Friday, February 24, 2006


Here is another pithy gem from Benjamin Beddome:

“The holy Spirit always dips the arrows of conviction in the blood of Christ.”

[Twenty Short Discourses adapted to Village Worship (London: Burton, Smith and Co., 1820), I, 144].


On Wednesday past I noted the Puritan emphasis on the balance of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the matter of conversion. Beddome, the 18th century Baptist minister of Bourton-on-the-Water, had this balance as well. His words quoted below are so similar to those of the Puritan Flavel (see PURITAN BALANCE ABOUT COMING TO CHRIST). He even has the same Scriptural references.

In a sermon that he preached on Revelation 3:20, Beddome stated:

“If the heart be opened, it is the Lord’s doing. He alone who made the heart can find his way into it. …Though the Lord opens the heart, yet it is in a way perfectly agreeable to the party himself. We are not the less willing, because we are made so in the day of his power. That which is an act of power with regard to the Holy Spirit, is a voluntary act with regard to the human will.”

[Twenty Short Discourses adapted to Village Worship (London: Burton & Smith/Simpkin and Marshall, 1823), VI, 52].

Rightly is Beddome seen to be representative of a strain of Baptist life in the 18th century that is both evangelical and Calvinistic, and not at all hyper-Calvinistic.    


Benjamin Beddome, about whom I blogged a few days ago, had an excellent library, which contained numerous Puritan works, to whom he was deeply indebted. A good portion of that library is housed today as the “Beddome Collection” in the Archives of the Angus Library at Regent’s Park College, the University of Oxford. That indebtedness can be seen in the occasional comments he made in these precious volumes.

In his copy of Abraham Cheare’s Words in Season (London, 1668)—on Cheare, the Baptist minister of Plymouth, see my blog for September 26, 2005—for instance, Beddome noted of Cheare’s work:

“Many excellent Things in it especially in 2 first Discourses. The Author seems to have a great Depth & Reach of Understanding—& very pertinent Manner of applying Scriptures.”

Many of the Baptist works of the 17th century, like this one by Cheare, were never reprinted. And yet it is clear that they continued to influence divines in the 18th century.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


What is the use of reading/writing poetry? Well, for one thing reading/writing poetry requires the reader/poet to ponder and meditate. This is one literary genre that slows us down and helps us to truly observe the world.

Now, that’s a good thing in our world of instant communication—blogs included!—and fast food.


The recent debacle at Harvard with the resignation of the President, Lawrence Summers, reveals—as Albert Mohler rightly notes in his blog for February 23, 2006—the folly of faculty-run schools. Given the nature of academia, it is vital that schools have a strong board of governance that is hands-on in the running of the school, setting its vision and direction. Can this be combined with a significant degree of academic freedom? Of course, as many past examples of academia in North America show.


Here is a great quote from Thomas Chalmers that George Grant has noted. Chalmers once asserted, “I am thankful to say that no reading so occupies and engages me as the biography of those who have made it most their business to prosecute the sanctification of their souls.” See Chalmers Conference for details of a conference on Chalmers that George is hosting. Looks great—wish I could go. One of my heroes, Horatius Bonar, believed Chalmers to have been one of the greatest Christians he had ever known.

George also mentions that he is writing a biography of Chalmers. This is really good news. It does amaze me sometimes that highly significant figures in the history of the church should be lacking in good biographies. Others would be the Bonar brothers themselves. They are long overdue for a large biographical study that goes all the way back through their remarkable forebears, many of whom were ministers. The bigger the better!

And who has really done justice to Spurgeon as a Calvinist? For that matter, despite the fact that there are tens of biographies of William Carey, none of them really grapples with Carey the Calvinist, apart from that by Timothy George. And what about the Southern Baptists Boyce and Broadus? There are older ones available, but we need new studies that show the value of their lives for the present day. And speaking of Baptists, we surely need a good solid study of that remarkable Irish Baptist, Alexander Carson.

And why have so many of the Puritans been ignored? We have the great study of Sibbes by Dever and much written on Owen and Baxter. But where is a contemporary biography of Thomas Goodwin? Or John Flavel? Or even that latter-day Puritan Matthew Henry? Or what about William Perkins? And then one biography this non-Welsh-speaking lover of Wales would love to get his hands on is a big solidly-researched biography of William Williams Pantycelyn, that “sweet singer of Wales.”

There is enough here for several lifetimes of work. May God raise up historians for the task!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


One of the great dangers of the current recovery of biblical truth, namely evangelical Calvinism—in which I heartily rejoice—is for some to veer too far to the right and end up in genuine hyper-Calvinism. To be sure, some of what is claimed as hyper-Calvinism is not that at all. It is simply that those making the charge of hyper-Calvinism have never really encountered robust Calvinism before. But this not to say that there is no such thing as hyper-Calvinism in which passion for the salvation of the lost is a thing hardly thought about and zeal for the expansion of the Kingdom of God simply something by-the-by.

The Puritans—as in many things—can be such great guides here. They knew where to find the balance when it came to divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Listen to this text by John Flavel (c.1630-1691), said to be Spurgeon’s favourite Puritan, on Matthew 11:28—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Flavel is discussing what it means to come to Christ.

“Coming to Christ shows the voluntariness of the soul in its motion to Christ. True, there is no coming without the Father’s drawing; but that drawing has nothing of compulsion in it; it does not destroy, but powerfully and with an overcoming sweetness persuades the will. It is not forced or driven, but it comes; being made willing in the day of God’s power. Psalm 110:3.” [The Method of Grace (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.), 201].

Saturday, February 18, 2006


It is the Puritans who are often remembered in Evangelical circles for their wisdom encapsulated in pithy sayings. But there is gold in the generation of men who succeeded them in the days of awakening and revival in the 18th century. Here are two gems from Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795), minister for fifty-five years or so of the Baptist work in Bourton-on-the-Water, now sometimes called the Venice of the Cotswolds:

  • “If the head be like the summer’s sun, full of light, the heart will not be like the winter’s earth, void of fruit”—very Edwardsean this statement!

  • “Love is the sacred fire within, and prayer the rising flame.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Gender issues, as I blogged yesterday, are one of the key areas where the battle is raging in today’s Western world. For instance, a major issue for the West in the past forty years has been the issue of hegemonic control of the body: do women have rights over their bodies to the point that they violate the rights of others, namely, the unborn that from time to time inhabit their wombs?

The answer of the West has been a resounding yes. In making this affirmation, these nations think that they have liberated women from the patriarchal tyranny of past generations when men set the agenda for society without reference to women. To be sure, some of the patriarchy of the past was tyrannical. But the liberty the West is pursuing will prove to be a will-of-the-wisp, for in “freeing” women the West has been brutalizing and tyrannizing the unborn.

Is what the West is doing in this regard really any different from the genocidal “experiments” of the twentieth century carried out by the Turks on the Armenians or the Nazis on the Jews or the Serbs on the Bosnians? For these unborn are human beings and abortion is not about choice but about the snuffing out of tiny, helpless lives!

Here, there is a clear parting of the road. The Church and Western culture cannot walk together on this path, for Western culture has chosen the path of death, while the Church seeks to affirm life.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Was it Martin Luther who said that if we as Christians are not responding at the very points where the Devil is attacking, then we are failing in our duty? If I understand this thought aright, it is emphasizing that we may be correct and orthodox and say much that is good, but if we fail to emphasize the very areas where the Christian gospel and worldview is under attack in our day, then we are failing as Christians.

There are definitely a number of areas where biblical Christianity is being assailed in our day, but prominent among them are gender issues. While I agree fully with James Spurgeon that we Evangelicals are to be known most of all for our commitment to the Gospel (see his Known for the gospel?), yet surely one reason why many Evangelicals are emphasizing family values and heterosexual marriage is that these areas are under heavy attack in our day. This was simply not the case fifty years ago. We need to achieve that elusive balance of the Christian life: keep our eye on the central things of the gospel—but at the same time reply in strength to where the enemy is attacking.

In this regard, here are two thoughtful reflections on marriage and patriarchy respectively: see this quote and article on Canadian Liberal thought about marriage, Paul Martin’s posting: Stanley Kurtz on Marriage in Canada; and this insightful one on the battle in our culture between two forms of patriarchy: Russ Moore’s Vanity Fair Celebrates Patriarchy.

An addendum: in standing firm for the gospel and all of its ancillaries, we must be careful to do so with a right spirit. This blog by Sean Michael Lucas is helpful here: The Calvary Contender.    

Thursday, February 09, 2006


It was John Welsey’s heir apparent John Fletcher who once remarked that next to the Bible “one of the greatest blessings that God has bestowed upon the Methodists…is their hymns.” The central figure behind these hymns, of course, was Charles Wesley (1707-1788), the eighteenth child born to Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna (née Annesley). He arrived prematurely on December 10, 1707, and apparently spent his earliest days of life wrapped in wool, neither opening his eyes nor raising his voice. But his voice would not always be silent! For fifty years after his conversion in 1738 it would announce, in sermon and in song, the good news of God’s redemption through faith in Christ.

The story is told of how Charles, as a young boy, refused an offer of becoming the heir of a wealthy Anglo-Irish cousin, Garret Wesley, since it would remove him from the bonds of his family and friends. Another cousin, Richard Colley, went in Charles’ stead and became Richard Colley Wesley—the grandfather of Marquis Wellesley, who colonized India, and of the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. How much history hung on a small boy’s decision! Yet, Charles Wesley also left a heritage, one more permanent than any empire and more powerful than any army: his hymns.

The pathway to conversion

Charles went up to study at Oxford in 1726. Initially he lived a carefree undergraduate life, intent only on having a good time. But by 1729 he had become quite devout and threw all of his energies into seeking to live the Christian life. But he was not converted; and he was seeking to build his Christian faith and hope of salvation on his good works. Nearly ten years were to elapse before Charles came to Christ on May 21, 1738, Pentecost Sunday.

The key figure in his conversion was Peter Böhler (1712-1775), a German Moravian missionary. Early in that year, while living in London, Charles had fallen ill and had actually come close to death. Böhler came to visit him and spoke to him about his need of salvation. Böhler asked him: “Do you hope to be saved?” When Charles assured him that he did, Böhler enquired further: “For what reason do you hope it?” “Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God,” returned Charles. At such an inadequate response Böhler shook his head sadly and said no more. Charles later admitted that he considered Böhler to be most uncharitable and thought to himself, “What are not my endeavours a sufficient ground of hope? Would he rob me of my endeavours? I have nothing else to trust to.”

Pentecost Sunday, 1738

It was another Moravian by the name of William Holland (d.1761) who gave Charles a copy of Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians to read. Holland, in fact, has been identified as the one who was reading this commentary on May 24, 1738, at Aldersgate Street when Charles’ brother John Wesley was converted. On May 17, 1738, Charles noted in his diary: “I spent some hours this evening in private with Luther, who was greatly blessed to me, …I laboured, waited, and prayed to feel ‘Who loved me and gave Himself for me’.”

On May 21, Pentecost Sunday, Charles awoke with great expectation. Still confined to bed because of his sickness, he was visited by his older brother John. After John had left, Charles lay back to sleep.

He awoke to hear the voice of a woman (actually the sister of the man in whose house he was staying) saying: “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise and believe, and thou shalt be healed of thy infirmities.” The woman, a Mrs. Turner, had been commanded by the Lord in a dream to convey this message. Charles was physically healed and spiritually converted. Three days later, on May 24, his brother John was also converted.

A very good marriage

Up until 1749 Charles, like his brother, was an itinerant evangelist. But on April 8, 1749, he married Sarah (a.k.a. Sally) Gwynne (d.1822), who was 23 at the time, and whom he had known since 1747 when he visited the home of her father Marmaduke Gwynne, a Welsh Methodist.

A gifted singer and accomplished harpsichordist, Sally was gentle and unselfish. In many ways she and Charles had an ideal marriage. Rightly Charles’ itinerant ministry became less and less because of family responsibilities. Of eight children, they lost five as infants!

They settled first at Bristol, and then in London in 1771, where he became a spiritual father to the burgeoning Methodist movement. He died in 1788.

“Where shall my wondering soul begin?”

Immediately after his conversion, Wesley began writing what would be the first of his 6,000 hymns (another 3,000 are classified as poems). His pen would not be silent for the next fifty years. It works out to be about 10 lines a verse a day for fifty years!

Both Charles and John regarded the hymns as central in nurturing and sustaining the revival. Writing the introduction to A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780), John Wesley noted that this hymnal is recommended “to every truly pious reader, as a means of raising or quickening the spirit of devotion; of confirming his faith; of enlivening his hope; and of kindling and increasing his love to God and man.”

It is widely thought that Wesley’s first hymn was “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” Charles Wesley’s journal for May 21, 1738, the day of his conversion runs thus:

“At nine, I began an hymn upon my conversion, but I was persuaded to break off for fear of pride. Mr. Bray [a friend], coming encouraged me to proceed in spite of Satan. I prayed Christ to stand by me, and finished the hymn.”

The first two stanzas of ‘Where shall my wondering soul begin?’ well express Wesley’s experience of conversion:

Where shall my wondering soul begin?How shall I all to heaven aspire?A slave redeemed from death and sin,A brand plucked from eternal fire,How shall I equal triumphs raise,Or sing my great Deliverer’s praise?

O how shall I the goodness tell,Father, which Thou to me hast showed?That I, a child of wrath and hell,I should be called a child of God,Should know, should feel my sins forgiven,Blessed with this antepast of heaven!

Characteristics of Wesley’s hymns

Three major characteristics mark Wesley’s hymns.

First, if one studies Charles’ hymns, one is struck first by the fact that a large proportion of the phrases in them come from Scripture or allusions to Scripture texts.

Then, his hymns are suffused with classical Christian dogma and doctrine. They set forth the powerful doctrines of an uncompromising orthodox Christianity. References to the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection abound. As Bernard L. Manning once wrote, Wesley had an “obsession with the greatest things.”

Finally Wesley speaks of a present experience of Christian orthodoxy and of its effects in his life. In his hymns we hear the love-songs of a heart aflame with love to Jesus. As J. I. Packer has rightly remarked about Charles: he is “the supreme poet of love to Jesus in a revival context.”


The “long” eighteenth century was a 125 years of warfare between the two European superpowers of the day, Great Britain and France. Spain, who had been reckoned among the superpowers in the sixteenth century, was in decline, yet still able to bite. A good example is the conflict that we know as the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1742/3). This war would lead into the larger conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession and began when a British naval captain, one Robert Jenkins, claimed that the Spanish had cut off his ear in 1731. He exhibited his loss in the British House of Commons, thereby inflaming public opinion against the Spanish. Somewhat reluctantly but forced to bow to public opinion, the government of the British Prime Minister Robert Walpole, really the first to hold that office, declared war on  October 23,1739.

In the last few days we have seen something that has historical parallels—the inflaming of the Muslim public around the world over certain offensive Danish cartoons. In addition to the violence and anger among Muslims, the so-called Cartoon Riots have sparked all kinds of commentary in the West. Two of the most insightful of the latter are here: an article by John Piper on Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, Not Muhammad’s and this comment by Russ Moore on Piper’s commentary, Piper on Islamic Cartoon Riots.

For those who have eyes to see, these Cartoon Riots clearly reveal the vast gulf in mindset and praxis between Christianity and Islam!


One of the great delights of the Christian life is the discovery of books and works by believers that one has never considered before or read before.

Up until recently I had never really paid much attention to Johnny Cash. But thanks to my good friend Ian Clary I have been introduced to his music. A few months ago, in the weeks leading up to the appearance of the movie about his early years, Walk the Line, Ian encouraged me to listen to some of his songs and I discovered a brother who used his God-given skills in singing to share the gospel powerfully. Cash was not afraid to confess that his only hope was Christ and his cross and that all that this world longs for is in the end “an empire of dirt”!

Powerful stuff and a good reminder that our God loves diversity.


And speaking of great quotes, here is another by Sean Michael Lucas (who has a great blog) on “Time” from that all-time maven of spirituality, Eugene Peterson.


Love this concluding statement from Paul Martin’s most recent entry, The Fear of the Press: “Truth is only safe with those who do not fear the world and death.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I missed an anniversary last year—the three hundredth anniversary of the death of William Mitchel (1662-1705). For many of my readers the name will be completely unfamiliar. But he is a great hero of my Baptist past.

Mitchel was a tireless evangelist in the English Pennines from the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire to Rawdon in neighbouring West Yorkshire. He was born in 1662 at Heptonstall, not far from Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. Nothing is really known about his upbringing. His conversion came at the age of nineteen after the death of a brother. Although he was genuinely converted, Mitchel played what he later regarded as the part of a Jonah as he sought to go into business as a clothier and become wealthy.

But God frustrated his worldly ambitions and drew him out as a preacher of the gospel. Within four years of his conversion, he began to preach as an itinerant evangelist. His cousin, David Crosley (1669-1744), a stonemason turned preacher, tells us that Mitchel’s aim in his preaching was to “chiefly set forth the exceeding rich and free grace of the gospel, which toward him had been made so exceeding abundant.” At the same time, we are told that his Christian life was one of unwearied diligence in “reading, meditation, and prayer.”

Mitchel would travel with Crosley and others over the Pennines, often during the night so as to reach preaching venues in towns and villages by early morning. Crosley remembered the toil it took to walk “many miles in dark nights and over dismal mountains.” But he also never forgot Mitchel’s “savoury and edifying” preaching that took place anywhere Mitchel could get an audience, “on mountains, and in fields and woods.” Though Mitchel was not a polished speaker, crowds would press to hear him. Many merely came out of curiosity, some came to scoff. But, later when their hearts and consciences had been impacted by Mitchel’s gospel preaching, they confessed, “the Lord is with him of a truth.”

According to the Second Conventicle Act (1670), part of the Clarendon Code designed to break the spirit of the Dissenters, what Mitchel was doing was illegal. This act forbade any one over the age of sixteen from taking part in a religious assembly of more than five people, apart from those sanctioned by the Church of England. The act gave wide powers to local magistrates and judges to “suppresse [sic] and disolve” such “unlawfull [sic] meetings” and arrest whomsoever they saw fit to achieve this end.

Mitchel was twice arrested under this law during the reign of James II (r.1685-1688), who succeeded Charles II in 1685. On the first occasion he was treated with deliberate roughness and spent three months in jail at Goodshaw. On the second occasion he was arrested near Bradford and imprisoned for six months in York Castle.

The enemies of the gospel who imprisoned Mitchel might have thought they were shutting him up in a dismal dungeon. To Mitchel, though, as he told his friends in a letter written from York in the spring of 1687, the dungeon was a veritable “paradise, because the glorious presence of God is with me, & the Spirit of glory & of God rests on me.” He is, of course, quoting from 1 Peter 4:14. He had been given such a “glorious sight of [God’s] countenance, [and] bright splendour of his love,” that he was quite willing to “suffer afflictions with the people of God, & for his glorious Truth.”

In another letter, written to a Daniel Moore during this same imprisonment, Mitchel told him he had heard that James II had issued a Declaration of Indulgence, which pardoned all who had been imprisoned under the penal laws of the Clarendon Code. But he had yet to see it. Whatever the outcome, he told Moore, “the Lord’s will be done, let him order things as may stand with his glory.”

This sentence speaks volumes about the frame of mind in which Mitchel had approached his time of imprisonment. He was God’s servant. God would do with him as he sovereignly thought best. And Mitchel was quite content with that, for, in his heart, he longed for his life to reflect above all God’s glory.

For access to these letters of Mitchel, I am indebted to the Local Studies Unit Archives, Manchester Central Library. The letters are kept in the Papers of Dr. William Farrer. Thanks are also due to David J. Woodruff of the Strict Baptist Historical Society who kindly provided me with a copy of the letters.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Through such well-known hymns as “Blessed Assurance”, “To God be the glory”, “Jesus, keep me near the cross” and “All the way my Saviour leads me,” Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915) has had a profound influence on American Evangelicalism. She was born in the state of New York on March 24, 1820. When she was only six weeks old she was accidentally blinded due to a mistreatment by an ill-qualified doctor. Her father having died when she was but one, she was raised by a godly mother and grandmother. At an early age they encouraged her to memorize Scripture, which would become a rich source of inspiration for her hymns later in her life. It would also help her develop a phenomenal memory. At one point, when she was an adult, she had stored in her mind up to forty poems she had composed before she wrote them down!

At the age of fifteen she went to the New York School for the Blind where she lived and later taught till her marriage in 1858 to Alexander van Alstyne (1831-1902). They had one child who died while but an infant. It was also in New York that she found assurance of her salvation while attending an evangelistic meeting at the Methodist Broadway Tabernacle on November 20, 1850.

During the American Civil War, in 1863, Fanny composed her first hymn for a worship service at the Dutch Reformed Church at 23rd Street. The pastor of the church later put her in touch with a composer, William B. Bradbury (1817-1868), with whom she worked for four years. After his death in 1868, she wrote hymns for the largest publishing firm of gospel music of that day, Biglow and Main Company. This proved to be a turning-point in her life. She would later look back and say that it was at that time “the real and most important work of my life” commenced.

During her most productive period of hymn-writing, between 1864 and 1889, she was averaging three or four hymns per week, for which she was paid $2.00 a hymn. Though this remuneration was increased somewhat later in her life, she stayed committed to a frugal lifestyle.

She worked with some of the best tunesmiths of her day, including Robert Lowry, Charles H. Gabriel and D. L. Moody’s co-worker, Ira D. Sankey. There is little doubt that Moody and Sankey’s use of Fanny’s hymns in their evangelistic campaigns were a key reason in the growing popularity of the hymns. Most of her 8,000 or so hymns (estimates of the number of hymns she wrote range up to 9,000) are focused on Christian experience. Today roughly sixty of them are in regular use in hymnals.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


One of my delights as a reader has been John Piper’s biographical studies given at his annual conference. This year he chose William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) to speak on. See his paper here: “Always Singing One Note”—A Vernacular Bible: Why William Tyndale Lived and Died . Thanks to Justin Taylor for this referal.

Friday, February 03, 2006


For those of us who delight in the great reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546), here is a cornucopia of Luther riches: Luther Library.


William Carey’s famous sermon of May 1792, preached on Isaiah 54:2-3, is not extant. What we do know of the sermon is that it consisted of two parts. The tradition is that the two parts were summed up by two phrases in this order: “Expect great things from God” and “Attempt great things for God.”

A number of years ago, however, Dr. Christopher Smith showed that the original summary of these phrases was “Expect great things” and “Attempt great things.” The traditional summary with its suffixes referring to God was a later interpretation of the meaning of this shorter two-phrase summary. See “The Spirit and Letter of Carey’s Catalytic Watchword: A Study in the Transmission of Baptist Tradition”, The Baptist Quarterly, 33 (1989-1990), 226-237.

I was reminded of Smith’s excellent study while recently perusing William Staughton, comp., The Baptist Mission in India (Philadelphia, 1811)—Staughton was one of the founders of the missionary society that sent Carey to India. In the narrative that Staughton compiled Carey’s famous sermon is summarily mentioned as consisting of two exhortations, “Expect great things—Attempt great things” (page 15).

This six-word watchword was a challenge to many in Carey’s day and is an ongoing challenge to the present-day Church. Human strength and human schemes will fail in the expansion of God’s kingdom. It must be God’s work. Thus, the need to pray and “expect great things” from him. But to sit blithely by and wait for God to act without us is equally wrong-headed. We must pray, and then, trusting in God completely, get going and “attempt great things.”    

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


What an amazing witness our blogs can be! I have just noticed that my blog was recently visited by one entitled “Forever Islam” ( Visiting this Islamic site revealed a person who was a confirmed Muslim.

My prayer is that his eyes might be opened—as with all of the elect among Muslim communities—and that he might see in Jesus not simply a prophet, but the radiant Lord of glory.

Lord, before this person’s life is o’er, open the eyes of their heart and give them a love for the Crucified Lord, the only way to God. May the hairs on the nape of their neck stand up as they fall before this Glorious King of Heaven—awed by the privilege of worshipping such a Saviour!

Do not think such cannot happen. All of the elect will be gathered in. Even from among Muslims. Praise our sovereign God with whom all things are possible!


When William Carey (see my recent post on Carey—EMINENT CHRISTIANS: 1. WILLIAM CAREY) was on his way to India, the ship that he and his companions first took, the Earl of Oxford, stopped in at the Isle of Wight. A number of days were spent there in port. Carey had the opportunity to preach and spend time in spiritual reflection. As he wrote to his wife Dorothy—she had initially refused to go with him but eventually relented and sailed with her husband (to discuss this would take us too far afield):

“This place much favours retirement and meditation; the fine woods and hills and sea all conspire to solemnize the mind, and to lift the soul to admire the Creator of all.”  [Letter to Dorothy Carey, May 6, 1793 in S. Pearce Carey, William Carey (8th ed.; Carey Press, 1934), 124].

Here Carey refers to spiritual practices—solitude and meditation—that were not uncommon in his Calvinistic Baptist  community and that that community had inherited from their Puritan forebears.

Regrettably these practices have not marked our Evangelical communities in the past century as they should have. But there are encouraging signs that these vital biblical practices are being rediscovered in our day. For example, here is a very fine thought from Dallas Willard on one of them, solitude. I certainly do not agree with all that Willard writes, but this is very good:

“Solitude is the discipline of letting go of our self-importance, letting go of our belief that we are necessary for the world to continue.” [See].

This was a truth that Carey—a lifelong seeker of humility—knew very well.


Justin Taylor’s most recent entry on his blog deals with audio books—LibriVox—and he sugegsts that maybe “Some enterprising individual or group should organize a way to get the Puritan classics and others in audio form.” This is a scintillating idea!

Given my Calvinistic Baptist inclinations I wonder if there might be some interest out there for getting some Calvinistic Baptist classics on audio. Some of Benjamin Keach could be done or Abraham Cheare of Plymouth. Worthy of thought—and some action.