The Necessity of Meditation

The Puritans stressed the need for christian meditation, what we commonly refer to as devotions. These reasons can be summarized easily in six points.  

  1. Our God who commands us to believe the Scriptures, and it also commands us also to meditate on it, in that the Scripture is sufficient for doing it. Often the puritans would use biblical characters as examples to compel their church members to do this; Isaac, Moses, Paul, Timothy, Joshua, David, Mary. For example; Psalm 19:14 reads, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
  1. Meditate on the word, because it is God’s letter to us. Christian do not run over God’s letter in haste, but meditate on his love in sending it to us.
  1. One cannot be a mature Christian without meditation. Thomas Manton once said, “faith is lean and ready to starve without meditation.”
  1. Without meditation the preached word will fail to benefit us. Baxter said, “reading without meditation is like swallowing raw and undigested food, a man may eat too much, but cannot digest too well.” The sermon is not enough for the Christian’s weekly living, he must constantly be reading, and applying the truths of Scripture to his life.
  1. Without meditation our prayers will not be effective; this serves as a middle sort of duty between word and prayer. The Scripture feeds meditation, and meditation feeds prayer.
  1. Christians who fail to meditate are unable to defend the truth. Without proper meditation on the Scriptures, the Christian has no backbone, and no self-knowledge. Manton would teach, “man who is a stranger to meditation does not know himself. ”

As Thomas Watson preached, and we may need to ponder “tis meditation that makes a Christian.”


Nestorianism, Orthodoxy, Kingship, Priesthood and Mediator

Explain Nestorianism and the differences betweenthis view and the traditional orthodox understanding on the person of Christ?
Nestorianism maintains that Christ having two distinct natures, existed as two distinct persons. Many understood Nestorius to be arguing for two personal subjects in Christ, a man and a god similar to the ancient heresy of Paul of Samosata who argued that Jesus a man had been possessed by the divinity.  Nestorius did not mean that but this has become the popular meaning of the heresy of Nestorianism.  The Councils of Nicea in 325 A.D.Costantinople 381 A.D. and Chalcedon helped to establish the orthodox understanding on the Person of Christ. These Councils affirm that Christ is the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds God of God, Light of Light very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. This same Lord Jesus Christ for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man. Christ is one person with two natures one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation;  the distinction of nature’s being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated in to two persons, but one and the same Only begotten God the Word, Jesus Christ.

Explain the distinction John Owen made concerning the revelation of Christ in the Old Testament compared to the revelation of Christ in the New Testament?
John Owen made an important distinction concerning the revelation Christ delivered to the church in the Old Testament, the Son revealed God’s will to the prophets in His divine person, sometimes mediated through angels. In the revelation of the gospel Christ taking on humanity then taught it immediately Himself. Owen explains how Christ being omniscient, He knows everything there is to know. However in his mediatorial office, He revealed the will of the Father in an according to His human nature.

What were the two functions Stephen Charnock and John Owen ascribed to Christ priesthood explain?
Charnock noted that there are two functions of Christ’s priesthood one of oblation and intercession, Charnock notes they are both joined together, but one as precedent to the other. The oblation precedes the intercession and the intercession could not be without the oblation. John Owen agreed that these two acts must not be separate for it belongs to the same mediator for sin to sacrifice and pray. Owen states how in heaven Christ’s intercessory work is continued oblation of Himself. Christ impetrated, merited, or obtained by His death, must be applied on to upon them for whom He intended to obtain it, or else His intercession is in vain, He is not heard in the prayers of His mediatorship.  Owen makes the point that the particularity of Christ’s death on the cross relates to His intercessory work in heaven.

How did Puritans such as Reynolds describe Christ exaltation in relation to His office as King?
The Puritans and particularly Reynolds addressed this issue of Christ’s exaltation in relation to His kingship. The exaltation of Christ as King is fully realized in His enthronement said Reynolds. Goodwin saw this to be realized at His ascension when a military triumph is accorded Him (leading captivity captive) which shows that Christ subdued His enemies at the cross according to Goodwin.

Explain the threefold view Thomas Goodwin held pertaining to the glory of Christ and it application to Christ’s role as mediator?
Goodwin saw Christ glory as threefold, the first glory which all the orthodox agreed upon is that the Christ divine nature cannot be diminished in any way. The Son in His divine nature is coequal in glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Goodwin saw this glory as Christ essential glory. Secondly Goodwin saw how Christ has a personal glory not shared with the Father or the Spirit namely the glory of His person as the God-man; this belongs to Christ alone on account of the hyposatical union. Christ thirdlypossesses the glory of His office as mediator of the covenant of grace.

Learning from William Perkins on Election

WilliamPerkinsPortraitHow did William Perkins see Jesus Christ as the foundation, means, and ends of election?

William Perkins writes on this topic the following, “Election is God’s decree whereby of his own free will he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace. There appertain three things to the execution of this decree, first the foundation, secondly the means, thirdly the degrees. The foundation is Christ Jesus, called of his Father from all eternity to perform the office of the Mediator, that in him all those which should be saved might be chosen.”

How did William Perkins see predestination as being carried out through the covenants?

Perkins taught that God established a covenant of works with Adam in paradise, thus setting a covenantal context for the fall. Similarly, He made the covenant of grace as the context for the salvation of the elect.

How did William Perkins see reprobation as a logical concomitant of election, and what were the differences he emphasizes between the two?

Perkins wrote “If there be an eternal decree of God, whereby he chooseth some men, then there must needs be another whereby he doth pass by others.” Two differences of emphasis exist between reprobation and election, however. First God willed the sin and damnation of men but not with the will of approval or action. God’s will to elect sinners consisted of His delight in showing grace and His intent to work grace in them. But God’s will to reprobate sinners did not include any delight in their sin, nor any intent to work sin in them. Rather He willed not to prevent their sinning because He delighted in the glorification of His justice. Second, in executing reprobation, God primarily passes over the reprobate by withholding from them His special, supernatural grace of election.

How did Williams Perkins see preaching as essential for bringing in the elect?

Munson writes, “Perkins’ golden chain of the causes of salvation is linked through the instrument of preaching. Perkins wrote on the preaching of the Gospel “This gospel must be preached. It is the allure of the soul, whereby men’s forward minds are mitigated and moved from an ungodly and barbarous life unto Christian faith and repentance.” Perkins also said “The gospel preached is that ordinary means to beget faith.” Plain and powerful preaching of Scripture was not merely the work of a man, but a heavenly intrusion where the Spirit of the electing God speaks.

Thomas Goodwin’s Position on Adam’s Natural Theology Before the Fall of Adam

For Goodwin, supernatural revelation is explicitly christocentric, and only Christ could merit a supernatural end on account of the dignity of His person, something Adam could never do as a man “from the earth” contrasted with the “man from heaven,” Jesus Christ. Goodwin explains the distinction between natural righteousness and supernatural grace as the difference between knowledge of God that is natural to man and knowledge of God in a supernatural way that goes “above nature.”  Goodwin considers these two ways of knowing God in the state of innocence.

Goodwin claims that Adam did not have complete, innate knowledge of God’s attributes and so needed to enlarge his “inbred, obscure” knowledge of God.  Similarly, Adam had the knowledge of God’s will sown in his heart, which included the moral law. When confronted with a moral decision, Adam had an innate sense of what to do in any given situation. This moral law remains in humans after the fall, but it is reduced to a mere shadow, “an imperfect counterfeit.”  Further, in agreement with what has been noted above, Adam’s knowledge was improved by observation of creation.

In Goodwin’s mind, whether Adam possessed supernatural knowledge or not comes down to the type of faith—natural or supernatural—required of him under the covenant of works. Supernatural faith, according to Goodwin, enables humans to know revelation from God above the requirements of nature.  Faith is infused for this reason, and most divines refer to faith as a supernatural gift.  Not only did Adam have the “inbred light of nature,” he also “had another window and inlet of knowledge, even revelation from, and communication with, God.”  For this reason, aware that some divines have affirmed that Adam had supernatural revelation from God, Goodwin aims to prove that Adam’s faith was natural—as opposed to the supernatural faith believers receive in the covenant of grace—which means that all Adam had under the covenant of works was natural theology.

How for John Owen and other Puritans was Christ the source of knowledge?

John Owen described Christ as the “sacred repository” of all truth. Puritan Edward Reynolds (1599-1676) similarly acknowledges that Christ is the “sum and center of all divinely revealed truth.” Because He is God incarnate, Christ makes theology possible. Owen distinguishes between the theology of the God-man, Jesus Christ and the theology of everyone else. Christ theology is innate in Himself (Col.2:3) as so this theology far exceeds that of anyone whose knowledge of God must be acquired from without. Christ knowledge of God is something utterly beyond believers, He nevertheless provides the ontological basis, in the glory of His person as the God-man, for revelation to be communicated between God and humanity; He is the mediator not only in salvation, but also in all communication between God and fallen humanity.

Adoption is Not Sanctification

Thomas Brooks asserts that sanctification is simply a living out of one’s adoption and sonship (John 1:12; Rom. 8:17). He writes,

If thou art a holy person, then of a child of wrath thou art become a child of God, a child of love; and of an heir of hell thou art become an heir of heaven; and of a slave, thou art become a son.

The Puritans would resonate well with J.I. Packer’s assertion that sanctification is,

simply a consistent living out of our filial relationship with God, into which the gospel brings us. It is just a matter of the child of God being true to type, true to his Father, to his Saviour, and to himself. It is the expressing of one’s adoption in one’s life. It is a matter of being a good son, as distinct from a prodigal or black sheep in the royal family.

Through sanctification the believer is brought into a fuller experiential awareness of his adoption. He learns to grasp more fully what adoption is, and learns to live out of its wonders

William Perkins provides six marks that may help certify one’s adoption . . .

  1. Ÿ An earnest and heartie desire in all things to further the glorie of God.
  2. A care and readiness to resigne our selues in subjection to God, to bee ruled by his word and spirit, in thought, word, and deede.
  3.  A sincere endeauor to do his will in all things with cheerfulnesse, making conscience of euerything we know to be euill.
  4. Vpright walking in a mans lawfull calling, and yet still by faith to relie vpon Gods prouidence, being well pleased with Gods sending whatsoeuer it is.
  5. Euery day to humble a mans selfe before God for his offences, seeking his fauour in Christ vnfainedly, and so daily renuing his faith & repentance.
  6.  A continual combate between the flesh and the spirit, corruption haling and drawing one way, and grace resisting the same & drawing another way.

Cotton Mather distinguishes the grounds of assurance this way. . .

There is a Testimony of the Holy SPIRIT unto our Adoption, which comes as a Mighty Light, more Directly breaking in upon our Minds, to assure us, that we are indeed the Adopted of GOD. There is a Discursive Assurance of our Blessedness; which is drawn from the Marks and Signs of a Soul become an Habitation of God thro’ the Spirit. And then there is a more Intuitive Assurance of it; In which the Holy SPIRIT, more Immediately, and most Irresistibly, and with a Mighty Light, bears in upon the Mind of the Beleever a powerful perswasion of it, That he is a Child of GOD, and his GOD and Father will one day bring him to Inherit all things. The Soul of the Beleever is now wonderfully moved and melted and overpowered with such Thoughts as these; GOD is my Father, CHRIST is my Saviour, and I have an Inheritance in the Heavens reserved for me.

Thomas Manton Assisting Those Who are Weak in their Adoption

Thomas Manton gives four counsels to assist the weak in faith in being able to call God their Father.

First, “disclaim when you cannot apply.” If you cannot say “Father,” plead on your “fatherless” condition, using such texts as Hosea 14:3, “In thee the fatherless find mercy.”

Second, “own God in the humbling way.” Come to the Father like the prodigal son, confessing your unworthiness, or like Paul, as the chief of sinners. Come to Him as your Father-Creator if you cannot come to Him as your Father-Savior.

Third, “call him Father in wish.” If you cannot call Him Father with directness, do it with desire. “Let us pray ourselves into this relation, and groan after it, that we may have a clearer sense that God is our Father in Christ,” he counsels.

Fourth, make “use of Christ Jesus.” Since Christ’s name means so much in heaven, “if you cannot come to God as your Father, come to him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:14). Let Christ bring you into God’s presence. He is willing to change relations with us. Take him along with you in your arms. Go to God in Christ’s name: `Whatsoever you ask in my name, shall be given to you.’”

Ames’s Differences Between Human & Divine Adoption

William Ames says there are four differences between human and divine adoption:

  1. ŸHuman adoption relates to a person, who, as a stranger, has no right to the inheritance except through adoption. But believers, though by natural birth they have no right to the inheritance of life, are given it because of rebirth, faith, and justification.
  2. Ÿ Human adoption is only an outward designation and bestowal of external things. But divine adoption is so real a relationship that it is based on an inward action and the communications of a new inner life.
  3. Ÿ Human adoption was introduced when there were no, or too few, natural sons. But divine adoption is not from any want but from abundant goodness, whereby a likeness of a natural son and mystical union is given to the adopted sons.Ÿ
  4. The human adoption is ordained so that the son may succeed the father in the inheritance. But divine adoption is not ordained for succession, but for participation in the inheritance assigned. Both the Father and his first-begotten Son live forever and this admits no succession.