Thursday, May 29, 2008

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 3 - Section 1

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 3

SECTION I. The sweet solemnity of the marriage now over, and the sad effects of the remains of a legal spirit.

THE match is made, with little din 'tis done,
But with great pow'r, unequal prizes won.
The Lamb has fairly won his worthless bride;
She her great Lord, and all his store beside.
He made the poorest bargain, though most wise;
And she, the fool, has won the worthy prize.
Deep floods of everlasting love and grace,
That under ground ran an eternal space,
Now rise aloft 'bove banks of sin and hell,
And o'er the tops of massy mountains swell.
In streams of blood are tow'rs of guilt o'erflown,
Down with the rapid purple current thrown.
The bride now as her all can Jesus own,
And prostrate at his footstool cast her crown,
Disclaiming all her former groundless hope,
While in the dark her soul did weary grope.
Down tumble all the hills of self-conceit,
In him alone she sees herself complete;
Does his fair person with fond arms embrace,
And all her hopes on his full merit place;
Discard her former mate, and henceforth draw
No hope, no expectation from the law.
Though thus her new-created nature soars,
And lives aloft on Jesus' heav'nly stores;
Yet apt to stray, her old adult'rous heart
Oft takes her old renounced husband's part.
A legal cov'nant is so deep ingrain'd,
Upon the human nature, laps'd and stain'd,
That, till her spirit mount the purest clime
She's never totally divorced in time.
Hid in her corrupt part's proud bosom lurks
Some hope of life still by the law of works.
Hence flow the following evils more or less;
Preferring oft her partial holy dress,
Before her husband's perfect righteousness.
Hence joying more in grace already giv'n
Than in her Head and stock that's all in heav'n.
Hence grieving more the want of frames and grace,
Than of himself the spring of all solace.
Hence guilt her soul imprisons, lusts prevail,
While to the law her rents insolvent fail,
And yet her faithless heart rejects her Husband's bail.
Hence soul disorders rise, and racking fears,
While doubtful of his clearing past arrears;
Vain dreaming, since her own obedience fails,
His likewise little for her help avails.
Hence duties are a task, while all in view
Is heavy yokes of laws, or old or new:
Whereas, were once her legal bias broke,
She'd find her Lord's commands an easy yoke.
No galling precepts on her neck he lays,
Nor any debt demands, save what he pays
By promis'd aid; but, lo! the grievous law,
Demanding brick, won't aid her with a straw.
Hence also fretful, grudging, discontent,
Crav'd by the law, finding her treasure spent,
And doubting if her Lord will pay the rent.
Hence pride of duties too does often swell,
Presuming she perform'd so very well.
Hence pride of graces and inherent worth
Springs from her corrupt legal bias forth;
And boasting more a present with'ring frame,
Than her exalted Lord's unfading name.
Hence many falls and plunges in the mire,
As many new conversions do require:
Because her faithless heart sad follies breed,
Much lewd departure from her living Head,
Who, to reprove her aggravated crimes,
Leaves her abandon'd to herself at times;
That, falling into frightful deeps, she may
From sad experience learn more stress to lay,
Not on her native efforts, but at length
On Christ alone, her righteousness and strength:
Conscious, while in her works she seeks respose,
Her legal spirit breeds her many woes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Buried With Him By Baptism

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(Rom 6:4)

I had the great pleasure last Lord's Day (May 25, 2008) of baptizing my second son and fourth child, Justin Thomas Southerland. Afterward he participated in the Lord's Table for the first time in the meeting of the Church.
The Lord implores us in Matthew 28:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Mat 28:19-20)

I believe that our children are the easiest ones to teach "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Yes, we are told to go and teach the nations. But I believe that it must start at home and eminate out from there. Don't try to save the world while losing your children. Fathers, they are your first and foremost "congregation." Be faithful with the little flock He has given you, and He will entrust you with ministry to others He has called into His Kingdom.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Treasure of Gospel Grace Digged Out of Mount Sinai

This week I have been reading, a little bit at a time, a sermon by Ralph Erskine entitled, "A Treasure of Gospel Grace Digged Out of Mount Sinai." The scripture text for this sermon is Exodus 20 v. 2-3, "I am the Lord thy God. -- Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

What strikes me initially is the length of this sermon. It is 38 pages long! Contrast this with the typical "sermonette" given in most churches today. The attention span of modern man is so shallow that he couldn't sit still while this was delivered in its entirity on a Lord's Day morning. This is to our shame. May we repent from our shallowness and declare, as did King David, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord."

I'm going to give you 4 pages of this 38 page sermon. You will find in these four pages more "meat" than I would ever expect to hear from the pulpits of this land. The remaining 34 pages are just as good, but is just a little too much to type into this blog. Enjoy.
This premised, I would have you consider, that there are two grand idols worshipped and served by the generality of the world, yea, of the visible church, viz. self, and the world.

1. I say, self is the great Diana, which all the world worshippeth, excepting a very few whom God has called out of the world. Every man, while in a natural state, makes a god of himself. Hence it is that the principal batteries of the gospel are mounted against this idol. The very first lesson in the school of Christianity, which is materially the same with the first precept of the moral law, is, "Let a man deny himself;" let him renounce self as his god, that he may have no other gods before me, who am God manifested in the flesh.

This idol of self is pregnant with a numerous brood of lesser or subordinate idols. Some make a God of their own understandings; "for vain man would be wise, though he be born as the wild ass's colt." What cursed pride is it in some, even in our own bowels, that they will needs exalt their own depraved reason, which is nonplussed by the least work of nature, is able to comprehend? Is not this a giving that glory to our own understanding which is due unto an infinitely wise God? If ever we be believers indeed, reason must quit the throne, and lie down at the foot of faith, owning that reason is but folly before teh wisdom of God revealed in his word. Others idolize their own understandings, when inwardly they disapprove of God's providential dispensations, as if they could manage things more to advantage, if the reins of administration were in their hands.

Some make a god of their wills. When a person follows the swing of his own corrupted and rebellious will, in opposition to the commanding will of God in his word: what else is that but to exalt self-will above the will of God? It is the will of God, that men should read and hear his word, attend his courts, wait upon his ordinances, sanctify his name, keep his sabbath, that they should forego such a lust, that shey should pluck out a right-eye, and cut off a right-hand sin, in obedience to him who is the Lord our God. No, says the rebellious depraved will, "I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. Who is the Almighty, that I should serve him? and what profit should I have if I pray unto him? Let him depart; for I desire not the knowledge of his ways;" I know not the Lord, neither will I let my lusts go.

Will any man practically treat God after this manner, and yet pretend that he obeys this command, Thou shalt have no other gods before me? No, his own will is his god: and therefore he never yet closed by a true faith with this covenant-grant, I am the Lord thy God.

Some again make a god of their righteousness, putting it in the room of him who is JEHOVAH our righteousness;" like the Jews, Rom. x. 3. who "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness would not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God." This is the idol which of all others it is the hardest to pull out of the sinner's embraces. And the reason is, because self-righteousness is a thing which seems to have the countenance of the law of God; and while a man has the law on his side, he thinks himself in safety, and that he has the approbation of the Lawgiver: "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men," said the self-righteous Pharisee. It is harder to convince this man of his dangerous state, than to convince and hundred profane wretches of their danger: hence Christ says to the self-righteous Pharisees, "Publicans and harlots shall enter into the kingdom of God before you." I shall only say to you who are hugging this idol of your own law-righteousness in your bosoms, you shall as surely perish in your righteousness, as ever any of Adam's race perished in thier sins. Why, because God has said, that "by the works of the law no flesh living shall be justified;" and "As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse." You are pretending to keep the law, and seeking righteousness by the law; and yet are living in the neglect and contempt of the first and greatest command in the whole law, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. You never yet discarded the idol of self, and therefore never learned that first lesson of religion, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself," &c.

2. Another grand idol, to which the greatest multitude do bow, is the world. Solomon tells us of some who have "the world set in their heart." Ever since the fall of Adam, the world and vanities thereof, have usurped that rooom in the heart of man which is due unto God only; and nothing less than infinite power can unhinge the world from that feat which it has got in our hearts. Hence it is, that until a day of power come, we are ever making a god of one thing or another in this visible perishing world.

Some make a god of their worldly riches and substance. This is done when the desire, delight, and esteem of the soul terminates more upon these than upon God who is the chief good. O "who will shew us any good?" is the cry of many. But few say with David, "Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord," &c. The covetous worldling sees more beauty in gathering dust, than he sees in him who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and is more concerned to get and keep the mammon of this world, than how to be interested in the unsearchable riches of Christ, or to lay up for himself treasures in heaven, which moth and rust do not corrupt. And will such a man pretend, that he keeps the first commandment, or hath no other gods before the Lord?

Some make a god of their worldly relations. The husband may idolise his wife, the wife her husband, parents their children, and children their parents, by giving more of their affection to them than unto God himself. Upon this account Christ tells us, "If we love father or mother, brother or sister, more than him, we are not worthy of him." When we delight more in societies of our friends and relations, than in fellowship with God; or are more impatient of their absence, than we are under God's hidings and withdrawings from our souls; in that case we put them in God's room, and so break his command, Thou shalt have no other gods before me; and also sin against the love and grace of his covenant, where he says, I am the Lord thy God. Of this kind of idolatry they are guilty, who value themselves more upon their relation to, or descent from, such and such families or ancestors, than upon their relation to God, or those who are dignified with his image, or are of his household and family by regeneration and adoption.

Some make a god of their worldly pleasure: 2 Tim. iii. 4. the apostle tells us of some who "are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." The drunkard has more pleasure in his cups, the swearer in his oaths, the unclean person in his swinish lusts, the unjust person in his unlawful gains, than in God. Many will rather risk the displeasure of God, and "rush upon the thick bosses of his buckler, than make a covenant with their eyes" or other senses, that they may not be porches for the fiery darts of Satan to enter in and inflame the fuel of inward lust and corruption. The apostle speaks of some "whose god is their belly," Phil. iii. 19; they are more concerned what they shall eat and drink, or wherewith they shall be clothed, than how they shall glorify God, or advance their own or others spiritual and eternal well-being. They have more pleasure in an ordinary meal among friends, than in eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, among his friends and members at his table. And is this to have no other gods before JEHOVAH our God?

Some again make a god of their worldly credit and reputation: John v. 44. the Pharisees loved the praise of men, more than that honour which comes from God: and this was the reason of their rejecting Christ. Will not our spirits rise with resentment when our own character or reputation is attacked; and yet bear it with patience when God is dishonoured, or his holy name profaned? which plainly says, that our own honour is dearer to us than the honour of God; which could never be, if we had no other god before him.

Some make a god of their worldly helps and confidence in the time of danger, and trust more to these for deliverance than unto himself: Is. xxxi. 1. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong: but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord." There is a solemn curse pronounced against idolaters of this kind, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." Some again make a god of their very enemies, and are more afraid of him that can only kill the body, than they are of him who is able to cast both soul and body into hell. Some make a god of the devil, who is indeed called the "god of this world." When any lust or idol is set up and served, either with body or mind, the devil himself in that case is worshipped and served, though not intentionally; hence Jeroboam's calves are called devils, although by these he only intended to worship the true God. The devil is then worshipped, when we are more afraid of him than we are to displease God by sin; and when people run to wizards, or such as are supposed to be in compact with the devil, in order to ask advice, or to know future events, or to discover what is stolen or lost; this I say, is devil-worship, and was the immediate forerunner of Saul's ruin, when he went to the witch of Endor to seek counsel. It is joined with the abominable idolatry of Molech, Lev. xx. 6.

To conclude, how many are there that make gods of their vile lusts, and serve and obey these rather than God? Some serve the lust of uncleanness, some that of intemperance, some the lust of revenge, others of covetousness or ambition, or the like. O how innumerable are the lusts of the unmortified heart? yet, according to the number of thy lusts, O sinner, so are thy gods. "Know ye not (says the apostle), that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Rom. vi. 16.

Thus I have given you a short account of some other gods which people may have secretly lodged in their hearts, which they pretend to obey this command, That shalt have no other gods before me. Take heed that the word of the Lord be not against you; and that, while I have been minting to open this law or commandment of God in its spirituality, conscience be not saying, as Ahab to the prophet, "Thou hast found me, O mine enemy." Has not this commandment, which is exceeding broad, discovered some other god in thy heart than him who says here, I am the Lord thy God? If any one of these idols be reigning upon the throne of thy heart, thou never to this day obeyedst the first commandment of the law of God.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 2 - Section 5

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 2

SECTION V. - Faith's view of the freedom of grace, cordial renunciation of all its own ragged righteousness, and formal acceptance of and closing with the person of glorious CHRIST.

THE bride with open eyes, that once were dim,
Sees now her whole salvation lies in him;
The Prince, who is not in dispensing nice,
But freely gives without her pains or price.
This magnifies the wonder in her eye,
Who not a farthing has wherewith to buy,
For now her humbled mind can disavow
Her boasted beauty and assuming brow;
With conscious eye discern her emptiness,
With candid lips her poverty confess.
"O glory to the Lord that grace is free,
Else never could it light on guilty me.
I nothing have with me to be its price,
But hellish blackness, enmity, and vice."
In former times she durst presuming come
To grace's market with a petty sum
Of duties, prayers, tears, a boasted set,
Expecting Heaven would thus be in her debt.
These were the price; at least she did suppose
She'd be the welcomer because of those:
But now she sees the vileness of her vogue,
The dung that close doth every duty clog;
The sin that doth her holiness reprove,
The enmity that close attends her love;
The great heart-hardness of her penitence,
The stupid dulness of her vaunted sense;
The unbelief of former blazed faith,
The utter nothingness of all she hath.
The blackness of her beauty she can see,
The pompous pride of strain'd humility,
The naughtiness of all her tears and pray'rs,
And now renounces all as worthless wares;
And finding nothing to commend herself,
But what might damn her, her embezzled pelf;
At sov'reign Grace's feet doth prostrate fall,
Content to be in Jesus' debt for all.
Her noised virtues vanish out of sight,
As starry tapers at meridian light;
While sweetly, humbly, she beholds at length
Christ, as her only righteousness and strength.
He with the view throws down his loving dart,
Imprest with pow'r into her tender heart.
The deeper that the law's fierce dart was thrown,
The deeper now the dart of love goes down:
Hence, sweetly pain'd, her cries to heaven do flee;
"O none but Jesus, none but Christ for me:
O glorious Christ, O beauty, beauty rare,
Ten thousand thousand heav'ns are not so fair.
In him at once all beauties meet and shine,
The white and ruddy, human and divine.
As in his low, he's in his high abode,
The brightest image of the unseen God. (1)
How justly do the harpers sing above,
His doing, dying, rising, reigning love!
How justly does he, when his work is done,
Posses the centre of his Father's throne!
How justly does his awful throne before
Seraphic armies prostrate him adore,
That's both by nature and donation crown'd
With all the grandeur of the Godhead round!
"But wilt thou, Lord, in very deed come dwell
With me that was a burning brand of hell?
With me so justly reckon'd worse and less
Than insect, mite, or atom can express?
Wilt thou debase thy high imperial form,
To match with such a mortal crawling worm?
Yea, sure thine errand to our earthly coast,
Was in deep love to seek and save the lost;(2)
And since thou deign'st the like of me to wed,
O come and make my heart thy marriage-bed.
Fair Jesus, wilt thou marry filthy me?
Amen, Amen, Amen; so let it be."

(1) Heb. i. 2.
(2) Luke xix. 10.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


On May 6, Doug Phillips posted an entry on his blog that left me yelling, "Amen!" It is so politically correct in today's culture to declare that there is no right and wrong. "I'm OK, you're OK" is the mantra of the day. I've got news for you. "I'm not OK, and neither are you." We are all fallen sinners born with a wicked sin nature. There is but one worldview and religion that saves us from this total depravity. It is through Christ alone. Attempts at syncretization will always fail. You can not mix Christianity and paganism. You can not separate your spiritual life from your secular life.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (Jas 4:4)

Here is Doug's link:

All I can say is, "Well spoken, Brother Doug. God bless you."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Chuck Baldwin for President!

Are you feeling, like I am, that there are no good choices for president when viewing the top contenders of the Republican and the Democratic parties?

If there were ever a time when the American people are poised to choose between the lesser of two (three?) evils, it is now.

On the Democratic side, we have an ultra liberal woman who wants to slaughter even more babies through abortion than are being killed today. She wants to force a nationalized health care plan on us. She is anti-family, believing that it "takes a village" to raise a child. How anyone could vote for her is beyond me.

On the other hand, the Democrats offer to us a Muslim, masquerading as a Church of Christ Christian. Remember the old Sesame Street tune, "Which of things is not like the other? Which of these things just doesn't belong?" Consider these presidential names: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Obama. Wait...Obama? How different is that from Osama? And it's not just his name that faults him. He's on the same boat as Hillary when it comes to slaughtering unborn children and shoving a national health care plan down our throats.

So...what choice does the Republican party give us? John McCain. The very same McCain whose name stood alongside Russell Feingold on the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002. This is a slam on the First Amendment rights of all Americans. Like his Democratic cohorts, McCain is no friend to unborn children. While slightly less vitriolic on the subject as compared to Hillary or Obama, his voting record has been much less than perfect on this very important issue. Yet, the only thing McCain has going for him is that the Democratic choices are so evil, that he is clearly the lesser of the three evils that are in the front running position.

Thankfully, we don't have to choose between the absolutely evil Democrats or the slightly less evil Republicans. We can vote for real change in our country. The Constitution Party has nominated Chuck Baldwin as its candidate for president. Listen to his acceptance speech and I think you'll agree that he is the right man for the job. All others represent God's judgement on our country.