Sunday, December 10, 2017

Psalms the True Gospel Music

It is a curious bit of history that the first published reference to gospel music identified the Psalms of David as such (Nathaniel Ho[l]mes (1599-1678), Gospel Musick: or, The Singing of Davids Psalms, &c. in the Publick Congregations, or Private Families, Asserted and Vindicated, 1644 - per Robert M. Stevenson, "Evangelistic Song" (1957). The modern understanding of what gospel music is (a particular genre of uninspired hymnody), however, often attributes its origin to a man named Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908), a musical composer associated with Dwight Moody and his revival services, who in 1875 co-published Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs. There are other rival claimants to the title of the originator of gospel music, as it is now understood, but Sankey was known as The Sweet Singer of Methodism (akin to David, who was known as The Sweet Singer of Israel, 2 Sam. 23.1).

There was a Reformed Presbyterian minister in the 19th century by the name of Nathan Robinson Johnston (1820-1904, known for his missionary endeavors among the Chinese in California, among other things), who wrote a fascinating biography titled Looking Back From the Sunset Land; or, People Worth Knowing (1898). He was "a lineal descendant of Sir Archibald Johnston, or Lord Warriston whom the Scotch Covenant-breakers hung in Edinburgh," as he himself notes. Among the interesting vignettes of which he writes, there is one involving Sankey that is very poignant. As a Reformed Presbyterian, he held to the practice of exclusive psalmody -- that is, singing the Psalms alone in worship. But he writes candidly of an encounter with Sankey that resonates over a century later.

...together we listened with rapture to Mr. Moody's song companion, Ira D. Sankey. By the way, if ever an 'old Psalm-singer' is tempted to become a hymn-singer it must be at those meetings where everybody joins in chorus with Mr. Sankey in some of his songs as no other can sing them. By the way again, Ira D. Sankey might not be the last one to be brought to our belief in the exclusive use of the inspired songs of the Bible. He has a great admiration for them, and he once said to me that he would like to use them if they were more beautifully versified. His emphasized statement is that in his public singing he is only 'singing the Gospel.' As yet, however, he is far from accurate in his views. Some years ago, in pleasant talk with him in San Francisco, I could not convince him that the 'psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs' mentioned by Paul are all found in the book of the Bible called the 'Book of Psalms.' Nor is Mr. Sankey alone in his opinion. Some good people believe that the 'hymn' which Jesus and his disciples sang after the Passover and before he went out to the Mount of Olives, was only the effusion of some poetic genius among his followers. (Looking Back From the Sunset Land, pp. 569-570)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!

In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which began (in a sense) with the posting of Martin Luther's 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenburg, Germany, Log College Press has posted select works by 19th century American Presbyterians which study the Reformation from a variety of angles. Be sure to check out our latest blog post here. Happy Reformation Day! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Early American Presbyterians on the French Huguenots

There is a fascinating body of works by 19th century American Presbyterians written in appreciation of the French Huguenots, fellow Calvinists who were so influential in the founding of America. At Log College Press, I have assembled some of those works in one place for readers who may also appreciate the common bond between Presbyterian and Huguenot. There are lots of works to bookmark, download and enjoy!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Early American Presbyterian Literature on Psalmody

Recently, I contributed a blog post to the Log College Press. This is an ongoing project to make accessible American Presbyterian literature from the 18th and 19th centuries in digital format, and eventually, in print. On this occasion, I have compiled in one place a number of works from Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter), Associate Reformed Presbyterian and United Presbyterian sources dealing with the issue of psalmody in worship. There is a lot to read here so feel free to bookmark the post if you are interested. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lewis Lupton: The Michelangelo of Chiswick

Best known as the author of the 25-volume A History of the Geneva Bible (London: Fauconberg Press; The Olive Tree, 1966-1994), which was indeed his magnum opus as Peter Toon once wrote, Lewis Lupton was not only a church historian and writer, but also an artist, storyteller, theologian and loving husband and father. As David Martyn Lloyd-Jones once put it, "Mr. Lupton has not only the eye of an artist but also the nose of the true historian, and above all the understanding of one well versed in the Reformed faith." In the words of J.I. Packer, Mr. Lupton was "[a]n artist with brush and pen as well as words and wisdom." The story of his life and legacy is one that deserves to be more widely known.

Born on July 18, 1909, in Fulham, London, as the oldest of seven children, Lewis Frederick Lupton (known as "Luppy" to some) was recognized early to have a gift for artistic talent. His family moved to Sheffield -- where they attended the Mount Olivet Strict Baptist Chapel -- when he was very young, and after leaving school at the age of 12, he was given a scholarship to study at the Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts for a period of seven years. This is where he met (Phyllis) Joan Ainger, the future Mrs. Lupton. 

[Lewis Lupton self portrait, 1929.]

After their marriage in 1934, they moved to London the following year. Mr. Lupton was asked by a fellow Sheffielder, Victor Askew, to join his commercial art studio, Askew Younge Studios. While there he worked on advertising projects for a wide range of firms including Marconi, and P and O. In 1939, Mr. Lupton illustrated both Kathleen Conyngham Greene, The Rector's Second Daughter; and James Cahill, The Pilot of Indian Leap. In 1940, he illustrated Brian Reed, The World Goes By Machines, and he was the illustrator for Wilfrid Robertson, The Island Plot (1942), for Christopher Beck, et al., The Triumph Book for Boys (1942), for Violet M. Methley, Derry Down-Under (1943) and for S.C. George, Eagle of the Desert (1943). The Luptons later became members of the North Rd. Strict Baptist Chapel, Brentford, and meanwhile, their son Jude was born in 1939.

During World War II, he exhibited several oil paintings in the Royal Academy, some of which were chosen to tour the country. He was also a keen water color painter and never traveled without his easel and paints. During the war he needed to develop further commercial art clients and found work with City Display Organisation. As a conscientious objector he chose not to take work promoting the war effort, but designed posters for the Ministry of Fuel and Power, and Dig for Victory campaign. The house where the family was living in Chiswick was destroyed by bombing in 1941, but Jude was rescued unharmed from his cot. The family lived in temporary accommodations until they bought their current home in 1944. Two daughters, Esther and Julia, were born after the war, and the family later settled at Gunnersbury Baptist church in Chiswick.

After the war he illustrated many books published by Scripture Union (formerly the Children’s Special Service Mission or CSSM), and was encouraged in his work by his boss, A Morgan Derham. In 1948 he illustrated Mr. Derham’s On the Trail of the Windward: A Story of the Norfolk Broads, followed by Mr. Derham’s The Cruise of the Clipper: A Story of the Norfolk Broads (1952) and Bluewater Mere (1954). He also illustrated many of the children's novels by Patricia St. John, such as The Tanglewoods’ Secret (1948), Treasures of the Snow (1950), Star of Light (1953) and Rainbow Garden (1960); and others such as Deborah Bennett, Jean’s Black Diamond: A Story of Australia (1951), Son of Diamond: A Story of Australia (1952) and Susan’s Conquest: A Story of Australia (1956); Joyce Reason, Laughter of the Desert (1952); David Britten, The Making of Stephen Hall (1954); Elisabeth Batt, The House With the Blind Window (1955), In Search of Simon (1956) and The Wilde Riders (1960); Christine Savery, Red Knights from Hy Brasil (1955); Leslie S. Ward, Touchdown to Adventure (1958); Will Maggs, Head-Hunters’ Moon (1958); Constance Savery, Flight to Freedom (1958); Margaret Barry, Julie Westaway (1958); Gordon Parke, Coffins for Traitors (1958); Mary Batchelor, All For Good (1958); Richard Armstrong, Sabatoge at the Forge (1960); Maurice Cox, Virginian Rebel (1960); Godfrey C. Robinson and Stephen F. Winward, In the Holy Land: A Journey Along the King’s Highways (1963); O.L. Rice, My Friend Linda (1976); and Elizabeth Mumford, Holiday in the Mountains (n.d.). His love of art and his Christian convictions led him to illustrate and design exhibitions for organizations such as The British and Foreign Bible Society, Strict Baptist Mission and Scripture Union (he illustrated, for example, John C. Pollock, The Good Seed, Story of CSSM & Scripture Union, 1959), and for The Evangelical Magazine. It was during his time at SU that he started writing, later entering Captured into their annual children’s writer competition.

[All For Good by Mary Batchelor, 1958.]

It was in 1959 that Mr. Lupton spoke at the Puritan Conference at Westminster Chapel. Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones after hearing his lecture encouraged him to publish his work. Mr. Lupton would go on to create the original logo for the publisher, Banner of Truth, as well as illustrate many cover sketches for Banner of Truth publications, including the design for the Geneva series of Bible commentaries. His artwork appears on two volumes by J.C. Ryle that were reprinted by Banner of Truth in 1960: Five Christian Leaders and Five English Reformers; as well as the 1960 BoT edition of James Bannerman’s classic, The Church of Christ.

An exhibition designer during and after WWII, Mr. Lupton once met the Queen Mother at the opening of the 1951 Faith of Britain exhibition, which he had designed. Too embarrassed to wear his hearing aid (he was deaf), he unable to hear what she said. In A History of the Geneva Bible, he noted “isolated as I am by deafness and devoted to my art, social relationships cannot be my strong point; yet, as I go about looking for subjects to sketch I am continually swept by waves of rapture for the physical world around me” (3:188-189).

It was after WWII that Mr. Lupton had an experience that was life-changing. He tells the story in the first volume of what would become the great work of his life, A History of the Geneva Bible (1:11-12):

It was on a sketching tour soon after the War that I fell in love with a [Geneva] Bible. It lay invitingly open in a window shop in Chichester. The left-hand page had an old map with galleons and sea monsters on it while the right had a gorgeously decorative title and border. It was early closing day so we drove on to Bosham with our easels and canvasses. But I always regretted missing that Bible and in the end, some three years later, I wrote to see if it was still there. It was, and thereby hangs this tale.

I soon found that there was more to the volume than met the eye, especially for people who feel a sneaking sympathy with those underdogs of our school history books -- the Puritans and Roundheads. I found that this old book was a real Puritan Bible. As I dug out more and more bits of information about it I found myself back in a thrilling world of romance, of little ships slipping their moorings at night, of galloping horses, of the roar of siege cannon, of snowy Alpine passes, of printing presses, of men who feared neither man nor devil, Queen nor Emperor, of a royal Duchess trudging a lonely road in pouring rain at midnight and carrying her husband's sword while he carried her baby, of love among exiles in foreign cities, of births, of deaths and a hundred other things of which I could write if this book were a Geneva quarto or one of Christopher Barker's great folios instead of a mere 20th century demy octavo.

This experience led Mr. Lupton to not only cherish the Geneva Bible and begin a 25-volume study of its history, but also contributed to his appreciation for and contributions towards hand-lettered calligraphy, which he used from volume eight forward, with a quill pen. The individual volumes are a treasure, because each has the feel of a book written especially for the reader.

[The first volume of Mr. Lupton's magnum opus.]

The preface to the fourth volume of A History of the Geneva Bible was written by Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and sheds more light on both the man and his magnum opus (4:7-8): 

For many years I had known of Mr. Lewis Lupton's interest in the Geneva Bible, and having heard his paper on the subject at a "Puritan Conference" some years back, I was delighted when he told me that intended publishing the story of its history in several volumes.

I have already greatly enjoyed the first three volumes and it is now my privilege to write this word of Introduction to the fourth volume.

All who have read the previous volumes will need no encouragement to read this one, but for the sake of those who may not have done so, I would call attention to certain special features of this series of books.

They are of unusual interest and importance at the present time. We have been bombarded by new translations of the Bible during the past twenty years, so it is particularly valuable to have this history of one of the most important and influential translations ever made.

Fortunately for us, however, Mr. Lupton does not confine himself solely to that theme. He rightly includes the entire history of that most fascinating period during which the shape of the different sections of the Christian church in Britain was being determined. At a time when the nature of the church and its form of government is constantly before us because of the various ecumenical activities, it is essential that all branches of the church should be familiar with their origins and factors that determined what happened.

Here we have it all in detail - the troubles at Frankfurt, the prejudices and the divisions, and the mighty influence of John Calvin at Geneva.

At the same time there are cameos of the great men of those days who were gathered together in various places, and who grappled with the great questions which are in our day and generation still burning and vital issues.

I am particularly glad that Mr. Lupton has "spread" himself. Far too often we are given mere summaries, or an expression of the prejudices of the author; but here, the facts are allowed to speak for themselves and we see these men who belonged to the second generation of Protestant leaders as they were, and as they met their daily problems.

At the same time we are led into what, from the purely theological standpoint, are most interesting by-paths, where we learn something about printing, art, etc. 

Personally I always find this type of book not only interesting but truly instructive and stimulating, and the larger the number of facts and details the better.

Mr. Lupton has not only the eye of an artist but also the nose of the true historian, and above all the understanding of one well versed in the Reformed faith. I need say nothing about the sheer delight to the eye of these volumes.

This particular volume is worthy of its predecessors and whets our appetite for what is yet to come.

It was also in the 1960's that Mr. Lupton set up (with others) The Fauconberg Press (named for Lady Mary, daughter of Oliver Cromwell, known as Countess Fauconberg), the publishing arm of the Strict Baptist Historical Society. Books he illustrated for TFP include J.H. Alexander, More Than Notion (1964) (a story of revival); Lewis Lupton, Red Indian Peril: The Story of John Eliot, the Apostle of the Red Indians, Translator of the Bible no-one can read and the First Protestant English Missionary (1965); Lewis Lupton, Captured: Being the Adventures of a Puritan Boy, Sandy Williams, of Deerfield in Massachusetts, New England, in the year 1704. How he was Captured by the Abenaki Indians; his residence in Canada and Acquaintance with Mademoiselle Carignan and other of the French Nobility, with all that he suffered at the hands of the Governor and Priests; together with an Account of the Remarkable Sequel now set forth by Lewis Lupton (1965); and Lewis Lupton, Behind Mr. Bunyan (1968) (a true story of Agnes Beaumont, who belonged to John Bunyan's Meeting). These stories engage not only younger but older readers as well (Captured has "A Preface for Young Older Folk," "Another Preface, For Younger Young Folk," and "An Introduction, For Nobody"). The prominent theme in these works is a desire on the part of the writer/illustrator to bring church history alive and make Puritan Christianity relevant to our day.

[Portrait of Lewis Lupton by Julia Button from Captured, 1965.]

Mr. Lupton shared personal remarks often in his History of the Geneva Bible, and the last volume he published (it was considered “unfinished” at the time of his death in 1996) contains interesting comments he made in the postscript. In the context of describing his appreciation for the influence of Dr. J.I. Packer, Dr. D.M. Lloyd-Jones and Rev. Peter Toon, he had this to say about what the “rediscovery” of Puritan theology meant to him personally.

Another plank in our ‘Puritan’ platform was called the ‘Banner books,’ reprints of puritan tomes, splendidly printed, a venture of the greatest value, which still does much good worldwide. These excellent works are puffed on their way by a magazine, of which I count No. 11 as a turning point in my thinking, for it was devoted to the ‘Free Offer.’ Brought up on predestinarian Baptist preaching, and confirmed in the same by studies of, and around, the Geneva Bible, I was familiar with its rediscovery at Geneva, Beza’s chart of ‘double’ predestination, and the perils of ‘hypercalvinism.’ Therefore the ‘Banner’s’ summary of the Biblical doctrine of the ‘well meant’ offers of mercy to all, brought pure joy to my troubled heart, while Boston’s ‘Fourfold State,’ wiped the last vestige of a frown from my Father’s face. (25:111)

In 1968, Mr. Lupton toured the area around Christ Church, Spitalfields, a place known to history for its warm embrace of French Huguenot refugees. He wrote about his experience and provided illustrations of his tour, which are available to see here.

The Olive Tree published a facsimile reprint of Anne Locke’s 1560 English translation of the French Sermons of John Calvin upon the Song that Ezechias made after he had been sick and afflicted by the hand of God, contained in the 39th chapter of Isaiah (modernized English title), along with her poetic meditation on Psalm 51 under the title Mrs. Locke’s Little Book (1973).

[Portrait of Lewis Lupton by Joan Lupton.]

A man who loved the visual as well as the written word, he illustrated the ceiling of his house showing the gospel from Genesis to Revelation (which was featured in the 1989 Observer). It was painted in oils directly on the plaster. He created a similar illustration on the ceiling of another house. Those who have seen the ceilings continue to marvel about them to this day.

He died on July 16, 1996. Almost exactly two years later, Joan passed away on July 2, 1998. His three children (Jude, Esther and Julia) still own the Lupton house, and Jude lives there to this day. Mr. Lupton has been memorialized in several places. The Strict Baptist Historical Society published his obituary, as did Iain Murray in the October 1996 Banner of Truth Magazine [I have just read Mr. Murray's tribute to his friend shortly before publishing this article, and it is a wonderful encomium]. A page in his honor tells the story of his life and highlights his skill as an illustrator in Donald L. Brake and Shelly Beach, A Visual History of the King James Bible: The Dramatic Story of the World's Best-Known Translation (2011), which also includes many varied and beautiful illustrations by Mr. Lupton. Peter Toon, the great Anglican minister and historian, in Puritans and Calvinism (1973) (whose 1967 book Hypercalvinism, was published by Mr. Lupton's The Olive Tree), had this to say in his preface about Mr. Lupton: 

I dedicate this book to two men, both of whom are twice my age.  They have never met but they share a common enthusiasm for all that is best in Puritan divinity.  First, by reason of his greater age, is Norman F. Douty of Pennsylvania, preacher, teacher and theologian.  This year he celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the Christian ministry in the Baptist denomination.  He has given me the privilege of seeing through the press for him his major study entitled The Believer’s Union with Christ to be published by Reiner Publications in April 1973.  Second, Lewis F. Lupton, artist, historian and theologian.  Two of his paintings hang in my house and his portraits of my wife and me are in my study.  He is engaged in publishing a truly magnum opus, a History of the Geneva Bible in at least seven volumes, four of which have appeared already.  Enriched by beautiful illustrations, the books are published by Mr. Lupton’s own publishing house, The Olive Tree of Chiswick, London.

In researching this article, I have corresponded with his daughter Julia, and a number of others who have known Mr. Lupton over the years. Many have offered me testimonies of his character, anecdotes of his life, and access to his works. I am greatly indebted to each of them. I would note also that Mr. Phil Roberts of Tentmaker Publications has rights to the reprinting of A History of the Geneva Bible, and some volumes have already been reprinted.

[The Resurrection Tree by Lewis Lupton.]

In 1965, Mr. Lupton wrote of himself, “For the last decade he has devoted much of his time to the illustration of Christian literature. He now finds the appeal of the three creative activities, writing, painting, and drawing almost equally balanced. Like most people with artistic gifts he is spurred on by the hope of producing some work of lasting merit, but at middle age it still remains to the seen whether he will make any permanent mark.” There are no statues standing in London so far as this writer knows to honor "the Michelangelo of Chiswick." Charles Spurgeon once wrote, however, that “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” We have precious writings and beautiful illustrations to cherish from Mr. Lupton's hand. But his legacy lives on most particularly in the hearts of his loved ones, and those who knew him - and those who wish they had known him. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Biographies of Reformation, Puritan, Covenanter and Huguenot Women of the Faith

(Miss Katherine G. Myers reading Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr)

I have often been asked to help provide biographical resources regarding leading ladies of the Reformation, Puritan, Scottish Covenanter and French Huguenot eras. Considering the volumes that have been written on Martin Luther’s “Katie” alone, such a list could be endless; but I have attempted here to consolidate the key resources that I would recommend, along with links to these volumes either in print or online for handy reference. I have left out such ladies as Anne Hutchinson, Marie Dentière, and Anna Maria van Schurman (known as “The Tenth Muse”), each of whom would require a separate blog post. There were many godly women who stood alongside the godly men of those days. Their stories are worthy to read and remain inspirational today.

1. J.H. Alexander, Ladies of the Reformation

5. Roland Bainton, Women of the Reformation: In France and England The great biographer of Martin Luther has also spanned Europe to make known the stories of godly women of the Reformation era.

9. W.P. Breed, Jenny Geddes, or, Presbyterianism And Its Great Conflict With Despotism (See the first chapter particularly)
10. Simonetta Carr, Lady Jane Grey Simonetta Carr has done a great service to the church by her biographies, which are geared towards younger readers.

15. Faith Cook, Anne Bradstreet: Pilgrim and Poet Anne Bradstreet was also known as “The Tenth Muse.”

17. W.H. Davenport Adams, The Sunshine of Domestic Life; or, Sketches of Womanly Virtues, and Stories of the Lives of Noble Women

19. Alice Morse Earle, Margaret Winthrop: Biography of a Puritan Woman, the Wife of John Winthrop, First Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

20. James I. Good, [Famous] Women of the Reformed Church

21. John C. Johnston, Treasury of the Scottish Covenant (see the chapters on “The Women of the Covenant” and “The Wigtown Martyrs”)

22. Hope Irvin Marston, Against the Tide: The Valor of Margaret Wilson The story of Margaret Wilson is inspirational, but heart-wrenching, so let the reader be forewarned.

23. J.C. McFeeters, Sketches of the Covenanters (see the chapter titled “The Daughters of the Covenant”)

25. Leslie Nuernberg, Only Glory Awaits: The Story of Anne Askew

26. Alexander Smellie, Men of the Covenant (see the chapter titled “Those Women Which Laboured in the Gospel”)

27. Ernst Staehelin, Frau Wibrandis: A Woman in the Time of Reformation

28. Rebecca VanDoodeward, Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth

29. John T. Wilkinson, ed., Richard Baxter and Margaret Chilton: A Puritan Love Story; Being the Breviate of the Life of Margaret Baxter (Breviate online; J.I. Packer, A Grief Sanctified)

30. Paul F.M. Zahl, Five Women of the English Reformation The five women are: Anne Boleyn, Katharine Parr, Jane Grey, Anne Askew and Catherine Willoughby.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

450th Anniversary of the Translation of Guido de Brès

Guido de Brès (1522 – May 31, 1567) was a French-speaking Walloon minister of the gospel, who studied under both John Calvin and Theodore Beza. Raised a Roman Catholic, he was converted to Christ before the age of 20. He would spend most of the rest of his life on the run for his faith. Most famous for his authorship of the Belgic Confession (1561), one of the Three Forms of Unity of the Reformed Churches (he also wrote another confession as well). It is an eloquent and profoundly spiritual milestone in the history of Reformed confessions and creeds, and it is the only Reformation creed written by a martyr. He also wrote Le Baston del la Foy (The Staff of Faith, Able to Shut the Mouths of Faith’s Enemies) (1562) and La Racine, Source et Fondement des Anabaptistes (The Root, the Origins, and the Foundation of the Anabaptists or Rebaptizers of Our Time) (1565), responses to both Roman Catholic and Anabaptists, the two greatest threats to the Reformed Faith at that time. Arrested in 1565, he was tried by the Spanish Inquisition, and ultimately hanged at Valenciennes, France on the last day of May, 1567, 450 years ago today. Before he was executed, he wrote a letter to his wife expressing his faith in Christ and encouraging her in the same, a letter which stands in the annals of church history’s most inspirational writings.

(The Countess de Reux Visiting De Bray and Le Grange in Prison
Illustration from James Wylie's History of Protestantism)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MHCC 52: Why Was Eve Formed From Adam's Rib?

In the famous Commentary of Matthew Henry, we find a beautiful summary of why woman was created in the Garden of Eden from the rib of Adam rather than from the earth like Adam was. 

“ 4. That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself. See Eph. v. 25, 26.” – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary Upon the Whole Bible (1708-1710, 1991, 2006), p. 10 (Gen. 2.21)

This quote, often-repeated, highlights the companionship that God intended for husband and wife. As Henry no doubt would acknowledge, this understanding of the relationship between man and wife was not unique to him. As it turns out (here I wish to thank Adam Brink for highlighting this point) there is a long theological pedigree to this idea which predates Matthew Henry by centuries. In this blog post, I will provide citations to other theologians who have made this very point. This list may not be complete (allusions to this idea may be found in Augustine and earlier), but it shows a trajectory of thought which is historically intriguing, at least to this researcher, and each contribution along the way has its own particular and profound eloquence.

“Adam lost a rib, but he got a better thing instead of it, even a help meet for him. Thus God uses to deal with his children: they lose sometimes some of their creature-comforts; but then perhaps they get more of the Creator’s comforts, and that’s a blessed exchange. This bone was taken out of Adam’s side, fitly noting the woman’s place: not out of his head, to be above him; nor out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; nor from before him, as his better; nor from behind him, as his servant; -- but out of his side, to be equal with him; near his heart, for he owes her love; under his arm, for he owes her protection. Surely they forget from whence the woman was taken, that carry themselves haughtily and abusively towards their wives.” – Philip Henry (1631-1696), An Exposition…Upon the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis (1682, 1839), p. 56 (Gen. 2.21) * This commentary by Matthew Henry’s father was written by the hand of Matthew Henry in 1682.
 “The woman was taken out of this part, not out of the higher or lower parts, to show that she is neither to be her husband’s mistress, to usurp authority over him, 1 Tim. ii.12; nor yet to be his slave, to be abused, despised, or trampled under his feet; but to be kindly treated, and used like a companion, with moderation, respect, and affection.” – Matthew Poole (1624-1679), “Annotations Upon the Holy Bible” (1683-1685), Vol. 1, p. 7 (Gen. 2.21). * “One fact is certain from internal evidence, that Mr. Henry wrote his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, with the learned compilation of Poole, called Criticorum Synopsis, open before him; as, in all difficult passages, he has judiciously selected that opinion from the many presented in this work, which, upon the whole, seems to be most probable.” – Archibald Alexander, Preface to Matthew Henry’s Commentary
“To honour marriage more yet, or rather to teach the married how to honour one another, it is said that the wife was made of the husband's rib, Gen. ii.22; not of his head, for Paul calleth the husband the wife's head, Ephes. v. 23; not of the foot, for he must not set her at his foot. The servant is appointed to serve, and the wife to help. If she must not match with the head, nor stoop at the foot, where shall he set her then? He must set her at his heart, therefore she which should lie in his bosom was made in his bosom, and should be as close to him as his rib, of which she was fashioned.” – Henry Smith (1560-1591), A Preparative to Marriage (1591), p. 8
"It was right for the woman to be made from a rib of man. First, to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither "use authority over man," and so she was not made from his head; nor was it right for her to be subject to man's contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet." -- Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274), Summa Theologiae (1265–1274, 1485), Pars Prima, Quest. 92, Art. 3 * Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences.
“It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself” – “‘like unto himself’ – this corresponds to equivalence. By this is indicated that the woman must be the equal of the man, or his companion, not under him and not above him. Also, the woman was made from man’s rib, not from the upper part or from the lower, but from the middle, that by it might be designated that woman must be man’s equal.” – Robert of Sorbon (1201-1274), De Matrimonio (Of Marriage) (c. 1260-1270) on Gen. 2.18
“WHY WOMAN WAS FORMED FROM THE MAN’S SIDE AND NOT FROM SOME OTHER PART OF HIS BODY. But although woman was made from man for these reasons, nevertheless she was formed not from just any part of his body, but from his side, so that it should be shown that she was created for the partnership of love, lest, if perhaps she had been made from his head, she should be perceived as set over man in domination; or if from his feet, as if subject to him in servitude. Therefore, since she was made neither to dominate, nor to serve the man, but as his partner, she had to be produced neither from his head, nor from his feet, but from his side, so that he would know that she was to be placed beside himself whom he had learned had been taken from his side.” -- Peter Lombard (1100-1160), Libri Quatuor Sententiarum (Sentences) (c. 1150), Bk. 2, Distinction 18, Ch. 2 (see also 3.18.3;; 4.28.4) * Peter Lombard was a pupil of Hugh of St. Victor.
“XXXV. Why woman was made from man, and why from the side.
But afterwards as a help to generation woman was made from man himself, since, if she had been made from another source, surely the beginning of all men would not have been one. Now she was made from the side of man that it might be shown that she was created for association in love, lest perhaps, if she had been made from the head, she would seem to be preferred to man unto damnation, or, if from the feet, to be subject unto slavery. Since, therefore, she was furnished to man neither as a mistress nor a handmaid but as a companion, she had to be produced neither from the head nor from the feet but from the side, in order that he might realize that she was to be placed beside him, whom he learned had been taken from his very side.” -- Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141), De Sacramentis (Sacraments of the Christian Faith) (c. 1134), Book I, Part VI, Sec. 35
“[God took one] of the ribs. Why was the woman formed from a rib? For if she were formed from his foot or hand or some other part she would stand in shame before him. Another interpretation is that it shows the greatest love, for the rib is, after all, closest to the heart, as it is said: the rib is the guardian of the heart.” – Anonymous (Irish), Commemoratio Geneseos (8th Century)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: Godly Conference

Recently, my friend Russ Gaippe at The Reformed Book Cellar asked me to write a book review. I chose a book that has been a great encouragement to me since it was written in 2011. Dr. Joanne J. Jung is the author of Godly Conference: Rediscovering the Puritan Practice of Conference. One of the private means of grace that also augments the public means of grace, godly conference is indeed a practice worth rediscovering, one that the Puritan wrote often about. For my book review, please visit The Reformed Book Cellar here

Monday, February 6, 2017

Best Set of Online Bible Commentaries

If you are interested in quality Reformed Bible commentaries, and your book budget is limited or you appreciate the benefits of being able to search online, be sure to bookmark this page at Reformed Books Online (RBO): Bible Commentaries.

Travis Fentiman has done yeoman's work to assemble most of the highest rated commentaries identified by Charles Spurgeon, Richard Muller, Cyril J. Barber and others in one place where they are easily accessible online. Of particular interest to readers of this blog, there are so many Puritan and Reformation-era Bible commentaries that are now accessible.

This is a fantastic resource, and I highly commend it to all students of the Word of God.

Here is a more thorough overview of what this resource entails:

This is the best and largest collection of Bible commentaries on the net (a total of 2,200+).  It includes, but is not limited to:
– Every commentary that Charles Spurgeon gave his top recommendation (3 stars  *** ) and ‘good’ recommendation (2 stars  ** ) to in his Commenting and Commentaries  (1876);
– Every Reformed, Puritan or otherwise good commentary we could find on PRDL and EEBO that is in English;
– Every relevant commentary  mentioned by Dr. Richard Muller in his survey of the major Reformation and Puritan era commentaries in McKim’s Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters  Buy  that is in English and online;
– Most all of the older Bible commentaries that a Bible-believer would be interested in, that are free online (in the public domain, pre-1920’s);
– The best of the commentaries listed in Cyril J. Barber’s The Minister’s Library (1974), including his top recommendations;
– The major commentaries from the Early and Medieval Churches that have been translated into English;
– And many more.
The Best works are at the top of each page.  More commentaries follow under the sub-sections: 1500’s, 1600’s, Simple & Practical, Intermediate, Advanced.
Commentaries in larger subsections have not been reduplicated on the pages of the individual books, except as Spurgeon or Barber commented on them.  Some of the best commentaries are on those pages, so be sure to check them as well.
In the days ahead (Deo volente) we hope to add much more to this collection, including works in Latin and a selection of the better contemporary commentaries (only a few are present as is).  
While contemporary commentaries have their benefits (they are typically more uniform, focus on exegesis, bring in archaeology, have some updated research, etc.), they are, as a whole (with few exceptions), seriously deficient in deep, savory, godliness.  They will feed you information, but not your eternal soul.  On the other hand, not only do many 1800’s commentaries often have more thorough scholarship in them than many contemporary commentaries (for instance, see Jamieson-Fausset-Brown in Whole Bible Commentaries), but in reading older puritan commentaries from the Reformation age, one not only grows in knowledge, but finds depths of soul-stirring communion with our Eternal and Beloved God.
Spurgeon’s justly famous, helpful and often humorous comments and evaluations have been quoted under the titles where possible.  His scale is as follows: 
*** – ‘Heartily recommended’ ** – ‘Good, but more ordinary’ * – ‘Least desirable’
Do note that Spurgeon’s recommendations were for whether a late-1800’s seminary student preparing to be a preacher should buy a certain commentary.  As some commentaries were very pricey and scarce in Spurgeon’s day, he sometimes gave a lower rating to certain commentaries than what they otherwise deserve, and his emphasis is on whether a given work will be helpful to a preacher or not.  By God’s grace, we have many more of these works available to us than what even Spurgeon and his readers had available to them in their own day.
Cyril J. Barber’s comments have been added where possible as well.  He was a late-1900’s evangelical pastor and bibliophile who reprinted many of the best works he commends through (the now defunct) Klock & Klock Publishers (which commentaries should be purchased immediately if found).
Not every commentary is reformed, as truth may appreciated, and should be desired, wherever it is found.  A number of broadly evangelical works have been included (especially in the mid-1900’s) at Barber’s recommendation. 
Please note, in relation to this collection, the words of Spurgeon:
‘It is to be specially noted, that in no case do we endorse all that any author has written in his commentary.  We could not read the works through, it would have needed a Methuselah to do that; nor have we thought it needful to omit a book because it contains a measure of error, provided it is useful in its own way; for this catalog is for thoughtful, discerning men, and not for children.  
We have not, however, knowingly mentioned works whose main drift is skeptical, or Socinian, except with a purpose; and where we have admitted comments by writers of doubtful doctrine, because of their superior scholarship and the correctness of their criticisms we have given hints which will be enough for the wise.  It is sometimes very useful to know what our opponents have to say.’
Do note that, while liberal theology is in serious, fundamental, unbelieving error, some of the better, more conservative liberal works (usually noted as such) from the mid-late 1800’s and early 1900’s have been included on these pages as they often contain a wealth of information that can be found nowhere else (which is particularly valuable for the advanced student if one is looking for exhaustive information on a particular text).  These works are usually in the advanced sections of the webpages (as liberals rarely wrote anything that fed anyone’s soul).  Barber often relates why the particular work is useful.  Needless to say:  Beware of their presuppositions, eat the meat, spit out the bones, and feed upon the vast majority of the commentaries that hold forth God’s Truth in shining fullness.
Many of the works on these pages can be bought on Amazon and BookFinder. A book in hand is worth two on the computer.
Please enjoy thoroughly to the glory of God, and tell your friends.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Christ is King of the Nations

Jesus Christ, as Mediator, in his office as King, rules not only over the church, but over all things, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:22: "Head over all things to the church." Although disputed by many, yet it has been the distinctive testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the broad testimony of many Reformed divines outside the RP Church, that Christ indeed, as King, does govern all things, and that his kingly rule is not confined merely to the church.

In March 2016 I began to undertake an historical survey of Reformed literature on the subject, and was delighted to see how many Puritans, Huguenots, Reformed Baptists, Dutch Reformed theologians and modern Reformed divines have also affirmed this important aspect of Christ's mediatorial kingly rule. The fruit of my research is a paper which can be found at a new website, which I hope will serve as a resource for those interested in delving further into this topic. It is a chronological survey covering the period from the 1500s to the present day demonstrating that there is broad historic appreciation within the Reformed church for the Covenanter distinctive doctrine that Christ rules over nations as well as the church in his kingly office.

For those who are interested, please bookmark this page for your reference, and I encourage you to not only read the quotes that I have assembled but also to click on the hyperlinks to the authors' own writings, and to study this important and practical, but often neglected, doctrine at greater length. May the Lord bless your studies, and may Christ's crown and covenant be lifted high among the nations.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

To Thirst For the Living God

"My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" -- King David
"There is in true grace an infinite circle: a man by thirsting receives, and receiving thirsts for more." -- Thomas Shepard
"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." -- King David
"I thirst for thirstiness; I weep for tears." -- Thomas Gataker
"I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land." -- King David
"The Samaritan woman at the well found the Lord thirsting, and by him thirsting, she was filled. She first found him thirsting in order that he might drink from her faith. And when he was on the cross, he said, "I thirst," although they did not give him that for which he was thirsting. For he was thirsting for them." -- Augustine
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." -- Isaiah
"We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee stil:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill." -- Bernard of Clairvaux
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." -- The Lord Jesus
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still." -- A.W. Tozer
"But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -- The Lord Jesus
"With meat and drink indeed I'm blest,
Yet feed on hunger, drink on thirst.
My hunger brings a plenteous store,
My plenty makes me hunger more." -- Ralph Erskine

Monday, May 16, 2016

RBO is the Place to Go

I want to highlight a very valuable website which is fast becoming a go-to repository of some of the best Reformed reading material on the Internet: Reformed Books Online. It is run by my friend Travis Fentiman, who is a licentiate in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). I am a contributor to the site as well. 

There are a number of great websites around which have assembled collections of Reformed literature. I recommend the Post-Reformation Digital Library, Monergism, A Puritan's Mind and others. But as RBO has grown and expanded (and continues to do so weekly), I think it has become a site that all Reformed Christians will find to be simply invaluable as it makes available and accessible material from the time of the Reformation forward to the present on such a wide range of topics that readers of this blog will appreciate.

For example, those interested in Psalmody, Psalters or the Establishment Principle or the writings of the Westminster Divines or Scottish Covenanters will have hours and hours of edifying reading. If you desire to read all Reformed Systematic Theologies available online, and much, much more [see also several recommended reading lists here], RBO is the place to go.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Presbytery Inn Interview

My friend Devan Meade recently interviewed me at his website The Presbytery Inn about three of my favorite subjects: books, John Calvin, and books. :) 

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Plea Answered: Wilhelmus à Brakel's Commentary on Revelation Translated

It was just over 7 years ago today that I published "A Plea to Translate Wilhelmus à Brakel's Exposition of Revelation." When Father Brakel's "The Christian's Reasonable Service" was translated into English in the 1990s -- a great service to the church indeed -- a decision was made not to translate the final portion of it consisting of his commentary on Revelation because it represented a postmillennial eschatological perspective (common to all Puritans, whether Dutch, Scottish, English or American). This omission in translation left a gap for English readers desiring both to have a full translation of à Brakel's magnum opus, and those interested to read for themselves his understanding of the last book of the Bible.

I am pleased to report that this gap has finally been filled by J. Parnell McCarter and his team at the Historicism Research Foundation who have now produced an English translation of this work titled "
Not to be Ignored: Rev. Wilhelmus à Brakel's Commentary on Revelation" (2016), which is now available for purchase in paperback or digital format. For those who have been waiting, as I have, for this important work to be accessible in English, please see the announcement of this publication here for details on how to purchase your copy.

Many thanks to Mr. McCarter and those who assisted in the project for this valuable contribution to the church! 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

In Which Women Deacons Were Approved by the Westminster Assembly

Let me tell you about the time that the Westminster Assembly passed a proposition authorizing in their Presbyterian church order that women be included in the office of deacon. The story is fascinating, especially of how it ends, and, well, maybe better told by Dr. Wayne Spear in his "Covenanted Uniformity in Religion: The Influence of the Scottish Commissioners on the Ecclesiology of the Westminster Assembly," pp. 119-121.
The Assembly still had before it another proposition from the Second Committee, 'That widows, which we read of, I Tim. v. 3, and elsewhere, are included under the name deacons.'[211] This came up for discussion on December 28 and 29, 1643.
The Independents, especially [Sidrach] Simpson and [William] Bridge, argued most strongly in the Assembly for the inclusion of deaconesses in the church. Simpson, for example, drew from 1 Timothy 5 the points that qualifications for the widow are given, some of them the same as are required for bishops and deacons; that she is to be enrolled, i.e., elected; and that she is not to depart from her employment.[212] Significantly, he related the passage in 1 Timothy to the text that was so central in the Independents' ecclesiology, Romans 12:6-8, understanding 'he that sheweth mercy' (with a curious change in gender) to refer explicitly to the widow, or deaconess. The position taken by the Independents was supported by other leading men of the Assembly only by Lazarus Seaman and George Gillespie. 
The notion that the widow in 1 Timothy 5 was a deaconess went back at least to [John] Calvin, who also appealed to Romans 12:8. In the Institutes, Calvin held that there are two grades of deacons: those who distribute alms, and those who devote themselves to the care of the poor and sick. 'Of this sort were the widows whom Paul mentions to Timothy [1 Tim. 5:9-10]. Women could fill no other public office than to devote themselves to the care of the poor.'[213] Calvin's teaching on this point was taken up by the English Separatists; Henry Barrow's A True Description out of the Word of God, of the Visible Church (1589) made a distinction between the 'most diligent and trusty deacons' and 'most loving and sober relievers' in the church.[214] The latter, who are designated as officers,
'must be women of sixty years of age at the least, for avoiding of inconveniences: they must be well reported of for good works, such as have nourished their children, such as have been harbourers to strangers: diligent and serviceable to the saints, compassionate and helpful to them in adversity, given to every good work, continuing in supplications and prayer night and day.'[215]
Some of the strongest leaders in the Assembly argued against including widows or deaconesses as officers, holding that they were, in the Timothy passage, the recipients rather than the bestowers of the alms of the church: [Charles] Herle, [Stephen] Marshall, [Herbert] Palmer, [Thomas] Temple, and [Cornelius] Burgess all took the negative side.[216]
When it came to a vote, the Assembly was evenly divided: the proposition passed by just one vote. Had [John] Lightfoot been present, the outcome would have been different, for he strongly opposed the proposition; but, as he said, 'It was my unfortunacy to be called into the city before it came to a vote.'[217] In the next session, there was a long debate on Romans 16:1-2 as a proof text, which ended in a negative vote, and the Assembly went on to other matters.[218]
In the process of editing, the only significant change  that was made in the section was that this reference to widows was quietly dropped. Although technically this amounted to changing a previous vote of the Assembly, it was not objected to, undoubtedly because of the divided opinion in the Assembly when the proposition was originally passed. As far as can be determined, the existence of deaconesses in the church was no more than a matter of theory, even for the advocates of their inclusion. 
[211] Lightfoot, Journal, 43.
[212] Lightfoot, Journal, 94-25.
[213] Calvin, Institutes, 4.3.9.
[214] In The Reformation of the Church, ed. Iain Murray (London: Banner of Truth, 1965), 197.
[215] Murray, Reformation, 99.
[216] Lightfoot, Journal, 94-96.
[217] Lightfoot, Journal, 96; Gillespie, Notes, 5. 
[218] Lightfoot, Journal, 97-98.
HT: Steve Bradley