesis 49:29, when he speaks of death, when “I am to be gathered to my people.”

The phrase not only means relations, it also signifies dominion or kingship. So, Pharaoh in Genesis 41:40 refers to the people of the kingdom as “my people”.

God first uses the phrase “my people” when speaking to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, “I have seen the affliction of my people”. Ex. 3:7. Moses is sent to Pharaoh to rescue “my people.” Ex. 3:10

When Moses comes to Pharaoh, he gives the command of the Lord, “Let my people go.” Ex. 5:1. Moses then repeatedly uses the phrase to refer to the Israelites, 7.4, 7.16, 7.26, 8.16. Indeed, one level of understanding of the conflict is a dispute between God and Pharaoh over who has dominion over Israel.

Finally, Pharaoh makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt (a distinction which God first made) when he tells Moses, “go out from among my people”. Ex. 12:31.

God then Israel out to the wilderness where he makes a covenant with them. There was also an earlier covenant with Abraham which was the (a?) basis for the designation of the descendants of Abraham as “my people”.

God then speaks to Israel and tells them that when they interact with another Israelite, they are meeting one who belongs to God, “My people”. Ex. 22:24

When God comes to establish a king over Israel, he is to protect “My people”. 1 Sam. 9:16. David is then given the task of caring for “my people”. 2 Sam. 3:18, 5:2, 7:7.

When Solomon comes to the throne, the Lord makes a covenant with Solomon, that if Solomon will keep the covenant, God will not “forsake my people”. 1 Kings 6:13 [Solomon of course fails in this respect. But a second and greater son of David will come who will be king and will keep the covenant; thus, the Lord will never forsake “my people”]

The people fail in their covenant with God, and so God addresses the fault of “my people”. Isaiah 1:3, “my people do not understand.” “My people have committed two evils”. Jer. 2:31 “My people have forgotten me.” Jer. 18:15

But there will be a restoration of “my people”. The Servant will be “stricken for the transgression of my people.” Isaiah 53:8. The “days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people”.

Ezekiel 37:13 (ESV)
13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

This is the promise of Hosea, and of the other prophets, e.g., Joel 2:26-27.

As for compassion/mercy, that too is anchored in the Mosaic covenant and extends through the exile to the restoration (the Second Exodus)

In Exodus 33:19 (the first use of this particular word), God announces this compassion as his sovereign prerogative:

Exodus 33:19 (ESV)
19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

God speaks of compassion as a fundamental benefit of keeping his covenant. Dt. 13:18-19. In 2 Kings 13:23, God determines to show compassion upon Israel, because of his covenant.

God then says, because his people will not keep covenant, he will no longer show them compassion. Is. 9:17, 27:11. And those who bring the judgment will themselves have no compassion. Is. 13:18, Jer. 6:23, 13:14, 21:7.

But with the judgment there comes a promise of future compassion. While there will be repentance, the compassion begins in God. Jer. 31:20. Yet, the compassion will begin when they repent. Dt. 30:3, 1 Kings 8:50, Is. 30:18, 55:7; Jer. 12:15, 30:18, 31:20, 50:42; Micah 7:18; Zech. 10:6 The judgment is temporary, it is compassion which will be eternal. Is. 54:8-10; Lam. 3:32.

There are also prayers for God’s future compassion and restoration: Zech. 1:2; Ps. 103:13.

The two strands (both laid out by Hosea’s children) are brought together in the NT:
Romans 9:15–26 (NASB95)
15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
25 As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ”
26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

1 Peter 2:9–10 (NASB95)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Implications of the “Simplicity” of God

First, God’s existence (act of being) and essence (quiddity) cannot be constituent components in Him, each supplying what the other lacks. Rather, God must be identical with His existence and essence, and they must be identical with each other. It is His essence to be. Strictly speaking, His act of existence is not what He has, but what He is. 10 Similarly, God does not merely instantiate divinity as a particular concrete instance of it. Rather, He is divinity itself. No man is humanity as such, but God is divinity as such. Many theologians even conclude that God’s essential identity with His own existence is the ontological foundation of His name “I AM” (Ex. 3: 14).

ALL THAT IS IN GOD Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism James E. Dolezal

Sermon: Psalm 37, Part 3

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The previous sermon in this three part series may be found here.

Psalm 37 (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
37  OF DAVID.

1  Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2  For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

3  Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4  Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5  Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

8  Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9  For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

10  In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11  But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12  The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13  but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

14  The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15  their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16  Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18  The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19  they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20  But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21  The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22  for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23  The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24  though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

25  I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26  He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

27  Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28  For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29  The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30  The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31  The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32  The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33  The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34  Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35  I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36  But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

37  Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38  But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39  The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40  The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Am I a stone

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Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the sun and moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

 

Please read the discussion of this and two other poems

Spurgeon’s Preaching: Making the Abstract Conrete

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How Spurgeon makes an abstraction concrete: A great strength of Spurgeon’s preaching lies in his ability to make abstract concepts concrete, tangible. Ideas have very little effect upon us until we bring them down from the realm of idea and place in the tangible world. A great deal of doctrinal preaching fails because it treats doctrine as a bare idea rather than a tangible fact. (Incidentally, the same is true of all discourse. We little discourse in the public sphere beyond religion and politics which is meant to move people into action or belief — no wait, there is advertising, which is wholly concrete. The abstract is abstracted from advertising, hidden under picture and demands).

Consider. First the abstract proposition:

And first the sin of unbelief will appear to be extremely heinous when we remember that it is the parent of every other iniquity.

The proposition is that unbelief is the predicate of all other sin: we cannot sin without unbelief. Paul makes this point

23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Romans 14:23 (ESV). How then does Spurgeon drive this point home? First, he repeats and rephrases: this is critical in oral discourse. You cannot assume that someone has caught the full wait of your words on the first pass. Repetition and rephrasing are extremely useful:

There is no crime which unbelief will not beget.

Then Spurgeon makes an interesting move to slow down the issue:

I think that the fall of man is very much owing to it.

He does not say, The fall of man was caused by unbelief. Rather, he begins with “I think”. There is a matter of meditation not demand. Let’s think about this together. He is drawing his audience up alongside to contemplate with him:

It was in this point that the devil tempted Eve. He said to her, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” He whispered and insinuated a doubt, “Yea, hath God said so?” as much as to say, “Are you quite sure he said so?”

Here, he turns the event into a play. Come here with me and let’s watch the primeval temptation.

It was by means of unbelief—that thin part of the wedge—that the other sin entered; curiosity and the rest followed; she touched the fruit, and destruction came into this world.

Some of the weight of this image will be lost here: “the wedge”. We don’t cut firewood (at least those of us who live in cities — which is almost everyone; my family in Montana buys pellets). The wedge of a device shaped like an ax head. It was placed against a piece of wood to be split, and a hammer was brought against it.

Image result for wedge firewood

Since that time, unbelief has been the prolific parent of all guilt. An unbeliever is capable of the vilest crime that ever was committed. Unbelief, sirs! why it hardoned the heart of Pharoah—it gave license to the tongue of blaspheming Rabshakeh—yea, it became a deicide, and murdered Jesus.

Here in quick procession he moves from Adam to Christ. Spurgeon cannot see anything without seeing the Cross:

Unbelief!—it has sharpened the knife of the suicide! it has mixed many a cup of poison; thousands it has brought to the halter; and many to a shameful grave, who have murdered themselves and rushed with bloody hands before their Creator’s tribunal, because of unbelief.

This move is extraordinary: the reference to “suicide” brings us to Judas. He he does not dwell on Judas, rather Spurgeon makes the general point that suicide is the effect of every unbelief. He doesn’t speak of hanging oneself, but rather of poison: Spurgeon broadens the terror. If you are now in unbelief, you are mixing yourself a glass of poison.

Suicide of Judas~Some people say suicide is not discussed ...

 

All who are judged guilty on the Last Day have committed suicide.

May I now stop to make a point: The Gospel is plainly this: you can do nothing of merit to avoid damnation, but God has done all. No one is saved because he is better than anyone. We are saved when we admit that we are not so.

I am a Christian because I am possessed by a moral certainty that I am and never will be “better” than any man. I am so well acquainted with my sin, that I cannot believe that any man is worse than me.

Here Spurgeon makes a point of common grace: the only reason there is no more sin in the world is that Spirit of God has restrained that sin.

Give me an unbeliever—let me know that he doubts God’s word—let me know that he distrusts his promise and his threatening; and with that for a premise, I will conclude that the man shall, by-and-bye unless there is amazing restraining power exerted upon him, be guilty of the foulest and blackest crimes. Ah! this is a Beelzebub sin; like Beelzebub, it is the leader of all evil spirits. It is said of Jeroboam that he sinned and made Israel to sin; and it may be said of unbelief that it not only sins itself, but makes others sin; it is the egg of all crime, the seed of every offence; in fact everything that is evil and vile lies couched in that one word—unbelief.

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Sin of Unbelief,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 19. Spurgeon then makes the point that all believers sin from the same failure: it is unbelief that leads to sin. There is no sin without unbelief.

Thomas Manton: The Nature of Grace and Mercy

First, I begin with the thing described, ‘The grace of God.’ It is a term that admits of divers acceptations. Sometimes it is put for God’s eternal favour and good-will; sometimes for the effects of this favour, as grace infused and bestowed upon the creature: Eph. 4:7, ‘To every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ Sometimes it is put for the gospel, which is the charter by which we hold this grace; and so it is said, Rom. 6:15, ‘You are not under the law, but under grace;’ i.e., under the state of the gospel. Here I take it in the first sense, viz., for the gracious will and good pleasure of God to do good to men, or to show mercy to the creature; for God’s kindness and bounty to men is expressed by several terms. The most usual are two—grace and mercy. I will show how they agree, and how they differ. They both agree in this, that they are attributes which merely respect the creature. The love and knowledge of God first falleth upon himself. God knows himself, and loves himself, and then the creature. But now the mercy and grace of God are merely transient, and pass out to and respect the creature only. God cannot be gracious to himself and merciful to himself, as he loves himself and knows himself; and therefore herein they agree. But now in some respects they differ. Grace properly signifies the freeness of God’s love; mercy relates to the misery of the creature. God’s external motive is our misery, and his internal motive is his own grace. Mercy respects us as we are in ourselves worthy of condemnation: grace respects us as we are compared with others that are not elected. As, for instance, if the question be, Why any are chosen to life? it is out of mercy, because they are lost and undone creatures. But then if the question be, Why these are chosen above others? then the ultimate reason is God’s grace. Once more, the angels that never sinned are saved merely out of grace, and not out of mercy. It is not proper to say they are saved out of mercy, for they were never miserable; but men, that were once miserable, are saved, not only out of grace, but also out of mercy. In short, mercy signifies that love of God which helps the miserable, and grace signifies a property in God to give forth things freely and without desert. Grace doth all gratis, freely, and without any merit or precedent obligation or debt. Note then—
Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 16 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1874), 38–39.

Sleep trouble and Alzheimer’s disease

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Disturbed sleep has emerged as a candidate risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, multiple studies link poor sleep to cognitive impairment and decline, and more recent studies link sleep disturbance to biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, study authors wrote. Researchers showed that shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with greater beta-amyloid buildup as shown on positron emission tomography (PET) scans. They noted another study had linked poorer sleep and reports of frequent napping with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures of beta-amyloid deposition. The authors said that numerous studies have linked sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) to poor cognitive outcomes, and more recent studies have tied SDB to Alzheimer’s disease.

The correlation does not explain the relationship. The article addresses the possible meanings of the observation.

Questions about anti-depressant medication

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The New York Times has published an extensive article on the open issues respecting anti-depressant usage, such as long term effects, addiction, and whether such medication is always worth the cost:

“There is a cultural question here, which is how much depression should people have to live with when we have these treatments that give so many a better quality of life,” Dr. Kramer said. “I don’t think that’s a question that should be decided in advance.”

Antidepressants are not harmless; they commonly cause emotional numbing, sexual problems like a lack of desire or erectile dysfunction and weight gain. Long-term users report in interviews a creeping unease that is hard to measure: Daily pill-popping leaves them doubting their own resilience, they say.

“We’ve come to a place, at least in the West, where it seems every other person is depressed and on medication,” said Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “You do have to wonder what that says about our culture.”