October 3, 2003

In his Miscellanies , Edwards has some fascinatingly positive things to say about Samson. For example: In Judg xvi. 1, 2, we have an account how Samson loved a harlot, and from his love to her exposed himself to be compassed round by his enemies. So the prophecies represent the Messiah as loving a sinful people, and from love seeking such a people to be his spouse, as that which occasions his suffering from his enemies. Later Samson was betrayed… Read more

October 3, 2003

A few quotations from Edwards’ “Images of Divine Things” (1728): “When we travail up an hill ‘tis against our natural tendency and inclination, which perpetually is to descent; and therefore we can’t go on ascending without labor and difficulty. But there arises a pleasant prospect to pay us for our labor as we ascend, and as we continue our labor in ascending, still the pleasantness of the prospect grows. Just so is a man paid for his labor and self-denial… Read more

October 2, 2003

Mark Noll’s account of Edwards’s role in the undermining of the Puritan “sacred canopy” in New England, in his recent book America’s God , is an important analysis of one phase in the rise of American religion. According to Noll, the pattern goes something like this: 1) The Puritans had a unified vision for New England society, one that linked together individual salvation with public institutions of church and state. The dominant metaphor was “covenant.” Individuals were in covenant by… Read more

October 2, 2003

Thinking through an upcoming lecture on Edwards, I had a Borgesian moment: In 1731, there was a fire at the Cottonian library in England that nearly destroyed the single manuscript containing the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf . In the same year, Edwards preached a controversial sermon at his church in Northampton, entitled “God Glorified in the Work of Redemption by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence Upon Him in the Whole of It.” One fire nearly burned Beowulf, while another fire was… Read more

October 2, 2003

Every great civilization has some equivalent of what the fifth-century (BC) Athenians called polupragmosune . As defined by William Arrowsmith, that word “connotes energy, enterprise, daring, ingenuity, originality, and curiosity; negatively it means restless instability, discontent with one’s lot, persistent and pointless busyness, meddling interference, and mischievous love of novelty.” This is a wonderful description of Americans (at our best), 19th-century Brits, early medieval monks, first-century apostles. Read more

October 2, 2003

Sermon outline for October 5: Toward Jerusalem and the Cross, Luke 9:1-62 INTRODUCTION Luke 9 marks the great turning point in Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry. Luke 9:1-9 forms the climax of the Galilean ministry, and later in this chapter, Jesus begins His journey toward Jerusalem, where, as He predicts to His disciples, He will suffer and die. First Jesus works in Galilee, and then sends out the Twelve. The same pattern is repeated in Jerusalem: First Jesus goes to… Read more

September 30, 2003

Virgil seems nearly to have come to the Augustinian insight that the Roman empire is nothing more than civil war writ large. Aeneas, the pius hero, has to combat furor , which is passion, anger, rage, everything that causes disorder in the world. But during the battle scenes in the second half of the Aeneid , Aeneas is full of fury on several occasions, and he ends the epic furiously driving his sword into the chest of Turnus. This, from… Read more

September 30, 2003

The multi-faceted David Gelernter offers a rousing call to the Bush administration to defend their Iraqi policy on a moral rather than strategic basis in the October 6 edition of the Weekly Standard . He compares the debate over Iraq today with the debate between Chamberlain and Churchill in the period leading up to World War II. The party of appeasement, he points out, was not motivated by “laziness or indifference,” but “conviction,” specifically a (mistaken) Christian conviction that war… Read more

September 29, 2003

In the September 29 issue of the Weekly Standard , Sam Munson reviews Peter Carey’s novel, My Life As a Fake , a fictionalized account of a famous Australian literary hoax. As Munson summarizes the (true) story: Over a single wet weekend on an army base (or so at least the legend of their hoax has it), [Harold] Stewart and [James] McAuley composed reams of mock surrealist poetry. They invented a properly tragic biography of oppression and early death for… Read more

September 28, 2003

Exhortation for September 28: We sometimes think of the church as a collection of families, and in some respects that is true. More fundamentally, though, the church is a family. We are brothers and sisters of one another because we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus, whose Father is also our Father. This is what Jesus says in our sermon text this morning. When his own mother and brothers come to visit Him, he doesn’t stop what He is… Read more

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