Rummaging Through Notes

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Phil,

Your comments about Pennington sent me through piles of articles and things left on the cutting floor for The Decline.  One other person not included in the book but worthy of some ink is Wiliam Douglass.  Douglass served for 19 years as Minister of St. Thomas' Protestant Episcopal Church in--guess where?--Philadelphia.  In 1854, he published a collection of sermons preached at St. Thomas entitled, Sermons Preached in the African Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia.  They were reprinted in 1971.  I'm not sure if they're currently in print, but they should be!

His sermons are theologically solid, gospel- and Christ-centered, evangelistic, and well applied.  They are well worth studying, not the least because he had skill at addressing believers and non-believers with the gospel. 

For the interested, an extended example from his sermon on Romans 15:13--

"They, therefore, who live in the enjoyment of this hope are the sincere and humble followers of Christ, who are born again of the Spirit, and exalted to the high dignity of "the sons of God" (1 John 3:22).  The "in time past walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 1:2), "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12).  But through the rich mercy and grace of God, the eyes of their understanding were enlightened to perceive and feel their wretched state and condition as sinners before God.  They saw themselves utterly cut off from all hope of pardon and reconciliation with their Maker, "by deeds o the law" they had so often violated.  All hope of working out a righteousness of their own, was immediately crushed, upon meditating the startling declaration: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10).  But, on beholding that "new and living way" opened up for us by the blood of Jesus, they "fled for refuge to lay hold upon" that "blessed hope," which is "set before us" in the gospel.  They found shelter from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, under the protection of the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ.  From his inexhaustible fullness, they receive fresh supplies of grace to enable them to "live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world"--"to pass through things temporal, so as not to lose those things that are eternal."

"My brethren--the experience of a goodly number of you, I trust, has thus been briefly sketched.  Some among you have been timely awakened to see the vanity of all that here dazzle and delude the thoughtless and impenitent.  You have been enabled, through grace, to loosen your attachment to them, and to prefer those joys that are pure, spiritual and heavenly.  Your happy condition here does not exempt you from pain, sorrow, and trials of various kinds.  These you have to meet, as they come in their turn.  But in the midst of them all, you may sympathize with the Psalmist when he said, "I wait for the Lord, my sould doth wait, and in his word do I hope" (Ps. 130:5).  Let me exhort you therefore, to "hold fast the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end."  Let your tribulations, trials and afflictions be what they may, "press" onward "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," increasing and abounding in hope.  Are you walking in darkness and have no light?  Hear what your Almighty friend and father says to his afflicted Church, and hope on.  "In a little wrath I hid my face from thee ffor a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee saith the Lord thy Redeemer.  For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindnessshall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee" (Isa. 54:8-10).  Are you struggling against the fierce winds of adversity?  Listen to the cheering voice of your Redeemer and lift up your hearts.  "The very hairs of your head," says he, "are all numbered" (Luke 13:7).  There is no such thing as chance in the history of God's people.  Every event of their life, however afflictive in its character, is a link in that golden chain, which is to raise them progressively, from earth to heaven.  Are you bowed down with the weight of years and their increasing infirmities?  Hope in God and rejoice, that the time is so near at hand, when angels at the gate of Paradise, shall hail you as an immortal born; born "to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:4).         

"A word of admonition and entreaty to that class of our hearers, whose hopes are all centered in this lower world.  It is true my deluded friends, that this earth has its peculiar attractions.  The innumerable multitude, that in every land, throng the "broad way that leadeth to destruction," is proof positive, that some strong enchantments are beguiling their devious pathway to the unknown future.  But bear in mind, do not forget, in your silly chase after a phantom, that this planet, with all its fine furniture, is to be dissolved.  "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Nevertheless, we according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:10-13).  Very precious, indeed, to the Christian, is this promise.  But it can afford no ground of hope to characters which you now sustain.  In these new heaves and new earth spoken of, you can have no portion.  "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27).  As your hopes were placed upon the idols of the earth, with the idols of a burning earth, you will then be left to perish.  The lot of all who shall then sustain the characters that you now do, must be with hypocrites, unbelievers, and all the abominable in the region of hopeless misery and despair.  We turn aside from this awful picture to urge you to seek, for, you ay yet obtain the Christian's hope.  You are yet within reach of mercy.  The gospel with its inviting voice, still calls.  Conscience, in clamorous tones, still warns.  The Holy Spirit, though as still in his influences as the dew of the morning, yet powerfully strives with you.  The great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, still pleads in your behalf.  Your condition, therefore, wretched though it be, is not desperate.  However, there is something to be done on your part, before you can attain this inestimable prize.  You must be up and doing, co-operating with God.  While he worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure, you are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."  This hope is not attained by a few lazy wishes and half-hearted endeavors.  It is attained only by an earnest, diligent and persevering use of all the appointed means of grace.  There are difficulties to be surmounted: hence, you are called upon in the strength of divine grace, to renounce the hidden works of darkness; to "strive to enter in at the straight gate;" to "labor to enter into rest."  It is treasured up in Christ; therefore, your longing eye must be constantly fixed upon him.  In his all-prevailing name alone, you must approach the throne of heavenly grace, and ask, if you would receive, seek, if you would find, and knock, knock and knock again, if you would have the door opened unto you.  You have the divine assurance, that every one that thus "asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matt. 7:8).  Oh, let me entreat you to begin this struggle in good earnest.  It is a noble and magnanimous struggle--a battle against self, against "flesh and blood; against principalities and powers; against spiritual wickedness in high places."  It is therefore, a formidable struggle.  Apparently, the odds are against you.  Not so.  Greater is He that is for you, than all that can be against you in the greatest of all battles.  Angels look on with the most intense interest, to see the issue.  And whenever they recognize the cry of a soul newly born of the Spirit, they immediately raise the loud shout in heaven:--"the dead is alive, the lost is found."  God the Father, who gave his only begotten Son to atone for your sins--God the Son, who redeemed you by His blood--God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth the people of God, are all on your side in this noble warfare. Then desert the camp of Satan.  You know that he has often deceived you, and but for the Lord's mercy would have long since led you onward to the pit of endless woe.  Escape then for your life: flee for refuge to lay hold upon that hope which comes from God, and will lead you to those ineffable joys which He has laid up for those who love him.

 

Posted July 20, 2009 @ 12:20 PM by Thabiti Anyabwile
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