Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Category: History

King Alfred the Great

alfred the great

Wash you, make you clean, take away the evil of your works from before mine eyes: cease to do evil. Learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed: judge the fatherless, and defend the widow. come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins were as crimson, they shall be made white as snow: though they were red like scarlet, they shall be as wool, If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land. But if ye refuse and be rebellious, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Isaiah 1. 16-20

INTRODUCTION

This passage is increasingly relevant to the plight of western Christendom today. Our local and supreme courts have forsaken the divine justice in its exercise of its judgments, our statist, welfare society has fostered an individualism under which no one fares well, we murder the fatherless, and we commercially institutionalize the widow. Consequentially, as the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it, we are being devoured religiously by immigrant invasion, devoured economically by an all-consuming state, devoured morally by the sexual revolution, devoured ethically by the supreme court zeitgeist, devoured politically by a mobocracy, and aesthetically by a culture of death. However, these things will not be the cause of our nation’s overthrow. They are the result. The result of a lethargic apostasy in the  Christian worship of local churches.

This is not the first time the church, or English speaking peoples have relinquished themselves to be devoured in such a manner. To this end, we may look back 1200 years ago to the time of the England of the Anglo-Saxons under King Alfred the Great. Who took an almost entirely defeated and devoured nation back from the viking invaders, enlightened a practically illiterate and ignorant Christian people, built a diversified and thriving economy, reformed the laws of justice in the land, and revived a latent church. He was a King David in his deliverance of Israel from the vikings, a King Solomon in his teaching and legislating wisdom and justice to the people, and a King Josiah in reforming a dying church. Truly, he was Alfred… the Great.

PROPHET OF NORTHUMBRIA

Alcuin, a native of Northumbria (Northern England) wrote the following indictment depicting the state of the nation to the king of northern England. “Carefully consider, brothers, and diligently note: lest this extraordinary and unheard of evil might be somehow merited by the habit of some unspoken wickedness. I am not saying that the sin of fornication never appeared before among the people. But since the days of King Alfwold, fornications, adulteries, and incest have inundated the land, such that these sins have been perpetrated without any shame, even against nuns who have been dedicated to God. What can I say about greed, robbery, and perverted judgments? When it is clearer than daylight, how much these crimes have flourished everywhere and it is witnessed by a plundered people.” Firstly, what was this extraordinary and unheard evil being merited? It was the viking raids. At the time of Alfred’s birth in 849 the vikings had terrorized the inhabitants of the land in their savage raids of murder, rapine, and plunder. Religious communities especially were their targets of choice. Monasteries and churches full of wealth were plundered by the vikings who then made hasty retreats evading the sluggish saxon military. Their violence was nothing less than terrorizing, where for them the crueler the death the greater the story. They preyed on the Saxon’s weaknesses of community isolation, defenceless monasteries, and Christian holidays. One record depicts the viking execution of the defeated king of East Anglia, king Edward. “First the king was bound to a tree, where he was scourged and beaten. Then the Vikings shot arrows at him until he ‘bristled like a hedgehog.’ Annoyed at his continued calling out to Christ, the Vikings finally beheaded him.” This “extraordinary and unheard evil” referred to by that native of Northumbria is sadly not a foreign reality to us 1200 years later where Christian leaders are still being tortured and beheaded by eastern invaders. No less familiar to our society is this “habit of some unspoken wickedness” in the devoured land of England. What was this unconfessed, secret national sin that the native of Northumbria was referring to which merited such plunder? Prior to the viking invasions, England had witnessed a time of prosperity. To which the Christian people had become both indolent, ignorant, and insolent. Their love of Christian works and Christian work wained so much so that at the time of King Alfred hardly any church or statesman could understand the Latin tongue. This intellectual lethargy in the church gradually digressed into paganism in the society. Paganism marked by sexual revolution, oppression, and the abandonment of justice. Just as the native of Northumbria, who patterned his speech after the prophet Isaiah, passed judgment on the land. The native of Northumbria warns even us today that the cause of this “extraordinary and unheard evil” [of eastern invaders] is merited by our “habit of some unspoken wickedness.” Where sexual revolution has “inundated the land, such that these sins have been perpetuated without any shame.” And what too can we say of the “greed [Of people rich in debt], robbery [Of wealth redistribution], and perverse judgments  [Of the courts and parliament]? When it is clearer than daylight, how much these crimes have flourished everywhere and is witnessed by a plundered people.”

O Guide, if Thou wilt not steer fortune amain

But lets her rush so self-willed and vain,

I know that the world will doubt of Thy might,

And few among men in Thy rule will delight.

My Lord, overseeing all things from on high

Look down on mankind with mercy’s mild eye,

In wild waves of trouble they struggle and strive,

Then spare the poor earthworms, and save them alive!

“A Psalm to God” by King Alfred the Great

BATTLE OF ASHTOWN

As the native of Northumbria forewarned, in the autumn of 866 the kingdom of Northumbria fell to the vikings, followed by the kingdom of Mercia in 867, and the kingdom of East Anglia in 869. The only Anglo-Saxon kingdom remaining was the kingdom of Wessex ruled by king Ethelwulf, whose son was Alfred. Like David of Jesse, Alfred was the youngest and fifth born son of king Ethelwulf. Like Joseph, he was favoured by his parents. Like Christ, he grew in wisdom and stature. Of his childhood the Bishop of Assar writes, “He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king. As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in manners he was more graceful than they.” Alfred developed a love for the poetry of the Saxon tongue, together with the disciplines of hunting and fighting. All of which would serve him well in his future reign. However, Alfred’s family was plagued by the treachery of the eldest son against the kingship of his father together with the deaths of many of his brothers in battle against the vikings, and ultimately the death of his father in 858. Only Alfred and his older brother Ethelred remained of the royal family. Both of whom would fight valiantly against the vikings. One of the brothers most notable engagements was the Battle of Ashdown. Alfred was a mere twenty-two years of age, neither a king or seasoned soldier. Notwithstanding he lead his men to the place where the vikings had gathered for their attack on the last standing kingdom of Wessex. In this battle Alfred was not only lacking in age, kingship, and experience, but also lacked the better ground in the battle. The vikings had positioned themselves at the top of a hill and thus began the first formality of viking battle to the Saxons assembled bellow, namely, the flyting. Flyting, was an exchange of insults, ranging from accusations of cowardice, to graphic depictions of what would be done to their corpses and womenfolk waiting in Wessex. After this demoralizing assault of words, began the assault advance of the vikings tumbling down the hill towards Alfred’s men. Alfred commanded his men to form a shieldwall where the front line overlaps their shields, brace each other shoulder to shoulder, and the ranks of men behind lean into the front line for support. Once Alfred had commanded such a formation he joined the front line wall. Much to the surprise of both the Vikings and Saxons the shield wall held the initial impact and furthermore began to push the Vikings backwards up the hill from whence they descended. This initial success worked an almost animal rage in Alfred in cutting down the Vikings. His men later would depict him in battle as a wild boar on the battlefield, razing through the enemy lines as a bloody beast. Alfred and his ability to command was stuck in the shieldwall, from which no man could depart lest the vikings break through the gap. As a Saxon fell on the front line another would immediately step up from behind him to fill the wall. Naturally the length of the battle up the hill began to put a strain not he shieldwall. Alfred’s brother, Ethelred, was to join him in battle, but was delayed by a prolonged morning mass. When his aid was most needed, Ethelred accompanied by his men appeared over the ridge and attacked the vikings from the side. The Battle of Ashtown was among the first notable victories for the Saxons. After which the bulk of their men returned home to tend to their home and work leaving the two kingly brothers with a meagre army. Despite this great victory, the armies of Wessex continued to loose in battle with the Vikings. In one of which loses, Ethelred was gravely wounded an shortly went the way of all flesh. Upon the death of his last family member Alfred received the crown of Wessex. He was their only and last defender.

None would think the daylight dear

If dim night they did not fear;

So, to every one of us,

On the broad earth dwelling thus, 

Joy more joyous still is seen

After troubles once have been.

“Uses of Adversity” by King Alfred the Great

A SIGHT OF DESPAIR

One could imagine the sorrow and anguish Alfred must have felt, especially, as melancholy had been his disposition from youth. One record recounts, “The aforesaid Alfred often fell into such great misery, that sometimes none of his subjects knew where he was or what had become of him.” Beyond this mental anguish of internal anxieties, kingly burdens, and continual invasions by the Vikings, Alfred was plagued by physical pain. During his youth, Alfred found himself greatly tempted by the lewdness of the sexual revolution about him and prayed daily for God to give him some sort of physical affliction (So long as it was not deforming or disabling) to curb his sinful affliction. God delivered him from the lusts of a young man with the excruciating disease of piles. Gradually, depleted by the misery and agony of the disease Alfred asked God deliver him, which the Lord was pleased to do. Until the day of his marriage to Ealswith, where in the middle of the marriage feast Alfred doubled over in incapacitating pain. This mysterious internal torment would not leave Alfred until his death. King Alfred took great relief in the Psalms of David and wrote poetry of his own to combat his melancholy. We can glimpse something of his agony in his poem, “A Sight of Despair.”

Alas! in how grim

A gulf of despair,

Dreary and dim

For sorrow and care,

My mind toils along

When the waves of the world

Stormy and strong

Against it are hurled.

When in such strife my mind will forget

Its light and its life

In worldly regret,

And though the night

Of this world doth grope

Lost to the light

Of heavenly hope.

Thus it hath no

Befallen my mind

I know no more how

God’s goodness to find,

But groan in my grief

Troubled and tost,

Needing relief

For the world I have lost.”

Alfred’s contemporary biographer, the Bishop of Assar, wrote of this aspect of Alfred with the following: “But the Almighty not only granted to the same glorious king victories over his enemies, but also permitted him to be harassed by them, to be sunk down by adversities, and depressed by the low estates office followers, to the end that he might learn that there is one Lord of all things, to whom every knee doth bow, and in whose hand are the hearts of kings; who puts down the mighty from their seat and exalteth the humble; who suffers his servants when they are elevated at the summit of prosperity to be touched by the rod of adversity, that in their humility they may not despair of God’s mercy, and in their prosperity they may bot boast of their honours, but may also know, to whom they owe all the things which they possess.”

THE RESURRECTION OF ALFRED

This despair was only the beginning for King Alfred. Of the many battle and skirmishes waged against the raiding army after Ashdown, the victory had gone to the Viking marauders, whose ultimate victory seemed eminent. However, of all the other Saxon kingdoms none other had resisted the Vikings so strong or cost them so much as King Alfred’s Wessex. But neither resistance nor extortion payment could keep them off, so that in the end (Or what seemed to be the end) the nobles of Wessex betrayed King Alfred and took oaths of Submission to the Viking commander, Guthrum. As one biographer morbidly notes, “Cut off from his throne, his court, and his armies, Alfred, betrayed and abandoned, wandered into the moors, wastelands, and fens of Wessex, moving into the marshes and woods of Somerset.” As once King David was, so too now was King Alfred cut off and betrayed by his own people. Nonetheless, he refused to abandon his kingdom as they had abandoned him. Alfred conducted a rather successful campaign of guerrilla warfare against Guthrum from his secret headquarters in the marshlands. Alfred’s resistance at this time where he was hid away in the dark, black forest of the moors engendered a Robin Hood like fame of him among the oppressed and those still loyal to the king. One biographer records the legend of “How Alfred dressed himself up as a juggler and walked openly into the camp of the Danes, who, not recognizing him and thinking he was some sort of entertainer, welcomed him into their camp and demanded that he perform. The disguised king obliged them and performed for the Viking camp for several days, delighting them thoroughly. During this time he was able to walk freely through the camp, spying out their numbers, checking on their state of readiness, and collecting all the information necessary for forming his own straggles of attack.” Such tales inspired those loyal to the throne, both peasant and noble, and discomforted those base nobles who had betrayed Alfred. During these darkest days the betrayed king used surprise attacks, secret networks of communication with nobles still loyal, spying, and surveillance to raise an army once again to face Guthrum in battle.  Alfred’s legendary example instilled a nobility and principle in the people of Wessex. Through the continued inspiration of Alfred and the persecution of the Vikings it was clear to the people that freedom would be worth fighting for. Their sense of self-rule had been reinstated by their secret king’s example of self-discipline, preparation, and retrospection. Alfred sent a secret communication summoning those loyal to battle. The secret reunion of Alfred with his loyal nobles and armies of 5,000 men in the misty forest was a spectacular moment. “It was as if the king had been restored to life after a terrible tribulation.” 

“He that wishes power to win,

First must toil to rule his mind,

That himself the slave to sin

Selfish lust may never bind:

Let him haste to put away

All that fruitless heap of care:

Cease while they sighs to-day,

And thyself from sorrow spare.

How shall he seem great or strong,

If himself he cannot save,

Word and deed against all wrong,

But to sin is still a slave?”

“Of Self-Rule” by King Alfred the Great

DELIVERANCE OF ENGLAND

King Alfred and his army of 5,000 met the Viking tyrrant, Guthrum to wage battle. The two enemies formed their respective shieldwalls and marched on each other. When they were within a short distance, both sides flew javelins into the sky destined for their enemies ranks. The silent soar of so many spears was said to blacken the sky as they slowly rose and then dove into the arms, torsos, and shields of those fateful souls in their trajectory. Both shield walls were weakened as the dead and wounded fell to the ground, quickly being replaced by those from behind. Axes were readied for the next stage of combat. At this juncture the Vikings unleashed a special force of maniacal madmen called the Berserkers. Before battle these men would conduct a heathen dancing ritual and consume a hallucinogenic mushroom turning them into a ravenous craze with the strength of wolves and beasts. They painted their faces into distorted, grotesque forms and went naked into battle. Yet now the men of Wessex remained noble to their great nobleman, King Alfred, and quickly dispensed with the demonic lives of the Berserkers, broke the Viking shieldwall, and gained the victory over Guthrum after so many long years of oppression. What Alfred was to do next though would be more marvellous to the people of Wessex than any battle victory could display. Guthrum offered total surrender to Alfred, never before had such terms been submitted by an invading Viking. Any time an English king had surrendered to a Viking no mercy was shown. The Vikings had in previous victories bound the king of East Anglia to a tree and packed his body with arrows and in Northumbria they ritually sacrificed the defeated king. If Alfred was to exact the same treatment on Guthrum which Guthrum had exacted from Alfred’s brethren, he too would be brutally executed. Alfred had been merciful before in his terms of surrender; settling for oaths, hostages, and extortion payments, but the Vikings continually break such oaths of peace. Alfred shocked all when he demanded Guthrum and his thirty best men be baptized into the Christian faith. This was no mere outward ceremony though. The medieval church believed as we do that the Christian faith was a rebirth. Alfred and the Christians of his day took this imagery seriously and incorporated many elements of the first, physical birth. As in the first, physical birth their are physical parents, so too in the second, spiritual rebirth their are spiritual parents. Consequently, at each baptism there was a man or woman who sponsored the new baptized Christian as a sort of spiritual godparent. This too was no empty ritual. To be a spiritual godparent was much the same as to be a physical parent. You accepted them into your family, your home, your wealth, influence, and power. Hence, when Alfred summoned Guthrum, his mortal enemy, to be baptized he was entering into a spiritual covenant, a spiritual adoption, and become a spiritual mentor to this viking. Guthrum accepted Alfred’s gesture and was baptized by Alfred himself. One biographer records, “Alfred treated his godson, along with Guthrum’s thirty Danish companions, to twelve days of Anglo-Saxon feastng. The Viking guests, once the mortal enemies of the Wessex throne, now sat in Alfred’s races mead hall, white-robed, banqueting on roasted boar and veinison draining horns of mead, and listening to the Saxon stop thrumming on his lyre and singing poems of the glory of long-dead warriors, mingled with lyrics of praising the most high God who had created the wonder-filled world.” Guthrum’s testimony of faith remained true to his death. In the future he refused to join viking raiders in planned attacks on Wessex, he preserved peace with Alfred, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records his death as King Alfred’s godson with no mention of his life as a Viking or his wars against Alfred. From his youth, Alfred, despite all odds against him, discipled himself in the Christian faith though he was racked in pain and misery. He discipled a disloyal, difficult, people in the Christian faith. He discipled his greatest nemesis in the Christian faith and delivered England as King David.

Thus quoth Alfred, England’s love,

‘Would ye live for God above?

Would ye long that He may show

Wiselike things for you to know,

That you may world’s worship gain,

And your souls to Christ attain?’

Wise the saying Alfred said:

‘Christ the Lord I bid thee dread

Meekly, O mine own dear friend,

Love and like him without end;

He is Lord of life and love,

Blest all other bliss above,

He is man, our Father true,

And a meek mild Master too;

Yea, our borther; yea our king;

Wise and rich in everything,

So that nought of His goo will

Shall be aught but pleasure still

To the man who Him with fear

In the world doth worship here.’

Thus quoth Alfred, our delight:

‘He may be no king of right

Under Christ, who is not filled

With book lore, in law well skilled,

Letter he must understand,

And know by what he holds his land.”

REVIVAL AND REFORMATION

Alfred sought to know by what he held the land. Having secured the deliverance of England as King David he sought as King Solomon in times of peace to retrieve the lost scholars, revive the floundering education, restore the justice system, raise the debased church, restart a broken economy, and reinstate a better currency, reinforced broken defences, retrained a new army, and rectify a new navy. Alfred understood as the native of Northumbria that the vikings were not the cause of England’s overthrow. They were the result. The result of an apostate people dwelling on formally Christian soil. He devoted himself as King Josiah to a revival of Christian learning and Christian worship. He translated several great works of Christendom into the Anglo-Saxon tongue such as The Consolation of Philosophy, Soliloquies of Augustine, Pastoral Care, and the first fifty psalms of the Bible. He also tasked the nobles to learn the scholarly Latin tongue. One biographer records, “Alfred orchestrated a tremendous revival of literacy, a revival that culminated in the greatest literary renaissance ever experienced in Anglo-Saxon Britain.” The end of literacy for Alfred was the Solomon-like, kingly virtue of wisdom. Thus any man presently holding or aspiring to office must attain this royal skill. Alfred composed the most comprehensive set of laws in his Domboc, or Book of Dooms. These would set the foundation for the English Common Law, the Magna Carta, and the legal systems of Canada, America, Australia, and New Zealand. His Domboc drew from the ten commandments and other prohibitions of Moses for sins and transgressions which would doom the nation of Israel. He applied the principles of Moses’ dooms and commandments to the nation of England. Justice was thereby established on the Bible and Law of God. “Of this one law” wrote Alfred, “a man can think, that he must judge all in justice; he needs no other book-book. He thinks that he should not judge to any man which he would not have judged to himself; if he then sought judgment over him.” Alfred’s laws were marked by the principle of restitution, and that the punishment must fit the crime. His laws insisted on keeping oaths and pledges, forbidding sedition and treason, offenders making restitution to victims, sexual morality, ending honour killings and family feuds. After twenty eight years of reigning, at the age of 50, in 899 King Alfred echoed Isaiah in his dying words to his throne heir and son.

“Thus quoth Alfred: “My dear son, come near;

Sit thou beside, and I will teach thee here.

I fell mine hour is well-nigh come, my son’

My face is white, my days are almost done:

And thou in all my state shalt stand alone:

I pray thee, for mine own dear child thou art,

Lord of this people, play their father’s part,

Be thou the orphan’s sire, the widow’s friend,

Comfort the poor man, and the weak defend;

With all thy might

Succour the right,

And be strong

Against the wrong:

And thou, my son, by law thyself restrain,

So God shall be thy Guide, and glorious Gain;

Call thou for help’s Him in every need,

And He shall give thee greatly to succeed.”

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Home Education Graduate Panel

School Boy

The following is a series of questions and answers from a graduate panel of which I was a part.

2015 SHBE CONVENTION

Grad Panel Questions:

1. Describe your homeschooling experience.

In a word, at the risk of sounding pretentious, successful. But I suppose that raises the question of what successful homeschooling is.  Initially, my education was a basic imitation of the public school system. We exercised with inimitable discipline classroom itinerary, curricular grade order, standardized testing, scoring, textbook modules, and other such organons of bureaucracy. The objective of this quixotic pedagogy and the success measurement was to get into university. We subscribed to the common notions that a successful homeschooler gets the highest grades, or performs extracurricular studies, or becomes a peerless career person, or an entrepreneur, or university student. While some of these are laudable pursuits they are limited and misconceived objectives. Through a series of providential events my parents came to discover that “schooling” was not necessarily annexed to “success.” Postman’s evaluation was that, “We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think “success” is synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, “schooling,” but historically that isn’t true in either an intellectual or economic sense.” Thus, pragmatically speaking, for the times of substantial economic development in America and Canada schooling was in its most puerile form and thereby inconsequential to the prosperity encountered. My parents recognized as Whitehead writes, “Education is the acquisition of the art of utilization of knowledge” and therefore, “There is only one subject-matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations.” Contrary to common opinion, homeschooling is not by the book, or at least, the textbook. Home education reformed in our family away from being merely well-informed individuals on the systematic facts regarding a particular series of textbook disciplines. The bureaucratic instruments I mentioned earlier became more and more foreign and alien to my education as sound learning and sound character was imparted to me by the discipleship of my parents. My education began to look something like John Milton’s exhortation where he states, “I call a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously all the offices both private and public of peace and war.” Summarily, my homeschooling experience was not defined by my grades, my character development, the intensity of my curriculum, my career, or secondary education although I underwent all of those components. Rather, my parents acknowledged that a successful homeschooler was not a well-taught person as the public school system would propose, but instead a self-taught person. That is to say, autodidactic. Hence I have difficulty saying that I am a “graduate” from schooling. Because I am learning more now than I ever did as a homeschooler. My years as a homeschooler were not to inculcate me with a supposedly sufficient systematic knowledge of facts so I could be “successful.” My years as a homeschooler was an introduction and inducement to continue to learn and teach myself to “perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the office both private and public.”

2. Is there anything you would change about your homeschooling experience?

Again in short, everything. I believe it to be my duty and every succeeding generations duty to be actively and constantly reforming upon the previous. An unfortunate misconception in homeschooling is to raise our children to be “well-informed.” We teach them to think and know multiple facts about science, math, logic, music etc… However, education of mere half-digested facts and too many of them is “The devil in the scholastic world” and we’re really being no different than the public institutions except for the fact were just more stubborn. Neil Postman warned, “The teaching of a scientific outlook in the curriculum does not insure that students will develop a scientific mind-set.” Alfred North Whitehead had this critique for such curriculum, “We must beware of what I call ‘inert ideas’ that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combination.” Teaching children disconnected, contextless, and fragmented facts is not only useless but harmful. Useless, idle, inert thoughts are brain cancer to the autodidactic mind. They will kill any desire and love of learning. Contrary to educating our children to think about science, math, logic, and music Whitehead is saying we must educate our children to think scientifically, mathematically, logically, and musically. The key is knowledge applied. “Let the main ideas which are introduced into a child’s education be few and important… The child should make them his own, and should understand their application here and now in the circumstances of his actual life.” Education follows life, not life education as is the characteristic of some homeschooling expectations. What I would make to be the “Few and important” ideas which are introduced into a child’s education is, as Postman recommends, the Trivium model of the Middle Ages. The Trivium consisted of teaching the child to think critically through logic, rhetoric, and grammar. Grammar diagrams, rhetoric form, and logic laws not taught as facts, but as the applicable means to think grammatically, logically, and communicably. Once the child is able to think critically I would continue to the Quadrivium. The Quadrivium consisted of the scientific art disciplines (Physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc…). I would most definitely include the lost sciences such as jurisprudence. Teach your children Biblical Case Law, and Lord William Blackstone’s English Common Law, and Kennedy’s Canadian constitutional law. Lord Blackstone acutely wrote, “For I think it an undeniable position, that a competent knowledge of the laws of that society, in which we live, is the proper accomplishment of every gentleman and scholar; an highly useful, I had almost said essential, part of liberal and polite education.” Additionally, I would teach everything from etiquette, economics, culinary arts, culture, worldview, philosophy, history, to horticulture. Benjamin Franklin, a model autodidact illustrated the development of the mind which should characterize the multi-generational, autodidactic, homeschooling family. “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” Finally, there is a simple but difficult process for attaining all of this and Francis Bacon summarizes it well. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” In other words, specialized, active, applicable knowledge in these disciplines can be attained through reading good books to and with your children, conversing about them, and requiring essays of them. This is what I did at home, it is what I do now, and this is the very same model Cambridge uses to remarkable success. Notice how foreign standardized testing, grading, textbooks, and such like bureaucratic organons are to this model. As Postman noted regarding these modern conventions, “I shall not argue here that this is a stupid or dangerous idea, only that it is peculiar. What is even more peculiar is that so many of us do not find the idea peculiar.”

3. What was the best part about being homeschooled? (You can include favourite subjects or activities)

Discipleship. Geoffrey Botkin observes the hebraic discipleship model practiced in Cambridge university where students need no GPA, or credit hours, or typical grade averages, or even lecture attendance. They only have need of an understated endorsement from their tutor which goes something like this in Latin. “Here is a man I know to be of sound learning and good character, suitable to receive his degree.” In order to merit such an endorsement the student was placed under a mentor and tasked to write an essay on their particular discipline with which they know nothing about. It was the responsibility of the student to discover the resources, time, lectures, books, and interviews needed to form their essay. Periodically, the student met with their mentor in order that they might have opportunity to defend and review their essay work. It was a difficult and refining process for the student. One defined these interview moments as, “Exploring the vast wildernesses of my ignorance.” Finally, the essay was authoritative, clear, and sufficient and the understatement for the endorsement was granted by the mentor. Notice the parallel to the earlier quotation from Francis Bacon. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and wiring and exact man.” I practice this method to this day. For instance, I am currently reading a stack of books and writing an essay on “The English Common Law Doctrines of Primogeniture & Coverture as distinguished from their counterparts of Gavelkind and Universal Suffrage together with their consequences upon English & Canadian society in the 1800s.” With regards to reading John Taylor Gatto writes, “Close reading of tough-minded writing is still the best, cheapest, and quickest method known for learning to think for yourself… Reading, and rigorous discussion of that reading in a way that obliges you to formulate a position and support it against objections, is an operational definition of education in its most fundamental civilized sense.” This is nothing less than homeschooling, where face-to-face discipleship imparts sound character and stimulates sound learning.

4. Do you feel your home education has prepared you for your education choices since high school and for adulthood? Explain.

Yes, so much so I have yet to want or need it. Higher education or post-secondary is not helpful to the autodidactic homeschooler for two reasons. One, Universities are not places of higher learning. Geoffrey Botkin acutely defines them as, “Pseudo-academic bureaucracies of politically correct indoctrination and statist compliance.” Secondly, by definition, autodidacts don’t need post-secondary or credentials to be successful. The real achievement of a homeschooler is not entrance into university to succeed in life but to succeed in life without university all together. If the very intent of home education is to separate ourselves from wicked influence then why are we so attracted to the modern university which is the very scourge of depravity itself? If the very intent of home education is family independence, liberty of content and freedom of expression why would we desire to place ourselves in an environment which revokes such rights? University professor himself, Niel Postman, writes, “Schools became the first secular bureaucracies, structures for legitimizing some parts of the flow of information and discrediting other parts. Schools were, in short, a means of governing the ecology of information.” If we are truly self-made individuals and self-learners why the lust to institutionalize ourselves? I simply do not understand how homeschoolers hate public school with such vehemence, but have this inordinate love for university, the veritable culmination of the vices of compulsory schooling. Autodidacts don’t need or want post-secondary credentials. Again, contrary to common opinion schooling and success are not necessarily conducive towards each other. John Milton writes, “The end of learning is to repair the ruin of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, to intimate Him, to be like Him.” You can’t do that in university.

5. a) Are you taking or have you taken any post-secondary education? Explain, including any difficulties you encountered and how you worked those out.

I have taken post-secondary. Again, the difficulty and challenge is not in doing university but doing without it. Employers or customers are far more eager for an individual who has the experience which states they have done it rather than the piece of paper which states they can do it. Alfred North Whitehead remarked, “The valuable intellectual development is self-development.”

5. b) Did you go directly into the workforce instead of post-secondary?  Explain, including any difficulties you encountered and how you worked those out.

I have worked in both white and blue collar vocations during and after homeschooling. A mentor of mind shared with me recently a enormously true consideration. Just because your homeschooled doesn’t mean you get a head start in the workplace. We deceive ourselves if we consider public schoolers as failures and rejects. They will give you a run for your money so think critically and don’t take opportunities for granted.

6. Do you plan/hope to home school your own children someday?

As a homeschool “graduate” I am engaged in Bacon’s curriculum of reading, conference, and writing more than ever before. While reviewing my answers for these questions I came to the realization that I am currently learning, reading, writing, and communicating more ideas regarding more subjects more efficiently and more effectively than I ever remotely did while being educated at home. Therefore the notion of passing this love of learning and accumulation of knowledge on as a homeschool dad if the Lord wills is something beyond pleasure to my mind.

Thou Shalt

Hue and Cry

[From message delivered to Grace Haven Reformed Brethren on 01/25/15]

Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

INTRODUCTION

In light of recent events I am compelled to address the subject of the maintenance and preservation of godly life and order. Such life and order is being every increasingly assaulted upon in very real, physical ways. As Christians who practice Biblical marriage, family, children, education, and social life we each face evil and unfriendly foes. These foes are escalating in number, kind, position, and threat. We must not be found to be deprived of perception and judgment to such dangers. Have you been sufficiently watchful so as to identify the current or potential foes you face? Christians can often be as ignorant of their liberties as their duties to defend them. Lord William Blackstone, that great jurist of the English Common Law, caveated the danger of such heedlessness, “Liberties [are] more generally talked of, than thoroughly understood; and yet highly necessary to be perfectly known and considered by every man of rank and property, lest his ignorance of the points whereon it is founded should hurry him into faction and licentiousness on the one hand, or pusillanimous indifference and criminal submission on the other.” In other terms, our liberties are not just hip and cool slogans to be twaddled about, they are each of our inviolate birthright to be seriously considered. When we are negligent to enjoy entire our birthright of right and liberties we will live without restraint, being pernicious to ourselves or others. How many Christians do you know who understand their liberties and duties as Christian citizens? Furthermore, if we are derelict to vindicate our birthright in the face of tyranny or anarchy we will truckle like a caitiff to unjust restraints to our liberties from the merciless hands of the wicked. Are you free of ignorance as to your several duties to the defence and maintenance of your liberties?  What courses are available to the preservation of your birthright when it is being violated? What are the grounds for utilizing each of these courses? What are the restrictions and jurisdictions of these several administrations of defence? What is the application of just force? Summarily, when is it a sin for the Christian to turn the other cheek?

THE ‘THOU SHALT’ OF ‘THOU SHALT NOT’

The primary and foundational commandment in Scripture to direct the Christian as to the unjust and just resistance to evil may be found in the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Upon first observation we quite obviously notice the negative aspect of this commandment, that is, the “thou shalt not” facet of it. However, as with every commandment in Scripture there remains a positive expression. The reformer, John Calvin, acutely observed this positive detail. “God… prescribes that every one should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbour, and practically to declare that it is dear to him… the words expressly set forth that our neighbours are to be loved. It is unquestionable, then, that of those whom God there commands to be loved, He here commends their lives to our care.” This is to say, it is not merely enough for one to simply not murder the life of their neighbour and thereby fulfill the sixth commandment. One must positively defend the life of their neighbour to accomplish the requirements of the sixth commandment. Calvin continues, “There are, consequently, two parts in the Commandment, first, that we should not vex, or oppress, or be at enmity with any; and, secondly, that we should not only live at peace with men, without exciting quarrels, but also should aid, as far as we can, the miserable who are unjustly oppressed, and should endeavour to resist the wicked, lest they should injure men as they list.” Churches in Canada have by and large missed this crucial secondary feature of the commandment. From the early methodists, quakers, mennonites, and other Christians who pioneered this nation the principle of nonresistance has long been sustained and touted from the chapel rostrum. Celebrating, on the basis of the sixth commandment not to mention, the good man as one who piously beats swords into  plowshares. Historian and theologian, R.J. Rushdoony remarked of such priggishness, “To limit obedience, and to test character, merely by the negative factor is dangerous.” Namely, when we abide by only the negative law and neglect the positive it leads too often to the belief that the good man is the coward who would not dare to even assail a child, “but who is incapable of any discharging of his duties. Too often the church has equated these cowards with righteous men and advanced cowardly snivelers, whose weapons are those of back-biting and tale-bearing, to positions of authority.” So on the other hand Calvin exhorts, “We are required faithfully to do what in us lies to defend the life of our neighbour; to promote whatever tends to his tranquility, to be vigilant in warding off harm, and, when danger comes, to assist in removing it.” True obedience to the sixth commandment is therefore not passive, but incredibly active. How are you actively exercising the requirements of the sixth commandment? If you neighbour is under the threat of unjust violence what do you do? What means are to be employed in vigilantly warding off harm and removing danger?

ACTIVE LOVE

The proper understanding of the sixth commandment in the English Common Law and the fathers of our constitution recognized the duties of every one with regards to the sixth commandment. Historically, this expressed itself in such civil laws as the famous Hue and Cry, and secondly in the police powers of private persons, commonly known as Citizen’s Arrest. Regarding the Common Law process of pursuing, when the victim or witness of a felony raised the Hue and Cry by horn or voice, both officers and private men were responsible to instantaneously seek and arrest the perpetrator upon pain of fine or imprisonment. As to citizen’s arrest, Lord Blackstone writes, “Any private person that is present when any felony is committed, is bound by the law to arrest the felon; on pain of fine and imprisonment, if he escapes through the negligence of the standers by.” These Common Law and Canadian Constitution practices were outworkings of a right understanding of the duties relating to the sixth commandment. Both the government and citizens of Canada have by and large forgotten the duties of the private citizen to sustain the public peace and defend the life of others. On the subject of citizen’s arrest the Canadian Department of Justice warns, “Unlike a police officer, private citizens are neither tasked with the duty to preserve and maintain public peace.”  As was mentioned in the beginning by Lord Blackstone, when the citizenry neglect the right exercise and enjoyment of their liberties they surrender those liberties to the determining of the offenders. Proverbs 29:2 “When the wicked rule the people groan.” How often have you heard authorities advise the citizenry to quietly acquiesce to the demands of criminals who confront them, to capitulate to their instructions, or to evade at all costs confronting them? These statements and advisements are a radical departure from the historical principles which governed the practice of justice and peace. Proverbs 24:11-12 reads, “Deliver them that are drawn to death, and wilt thou not preserve them that are led to be slain? If thou say, Behold, we knew not of it: he that pondereth the hearts, doth not he understand it? and he that kept thy soul, knoweth he it not? will he not also recompense every man according to his works?” God therefore always holds he innocent bystander as an accomplice to the crime if he does not stand up or intercede in the ways that he needs to. Geoffrey Botkin writes, “The greatest commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves. This love is active and not passive. We may be sinning if we do not actively rise up and love our neighbour. However we often think ‘we are not going to get involved.’” Christians are charged, they are tasked, to discipleship and confrontation. “They that forsake the Law, praise the wicked: but they that keep the Law, set themselves against them.” As such, we confront evil and the wicked every day of our lives and disciple people away from it. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” How are you setting yourself and your families against the wicked? Is righteousness in authority in your home? Do you see rejoicing in your family from the authority of righteousness or hear groaning from the rule of wickedness?

JURISTICTION OF CONFRONTATION

Now, the Hue and Cry and Citizen’s arrest are obviously not to be confused with vigilantism. It is not to be denied that the citizen’s powers and jurisdictions with regards to preserving and maintaining public peace are indeed greatly limited. When the Christian citizen intervenes to the defence of the life of his neighbour he is still bound as a citizen, not a vigilante. Blackstone clarifies, “No man should take up arms, but with a view to defend his country and its laws: he puts not off the citizen when he enters the camp [army]; but it is because he is a citizen, and would wish to continue so, that he makes himself for a while a soldier.” So you too, dear Christian, when you would be vigilant in warding off harm and removing danger from you neighbour, you are not given carte blanche, for you are still bound as a Christian and as a Christian citizen. Reversely, you do not enter the conflict because you wish to be a vigilante, but rather because you are a Christian and a Christian citizen and you wish to remain so and for your neighbour also. So, when rightly exercised, the Christian citizen’s responsibility towards defence and arrest is limited but not absolved in its entirely. Contrarily, the impression in the citizen of their personal exemption from defence and arrest have had grievous results in society. Many a crime, both great and small, could have been alleviated in some part by the citizen rightly exercising their rights within their limited sphere of jurisdiction. So as Chris Kyle said, “Despite what your mamma told you, violence does solve problems.” But the Christian is concerned with solving problems even beyond grave circumstances of felony which they might face. Rushdoony writes, “The police power and the duty of the person involves a common defence of godly order. Law and order are the responsibilities of all good men without exception. Injuries to our fellow men, or to our enemies, which are not subject to civil or criminal action, are still our responsibilities. Our police power involves action against back-biting and tale-bearing. It also requires that we, in love of our neighbour, have regard for his property as well as his reputation, to avoid injury to it.” From the outset, do you teach your children their police power and the duties of the Hue and Cry? “We desire you, brethren, admonish them that are out of order: comfort the feebleminded: bear with the weak: be patient toward all men.” To be watchful of injustice and attentive to the appeals of those in unjust oppression? “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all the children of destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and judge the afflicted, and the poor.” How will you defend your neighbour and society? Rushdoony writes, “If it is a crime to alter property landmarks and to defraud a neighbour of his land, how much greater a crime to alter social landmarks, the Biblical foundations of law and society, and thereby bring about the death of that social order? If it is a crime to rob banks, then surely it is a crime to rob and murder a social order.”

THE OPPRESSED

Are you aware of those who are being oppressed? Is your family practicing John Calvin’s admonition and studying faithfully how to defend the life of the oppressed? Has your family worked out how you can practically declare that they are dear to you? Pastor, Joe Morecraft, compiled a brief list from Scripture which can help us identify those which are in need of such attention from our lives and homes.

  1. Covenant people should not oppress each other. “Oppress not ye therefore any man his neighbour, but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord you God.” Lev 25:17 Do you teach your children to not oppress one another? Have you examined how you can promote unity in the local church?
  2. Covenant people should not oppress labourers. “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is needy and poor, neither of thy brethren nor the stranger that is in thy land within thy gates.” How diligent are you in the workplace to assist the spiritual or physical needs therein?
  3. Covenant people should vindicate the oppressed. What does Psalm 10:18 look like in your home? “To judge the fatherless and poor, the earthly man cause to fear no more.”
  4. Are you a covenant family that prays for deliverance from oppression? “From the wicked that oppress me, from mine enemies, which compass me round about for my soul.”
  5. Covenant people should not oppress the afflicted. “Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in judgment.” How do your children handle responsibility and authority over others?
  6. God condemns merchants that oppress. Hoseah 12:7. How do your children treat money?
  7. Covenant people do not oppress widows or the fatherless. “And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger nor the poor, and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.”

In summary, how are you actively defending the life of widows and orphans, neighbours, strangers, the needy and defenceless, employees, the aged, and the afflicted?

THE OPPRESSORS

Upon reviewing those that are oppressed, we now turn our consideration to those that oppress. I believe today the two forces of evil which resist us are tyranny and anarchy. Tyranny, as Botkin defines, “Is the cruel and oppressive rule of government.” Anarchy on the other hand is a greater sin, the “state of disorder due to the absence or non recognition of authority.” Anarchy in the homes will only produce anarchy in society. It has been said, “Every generation is a new flood of barbarians to be civilized.” How well is your family doing at this? Rushdoony observes the rise of anarchy and crime with the following, “Judges are often too lenient and juries also. But the problem is much greater than that. All we have to do is look at most families and their treatment of their children. Their laxity, their inability to enforce discipline and you have a key to the dimensions of the problem. Parents who are lax with their children create a society which is generally lax in coping with problems. The problem in other words begins with us.” So who are some of the enemies that you are facing now or will face in the future. Geoffrey Botkin provides us with a much relevant catalog.

  1. Personal enemies: As was stated, you as Christians are called not to engage culture, but to confront it. You will make enemies doing this and may face possible persecution from them. Are you attentive to this danger? Are you being “Wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.”? Most importantly are you willing and ready to overcome their evil with good? There is however another grievous danger in this. Christians can begin to reckon the degree of their honour and piety based upon a personal tally of how many personal enemies and people they proverbially tick-off by their righteousness. In the vanity of their minds they pride themselves by how oft they are ridiculed and elevate the consideration of themselves with each rejection they experience. They begin to scorn the sinner as much as the sinner scorns them in return. What goodness is there in this? Paul exhorts us to “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with goodness.” How is only returning scorn for scorn, pride for pride, rejection for rejection, overcoming evil with goodness? Receive rejection with a sober mind, study to discern any impediments you may be contributing to the sinner’s peace and joy in Christ, examine whether or not your message is received as the good news it actually is. Discover whether or not you are overcoming evil with goodness.
  2. Bullies: Both young and old will confront bullies in life. What will be your policy and practice when you come face to face with a bully? How will you adjudicate the power and authority of Christ in you?
  3. Bureaucrats: As families who practice Biblical marriage, caring for orphans, babies, and education you will at some point be confronted by the tyranny of the state. Have you prepared yourself for such confrontation? Will you refuse to truckle to their demands? Will you come to the aid of a fellow family who encounters this type of enemy? How will you use the laws and constitution?
  4. Thieves & Criminals: In Canada our justice system has abandoned the Biblical principles of restitution for the humanist practice of penitentiary and probationary rehabilitation. This humanist system is very diligent to protect the rights of the individual… so long as the individual has committed a crime. As such crime is a profitable and growing enterprise. Are you prepared to raise or respond to a Hue and Cry. Will you intervene in your capacity as a Christian Citizen to uphold peace and justice? If you were one of the over a dozen innocent bystanders who fled from the unimpeded attack of the recent Parliamentry shooter what would you have done?
  5. Gangs & Mobs. Will you truckle to them? Have you considered that those who have followed the erroneous, non-Biblical policy of surrendering without resistance to such oppressors have only surrendered their lives. Such individuals by their appalling ineptitude and inability virtually assist in their own murders and enable murderers to continue a lifestyle of murder. Are you of nonresistance or resistance?
  6. Tyrannical magistrates. How will you face those what would by compulsive tyranny and oppression act in opposition to your free enjoyment of personal security, liberty, and property? Have you studied your duties to defend your birthright? Have you charted the free course of constitution, administration, offices, and courts to preserve them from violation? Are you even aware of what policies are being introduced to potentially conspire and coerce against you?
  7. Islam & ISIS. Will you confront this abomination? The question isn’t is Islam the most violent religion in the world, but how is Islam the most violent religion in the world. Have you considered that the Islamic State has commanded the over 1,053,945 muslims in Canada, the fastest growing religion in Canada, the religion that is expected to triple over the next 20 years, to literally and brutally kill you? National Post commentator Rex Murphy commentated, “When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS – which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging ‘non-believers’ and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry ‘Convert or Die’ – is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first “I” in ISIS stand for.” How will you confront Muslims in Regina who by and large do not want to do or think anything serious about the death-culture that incubates them. How will you correct western culture’s perception of them?

CONCLUSION

Ultimately will you truckle to any of these enemies. John Calvin writes of those leaders and men who have. “Those that have been in reputation of wisdom and honour and fall form their excellency, this troubles the fountains by grieving some and corrupts the springs by infecting others and emboldening them to do likewise. For the righteous to be oppressed, pressed down upon by the violence or subtlety of evil men, to be displaced and thrust into obscurity, this is the troubling of the fountains and corruption of the very foundations of government. For the righteous to be cowardly to truckle to the wicked to be afraid of opposing his wickedness and basely to yield to him, this is a reflection upon religion and discouragement to good men and strengthening to  the hands of sinners and their sins and sows like a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring.” As Geoffrey Botkin states, we rather need Christians who wake up every day with this thought, “Today is the day that I advance the Lord’s Kingdom. And today may be the day that I have to defend the innocent from terrible risk and dangers and threats.” Does your family think in this regard? Are you training your children who will in all probability face these enemies in the future under even more complex moral situations than you do now? So parents, teach the law as service to God. Teach what God says about the oppressed, justice, resistance, thieves, bureaucrats, tyranny, anarchy, jihadists, bullies, and law. Model self-control under law by continually defaulting to what is lawful. It is our Christian citizenry that compels us to act and limits our actions, not vigilanteism. Restrain your hand and extend the sword of justice when it is within your power and jurisdiction to do so. Recognize that in most every instance it is the responsibility of the civil magistrate. Maintain peace with the application of just violence with the sword of justice. To Conclude with the Westminster Larger Catechism, “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in the case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life… The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavours, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.”

Samson The Greatest Type of Christ

Samson

[ The following is an unedited, unabridged post by C.J. taken from a thread on http://www.sermonindex.net. ]

Sampson: The Greatest Type of Christ in the Old Testament.

It goes without saying, that of the handful of people that are listed in Hebrews 11, there is none as controversial as that of Samson. Most messages that I’ve heard on him leave the impression that this man was a failure, a failure that just happened to straighten out in the very end. As a matter of fact, it was a challenge to find anything among the moderns of a positive nature, for most writers had little good to say of him, and many went so far as to imply that it was a mistake that he was even mentioned in the ‘Faith chapter’ at all, because of what they see as three grievous sins in his life.

SAMSON’S 3 MISTAKES WHICH RUINED HIS LIFE…

1) Dishonered his parents (by marrying the woman from Timnath).

2) Defiled his person by eating the wrong meal (honey from the lion carcass).

3) Defended his pride.

Not very flattering words. It seems that the consensus among the majority is that Samson was a failure and somehow managed to slip into Hebrews 11 by the skin of his teeth. But it was God that placed Samson among the giants of faith, listing him by name no less, and with God there are no mistakes. So why the controversy?

I think the answer lies in the fact that although we acknowledge with our lips that our right standing before God comes through faith, we sometimes inwardly hold on to the Old Covenant way, which is the way of works. This is why I believe God’s view of Samson is so different from many men that hold such a negative view of Samson. God understands us and sees us how we are.

WHY SAMSON IS IN THE HALL OF FAITH

It seems necessary to show that he truly does belong in Hebrews 11, and also call into question the harsh judgements made by many on his life. I hope to do this in showing two basic points.

  1. SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST: For it goes without saying, that if he is found as a clear picture or type of Christ, then the only conclusion that could be drawn, is that he would have to be a great man of faith, for God would not picture his Son through a faithless failure.
  2. SAMSON WALKED THROUGH THIS LIFE WITH INCREDIBLE FAITH: Not just in the last couple hours as many claim. Now the word is faith, not law. Hebrews 11 doesn’t list the men that had the cleanest records (for otherwise David may have been excluded), nor the ones that played it safe and protected their reputations among men the best (for then the Pharisees would have been found here). Hebrews 11 is not nicknamed the ‘Hall of Law Keeping’. It lists those that were sure of the unseen, who believed in God’s promises, who had their praise from God and not men. (Rom 2:29)

SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST O.T TYPES OF CHRIST:

Background and Introduction:

Samson was from the tribe of Dan and was the last of Israel’s judges, most likely in direct fulfillment the prophecy, “Dan shall judge his people” from Genesis 49:16. It is important to note that the days of the judges are listed as the darkest days of Israel’s history, a condition that makes the faith of Samson shine all the brighter, for it was a terrible time to be given the task of leading this nation. It was in this time when Israel was being oppressed by the cruel Philistines for the wickedness that they themselves had committed, that God ordained Samson, before his birth, to begin the deliverance of his people, (for David would finish it some years later). Samson’s life and calling are very unusual and even appear odd at times, so it is important to see that Samson was set apart by God not so much to imitate, but rather to see a picture of the coming Savior. Consider one commentator’s words …..

“…but the truth is Samson himself was a riddle, a paradox of a man, who did that which was really great and good, by that which was seemingly weak and evil, because he was designed not to be a pattern to us (who must walk by rule, not example), but a type of him who, though he knew no sin, was made sin for us, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh that he might condemn and destroy sin in the flesh.”

Now because my time is far too short to include all the aspects of Samson himself and his life, let’s look at some of the events in which God used Samson to be a type or foreshadow of Jesus Christ and the great faith he had to walk this incredibly difficult road of deliverer of Israel.

1. THE CALLING OF SAMSON (Chapter 13:1-5)

  • -Samson was chosen before he was born to begin Israel’s deliverance… The only man who shared this in common with the Lord. “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son… and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5)
  • -Samson’s mother was barren. As was Isaac’s, Jacob’s, John’s, and Samuel’s. Type of the virgin birth. “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.” (13:2)
  • -Samson’s birth was announced to his mother by the ‘angel of the LORD‘, as was the Jesus’ by an angel to Mary. In Sampson’s case this was most likely Jesus Christ preincarnate, “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (13:18) “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (13:22)
  • -The meaning of his name. It means ‘Sun’. Surely he would be a type of the Son and surely he would be a light shining in a very dark time. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings….” (Mal 4:2)
  • -He is called to be a deliverer, to begin the deliverance of Israel from their enemies. “He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5) Samson will be a type of Christ in that Christ is the deliverer of His people and “bear the government on his shoulders” (Is 9:6).
  • -He is called to be a nazarite for life, “For the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” (13:7) He is the first one mentioned in the Bible, and the only lifelong nazarite who gets his commission from God himself, like Christ. Samson was told by his parents that God had called him to be separated unto God from common society for life as a Nazarite, and he believed them, and he believed God. That is faith. So we begin to see from the very start that Samson was different, set apart by God to be used for his purposes. His entry into the world was proclaimed from heaven itself. The favor of God was upon the Danite, from the time before his conception. We must see these things to understand not only the man, but more importantly the special call on his life, and the special grace of God upon him to sustain him during the most incredible demands that any man has ever had to endure. The parallels between his birth and the birth of our Lord are incomparable and undeniable as a type of Christ.

2. SAMSON TAKES A GENTILE BRIDE. (Chapter 14)

  • – The Spirit of the Lord had already, scripture says, began to move Samson at times,“And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times” (13:25). Given his calling, we can assume the Spirit moved him at times to reveal the daring, courage and most likely the strength (which God never promised at any time) that he would need to strike out against the Philistines.
  • -“And Sampson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Tinmath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman of Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her fro me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” Here Samson asks his father for a gentile bride. While it was not very popular with his parents, Samson respects their authority and involves them. Though debated, this marriage does not appear to be forbidden as the Phillistines were not mentioned in (Deut 7:1-4).
  • -Sampson thus types Christ who sought a gentile bride. Sampson sought her not because of beauty (“Is not her younger sister fairer than she?” [15:2]), but because of his love for her as Christ has also done for us.
  • -In doing so Samson, as Christ did, made Israel jealous, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” (14:3)
  • -Samson furthermore, shows incredible faith in pursuing that which was of God, but what men couldn’t understand. As we will see, he sought praise from God over men, even mother and father. This is the first act of Israel’s deliverance in his his taking a gentile bride (interesting parallel with the church) and we see Samson walking in faith according to the will of God. “But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” (14:4)

3. DESTROYS THE LION IN THE VINEYARD. (14:5-6)

  • -”Then went Samson down… and came to the vineyards of Timnath...” (14:5) Here is a especially possible testing of his faith and obedience because he was a nazarite. (Given the extreme length of the vow, it is noteworthy that though alone here in a vineyard, he abstains. What an incredible obedience to parents and God and more so a faith in God!) Here is the type: Christ in the wilderness.-”And behold, a young lion roared against him.” (14:5) This is not a cub, but a creature in it’s prime and most fierce state. Here we see the Spirit of the Lord comes ‘mightily’ upon Samson to destroy the beast with his bare hands as though he was a kid. Samson’s faith and guidance from God will take him into some of the most dangerous places and situations that any man has ever come across, yet God was always faithful and his grace was Samson’s strength. As we look at the many times in which the ‘Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson‘, consider if it would be consistent with the rest of the Old Testament for God to do this if at the time Samson was acting contrary to God’s will and in selfish, faithless acts of sin?
  • -Samson’s killing of the lion could be a picture of Satan attacking Christ, “And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent himm as he would have rent a kid.” (14:5) Through Jesus’ victory over Satan, He destroyed Satan and defeated death, thus the sweetness of the Gospel and the resurrection came from, or out of, Satan’s defeat, “And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.” (14:8). This passage also illustrates well that that in the conflict between the Lord and Satan, Satan is no match, but like a small goat against a mighty warrior.
  • -Samson’s faith is shown as he takes on the lion with nothing in his hand, “And he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand.” (14:6). The power of the Spirit of God is displayed as well as the faith of Samson in all his conquests, for not once in his life does he ever use a man-made weapon of war, though he accomplishes the greatest single-handed victories ever had by any man. “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD.” (Zech 4:6)
  • -Only a man of faith, one that knew the source of his strength was from God, and not himself, could have this kind of humility that he told no one of what he did, not even his parents who were but a little ways away. “But he told not his father or his mother what he had done.” (14:6) I think most young men wouldn’t mind letting their dad know they had just ripped a lion apart with their bare hands, but Samson said nothing.

4. THE WEDDING FEAST (14:8-20)

  • -Samson comes to prepare the wedding feast as Christ the bridegroom prepares the wedding feast His mostly gentile bride, the church., “And Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.” (14:10)
  • -Samson comes speaking ‘dark sayings‘ or parables, “I will now put forth a riddle unto you…” (14:12) Similarly, Psalm 78:2 prophesied that the Lord would open his, “mouth in a parable” and utter, “dark sayings of old” as he began his ministry that the Father gave him to do. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt 13:10)
  • -So, after much pressure, Samson reveals the riddle of the honey in the lion to his gentile bride. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him.” (14:17) Just as Christ took aside his disciples and privately shared the meaning of his parables. The honey out of the lion appears to be a picture of the gospel as already mentioned.
  • -Samson’s bride tells the meaning of the riddle to her friends, “And she told the riddle to the children of her people.” (14:17) who in turn receive new garments from Samson. Here the spreading of the gospel is typed, as the church, or bride of Christ shares the truth of Salvation and those that hear it with understanding receive new garments, which always picture salvation.
  • -Samson then leaves his bride in the care of a companion and goes back up to his father’s house until the time of the harvest. “And he went up to his father’s house...”  Here is another amazing parallel to the events of Christ and the church, as the bride was left in the care of Holy Spirit, “But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.” (14:20) While Christ went up to his Father’s house, and will return in what He called the time of the harvest “But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife” (15:1).
  • -Samson shows as an incredible type of Christ here, foreshadowing events in such detail as none others do in the Old Testament concerning the Lords marriage to the gentile church, all the while walking alone amongst those hostile to him as he fulfills the will of God. Has Samson acted in total sin and faithlessness, or does God have him move in peculiar ways for His own purposes?

5. SAMSON STRIKES OUT AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES AS THE GOD-APPOINTED DELIVERER (15:1-8)

  • – In response to the ill treatment he received from his father in law, Samson uses this as an opportunity strike out against the Philistines, as the Lord had purposed back in Chapter 14:4. “And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the PHilistines, though I do them a displeasure.” (15:3)
  • -Samson catches 300 foxes that he ties tail to tail on fire, then sends them out in this dry harvest time to destroy the Philistines crops. This man of faith fears not the consequence of such radical action, for who would be foolish enough not to expect immediate retribution from the oppressing and cruel Philistines once this act was carried out? Who of us would run to the chance to strike out against the churches enemies, in any fashion, with this magnitude as a lone instigator and aggressor? Keep in mind that these actions were in no way a personal vendetta, but rather the obedient response to God’s call on his life from birth to deliver Israel and act as a one man military.
  • -After the Philistines respond by burning his wife and father-in-law, Samson responds with a most amazing statement, that ‘Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.‘ (15:7) Are there many men who compare to Samson when it comes to faith? God had told him that he would begin Israel’s deliverance, and see how this man exercises the most incredible faith and zeal as he continues to pursue his enemies as the public judge of Israel! Not only does he declare another single-handed war is about to commence with the Philistines, but has the faith in God’s power to let them know that after he “smites them hip and thigh with a great slaughter” (15:8), that he will cease his vengeance for the death of his wife! It is surreal, the faith that Samson exercised as Israel’s lone deliverer.

6. ISRAEL’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON. SAMSON’S SAVING OF ISRAEL.

  • -Here is found, in my opinion, one of the strongest acts of faith that Samson put forth of all. When we stop for a moment and consider the incredible grandeur of the type of Christ and the events of Christ’s life that are pictured here, mingled with the atrocious treatment of the Jews against him, it makes one marvel at the enduring faith of Samson, and we can say in agreement with Hebrews 11:38 that of a surety, ‘the world was not worthy of servants such as these‘.
  • -Now we find Samson is resting in the cave of Etam, probably assured that the Philistines would come for him, now that he had slaughtered many of them in an open, lop-sided war. Just as Christ had nowhere to lay his head, we never see Samson in a home, but instead always on the move as the Spirit of God led him. He may have done this even for the safety of the Jews. But as we see, it is not the Philistines that take Samson initially, but his own people.
  • -3,000 men of Judah (the strong tribe symbolized by the lion) approach Samson. Though they are gathered in this great multitude in the presence of their fearless, God-appointed deliverer, yet they come to bind him and hand him over to their enemies. “And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines” (15:12) Even in the presence of one such as Samson who has proved both willing and able to begin their deliverance, they would have nothing of the sort. Yet Samson is unshaken in faith or zeal, though all those around him have abandoned him.
  • -The picture of Christ is incredibly clear and vivid….Joh 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” In removing Samson they promise to not kill Samson themselves, but hand him over to those that will do it with far more malice and cruelty, so was Jesus rejected by his own and handed over to the gentiles to be tortured and crucified. “And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand.” (15:12-13)
  • -So they bind Samson, their kinsmen and God-sent deliverer, and take him to the Philistines. Consider yet again the great faith and meekness seen here in this Judge, for though it would have been as nothing to destroy those that came to bind him, he meekly submits and allows them to carry him away ‘as a lamb to the slaughter‘, without so much as a complaint, or a skirmish. What a picture of Christ in the garden, who’s very words leveled the Roman soldiers to the ground, yet meekly let those that were so much weaker, carry him away to be tortured and killed.
  • -When the Philistines see him they ‘shouted against him‘. Think of what this would do to most men’s spirit: you’ve just been taken by your own people and carried bound to a thousand screaming Philistines who want nothing but your slow, painful death. You’ve no weapon. You’re all alone. You’ve nothing but the God-given mandate to deliver the people that don’t want to be saved. But ‘where the Spirit is there is Liberty‘, and Samson’s cords that bound him fell as though they were burnt flax, for the Spirit of the Lord came ‘mightily upon him‘ . “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.” (15:14) As three thousand from the tribe of Judah watch fearfully or run away, Samson reaches down and picks up a jawbone and with it slays a thousand men single-handedly. “And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.” (15:15) Have we seen a picture like this in the entire Old Testament that speaks so strong that salvation is of the Lord, whose strength and might and fury none can withstand? Who better than Samson shows the wrath that Christ will bring against his enemies?
  • – The fact that Samson was ever once in the very least, aided by a single person or weapon in the carrying out Israel’s deliverance is the greatest foreshadowing of the coming Lion of Judah and of his incomparable faith in God. (The Lord never used a conventional weapon, nor will He at His second coming) He stood completely alone in the midst of his own people. “And Sampson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” (15:16)

7. THE MIDDLE 20 YEARS ARE MISSING

  • -Just like the account of the Lord’s life, there is no record of the prime of Samson’s life, other than that he judged his people, and in both cases it is approximately 20 years.

8. DELILAH’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON

  • -As Samson was betrayed by Delilah for silver, so was Christ betrayed by a supposed friend for silver as well. “And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.” (16:5) It is incredible to see the similarities between Samson and Jesus as they allow one they know to be a deceiver and betrayer such close proximity and fellowship. It is noteworthy that while Samson is scorned for faithlessness and sin, consider the astonishing cruelty that surrounded Samson in every recorded event of his life, by the Philistines as well as his own people. No wonder the account says that Samson’s “soul was vexed unto death” (16:16) as it said the same of Christ in the garden.

9. SAMSON AS HE TYPES THE LORD AND THE CROSS

  • -“And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.” (16:3) Why in the world did Samson do this? For it is considered by many the single greatest act of strength ever carried out by a man. The gates, bar and all, would have been too much for any who has ever lived, and yet he carried them possibly 20 miles through sandy ground to the top of a hill overlooking Hebron. And why is this feat of all feats dropped between vs 2 and 4 for no explained reason?
  • -I believe that this is a picture of Jesus and the cross. The Philistines thought they had Samson trapped in Gaza, ”And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city” (16:2) but rather he comes down at midnight and rips the city gates right off, and carries them to the top of a hill outside the city. This can’t be coincidental, for it is the exact same thing our Lord did with His cross. He put it on His shoulders, and carried it outside the city to the top of a hill. -John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” So it is here, that Samson carries this great door and places it on the top of the hill outside the city. They thought this city of Gaza could contain him. But just as Gaza could not hold Samson, in essence so it is with the Lord. Death and hell could not hold him. He took the cross, or this great gate and carried it to the top of a hill where the great entrance to heaven could be seen. We need to see Christ carrying the cross as mighty Samson carrying the gate. Not week and feeble, but full of strength and power.
  • -The last event is Samson’s greatest moment as a deliverer of his people. As you know, Samson was called by God to be a nazarite for his entire life. He was never to cut his hair. When Delilah betrayed him and his hair was cut, we read that the Spirit of God departed from him for a time. He lost his strength, had his eyes put out, was mocked and abused at the hands of his captors while they made sport of him. Then they brought him out to be a spectacle for all of them to see as they praised their god Dagon for the victory. Can you see Satan at this party laughing and stirring the people against the Lord’s anointed? It was at this time that the Philistines led Samson out in sight of all, and placed him between the two pillars. It was here that Samson asked God to strengthen him one last time. Samson believed in the Lord. It takes more faith to humbly come to God after great defeat, especially that of our own sins, than at any other, but he believed that God was the rewarder of those that diligently seek him, that he was the ‘God of all grace‘, and so he was.
  • -Again, the type of Christ that Samson is here is hard to miss. Without being able to see, Samson is mocked and scorned by the Philistines. “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64)
  • -Christ willingly came to die as a man, he meekly put himself at the mercy of men that hated him. Samson lost his strength because the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him when his hair was cut, when he sinned by going against the separation of purity in the Nazarite vow. “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” (16:20) But the Spirit of God departed from Christ at the cross as he was made sin in our place, where he felt weakness and separation from the Father, after so long being separated unto the Father, so that he could be a high priest that understood the feeling of our infirmities, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
  • -God heard Samson and gave him the strength to overcome his enemies, and as it returned, with outstretched arms, Samson laid down his life, just as Jesus would do at the cross. “And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” (16:30) Consider the words of Jesus in John 10:18 concerning His life “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

And this is why no man could ever be a perfect picture of the Lord, for only he was without sin, only he had life within himself and of himself. But Samson helps us see the coming Deliverer, for with him there is no self pity, complaint or even asking God why he was given this lifelong burden to bear. From the beginning he was separated unto God to be a nazarite, a deliverer of God’s people and a judge over them. Not one complaint, not one instance of shrinking back though always alone in his calling. And here at his death is no exception. Consider his request, ‘God give me strength to finish what you gave me to do’. With head bowed and filled with strength, he feels the pillars with outstretched arms, and though blind without his eyes, I think that of all the men of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, probably Samson, more than any other, was looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.Now…… one last thing that I didn’t mention about the Nazarites and their vows that I found of interest. In Numbers 6, we read that at the end of the time of their vow, when the time of this special separation unto God was complete, they were to do two things; first they were to have their heads shaved. And second, they were to offer up to God a sacrifice. Now, if anyone knew the demands of the Nazarite vow, it would be Samson. Look at the sacrifice that Samson offered up unto God from between the pillars.

  • He was the first Nazarite mentioned in the bible.
  • He was the only lifelong Nazarite ordained by God from before his birth.
  • He was the only Nazarite who offered up himself, as a sacrifice to God, with outstretched arms, to complete his vow and his calling.
  • He was the only one…. , except for Jesus.

C.J.

The Righteousness of Lot

Righteous Lot

A DEFENCE OF LOT

The North American church almost has this masochistic routine of slamming every hero and patriarch in the Bible. We rob the narrative of its teleology, its design and purpose, and subjoin our own personal “moral of the story.” We interpose our own modern conventions into their period of history. We permit our own modern presuppositions to determine the narratives. We quixotically circumvent uncomfortable realities that will collide with our modern piousness. We monitor, censure, diminish, belittle, deviate, and romanticize narratives in the name of Sunday School. We vilify Biblical men to placate the feminists who sing “A mighty Goddess is our Forte”. We turn Abraham into a fearful liar, Samson into a harlot philanderer, Jacob into a manipulator and thief, Rehab into a lying prostitute, Moses into an impatient megalomaniac, Isaac into a cowardly liar, Noah into a drunk, and the one with the biggest rap sheet is Lot. Lot is a pusillanimous caitiff, an incestuous father,  a tardy sluggard, a sybaritic, fleshly, avaricious, and supercilious fiend! In other words, Lot is the worst of the whole lot of Biblical patriarchs.  All of these men have suffered from the hands of lazy pastors, picturesque Sunday School teachers, raging feminists, and legalists. Biblical patriarchs and hero’s have been turned into miserable failures and some villains. We have deprived all of these narratives and men of the victory, valour, and virtue they were intended to inspire in God’s people. We, however, have been watchful of not conceding to such misinterpretation and manipulation, but have actively endeavoured to reclaim the glory of God displayed in their providential lives and acts. Today we endeavour to reclaim and give a defence of Lot.

“And turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them and overthrew them, and made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly, And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.”

2 Peter 2:6-9

WORST OF THE LOT

Perhaps one of the most difficult of accounts in Scripture to reconcile is that of Peter’s approbation of Lot as a just and righteous man. Today Lot is scapegoated as a passive, pusillanimous, licentious, incestuous, blackguard. How is it then, that firstly God should account him as righteous and save him from judgment, and secondly how the Apostle Peter could give laudation to his righteousness? I have come to recognize that we as Christians are often given to building moralistic boxes which dimensions are determined by our cultural perspective as New Covenant, Western Civilization Christian’s, rather than by Scriptural objectivity. This is not to say in the least that Western Civilization is antithetical to Scriptural objectivity, yet only to recognize the clarity and the authority of the latter supersedes the former. I would propose that with close observation of the context and passages of Genesis 19, we are able to come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter did.  All without romanticizing, idealizing, and simulating the life of Lot. After all, if we do not share the selfsame illation from this sufficient, special revelation of Lot in Scripture, it is we, not Peter, who are at fault on both a homiletical and hermeneutic capacity. The approach to be given to Genesis 19 is a humble request of adoration to God. Praying for our right understanding of this passage I would restate the reformers of the 1559 Geneva Bible, “O Gracious God and most merciful Father, which hast vouchsafed us the rich and precious jewel of thy holy word, assist us with thy spirit, that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to thine own Image, to build us up, and edify us into the perfect building of thy Christ, sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

A PRELIM OF LOT

Firstly, we do well to make note of the fact that Lot acted in a significant amount of faith in following his younger uncle, Abraham, to the promise Land. Just as Abraham trusted in God, so Lot had fealty to Abraham and his holy calling. Lot as the patriarch of his father’s estate had significantly increased assets, possessions, family, and servants under his responsibility than Abraham had. Lot endured substantially far more risk in uprooting the whole of his estate than would have Abraham. Together, as brethren, Lot and Abraham traveled across deserts, through mountains, and endured famine and persecution in Egypt.  None of which Lot was obligated toward. From this alone, one cannot doubt Lot’s considerable belief in the promise of God, the calling of Abraham, and his own place in God’s purpose. From this preliminary observation we see that God had just as special a calling for righteous Lot in Sodom as he had for Abraham in Canaan.

UNTO SODOM

An oft repeated critique of Lot was the fact he had chosen before and above Abraham to settle his herds and family in “the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent unto Sodom.”  Lot is accused firstly of a haughty pretence to select his land before Abraham. Contrarily to our modern presuppositions, Abraham was in fact obligated to give to Lot the first selection of the land to be taken, because Lot was the oldest son of Abraham’s eldest brother, Haran. Lot, in those days, thus had the right of succession by which the whole estate of Abraham’s father and Lot’s grandfather, Terah, was passed onto. In addition to receiving the majority of assets and belongings of his grandfather’s estate, Lot would have been responsible for both the assets and family of his father’s estate. In some respects Lot would have been responsible for Abraham himself. Furthermore, Lot is estimated to have been 20-40 years older than Abraham, which would have made him about 114 around the time of their parting. Abraham honoured Lot’s position as the older family patriarch and protector in giving Lot the first choice. The second impeachment against Lot is that the grounds for his choosing Sodom was from an inordinate inclination toward the sinfulness of Sodom. However, the Apostle Peter makes it more than clear that Lot was only vexed “from day to day with their unlawful deeds.” Still and all, when we observe the context of Abraham and Lot’s parting we see the pressing demand of both their ever bountiful estates, Lot’s equitable position to select first and foremost, and his realistic selection of a superior and beneficial property. “So when Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw that all the plain of Jordan was watered everywhere (for before The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah it was as the garden of The Lord like the land of Egypt, as thou goest unto Zoar.)”

ONE AND THE SAME

To establish our observation of Lot having that special fealty and belief as Abraham, Scripture gives a parallel account of Lot receiving the Angels in Chapter 19. The manner of both Abraham and Lot’s reception of these angels registers with us their their active awareness of the presence of God, their amenability to worship the beauty of holiness, their acknowledgment of their servitude, and their amiable hospitality to their lords. Firstly, they were actively aware of God’s presence. Speaking of Abraham, “And he lifted up his eyes, and looked” of Lot, “and Lot saw them.” When the angels and the Lord appeared unto Abraham, he was resting during the afternoon of the day as was customary. However, Lot was sitting at the gate in the evening. Often, it is said that Lot had garnered a position of power and importance in that wicked city, which was signified in him sitting at the gate as was the customary capacity of such officials. However, righteous Lot sat by the gate at evening. After the business of the day was done and everyone had departed, Lot sat at the gates of Sodom at dusk. This is far from ordinary and customary for officials. Why Lot would be far from hearth and home at this late time of day, at the outskirts of the city is largely unknown. Was he expecting the angels, was he their to protect sojourners and strangers entering in at that dangerous hour? This is but speculation. However it does confirm in addition to verse 9, that Lot had not entered into a position of power and affluence in the city as some would indict him of. (Even if Lot was in a position of power, this is still no fault on his part as all Christians should endeavour to actively reform their cities.) Second, is both their amenable response of worship. Speaking of Abraham, “And when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground”, and of Lot, “and rose up to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the ground.” This is a remarkable quality of these two Biblical patriarchs. Holy men who from an acute awareness and familiarity with the presence of God could recognize his holiness at any time and in any place, and furthermore spontaneously react in a fitting manner of worship due to God. God need not have told them they were standing on holy ground, they sensed it from the outset. It is an interesting pattern, as far as I am aware in Scripture, that all God’s prophets and patriarchs and them only, were at some point in life met or preceded before birth by angels or divine revelations that prepared them. Lot is certainly no disruption in this design of God. It could have been very easy for Lot to miss the angels and not immediately recognize their holiness in such an odd place for holy men to be, at such an odd time, and in the darkness of the evening. But righteous Lot had an acute awareness to God’s aseity. The third quality is their acknowledgment of servitude. Speaking of Abraham, “And he said, Lord.” and speaking of Lot, “And he said, See my lords.” Of the two, Lot had received the highest position of authority, yet he too bows before God’s men and addresses them as both his earthly and heavenly lords. It could also be said, that of the two, Lot had a special sense of the presence of God. For he had only the two angels to discern, and not the Lord himself with two angels accompanying as was Abraham’s case. The fourth excellence of these men was their hospitality to God’s men. Speaking of Abraham, “Let a little water, I pray you, be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may comfort your hearts, afterward ye shall go your ways: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”, and of Lot, “I pray you turn in now into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early and go your ways.” Once again however, Lot receives double the difficulty than that of Abraham. Initially, Lot is refused and tested by these men of God, but righteous Lot “pressed upon them earnestly, and they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, if it be fervent.” We may observe the character of both these men. Lot acted just as Abraham did, and even went the extra mile to do so in several instances. The righteousness of Abraham and the righteousness of Lot were one and the same towards God’s angels.

SACRIFICE OF WORSHIP

The sacrifices of Lot for the holiness of God were in no wise symbolic rituals, but very real offerings in very real situations. As one theologian wrote, “It is difficult for us in our normative and regular sphere of life to recognize ourselves with the utter extremity, and extraordinary situation and action of Lot. There is little point of continuity for us to find comprehension and relation.” Lot first has sacrificed his position as patriarch and leader in bowing down to these men as his earthly and heavenly lords. “Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Lot secondly sacrificed his home in bringing them in and readily making for them a feast. “And they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Lot and Abraham both underwent great expense in lavishly catering to their visitors and waiting on them as a servant would have. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have received Angels into their houses unawares.” This was no mere meal, but an oblation, a sacrifice of worship which was received by the angels.

LOT’S SHOES

The third sacrifice of Lot I would argue to be the greatest of all his sacrifices, because it was verily his own life. “But before they went to bed, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom compassed the house round about, from the young even to the old, all the people from all quarters. Who crying unto Lot said to him, Where are the men, which came to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. Then Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him.” Firstly we ought to observe the severity of the situation in which Lot had become enveloped. Verse 8 makes it obvious that all the men of the city, young and old, from every quadrant and quarter, of every age and demographic, were both represented and present in the crime to be perpetrated agains the angels of God. As one commentator wrote, “Truly the city was thoroughly and utterly depraved from wall to wall.” In addition, these depraved men had “compassed the house round about.” There was no way of escape for Lot, his family, or his guests. Furthermore, the offenders openly requested lude acts without shame or denial. There was no possibility of misinterpretation, no avenue of escape, no avoidance of the situation. Far from the common labelling of Lot as a miserable caitiff, Lot went out of his house to confront these men and stare them down in the white of the eye. Such an act could surely have only been realized by Lot at that time as suicidal. Lot did not do as a coward would have done and cower inside, or waver at the door, or question the safety of the deed, or capitulate to their request. Rather Lot, as that same true follower to the calling of God we first saw in this lecture, stepped out in faith as the leader and chalcenterous man he was for his high standard of righteousness. He, without hesitation or deliberation, went out, and “shut the door after him.” For Lot there was no turning back, no acquiescence to their request, no diminishing of his high standard, and all without defence to the violence of his offenders. Lot was willing to face the open rage of men who would give no hesitation to do unspeakable acts, who had no limitation to their moral conscience, who had no shame in their doings. Few men would have done as Lot did and confront their assailants, never mind shut the way of escape behind them. When Lot shut that door he became both a martyr and protector. Lot is the example of a righteous, masculine, patriarchal protector if there ever was one. Scripture is remarkably clear in this account to each seemingly unmindful detail so as to give us an adequate defence of the extreme actions of the extremely righteous man in the face of extreme situations which are completely extraordinary to us in our normative and regular spheres of life. It is a fearful thing to even contemplate walking in Lot’s shoes out the door, facing these violent men, and sealing your only way of escape and their only way of entrance behind you. This is the picture of a mediator such as Christ is.

PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Lot was furthermore a preacher of righteousness under the unction of holiness. “I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.” Lot addressed their actions specifically and forthrightly. Lot refused to romanticize, refused to evade, and refused to waver in the front of their most populous and pressing opinion. Few preachers are willing to walk out the doors of their church, shut the door behind them, and directly face the onslaught of a radically perverse sexual culture to protect the brethren of God inside as Lot would. Lot not only addressed their action as wicked, but furthermore referred to them as brethren. Lot was not in Sodom to partake in the “conversation of the wicked”, he was present to minister to them as a preacher of righteousness. If he had been unrighteous then his oppressors would give no railing against him. Just as Lot was vexed with their unrighteousness so was Sodom vexed with Lot because of his righteousness. “Marvel not my brethren, though this world hate you.” “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” The following passage makes it plain that Sodom hated Lot, “Then they said, Away hence: and they said, He is come alone as a stranger, and shall he judge and rule? We will now deal worse with thee than with them. So they pressed sore upon Lot himself, and came to break the door.” Lot is referred to as a lone stranger just as God’s people are to be a holy people to God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should whew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

GENESIS 19 & JUDGES 19

We have now seen Lot sacrifice to these angels without question or qualification his position, his worship, himself, and now we will see his same willingness to sacrifice his family as Abraham later had. “Behold now, I have two daughters, which have not known man: them will I bring out now unto you, and do them as seemeth you good: only unto these men do nothing: for therefore are they come under the shadow of my roof.”  Never has Christ’s call to leave father and mother, brother and sister for His sake ever been so radically displayed. Before I pass judgment on the means Lot used, I would give us a few considerations of praise toward the defence of his guests. We must comprehend something of the righteousness of his actions in proportion to the holiness of God’s angels under his protection. We have to understand they were worth Lot’s sacrifices and it would have been cowardly and ludicrous for Lot to go to the extent he had for anyone less than the holy angels of God. Moreover, up to the point of sacrificing his family, Lot had sacrificed everything else he possibly could. It was a means of last resort. Summarily, this was a situation of extremity on every site. Extremely wicked men without the door and extremely righteous men within the door and Lot was the mediator between the two where only extreme sacrifices would do. Few men would have even made it as far as Lot has in this passage or executed their duties with such equity. Now then, Scripture is silent in this passage as to judging the events, but does later provide for us judgement in a much similar case from Judges 19. There is a principle in Biblical hermeneutics that states we are to interpret Scripture with Scripture. On this ground, I would argue that the hermeneutical key to Genesis 19 is Judges 19. In Judges 19 & 20 we read of a similar patterned account with uncannily common wording and sequence of events. To brutally summarize, an old man saw a young man and his concubine wayfaring into the city to visit the Ark of God. The old man invited them into his house and when they washed their feet and had a feast the men of the city surrounded the house and smote the door demanding the young man to come out of the house that they might know him. The old man and master of the house went out and refused them, but offered his own virgin daughter and the man’s concubine to them. The men of the city would not hearken to the master of the house and so the young man brought out his concubine to them. She was abused all night and died at the threshold of the house. That excellent prophet, Samuel recounts the following of the event, Judges 19:30, “And all that saw it, said, There was no such thing done or seen since the time of the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt unto this day: consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”. Even the prophet Samuel could only cognize, “Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.” I fear that the church of our day gives sentence without consideration and consultation as that fine prophet commends. After much consideration all of Israel went up against the wicked city that had done the deed and the tribe who protected that city. Three times Israel prayed to God if their judgement was just, and three times the Lord the lord confirmed their judgment. In other words, the judgment was not given against the one who offered the concubine or daughters, but to the abusers of them. The two scenarios are remarkably similar in nature. However, Lot’s is still far more extreme. He was not protecting a couple who were off to visit the Ark of the Covenant, he was protecting angels. He was not surrounded by his own people, but by the most notorious, infamous wretches the Bible has to mention. Never once was Lot or the master of the house passed in judgement. Rather Scripture is clear to state that the judgment was given to the city’s that perpetuated the dipravity. Gibeah in Judges 19 had guaranteed their destruction just as Sodom in Genesis 19 had by that same act. [In addition, some site the controversial fact that prior to Moses in Leviticus 19 there was no prohibition against giving daughters as harlots when every man did what was right in his own eyes.] So, in light of Genesis 19, Judges 19, and Leviticus 19 “Consider the matter, judge and give sentence.” 

EXTRA-ORDINARY

Now am saying that it is hypothetically permissible for us to give our own daughters over to such depravity in our own time and place? Absolutely not. Am I saying that Lot’s righteousness was being tested in his own doing so? Yes. Does this contradict my former statement? No. How so? Because the Apostle Peter states it was done for “our ensamble.” The Apostle Paul too clarified this reasoning for the remarkable accounts of the Old Testament in that they were “For examples, and were written to admonish us upon whom the ends of the world are come.” They are extra-ordinary, super-natural scenarios and ought not to be judged or evaluated as ordinary, natural occurrences. You and I will never entertain angels in our house, in Sodom, and have the most depraved, blackguardly men known to history pressing against the front door. This is extra-ordinary, super-natural so it can be “an ensamble.” They were done not to show the supposed unrighteousness of Lot, but the very real unrighteousness of Sodom, Gomorra, and Gibeah. “And made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly.” For our example God was extraordinary, supernaturally testing the righteousness of Lot  and confirming the depravity of Sodom. It was an example not to show that Lot was wicked but oppositely, “For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation.”

LOT’S FAITH & LOVE

What is interesting to note is that while Lot, the righteous mediator, was confronting the extremely wicked men without the door the extremely righteous men within the door were not standing idly by. Only until Lot had sacrificed everything, his position, his worship, his house, and finally his family did they pulled him in and shut the door. Only after Lot had been tested so that there was no sacrifice he was not willing to make did God’s men act.  They could have acted much sooner and prevented much of the crescendoing extremity, but they did not. God had himself provided Lot with a means of deliverance as He would do for Abraham and Isaac. As one commentator wrote, “It is unbelievable firstly that the angels waited so long in delivering Lot while Lot was trying desperately to deliver them, and secondly how even though the wicked men of Sodom were struck with blindness they still sought the door to the point of exhaustion.” Thus, both the righteousness of Lot and the wickedness of Sodom was then and there proven by God. At that point Sodom had sealed their judgment and Lot’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness just as Abraham’s act of faith was later.

GOD’S MEDIATOR

“And when the morning arose, the Angels hasted Lot, saying, take thy wife and thy two daughters which are here, lest thou be destroyed in the punishment of the city. And as he prolonged the time, the men caught both him and his wife, and his two daughters by the hands (the Lord being merciful unto him) and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” While there are many who accuse Lot of acting tardily toward obeying God’s commands, Scripture contrarily portrays Lot immediately, and unequivocally offering his worship, position, life, and family in defence of God’s righteous standard. There was no place Lot was unwilling to go, no promise he was unable to believe, no service he was unwilling to perform, no sacrifice he was not willing to give, and no saving he was unwilling to do. It is moronic to say that the fact the angels had to physically force Lot outside the city was due to a disbelief, or cowardace, or unrighteous love of the city on his part, when just the night prior the angels had to force Lot inside the house due to his radical faith, profound courage, and righteous standard. Lot was only prolonging his stay in the city in the same sense that he prolonged the restraint of the violent men of the city as both were acts of sacrificial salvation. The former to save angels, the latter to save his family and brethren. “Then Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, Arise, get you out of this place: for the Lord will destroy the city, but he seemed to his sons-in-law, as though he had mocked.” This is the language of a man struck by urgency and belief for the love of his friends and enemies, not of tardiness and doubt from a callous heart. “Greater love than this hath no man, when any man bestoweth his life for his friends.” Never-mind his mocking enemies as Lot was so willing to do. Here again is righteous Lot, the faithful mediator. The Lot of this day was the same Lot as the day before, a mediator between God and men.

HUMBLE REQUEST

“And when they had brought them out, the Angel said, Escape for thy life: look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain: escape into the mountain, lest thou be destroyed. And Lot said unto them, Not so, I pray thee, my Lord. Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life: I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil take me, and I die. See now this city hereby to flee unto, which is a little one: Oh let me escape thither: is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?” Once again Lot’s accusers blindly blame him for entreating the Angels, while just a chapter earlier Abraham took the liberty to entreat God himself. We fail to realize there is no sin in this. Lot did not deliberately disobey their command and flee into the city without permission, nor did Lot even demand this option, rather he simply, and humbly requested it. How can we still be questioning Lot’s perseverance and faith at this point when He has given everything. Such a request is only reasonable for a man who has undergone such trials. May we have mercy as God had mercy on Lot. Only after the Angels rescued him by hindering his martyrdom did Lot take care for his life thereafter that he may be able to take care of his family’s in return. The fact his request was accepted verifies there was no sin in it. “Then he said unto him, Behold, I have received thy request also concerning this thing, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Hast thee, save thee there: for I can do nothing till thou come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun did rise upon the earth, when ot entered into Zoar.” It is almost needless to point out that Lot’s supposed “tardiness” was not a matter of days, but of mere moments. As the sun had only just risen by the time the events listed in verse 15 to 23 had transpired. (Nor could one say Lot would have disobeyed had his request been denied as he eventually took shelter in the mountains as the destruction continued anyways.) As Rushdoony writes, “Before we condemn Lot, let us remember that in like circumstances, few men would do better.”

LOT’S DAUGHTERS’ FAITH

Prior to Moses there was no law against incest. It had obviously been practiced since Adam and his descendants. Abraham himself married his half-sister. As Rushdoony clarifies, “When God through Moses forbad incest and required the death penalty for most instances of it, it was, first, a radical break with accepted worlwide practice, and second, established a roadblock to genetic damage which was to appear only many centuries later, as inbreeding began to become more prone to concentrate defective genes.” It is quite clear that Lot’s daughters viewed their action as good as the names given to the offspring indicate pride in their deed. Moab means “From my father,” and Ben-ammi, “Son of my kinsman.” However, it is clear that Lot would not have approved of the deed, hence the necessity of his unwitting inebriation. The fact Lot “perceived it not” indicates they drugged him unawares. The very fact of its happening could only be motivated out of a feeling to save the human race from extinction and Lot’s family line. In the face of the unprecedented destruction they had fled first to the Zoar, then to the mountains as the destruction continued, and then to a cave as the destruction did not cease. “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, And overthrew those cities and that grew upon the earth.” The scope of the destruction would have relatively appeared to Lot and his daughters as astronomical. Even Abraham, a full two days walking distance from the cities could witness its destruction. “And looking toward Sodom and Gamorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, behold, he saw the smoke of the land mounting up as the smoke of a furnace.” Thus Lot’s daughters are not depraved, but are however defective in their desperate deeds. Rushdoony adds, “Something more must be said about Lot’s daughters. They left Sodom with their father, and chose not to return with their mother.” Their city abandoned them, their betrothed husbands abandoned them, even their mother abandoned them, but the daughters followed Lot. However they too still failed by making their father drunk and fornicating, although it is humanly understandable. “Depraved” writes Rushdoony, “they were not; sinners, they were. They were not unbelievers, and in a critical situation, they had acted on faith, but their faith was a defective one.”

CONCLUSION

“And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.” Having dispelled the misapplications of the text, the misappropriations of the situation, and the misunderstanding of the times, maybe we can now view Lot as “a righteous soul from day to day.” Even through the days explained in Genesis 19. Lot was courageous in defending the angels of God. Lot was righteous in worshiping God. Lot was humble in serving God’s men. Lot was missional in being a preacher of righteousness to Sodom. Lot was faithful in believing the purpose of God. Lot was a leader to the end, brought down by everyone about him. His city, his in-laws, his wife, and even his daughters. May we stand here in some sense of awe and encouragement from this Biblical patriarch. No one to this time has done or seen any such thing as Lot had righteously persevered through in just a few days.

“Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”

The Peacemaker: Cromwell Prt. 3

A Peacemaker

Cromwell lived in a time while the European continent trembled with horrendous conflicts against the powerhouse of Popery. Oliver and his generation witnessed more wars, divisions, tumults, and rebellions than any other single generation in history up to the Great Wars. King Charles the 1st, son of King James the 1st, was the second of the Stuart Kings and was introducing popery and the blood-soaked persecution of thousands of England’s protestants with the aid of the Catholic Irish. Attempting to rid himself of resistance the King had silenced Parliament for over eleven years which historian refer to as the “Eleven Years of Tyranny.” During such times the protestants were placed in pillories, indebted with unbearable fines, publicly whipped, bodily disassembled, branded, and executed. Whereupon the Scottish Covenanters took up arms and marched against the King. English parliament had reassembled and formed their own Independent Model Army and began therewith to disassemble the engines of tyranny. Our Huntingdonshire yeoman now forty-two years old and father of six, Oliver Cromwell, was among those in the House of Commons to take leave of their peaceful country life and undertake commanding positions in the Parliamentary militia against the King. It was this man as D-Aubigne records was, “To become one of the greatest statesmen of modern times.” This was the first modern war we see in post-medivial history, a war for religious, political, and social freedom. Contrary to the European model of nominating men of nobility and estate as officers, Cromwell elected men of poor and lowly parentage but men who were nonetheless godly and precious. It was not the French Jacobites or Russian Marxists who pioneered such revolution, but the English Calvinist, Oliver Cromwell. Of his men Cromwell stated, “I will raise men who will have the fear of God before their eyes, and who will bring some conscience to what they do; and I promise you they shall not be beaten”, and indeed the “Old Ironside’s” cavalry was never beaten. After four gruesome years of war in 1646 the King surrendered to the Scottish Covenanters. Three divisive years later after the King had contrived his own demise he was beheaded by the English Parliament. Ireland retaliated with the sanguinary slaughter of 50,000 to 200,000 protestants and puritans. As Carlyle wrote, “Oliver descended on Ireland like the hammer of Thor; smote it, as at one felt stroke, into dust and ruin, never to reunite against him more.” Oliver forged with his hammer of Thor, a peace and prosperity in Ireland which has never been witnessed since. And thus, in the space of a few decades God called his servant Cromwell from his family life in the country, to being a representative in the House of Commons, to a leader of the Model Army, to the saviour and protector of puritan England against the tyranny of popery and the maker of peace among divided sects and nations. Cromwell reproduced that same peace of his own soul in England, Ireland, and soon Scotland and the rest of Europe. Though it seem at first a paradox or irony, Cromwell was of all men in Church history, a peacemaker.

Here and Here Only

But what is peace and did Cromwell bring about true peace or was he no more of a power hungry tyrant than King Charles l who preceded him? What peace are both Cromwell and even we to make in our own day? Peace is simply a social state of existence characterized by individual uniformity in thought, word, and deed to a particular belief of that which is true, good, beautiful, and eternal. Peace is not just some abstract philosophy or political term, it is a special state of existence. You either exist in peace or outside of it. Additionally, peace is a state of uniform existence between two or more parties. On a personal level, this peace is a harmony between a plurality of thoughts or emotions, on a social level, this peace is an unity between individuals, groups, and associations, on an ecological level this peace is an order between man made in the image of God, and God’s “ex-nihlo” made creation. Peace doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it presupposes two or more parties living in unison. Thus peace is not just a state, but a social state of existence where each member of this society unites all their faculties with each other individual member of that society in a particular order of belief. Naturally, this is the point where the peace is broken, and this is where it was divided in Cromwell’s day. What was England, Ireland, and Scotland to believe to be true, good, beautiful, and eternal and how were they to exercise their faculties thereto? Was the King to be true and Catholicism good? Or was Cromwell’s puritanism true and religious freedom good? What the persecution of heretics under the Popery of King Charles a beautiful thing? Or was the prosperity of a new Ireland under freedom beautiful? Was the doctrines of man in Catholicism eternal? Or was God’s Word in Scripture eternal? Here once again Cromwell’s cry to Ireland for God’s peace of religious freedom, “As for the people, what thoughts they have in matters of religion in their own breasts I cannot reach; But shall think it my duty, if they walk honestly and peaceably, not to cause them in the least to suffer the same. And shall endeavour to walk patiently and in love towards them, to see if at any time it shall please God to give them another or a better mind. And all men under the power of England, within this dominion, are hereby required and enjoined strictly and religiously to do the same.” In our day and in our modern Canadian culture peace would be described to us as a society that uniformly believes that humanism is true, socialist equality is good, individual expression is beautiful, and the only thing eternal is the previous three beliefs. Thus “peace” for the humanist society is “made” through statist means of restricting all forms of individual “Force” which would change the social peace, diminishing all forms of “Privilege”  which would uproot social equality, censoring all forms of “discrimination and intolerance” which would say that not every form of individual expression is beautiful, and silencing any claim that there is an eternal “Prince of Peace.” We see such acts of “peacemaking” daily in our nation alone. Cromwell believed as a Christian that God desired a much different and far better state of uniform social existence for England, Ireland, and Scotland than the tyranny of the Kind and the popery of Catholicism. I hold with Cromwell that Paul stated this state of peace clearly in Colossians 1:16, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Thus for the Christian, peace, true peace, is a state of existence where I, as an individual, am right with God. What God says to be true, I believe to be true. What God says to be good, I believe to be good. What God says to be beautiful, I believe to be beautiful. What God says to be eternal, I believe to be eternal. And in all these things I unite the totality of my faculties in worship and observance. I only have true peace when I am right with God, and my society only has true peace when it is right with God. Outside of God, there is no peace. Furthermore, this peace with God is achieved through the work of the cross of Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the means to reconcile all things whether on earth or in heaven as holy, unblameable, and unreprovable in the sight of God. This makes God, the ultimate peacemaker. All of God’s acts in redemptive history were toward making final, lasting peace between Himself and mankind. When God made man in his image it was make peace between himself and man. When God destroyed the world in the flood, it was to save Noah and his family and all their descendants through the water. When God crushed his own Son on the cross, it was to make peace between Himself and me. Outside of God, and outside of the cross, there is no peace. Isaiah 57:20-21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” This is why total peace will only be realized in heaven, where each soul present, “Shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Herein, and therein only is perfect peace and it was this state of peace Cromwell made and wrote of in the following to his son. “This commends the love of God: it’s Christ dying for men without strength, for men whilst sinners, whilst enemies. And shall we seek the root of our comforts within us, What god hath done, what He is to us in Christ, this is the root of our comfort: in this is stability; in us is weakness. Acts of obedience are not perfect, and therefore yield not perfect Grace. Faith, as an act, yields it not; but only as it carries us into Him, who is our perfect rest and peace; in whom we are accounted of, and received by, the Father – even as Christ Himself! This is our high calling. Rest here, and here only.”

Pax Queritur Bello

So what does it mean to be a peacemaker like the Apostle Paul and Cromwell? If being a peacemaker is an indicative of being a child of God then how do I show myself to be that selfsame child of God? Jesus answers this question further on in his Sermon on the Mount in the context of verse 45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” In other words, want to be a child of your Father in heaven? Want to be a peacemaker? Want to be a Cromwellian? Want o be an Ironside? Make and take the practical initiatives for peace where there is a lack or absence of peace between you and another. Love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. Hear in Cromwell’s own words, how he loved his enemies in Scotland after Charles’ death, “We made great professions of love; knowing we were to deal with many who were godly, and who pretended to be stumbled at our invasion: indeed our bowels were pierced again and again; the Lord helped us to sweet words, and in sincerity to mean them. We were rejected again and again; yet still we begged to be believed that we loved them as our own souls; they often returned evil for good…” We will see each of these specific steps of Biblical peacemaking carefully observed by Cromwell as he sought to make peace with his brethren in Scotland. As D’Aubigne wrote, “Peace and the blessing of peace were all that he ever sought in war: he now wished to impart them to his people.” Later in England, on Cromwell’s medals and coins was engraved the following “Pax Queritur Bello” “On earth Peace!”

Peace or Truth?

The paradox facing the peacemaker every day as it faced Cromwell is the dilemma of could it be the peacemaker’s fault when the division is caused by their taking a stand? Was Cromwell as a peacemaker wrongly disturbing the peace when he united and defended an antithetical belief to the King, or claimed the King’s belief to be antithetical itself? Must Cromwell stand for peace or for truth? At what point should Cromwell brake the peace and come to the defence of truth? And what means should Cromwell use to brake the peace? Again we go back to the definition. Many Christians hold a humanistic definition of peace, a view of peace which, as stated earlier, holds all use of force or acts of violence as wrong or ineffectual. A view which holds peace as superior to truth. A view which sacrifices truth on the alter of peace. Such a view is antithetical to Biblical thought. These Christian’s infected with such humanism may quote Romans 12:19-20, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” These verses are true and beautiful, but they neglect the provisions and instructions which come both before and after this instruction. Verse 18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” And verse 21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” If this is not enough, you can point these humanists to Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Paul would have obviously not recognized the place for breaking the peace if he only averred that the Corinth church should have compromised the truth in order to prevent the division at all cost. In these instances, the Apostle Paul here acknowledges the eternal value of peace, as written in verses nineteen and twenty, but also recognized the earthly dilemma and gave the Christian a means of escape and grace in the provisional eighteenth verse and the clarifying twenty-first verse. So, how long and in what circumstances may the Christian live in peace? “As much as possible.” Under what circumstances may the Christian make out God’s peace on earth? When about to be “Overcome with evil.” The hegemony of all arguments in this case is Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Furthermore we read in James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable…” As John Piper wrote on the subject of peacemaking, “You must love peace and work for peace. you must pray for your enemies, and do good to them, and greet them, and long for the barriers between you to be overcome. But you must never abandon your allegiance to me and my word, no matter how much animosity it brings down on your head. You are not guilty; you are not in the wrong if your life of obedience and your message of love and truth elicit hostility from some and affirmation from others. Perhaps its just this warning that Jesus wants to sound when the next beatitude says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. In other words righteousness must not compromise in order to make peace with your persecutors. When Jesus pronounces a blessing on you for being persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he clearly subordinates the goal of peace to the goal of righteousness.”

Scotland

Now again we turn to our great peacemaker Cromwell and his division with Scotland. Although it was the Scottish Covenanters who had initiated the noblest movement of that time in objection to the Tyranny of the Stuarts and of Rome, it was also the Covenanters who would now retract their stance upon the King’s execution and put themselves in opposition to Cromwell and the Commonwealth by having Charles the Second instituted as King over them. Therewith, they gave invitation to the prince to take welcome in Scotland and possession of his kingdom. Prince Charles was like his French Mother Henrietta in his Catholic convictions and like his beheaded father with regards to his duplicity. Cromwell saw in this instantaneously the peril Scotland was inviting upon not only themselves, but all of England. On June 26th, 1650 Cromwell, having been appointed commander-in-cheif of all armies of the Commonwealth, set out for Scotland immediately. Naturally, Cromwell’s feelings towards his fellow Scottish Covenanter’s was different than the feeling he had when fighting the Irish. For Cromwell felt as though he was moving against his brethren and was determined to restore Scotland to herself. And it is in this war we can witness the special steps Cromwell took towards peacemaking with his brethren.

Battle of Dunbar

This can be observed in Cromwell’s letter to the Scots Army, “We return you this answer; by which I hope, in the Lord, it will appear that we continue the same we have professed ourselves to the Honest People in Scotland, wishing to them as to our own souls; it being no part of our business to hinder any of them from worshipping God in that way they are satisfied in their consciences by the Word of God they ought, though different from us. But that under the pretence of the Covenant, mistaken, and wrested from the most native intent and equity thereof, a King should be taken in by you, to be imposed upon us.” Nonetheless, the Scots marched against the English army. It would have seemed to any witness that this was the first and only battle to which Cromwell was to lose as he quickly took full retreat of the Scots, but this only to seize a more favourable position in the field. He thereupon attacked them victorious and took 10,000 prisoners in the battle of Dunbar on September the 3rd. Once again, Cromwell, a true child of God, acted as a peacemaker towards his enemies. After the battle of Dunbar he distributed food among his defeated enemies and attended presbyterian services in their own churches where the ministers did not hesitate to pray for Charles the King and call Cromwell a usurper in his own presence. Nonetheless Cromwell did not retaliate by returning evil for good, but only sought reconciliation. During the entire war against Scotland, Cromwell assured his enemies of their minister’s and pastor’s freedom to walk freely through the land to preach in their respective churches, without in any manner being disquieted. “No man hath been troubled in England” said Cromwell to the Scots, “nor Ireland for preaching the Gospel; nor has any minister been molested in Scotland since the coming of the army hither. The speaking truth becomes the ministers of Christ. When ministers pretend to a glorious Reformation, and lay the foundations thereof in getting to themselves worldly power, they may not know that the Sion promised will not be built with such untempered mortar.” Such was the general’s cordial and humble disposition towards his enemies. We shall now recount a brief letter as always that Cromwell wrote to his family after his battles, and this to his wife. “My Dearest, I have not leisure to write much. But I could chide thee that in many of thy letters thou writes to me, that I should not be unmindful of thee and thy little ones. Truly, if I love you not too well, I think I err not on the other hand much. Thou art dearer to me than any creature, let that suffice…. The Lord has shoed us an exceeding mercy; who can tell how it is! My weak faith hath been upheld. I have been in my inward man marvellously supported; though I assure thee, I grow an old man, ands feel infirmities of age marvellously stealing upon me. Would my corruptions did as fast decrease! Pray on my behalf in the latter respect…. I rest thine, Oliver Cromwell.”

Edinburgh

With his triumph at Dunbar, Cromwell marched to Edinburgh and on the 12th of December the Scottish army who had taken refuge in a castle, surrendered as Cromwell threatened to blow out the foundations. In Cromwell’s letters and speech we observe him making distinction between the two parties he found in Scotland. The first he referred to as “Milignants” these were such men as were friends of Charles Stuart, and on the other, the godly people of that beautiful nation, the true Presbyterians. Dr. Morecraft observed, “Throughout the period of Cromwell’s domination there prevailed a degree of civil peace before what had ever before been experienced. There were more souls converted to Christ than in any season of the Reformation. Thus the result of Cromwell’s campaign both in Ireland and in Scotland was the peace and prosperity of these two countries. There are few wars in all of history which have reproduced such beneficial consequences.” This extraordinary effort was not without consequence on Cromwell’s health. The anxiety and utter labor had fallen him dangerously ill while in Edinburgh. During this time Cromwell, that man of incomparable calibre, wrote the following, “Indeed, my Lord, your service needs not me; I am a poor creature; and have been a dry bone: and am still an unprofitable servant to my master and you. I thought I should have died of this fit of sickness; but the Lord seemeth to dispose otherwise. But truly, my Lord, I desire not to live, unless I may obtain mercy from the Lord to approve my heart and life to Him in more faithfulness and thankfulness, and to those I serve in more profitableness and all diligence. And I pray God, your Lordship, and all in public trust, may approve all those unparalleled experiences of the Lord’s wonderful workings in your sight, with singleness of heart to His glory, and the refreshment of his people.”

Lord Protector

As soon as Ireland and Scotland’s peace was made and secured by Cromwell, he then turned his attentions to the peace and prosperity of England. The Long Parliament itself had been infected with the same pride as their now dead King had been. It grew increasingly unpopular in the nation, and was attacked by every party. From all sides it was called to dissolve itself. Monday the 12th of December 1653, it was moved by the House that the sitting of that parliament was no longer beneficial for the commonwealth, and it should be delivered up to the Lord General Cromwell. This motion wa received with wonderful unity from all parties, the Royalists and Episcopalians, Soldiers and Lawyers. All now turned to Cromwell as the sole means of safety for England. Cromwell received the title of “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” Furthermore, all the courts of Europe, recognized and praised their neighbouring nation’s new governor. On September the 4th 1654 Cromwell gave a three hour address at Westminster Abbey. “Gentlemen,” said Cromwell, “You are met here on the greatest occasion that, I believe, Engalnd ever saw; having upon your shoulders the interest of three great nations; and truly, I believe I may say it without any hyperbole, the interests of all the Christian people in the world.” Truly, Cromwell was the peacemaker for puritains throughout the world. Morecraft observed, “Cromwell’s advancement of protestantism throughout Europe assigned to England its position as protestant Queen of the world.” Cromwell produced England’s first and only constitution entitled, “The Instrument of Government.” This preeminent document would present to history the first separation and limitation of powers, local government representation, a system of checks and balances, and a guarantee of liberty of conscience. Cromwell exhibited the same love for protestant churches across the channel as he did to those within. He came to the defence of the Waldesians, Huguenots, Swiss, and German protestants. Morecraft wrote in praise of Cromwell, “It is seldom that a great man is a Christian, but Cromwell was both. The result has been that many of the men of the world has scouted him as a hypocrite. What most distinguishes Cromwell above all great men and especially above all great statesmen is the predominance in him not only in his person but also in his government of a solemnly reformed theology, worldview, and way of life. He thought that the political and national ravens of Great Britain could not have been established in a firm and lasting manner unless the pure and unmixed Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the people and unless a truly Christian life flowed though the veins of the whole nation.” On September 3, 1658 Cromwell died. We shall let our peacemaker’s own last words conclude this lecture. “Lord, though I am miserable and wretched creature I have been covenanted with you through grace and I may and I will come to thee for thy people. Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a mean instrument to do them some good and thee service. And many of them have set too high a value upon me. Though others wish and would be glad of my death. Lord, however thou dispose of me continue and go on to do good for them. Pardon thy foolish people, forgive their sins and do not forsake them, but love and bless them. Give them consistency of judgment, one heart, mutual love, and go on to deliver them and the work of reformation and make the name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look to much on thy instruments to depend more upon thyself. Pardon such as who desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm for they are thy people too. And pardon the folly of this short prayer and give me rest for Jesus Christ sake to whom thee and thy Holy Spirit be all honor and glory now and forever. Amen.”

Soldier of God the Just: Cromwell Prt. 2

Ironsides

On August 22nd 1642 at 6 p.m. King Charles summoned his royalist subjects to arms and raised the royal standard at Nottingham. The wind that evening wrenched the royal standard from its pole and hauled it down to the ground the very night it had been erected. This being ostensibly prophetic of King Charles’ includible fall from power. Meanwhile the Earl of Essex was assembling the parliamentary army, in which Cromwell was appointed a captain. A brief time later in October the battle of Edgehill was fought. While it was an indeterminate confrontation for the two armies it was indubitably distressing to the London citizens. It was in this first battle that Oliver too suffered considerable loss in the death of his eldest son. It wasn’t until 1644 that the decisive moment eventuated in favour of the Parliamentary army in the siege of York and the battle of Marston Moor, defended by the Marquis of Newcastle and Prince Rupert. Parliament roundly beat the King’s army, particularly with the aid of Oliver’s calvary upon whom the term “Ironsides” was given. The enemy lost over a hundred flags which were triumphantly shredded by their conquerors. Of this battle Cromwell reported, “God made them as stubble to our swords.” In this battle the King had lost all the north of England and the Queen escaped to France. The battle was costly though, even for Oliver’s “Godly, Precious Men.” Oliver penned the following to the father of one of his fallen Ironsides, “You know my own trials this way; but the Lord supported me in this, That the Lord took him into the happiness we all pant for and live for. There is your precious child full of glory, never to know sin or sorrow any more. He was a gallant young man, exceedingly gracious. God give you His comfort. Before his death he was so full of comfort, that to Frank Russel and myself he could not express it, ‘It was so great above his pain.’ This he said to us. Indeed it was admirable. A little after he said, one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him, What that was. He told me it was, That God had not suffered him to be any more the executioner of His enemies… Truly he was exceedingly beloved in the Army, of all that knew him. But few knew him; for he was a precious young man, fit for God. You have cause to bless the Lord. He is a glorious Saint in Heaven. Wherein you ought exceedingly to rejoice. Let this drink up your sorrow; seeing these are not feigned words to comfort you, but the thing is so real and undoubted as truth. You may do all things by the strength of Christ. Seek that, and you shall easily bear your trial.” Milton best describes such men who composed Cromwell’s army, “He raised an army as numerous and well-equipped as was ever before done with so short a period; lessoned to the most perfect obedience, high in the affections of its fellow-citizens, and not more formidable to its enemies in the field than admirable for its behaviour to them out of it; having so forborne all injury to their persons or properties, in comparison wight he violence, intemperance, profaneness, and debauchery of their own royalists, as to make them exult in the change, and hail in them a host not of fiends but of friends: a protection to the good, a terror to the bad, and an encouragement to every species of piety and virtue.”

The Sword

Due to schisms within the Parliamentary army which I shall address later, Parliament gave an ordinance in 1645 that excluded all members of Parliament from commanding positions in the model army. However, General Fairfax stayed Cromwell as captain of the Ironsides and did not dispense with him. Thus onward Oliver continued, dashing at the head of his Puritans and driving the Cavaliers who fled before him. In the battle of Naseby on the 14th of June the King lost not merely a desperate battle but with it all his private cabinet of papers and letters. These were sent to London and examined by Parliament who therewith published them under the title, “The King’s Cabinet Opened.” From the irrefutable attestations that the King was repeatedly requesting the aid of foreign princes, Charles was ruined in the minds of the English people. As D’Aubigne wrote, “There is a justice in heaven which permits neither kings nor the humblest of their subjects to live by falsehood and to make a mockery of oaths. By his deception and perjury, Charles had forfeited the respect of many who were desirous to maintain the dignity of the throne, and from this period no hope remained.” With the previous victories attained Oliver wrote the following of his army, “God hath put the sword in the Parliament’s hands – for the terror of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well. If any plead exemption from that – he knows not the Gospel. If any would wring that out of your hands, or steal it from you, under what pretence soever, I hope that they shall do it without effect. That God may maintain it in your hands, and direct you in the use thereof, its the prayer of your humble servant.” On April 27, 1646 the King surrendered to the Scots army at Newark. This would be appreciably required year of joy and peace to Cromwell as a respite to the protracted demise he had witnessed of his nation and personally suffered hitherto. An outstanding officer of the Parliamentary army and long friend of Cromwell, Ireton, married his daughter Bridget. After their marriage Cromwell penned to his daughter the following, “Dear Heart, press on; let not thy Husband, let not anything cool thy affections after Christ. I hope that he (they husband) will be an occasion to inflame them. That which is best worthy of love in thy Husband is that of the image of Christ he bears. Look on that, and love it best, and all the rest for that. I pray for thee and for him; do so for me.” At the end of 1646 Parliament offered 400,000 pounds to the Scots on condition of their returning into their own country and took custody of the King where Cromwell’s grievances were to begin anew.

Irregular Times

The Presbyterian Parliament and the Independents of the model army had all been unified in bringing down the despotic control of King Charles, but once this was accomplished divisions broke out with regards to what was to be done with the captured King and the nation itself. Many of the Presbyterians were royalists who wanted either King Charles or his son reinstated on the throne and furthermore for the model army to be disbanded. Cromwell and some principal officers of the army wanted an aristocratic republic, that is to say, a society ruled by virtuous, selected men of standing. Cromwell recognized that the reintroduction of the Stuart Monarchy would revive the bloody persecution and so he resisted the absolute democracy of the Diggers, the Levellers, and the royalists of Scotland. Yet as Morecraft recounts, “Royalist insurrections blazed on every side. London rioted. A cry of ‘God save the King’ arose, and the long affinity between the Stuarts in the theatre, the poets, and the ballad singers began to make itself felt. Meanwhile the Presbyterians made common calls with the arminians against the independents and the new model army.” King Charles meanwhile anticipated that this discord between the Presbyterian Parliament and the Independent model army would be the undoing of both parties to his success. On June 10th 1647 Cromwell, his son-in-law Ireton, General Fairfax, and other principal officers put to parliament an army-manifesto of religious liberty. D’Aubigne describes it thus, “The Independents consented that the Presbyterian religion should be the religion of the nation; thus, granting to the latter body a superiority over their own party. But they claimed for all Christians the full enjoyment of civil and religious rights.” The civil war against King Charles was a modern war for freedom and Cromwell did not loose sight of this. For herein was the army’s great charter and they would not lay down their arms and disband until they had realized what they shed their precious, limited blood for in the first place. “Only we could wish that every good citizen and man who walks peaceably in a blameless conversation, and is beneficial to the Commonwealth, might have liberty and encouragement; this being according to the true policy of all states, and even to justice itself.”  wrote the officers. Cromwell was instrumental in composing this document and even one in opposition to him wrote of him in these equitable terms, “I have looked upon you, as among the powerful ones in England, as a man with a heart perfectly pure, perfectly free from all personal views.” Parliament in the predicament between its numerous Presbyterian members on the one hand and the Independents in the other was pushed by the City of London to dismissing all officers of the army and giving the posts to men devoted to the Presbyterian cause. Thus the King could not be trusted, nor the Presbyterian parliament, nor the other royalist and religious sects. Unless Cromwell with the Independents interfered, Charles’ Catholicism and popery would resume and the oppression begin anew. D’Abigne writes, “What would now be down by those men who, after prodigies of valour, long labours, great sacrifices and astonishing victories, in which the intervention of Providence had been manifested to them, had arrested the progress of despotism, secured liberty of conscience, and rescued Protestantism and England? They saw that, unless they interfered, Charles, popery, and tyranny, would resume superiority; that good men would deb oppressed, they themselves beheaded, their brethren compelled to flee by thousands, if they could, into the wilds of America, and the Protestant would-be church crushed. One alternative offered itself to them. Must they abandon what they have done, and let things take their course? Or must they interfere irregularly in those irregular times and once more rescue England and the Church?”

Refuse a Garter, Confer a Crown

As D’Aubigne wrote, “It was this monarch’s destiny to be the contriver of his own ruin.” King Charles was being interviewed by Parliament and officers of the Independent army. Oliver and his son-in-law had frequent interviews with the King which were of some equanimity and profit. Even Cromwell’s wife and daughters were presented to the King and received with significant adulation and complements from the King himself. However, one day Cromwell was informed that a letter to the French Catholic Queen would be dispatched for France. This letter, he also learned, was to be hidden in a saddle and forwarded to France from the Blue Boar tavern that evening. Cromwell and his son-in-law acted upon the informant and left disguised as private solders. Upon reaching the Blue Boar tavern they took seat and watched attentively at the door. When the messenger appeared they forthwith confiscated the saddle and discovered the letter. In a private room they read together the following, “My time is come at last. I am now the man whose favour they court. I incline rather to treat with the Scotch than with the English army. For the rest, I alone understand my position; be quite easy as to the concessions I may grant; when the time comes, I shall know very well how to treat these rogues, and instead of a silken garter, I will fit them with a hempen halter.” King Charles detected that he had been found out and on November 11th he escaped his palace and made a desperate flight for France. Charles would have succeeded, but for poor timing in his ship to cross the ocean. Later it was it was uncovered that it was Oliver who had both informed the King of his predicament and had assisted in his escape. D’Aubigne gives an account of Oliver’s reasoning for this surprising series of events, “Convinced that everything was finished between the King and England, and wishing to avoid the bloody catastrophe that was approaching, he… made every effort to favour Charles’ flight and his retreat to France.” With the King back in custody, the House of Commons presented the King with four propositions. Commissioners were accordingly sent to the King, who received them amiably with the impression of being favourable to the propositions. Yet again though, Charles’ plan was to put himself at the head of the Catholic Irish and march against England. For what was to come to Charles and the nation, it would have indeed been better for his escape to have been met with success. D’Aubigne writes, “The letter enclosed in the saddle was a divorce between his people and the unhappy monarch, who by refusing a garter, conferred a crown.”

Throat of the Nation

On January 3rd of 1648 the following motion was adopted by the Commons, “Mr. Speaker, the King is a man of great sense, of great talents, but so full of dissimulation, so false, that there is no possibility of trusting him. While he is protesting his love for peace, he is treating underhand with the Scottish Commissioners to plunge the nation into another war. It is now expected the Parliament should govern and defend the kingdom.” Naturally the royalist parties threatened uproar, the Presbyterian parties increasingly voiced discontent, and other sects furthered the terror and confusion. Among this chaos and unprecedented predicament “The longest heads and strongest hearts in England” belonging to the army leaders met at Windsor for three days in prayer to seek guidance from God. One participant in these three days of prayer wrote the following, “We were also helped, with fear and trembling, to rejoice in the Lord, who no sooner brought us to His feet but He did direct our steps, and we were led to a clear agreement amongst ourselves, that it was the duty of our day, with the forces we had, to go out and fight against our potent enemies, with an humble confidence in the name of the Lord only. And we were also enabled then, after serious seeking the Lord’s face, to come to a very clear and joint resolution, that it was our duty to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for that blood he had shed, and mischief he had done to his utmost against the Lord’s cause and people in these poor nations.”  This was not done without confrontation. The Presbyterians and loyalists in London, Wales, and Kent formed in great numbers to the King’s defence and on the 8th of July this royalist army from Scotland crossed the border. They had hardly crossed when of a sudden this army received word that Cromwell was rapidly approaching. With unprecedented speed Cromwell had traversed England with his army and met the Royalists head on and fiercely  vanquished them, dashed upon them, routed them thoroughly, pursued them in their retreat, and compelled them to surrender. In a fortnight’s campaign, Cromwell had swept away the whole northern army. Cromwell marched triumphant into Scotland, where he was joined by the Presbyterians who praised his cause and religious freedom. D’Aubigne remarks, “The liberties and Protestantism of England were on the verge of shipwreck, when Cromwell intervened; and all his life he upheld in Great Britain religious liberty and the national prosperity.” Many, including Thomas Roosevelt, report that Cromwell’s actions were either a grave neglect of the law or without reference to it. Roosevelt wrote, “Cromwell’s extreme admirers treat his impatience of the delays and shortcomings of ordinary constitutional and legal proceedings as a sign of his greatness. It was just the reverse. In great crises it may be necessary to overturn constitutions and disregard statutes, just as it may be necessary to establish a vigilance committee, or take refuge in lynch law. But such a remedy is always dangerous, even when absolutely necessary and the moment it become the habit or usual remedy, it is a proof that society is going backward. Of this retrogression the deeds of the strong man who sets himself above the law may be partly the cause and the consequence but they are always the signs of decay.” In his own defence Cromwell would say to Roosevelt and his own objecting contemporaries, “The throat of the nation may be cut, while we send for some to make a law.”

Farewell Sovereignty

When Cromwell returned from Scotland the House of Commons determined to bring the King to trial on a charge of high treason, as the cause of all the blood which had been shed during the war. To this Oliver was hesitant, “Sir, if any man whatsoever have carried on this design (of disposing the King, and disinheriting his posterity), or if any man have still such a design, he must be the greatest traitor and rebel in the world. But since the Providence of God hath cast this upon us, I cannot but submit to Providence, though I am not yet prepared to give you my advice.” The matter of the King’s trial put Cromwell at considerable unease. Despite Cromwell’s hesitation and the protests of Presbyterians, Scotland, and foreign dignitaries, Parliament erected a High Court of Justice for trying the King. On July 20th 1649 Charles was brought before the court as pale as death. It would have indeed been far better had Charles’ escape to France been accomplished. If this had been so, the subsequent wars against Ireland and Scotland, the divisions in parliament and the church, and the execution of the King would have been unrealized. Cromwell and his friends once again devoted themselves to prayer. During this moment, Cromwell determined that Charles’ death alone would save England. On January 27, 1649 Charles was condemned to death with this sentence, “There is a contract and bond made between the King and his people and your oath is taken and certainly sir the bond is reciprocal. For as you are the Lord, they are your lead subjects, the bond of protection is due from the sovereign. The other is the bond of subjection which is due from the subject. Sir, if this bond is ever broken, farewell sovereignty.” On January 30, 1648 Charles was beheaded.

Respite

Once again Cromwell received from the Lord that much needed respite from his troubles. That same dreadful year of the King’s execution, Cromwell’s son, Richard, had just been married. Cromwell wrote the following letter to his knew daughter in law. “I desire you both to make it above all things your business to seek the Lord;  to be frequently calling upon Him, that He would manifest Himself to you in His Son; and be listening what return He makes to you, for He will be speaking in your ear and in your heart, if you attend thereunto. I desire you to provoke your Husband likewise thereunto. As for the pleasures of this Life, and outward Business, let that be upon the bye. Be above all things, by Faith in Christ; and then you shall have the true use and comfort of them, and not otherwise.” D’Aubigne observes, “It is delightful to read Cromwell’s letters to his children. What wisdom, what tender affection in that we have just selected. What truth in these words! What indications of a soul that has descended into the depths of a Christian life! And how striking a contrast between the gentle amiability of the postscript and the iron front and stern eye that we have observed in him at other times.”  President Roosevelt observed the following of Cromwell’s letters. “The religion element entered into everything Cromwell did, mixing curiously with his hard common-sense and practical appreciation of worldly benefits. It appears in all his letters and speeches… It is saturated not merely with Biblical phraseology, but with Biblical feeling, all the glory being ascribed to God, and the army claiming as their sole honour that God had vouchsafed to use them in his service, and that by faith and prayer they had obtained the favour of the most high. It is impossible for a fair-minded and earnest man to read Cromwell’s letters and reports after action, and the prayers he made and the psalms he chose to read and to give out before action, and to doubt the intensity of the man’s religious fervour. In our day such utterances would be hypocritical.”

Soldier of God the Just

Upon Charles’ execution the Irish Roman Catholics had unleashed themselves into rebellion and massacred 50,000 to 200,000 protestants. One historian records, “On all sides the Protestants of Ireland were attacked unawares, ejected from their houses, hunted down, slaughtered, exposed to all the perils, all the tortures that religious and patriotic hatred could invent… A half-savage people, passionately attached to its barbarism… eager to avenge in a day ages of outrage and misery, with a proud joy committed excesses which struck their ancient masters with horror and dismay.” D’Aubigne records how their houses were burnt, they were driven naked into the midst of winter. Some for shame of their nudity and relief from the cold took shelter under hey in a barn only to which the rebels set fire and burned all within alive. With others they marched at the point of the pike, toppled by the hundreds into the sea, plunged into the cold waters with the butts of muskets or fired upon should they resurface. Husbands were disassembled in the sight of their wives. Women were abused in the sight of their children. Children were hung in the eyes of their parents. The Irish went so far as to teach and involve their own children in stripping and killing the children of the English. Numbers were buried alive while others received the quick mercy of having their throats cut. Needless to say this struck Cromwell to the heart. “That kingdom” said Cromwell, “is reduced to so great straits that I am willing to engage my own person in this expedition, because of the difficulties which appear in it; and more out of hope, with the hazard of my life, to give some obstruction tot he successes which the rebels are at present exalted with. And all that I desire is, that no more time be lost in the preparations which are to be made for so great a work.” Cromwell, the “Old Ironside”, departed at the head of 12,000 of his gallant Ironsides. Before embarking they all participated in a solemn day of fasting and prayer. Thomas Carlyle masterfully described Cromwell’s march into Ireland, “Oliver descended on Ireland like the hammer of Thor; smote it, as at one fell stroke, into dust and ruin, never to reunite against him more.” Cromwell wrote of this expedition, “I am persuaded that this is a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood; and that it will tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future. Which are the satisfactory grounds to such actions, which otherwise cannot but remorse and regret… It was set upon some of our hearts, that a great thing should be done, not by power or might, but by the Spirit of God… It was this Spirit who gave your men courage, and took it away again; and gave the enemy courage, and took it away again; and gave your men courage again, and therewith this happy success. And therefore it is good that God alone have all the glory.” One of Cromwell’s biographers wrote, “Oliver Cromwell did believe in God’s judgments; and did not believe in the rose-water plan of surgery, in philanthropic sentimentalism… He arrives in Ireland an armed soldier, solemnly conscious to himself that he is the soldier of God the Just; and armed soldier, terrible as death, relentless as doom; doing God’s judgments on the enemies of God!” With the exception of two towns, Dublin and Londonderry, the whole of Ireland had united as a terrible force against Cromwell, yet still notwithstanding Oliver’s victory was colossal. Public order and security revived. Ireland for a little over two years experience peace, ease and industry to such an extend as has never been witnessed again in that unhappy land. Not only was Oliver a peerless opponent with the sword,  but he also laboured with the pen and wrote his Declaration in response to the popish hierarchy of Ireland which had drawn up its on manifesto in 1649. Cromwell’s Declaration is one of the most remarkable documents history has ever given us from a soldier. In this document Cromwell refutes the Catholic separation of the Clergy and Laity and presents Luther’s doctrine of the royal priesthood of all believers. “‘Laity and Clergy.’ It was your pride that begat this expression. And it is for filthily lucre’s sake that you keep it up; that by making the people believe that they are not so holy as yourselves, they might, for their penny, purchase some sanctity from you… All Christians belong to the spiritual estate, and that there is no other difference between them than in the functions they discharge.” Later in his Declaration Cromwell emphasizes his life long goal of religious freedom, As for the people, what thoughts they have in matters of religion in their own breasts I cannot reach; but shall think it my duty, if they walk honestly and peaceably, not to cause them in the least to suffer for the same. And shall endeavour to walk patiently and in love towards them, to see if at any time ti shall please God to give them another or a better mind. And all men under the power of England, within this dominion, are hereby required and enjoined strictly and religiously to do the same.” In all of this Oliver maintained a spiritual devotion to the Lord which he was sure to pass on to his family even from afar of in Ireland. Oliver wrote the following letter to his son Richard after his victory in Ireland, “Seek the Lord and His face continually: let this be the business of your life and strength; and let all things be subservient and in order to this! you cannot find nor behold the face of God but in Christ; therefore labor to know God in Christ; which the Scripture makes to be the sum of all, even Life Eternal because the true knowledge is not literal or speculative; no, but inward, transforming the mind to it.” Cromwell returned to London in the month of May of 1650 and was received by Parliament and the people, “As a soldier who had gained more laurels, and done more wonders in nine months, than any age or history could parallel.”

Conclusion

Once again we have witnessed the remarkable account of God’s providence in the life of Oliver Cromwell. He was the protector of the puritan movement in England from the tyranny of a despotic King and the persecution of his cohorts. Cromwell strove earnestly to bring harmony between the Presbyterian parliament and the Independents of the New Model Army. He sought diligently to attend to the suffering of his neighbour citizens and to make life easier for those who suffered tangible wrong. As Roosevelt documented, “He advocated entire religious freedom. In dealing with the army he declared his readiness to maintain the doctrine that the foundation and the supremacy is in the people, radically in them, and to be set down by them in their representatives in Parliament.” We will close with the words of Cromwell written to General Fairfax of the Model Army. “I pray God teach this nation and those that are over us… what the mind of God may be in all this, and what our duty is. Surely it is not that the poor, godly people of this kingdom should still be made the object of wrath and anger, nor that our God would have our necks under a yoke of bondage. For these things that have lately come to pass have been the wonderful works of God, breaking the rod of the oppressor.”

The Protector: Cromwell Prt. 1

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud

Not of war only, but distractions rude,

Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,

To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough’d,

And on the neck of crowned fortune proud

Hast rear’d God’s trophies, and his work pursued.

The Early Years

The following is the opening of a poem from that great poet John Milton of the seventeenth century on his friend and contemporary, Oliver Cromwell. Today I would like to give a brief and simplistic sketch of this great man’s life and work. Joseph Morecraft stated that he personally believed Cromwell was one of the three greatest Christians since Apostolic times. The other two being Augustine and Calvin. Theodore Roosevelt in his 1906 biography on Cromwell stated that he was the greatest Englishman of the seventeenth century. In his peerless biography, Merle D’Aubigne praised Cromwell as the greatest Christian since Martin Luther and John Calvin. However, today Cromwell is little known, never mind acknowledged for changing the Western world as we now know it. It was April 25, 1599, the Geneva Bible, first study-Bible was printed in the common tongue, hit the press, it was the latter years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and Shakespeare was still alive. Upon this day in the lands round Huntingdon, the wife of Robert Cromwell bore him a son with a glorious destiny. He was named Oliver. Oliver at the age of sixteen studied for a time at the university of Cambridge just fifteen miles from his mansion home in Huntingdon. In June of 1617 at only eighteen he lost his father and his grandfather. As the eldest surviving patriarch, Oliver returned home to care for his mother and six sisters. After a time he proceeded to London to gain some knowledge of law. At 21 years of age, Oliver was married as Saint Giles’s CHurch, Cripplegate to Elizabeth Bourchier. Immediately, he returned home with his newlywed to the mansion of his fathers in Huntingdon. For about 10 years Oliver lived in seclusion and simplicity, passing the time with his flocks, family, and social duties. During such time Oliver came under the conviction of his sin and misery. Oliver agitated under the uttering groans of his wounded spirit into desperate melancholy. A melancholy so fierce he would often send for the local physician in the deep hours of the night supposing himself to be near death. At some length Oliver came out of this dark time with such an unspeakable joy and deliverance as we would name his conversion. Cromwell now zealously attended to the puritan brethren and practice. J.I. Paker denied puritanism as a spiritual movement, “Passionatly concerned with God and godliness. It was essentially a movement for church reform and pastor renewal and evangelism and spiritual revival and indeed in addition, in special zeal for God’s honor, it was a worldview.” Milton wrote of Cromwell’s private life, “He had grown up in peace and privacy at home, silently cherishing in his heart a confidence in God, and a magnanimity well adapted for the solemn times that were approaching. Although of ripe years, he and not yet stepped forward into public life, and nothing so much distinguished him from all around as the cultivation of a pure religion, and the integrity of his life.”

Solemn Times Approaching

Indeed there were solemn times that were approaching as Milton stated. D’Aubigne wrote of these times with the following, “The fearful commotions and sanguinary conflicts which shook the British isles in the middle of the seventeenth century, were in the main a direct struggle against Popery.” Morecraft recounts that there were more wars, divisions, and rebellions in Oliver’s generation alone, than any other single generation in history had ever witnessed. Otto Scott of this time period wrote that Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Farel, Charles the 5th, Henry the 8th, Francis the 1st, and several popes had contended for the heart, soul, and mind of Europe. With such contending there came ineffable persecution. Thirty thousand protestants in Spain had been put to death, tens of thousands of French Huguenots were being slaughtered by their Roman Catholic monarchy, Netherlands was in a civil war under the dominance of their King, Bloody Mary’s husband, Phillip the 2nd of Spain. The Muslims had also invaded Easter Europe and for the very first time the medieval age vanished with the press printing in the English tongue rather than in Latin.  With the death of Queen Elizabeth, King James the 1st of Scotland was made King James the 1st of England. King James was the first of 4 steward Kings. Most known for his printing of the King Hames Version, James was a less than pious man known in his time as a tyrant and a homosexual. King James held to the divine right of kings and persecuted the reformers who denied such anthropocentric doctrines. Contrary to the common expression of the law of England, even when prerogative was at the highest, “The King ought not to be subject to man, but to God, and to the law; for the law maketh the king. Let the king therefore render to the law, why the law has invested in him with regard to others; dominion, and power: for he is not truly king, where will and pleasure rules and not the law” said Henry de Bracton. King James died in agony and his throne was held by his son Charles the 1st, who while of far superior character continued the aggression agains the liberty of protestant England. Charles the 1st both during his life and afterward was found and confirmed for his duplicitous, dubious, dubiety. He kept a close circle of his fathers councillors, no treaty or royal prerogative could bind him, and he maintained a bigoted religious obstinance. Rather than laxing the persecution which puritans such as Oliver so long endured, Charles furthered their sufferings under the Arch Bishop of Cantibury, William Laud, and behaved towards this excellent body of men with increasing severity. In addition to this maelstrom King Charles gave England a papist Queen, Henrietta of France. in their marriage contract, written under the supervision of the Pope, there were several clauses leaning toward the Romish faith. While this was less than quietly fomenting in the King’s house and courts, Oliver was attending to his life of Puritanism and prayer with his family and neighbours. D’Aubigne said of Cromwell that he “Lived and died in prayer.” Those who closely witnessed Cromwell’s life retold of his daily reading of Scripture followed by his prostration on the ground with tears as he poured out himself to God. If there was ever a moving and convincing evidence of his godliness and character it would be the multitude of letters to his children in which he exhorts them to godliness and holiness.

His First Words

On the 29th of January 1628 a new Parliament gathered, in which, on the 17th of March, Cromwell took his seat as member for his home land of Huntingdon. It was on the 11th of February, Oliver rose for the first time to speak against eh reestablishment of Catholicism in England. The subject of his first speech would be the ruling principle of Oliver’s life, that Christ was the King of England, not man. Only when England confesses and puts into practice that great truth will she be free and blessed by God. An eye witness recorded Cromwell’s first speech in the house. “All eyes were turned upon him, and the House listened to him with attention. he wore a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by a bad country tailor; his linen was not of the purest white; his ruffles were old-fashioned; his hat was without a band; his sword stuck close to his side; his countenance was swollen and reddish; his voice sharp and untunable: but his delivery was warm and animated; his frame, although exceeding the middle height, strong and well-proportioned; he had a manly air, a bright and sparkling eye, and stern look.” At a later date as in the House as Oliver was proceeding with a delivery, one Lord inquired to another of the name of the Huntingdon speaker, to which he received, “That sloven whom you see before you hath no ornament in his speech; that sloven, I say, if we should ever come to a breach with the King, (which God forbid!) in such a case, I say, that sloven will be the greatest man in England.” Indeed the battle against the re-establishment of Popery was the object of the seventeenth century, and the subject of Cromwell’s first words, and the main objective of Oliver’s momentous life. The King had called them together to vote for the passage of certain taxes, which in return they bluntly refused and furthermore outlawed. Along with outlawing the King’s levy of certain taxes and declaring those who should levy or even pay such taxes with a guilty count of high treason, they went on that day to outlaw Arminian innovations to the doctrine of the Church, and the outlawing of Roman Catholic rituals and submission to the Pope. Upon news of this, the King ordered the house to dissolve and he didn’t call Parliament together again for 11 years, these were known as the 11 years of tyranny.

11 Years of Tyranny

Charles was attempting to rid himself of the Parliamentary body and govern his kingdom by associating further with the Romish nations of France and Spain. Charles’ Archbishop of Canterbury, restored many of the practices of Popery. The middle class of England was in alarm. With the introduction of Catholicism into England persecution followed in its wake. Adversaries of the Archbishop had their ears cut off, imprisoned for life, or heavily fined. D’Aubigne records of a Dr. Leighton, one of the Arhcbishop’s targets, who was condemned to pay a incalculable fine, to be set in the pillory at Westminster, publicly whipped, to lose his ears, have his nostrils slit, and his cheeks branded with S.S. “Sower of Sedition” – a sentence that was executed upon Dr. Leighton in all its severity. Another, Dr. Bastwick, climbed the scaffold to his mutilation and comforted his affrighted watching wife with, “Farewell my dearest, be of good comfort: I am nothing dismayed.” D’Aubigne continues Dr Bastwick’s account, “On descending form the scaffol she drew from his ear the sponge soaked with blood, and holding, it up to the people, exclaimed: “Blessed be my God, who hath counted me worthy, and of his mighty power hath enabled me to suffer anything for his sake; and as I have no lost some of my blood, so I am ready and willing to spill every drop that is in my veins in this cause, for which I now have suffered; which is, for maintaining the truth of God, and the honour of my king against popish usurpations. Let God be glorified, and let the king live forever.” D’Aubigne gives another account of a Mr. Burton, a puritan divine who was placed under the pillory and asked if it was not too uneasy for his neck and shoulders to which he answered, “How can Christ’s yoke be uneasy? He bears the heavier end of it, and I the lighter; and if mine were too heavy, He would bear that too. Christ is a good Master, and worth the suffering for! And if the world did but know His goodness, and had tasted of His sweetness, all would come and be His servants.” Such were the acts of Charles’ unflinching tyranny that brought to Oliver horror and anguish.

The Beginning

Charles had also sought to abolish Presbyterianism  in Scotland, and the wickedness of the King in Scotland had risen to such heights that they marched their armies against him. Charles was forced to call again upon Parliament for war funds on the 11th of April, 1640, all to the unspeakable joy of the English people. The puritan parliament proceeded unfalteringly to prosecute the authors of the persecutions in the nation. The Archbishop was executed, Charles’ co-conspirator of the Irish army, Thomas Wentworth the Earl of Strafford, was also executed following his exclamation, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, for in them there is no salvation” when he was told the king had given assent to the bill of his execution. On the 1st of November 1641, parliament received news that an Irish army had been commissioned by the king and were ravaging the country with desolation. By December 7th parliament had organized a militia, the Roundheads, officers of which were nominated by Parliament. D’Aubigne records, “The names Cavaliers and Roundheads now first began to distinguish the two parties: the latter deriving their title from the shortness of their hair, which was cut close about their ears.” With the execution of its tyranny inflictors and the erection of an army to protect itself agains the king and his conspiracies “The engines of tyranny” were being dismantled as Morecraft remarked, and the preservation of liberty and protestantism in England was being advanced. On January the third 1642, Charles began the attack by charging five of the leaders of the House of Commons with treason and marching upon parliament with four hundred armed soldiers to arrest them. Parliament fought word and the leaders escaped the clasp of Charles’ murderous hand. Upon later learning that the people, the Parliamentary militia, and even the Thames watermen were going to bring back the five members to Westminster in an act of triumph he retorted, “What! Do these water-rats, too, forsake me!” Most all of the population of London had lost their affection for Charles due to his acts, of which acts Charles only intended to increase and multiply, but only to his ultimate undoing of merely London’s affections, but the hole Nation’s loyalty. Charles was a direct contradiction from Lord Blackstone’s definition of the King’s part, “To govern according to law: to execute judgment in mercy: and to maintain the established religion.” This was the beginning of the civil war, the revolution. the commencement of the struggle between the Parliament and the King.

The Huntingdonshire Yeoman

Oliver was now forty-two years old and the father of six children: Oliver, Richard, Henry, Bridget, Elizabeth, and Mary. To give a lengthy quote from D’Aubigne, “He was living quietly, like many other good citizens and loyal subjects, who, as well as he, had never once thought of the profession of arms. But new times called for new measures. every day these men, who felt the truest affection for their country, were disturbed in their homes at London, or in their more tranquil rural retreats, by reports of the massacre of the Protestants in Ireland, of the King’s connivance at it, of his insincerity and falsehood, of his projects, of the punishments already inflicted on many of their brethren, of the acknowledged Popery of the Queen, of the semi-Romanism of the King, of the persecutions in Scotland, the daily banishment of the best Christians in the kingdom, and by other signs and events no less alarming. When everything seemed to announce that the Protestants of England would ere long be either trampled down by Popery of massacred by the sword, these serious men arose, and called upon the King, through the Commons, not to deceive the expectations of his subjects. But when they found the prince, deaf to their prayers, raising troops to overawe the Parliament, and already victorious in several encounters, they resolved in a spirit of devotedness, to save with God’s assistance their country and their faith, by withdrawing form their families and exposing their live in arms. Oliver now exchanged his parliamentary career for another that had become more necessary. The Huntingdonshire yeoman, who had given the Commons some proofs of his eloquence, was about to astonish the army still more by his courage and genius. The fervent orator was not to show himself a great general, and to become one of the greatest statesmen of modern times.”

A Fault that Saved the Country

On the seventh of February Oliver gave three hundred pounds toward the militia, raised two companies of volunteers from Cambridge, and with them joined the parliamentary army with his two sons, Richard, twenty, and Henry, Sixteen. Cromwell refused to align himself with the hypocritical stance of Parliament who while waging war against the King, pretended to at the same time of fight in defence of the King in accordance to historic principle. The rebellion agains the King was a historic president of astronomical proportions. It was the thinking of the time that “The law therefore ascribes the king, in his high political character, not only large powers and emoluments which form his prerogative and revenue, but likewise certain attributes of a great and transcendent nature; by which the people are led to consider him in the light of a superior being, and to pay him that awful respect, which may enable him with grater ease to carry on the business of government.” The King was ascribed by law, sovereignty, imperial dignity, the supreme head of the realm in matters both civil and ecclesiastical, and of consequence inferior to no man upon earth, dependent on no man, accountable to no man. Lord Blackstone himself wrote, “That by law the person of the king is sacred, even though the measures pursued in his reign be completely tyrannical and arbitrary: for no jurisdiction upon earth has power to try him in a criminal way; much less to condemn him to punishment.” Never before had any one party of England declared war but the King, never before had the King been tried as a criminal, never before had a King been executed by His parliament. From a small perusal of English law, one will notice without trouble, the absolute impossibility of the situation parliament was faced with. These are the reasons why Oliver could not in good conscience say he was in theory of the law fighting for the King when in reality he was fighting against the King. “Soldiers” said Cromwell, “I will not deceive you, not make you believe, as my commission has it, that you are going to fight for the King and Parliament. If the king were in front of me, I would as soon shoot him as another; if your conscience will not allow you to do as much go and serve elsewhere.” As D’Aubigne said in defence of Cromwell and Parliament, “The time had now come when good and evil. salvation and peril, were so obscurely confounded and intermixed, that the firmest minds, incapable of disentangling them, had become mere instruments in the hand of Providence, who alternately chastises kings by their people, and people by their kings. But why should we endeavor to blacken the character of those whom God has employed in His work? It is improper in this instance, more than on other occasions, to entertain respect for hose minds which remain sincere, even when they are misguided, and are doing what they believe to be right, and to be the will of the King of Kings?” Theodore Roosevelt advised his readers in his biography of Cromwell, “We must ever keep in mind the essentially modern character of the movement if we are to appreciate its true inwardness, its true significance. Fundamentally, it was the first struggle for religious, political, and social freedom, as we now understand the terms. As was inevitable in such first struggle, there remained even among the forces of reform much of what properly belonged to previous generations. In addition to the modern side there was a medieval side too. Just so far as this medieval element obtained, the movement failed. All that there was of good and of permanence in it was due to the new elements.” D’Aubigne continued “In studying the life of Cromwell, the reader will undoubtedly have frequent reason to bear in mind the saying of the holy Scripture, In many things we offend all. He interfered violently in public affairs, and disturbed the constitutional order off the state. This was his fault, a fault that saved the country.”

Godly, Precious Men

In order to protect the protestant reformation, Puritanism, and freedom of religion from the tyranny of the King, Cromwell gathered thousands of godly men and created the new model army of independents. Contrary to the European model of nominating officers of nobility and men of estate, Cromwell elected such as were poor and of low parentage, only, as Morecraft stated, “He would give them the title of godly, precious men. That was revolutionary and it was to change the world. It was not introduced by the French Jacobites or by Russian Marxists but by an English Calvinist. It was Cromwell who saw value in tradesman, artisans, farmers, and even labourers.” Cromwell said to another leader of the parliamentary army, “Your troops are most of the old decaying serving men, and tapsters, and such kind of fellows; and theirs are gentlemen’s sons, younger sons, and persons of quality. But I will remedy that. I will raise men who will have the fear of God before their eyes, and who will bring some conscience to what they do; and I promise you they shall not be beaten.” With this design Cromwell went through England summoning young freeholders, with common piety, to take up arms in the name of God. Fourteen squadrons of zealous puritans were soon raised. D’Aubigne wrote, “It was this new element that decided the destinies of war and of England.” Cromwell maintained the strictest discipline in the army. His men considered victory a sure prize and quite in fact, never lost a single battle. Chateaubrand said of Cromwell’s men, “There was a certain invincibility in his genius, like the new ideas of which he was at the champion.” In the very rage of battle, Cromwell would lead his men up to a few paces of the enemy, and never permuted a shot to be fired from among them unless termination of the enemy was sure to take effect. John Milton wrote of Cromwell in battle, “From his through exercise in the art of self-knowledge, he had either exterminated or subjugated his domestic foes, his idle hopes, his fears, and his desires. Having thus learnt to engage, and subdue, and triumph over himself, he took the field agains his outward enemies, a soldier practised in all the discipline of war.” Cromwell’s own religious and moral values expressed themselves in his army. Cromwell was surrounded by men animated by the same faith in God, who passed unoccupied hours in psalm singing, prayer, and the preaching of the Scriptures.  Cromwell’s men wanted to form what they termed, “A gathered church,” and the officers looked about for a fitting pastor, and to the honor their Christian character selected the great puritan, Richard Baxter as Chaplin of Cromwell’s army of godly, precious men.

Here we will conclude our first part of the sketch of Oliver Cromwell. From this account we have seen a godly young puritan, sound in the faith and in Christian practice, live quietly and peaceably as a family patriarch and as a servant to his country in the House of Parliament. But when the dark and unsettling clouds of tyranny began to fester over the freedom of the English people in the form of Catholic persecution of the protestants and servitude to a tyrannical king godly men such as Cromwell rose up to the defence of God’s glory. Cromwell, among and above others, was not only a exceptional teacher of the protestant, reformed faith, but an extraordinary defender of it. Cromwell lived his life as a faithful son, godly husband, and Christlike father, exemplary of the puritan worldview of the supremacy of Christ over all things. He governed his home with equity, and his army with justice. “Cromwell’s life was dedicated to the realization of his dream” says Morecaft, “Of a Christian constitutional republic in England in the place of tyranny of the Stuart Monarchs.” In our next lecture we will follow up with Cromwell as victor over the King, preserver of unity in a nation of discord, and advancer of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. As Thomas Carlyle said of him, “The last glimpse of the Godlike vanishing from this England.”

To Put in Order

Q. What are the decrees of God?

A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby , for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

I could not surmise a better topic for a new years sermon than on the decrees of God. To give the Christian confidence in the new year and appreciation for the one that is past. It is a good thing for the Christian to acknowledge that he or she is loved of God before the year begins, even before the very foundation of the world. For assurance that God’s goodness will be with them yet another year. With confidence to proceed knowing God is the pilot of their future. Acknowledging that if God has appointed storms to come, He will be there with them that they fail not. For the Christian to confess that length of days does not profit  them, except if they are passed in the presence and service of God. Christian receiving grace and God’s Spirit to follow His will through each new moment by moment of the year. To embark into the unknown waters of this 2014 with God as their haven, the Son at the helm, and the Spirit filling the sails. Today’s lecture has also concerned itself as a doctrine which has been historically central to the debate of the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. One’s answer to this question will allow the determination of their acceptance for the sovereignty of God, the goodness of God, the reality of sin and evil, and ultimately the purpose of God. This doctrine has been and continues to be attacked by its Palagean and neo-arminian adversaries who deny, limit, or diminish to some degree the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human affairs. As Dr. Lorraine Boettner wrote, “The question which faces us then, is, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass? If so, what evidence do we have to that effect, and how is the fact consisted with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?” This is a question which we at Grace Haven, are well acquainted with. We must remember that how we view the nature of God will define how we answer this question. There is a reason why we have already covered the doctrine of the purpose of man, the nature of God, and the existence of the Trinity. Because after reviewing what we have learned of God, can we rightly ask if the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead is capable of delaying or limiting His decrees and still be consistent with His nature?It would be easy to assume that God only makes decrees as a response to an issue which is already present if one’s view of God was not much different than that of a rational human. But from what we have learned in the past lectures we know that God existed in eternity past, that no circumstance can change his actions or his mind, and that He is infinitely wise and powerful. We may only safely and rightly conclude that such a being is incapable of delaying, diminishing, or limiting His  eternal existence of over all things, His knowledge of all things and His power over every thing. This catechism question is not so much become a doctrinal question as it has become a doctrinal battle in our day and age within Church history. Not a battle over who is right and who is wrong, nor a battle of doctrinal confession, not a battle of theological creeds, nor a battle of who is a so-and-so and who is a such-and-such. Such differences are merely used as a distraction from the central conflict. The culminating doctrinal battle is over who God is and who man is. Thus I repeat Dr. Boettner’s profound statement. “The question which faces us then, is, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass? If so, what evidence do we have to that effect, and how is the fact consistent with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?”

THE DECREES OF GOD

Dr. Grudem simply defined a decree as “A word of God that causes something to happen.” The most forceful portrait of this in Scripture is Isaiah 46:8-11, “Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God , and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Withal, God’s decrees are His plans, orders, and purposes for His creation. From this singular passage we may rightly determine the inception of God’s decrees being from eternity past. “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient time the things that are not yet done.” This assures us that God does not decree in a fashion which is just but an abrupt response to a current pressing issue, such as we humans make decisions. Rather, prior from the end, prior from the things that are not yet done God had ordained the events. Ordain, foreordain, predestine are all terms which in their simplest form mean to put in order. When we say that God has ordained or foreordained whatsoever comes to pass we are plainly saying that God has put everything in order before it even comes together. To illustrate I will use my favourite game, speed scrabble. In this game one takes several letter pieces at random puts them in order and then plays them together to form a word. The major deficiency in this illustration is the fact that God, unlike me, is not contained to using only a few, randomly selected pieces to make meaning of them. Rather, God, decrees the pieces into existence, decrees them into order, and decrees them into play. An asset that would be unbeatable if endowed upon any mortal.

HIS ETERNAL PURPOSE

As stated previously, God’s decrees are eternal. In simplest terms, God puts events in order before He even created them. As such God’s decrees are eternal, they are not emergency reactions. God’s decrees are unchangeable, they are not responses to changing conditions. God’s decrees are eternal because He is eternal. Can an eternal God make momentary plans? God’s decrees are unchangeable because He is unchangeable. Can God make an exit strategy? As one can easily perceive, what we believe about God will determine our answer to this question. Nothing, in God changes. Not his thoughts, not His plans, not His will, not His actions. God does not condition His decrees in response to the changes of man. Rather, all human changes are in harmony with and derived from the decrees of God. Stated in an earlier lecture, change is a limitation of finite humanity. Naturally, God is free from limitations. In this respect, a more pertinent question than human freedom is God’s freedom. God’s decrees are free. Free from limitation, free from change, free from time,  free from influence outside Himself, free from causes, free from conditions, and free from control. Summarily, God’s decrees are absolutely, purely unconditional and independent of any influences or causes outside His being.  While said, this does not imply that the decrees of God are free from any obligation to be consistent with His character, rather His character determines the content of His decrees.

COUNSEL OF HIS WILL

Morecraft concisely wrote, “Wisdom in human beings consists in deep insight into the true nature of things and the skill to apply that insight practically and correctly.” From this wisdom, we as human sons of God and brothers of Christ are to formulate our decisions. But the wisdom which God exercises in His decrees is far different and superior to ours. Morecract continued, “In God, wisdom is His knowledge and power working together to foreordain everything to happen in such a way that would bring Him the most glory and His people the most benefit.” Here we realize that God utilizes His infinite power with His infinite knowledge to know all the events He will create, to put them in order, and then to go about creating them. So again, God’s decrees are infinitely wise because God is infinitely wise. Can God make a ineffective plan? God’s decrees are infinitely powerful because He is infinitely powerful. Can God make a resistible plan? Note that both God’s wisdom and His power act united in His decrees, for a god having one without the other is a cripple. With wisdom God can put all things in order, but without power His wisdom is unachievable. With power God can enforce and create, yet without wisdom His power is misguided. By “Counsel” the catechism implies a prudent inner-consultation within the Persons of the Godhead. Therefore, the decrees of God are the product of the united wisdom of the Godhead. Dr. Boettner made an accurate observation when he wrote, “It is unthinkable that a God of infinite wisdom and power would create a world without a definite plan for that world. And because God is thus infinite, His plan must extend to every detail of the world’s existence. If we could see the world in all its relations, past, present, and future, we would see that it is following a predetermined course with exact precision.” Consider but for a moment the opposite reality with A.J. Gordon. “A universe without decrees would be as irrational and appalling as would be an express train driving on in the darkness without headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next moment it might not plunge into the abyss.”

FOR HIS OWN GLORY

Clive Staple L. otherwise known as C.S. Lewis wrote the following, “To be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God… God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.” It is perpetually asked why God does what He does. Alternatively, why does God make decrees? Pasalm 135:6 provides the answer. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” To comprehend some true notion of why God decrees we must first know why He does not Decree. God does not decree because He is under the constraint of an outside force. God does not decree out of a need for self-fulfillment. God does not even decree because it makes him happy. Rather, God decrees because He is happy. This striking observation was given to me by John Piper who wrote the following, “God is and always has been an exuberantly happy God. Thus God is not constrained by any inner deficiency or unhappiness to do anything he does not want to do. If God were unhappy, if he were in some way deficient, then he might indeed be constrained from outside in some way to do what he does not want to do, in order to make up his deficiency and finally to be happy. This is what distinguishes us from God.” With each and every decree of God he acts as Piper states, “of the overflow of the joy of his boundless self-sufficiency.” Therefore all the decrees of God are for his own glory, all the decrees of God are both for and from his own joy and pleasure. Any attack brought upon, divisive question raised, or doubt fostered on the decrees of God is therefor an attack on His glory, joy, and happiness. God cannot be restrained, questioned, or doubted from decreeing what he delights to do and what he does is from His infinite passion to express his abundance of delight. Again we realize this amazing concept from Pasalm 135:6 “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”

(As a side note, recently I have been wondering whether or not God is an introvert or an extrovert. It initially appeared to me that God would be a strong introvert providing His existence perfectly alone in eternity past. Then I considered His creation of the world, with its billions of people and considered the possibility of His extroversion. Similarly, I have pondered the same for Jesus as a human. I often see him going far away by himself, even refusing his disciples to join him and entertain the notion of him being a strong introvert. But then I see him mixing with extensively large crowds for prolonged periods of time and question if he was an introvert. Yet after considering how God does all things out of His self-sufficiency I have determined that God and Jesus were neither introverts nor extroverts. Why? Because introverts and extroverts are who they are out of need. Introverts have the need to be alone to build energy, focus, and mental stability. Extroverts need to be with others to similarly build energy, emotion, and health. Neither God nor Jesus had either need. Because in every state, in any condition, under any circumstance they were perfectly and sustainably self-sufficient. God did not create the world out of an extroverted need. Jesus did not leave others out of an introverted desire. The question of God’s introversion or extroversion is nonsensical to the nature of God.)

WHATSOEVER COMES TO PASS

God’s decrees encompass both the means and the end, the cause and the effect, the beginning and the end with all their multitude emanations, consequences, causes, content and effects. To entertain the notion that God does not trouble himself with “the little things.” is to put a size on God. If there ever existed something “too small” for God then there would also very possibly exist something “too big” for God. The reality is nothing can be remotely compared or related in size, proportion, or importance with God. Both great and small things to us are but equal to God. His control of the greatest, relative to us, must include the control of the least, for the great things are but only made up of the little. There is an excellent proverb from history that illustrates this attention to detail for us.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

We may be assured that God keeps oversight and decrees over both the nail and the kingdom. The Arminian contests that God has but a general plan, the Pelagian denies God has any plan at all, but the Calvinist says that God has a special and specific plan which embraces all events throughout the ages. Benjamin Breckinridge W., otherwise known as B.B. Warfield contemplated the following, “Predestination is broad enough to embrace the whole universe of things, and minute enough to concern itself with the smallest details, and actualizing itself with inevitable certainty in every event that comes to pass.” Once again, with God it is either all or nothing. You cannot put a limit on sovereignty. Until a person learns that God is sovereing, he never really knows God at all. To say that God is sovereign is to say that God is God. Morecraft defined God’s sovereignty thus, “God is the most high King of heaven and earth, who rules and controls His universe for His own glory just as He pleases, having foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” 

(The clearest illustration here I can conjecture is once again the hour glass. Where the upper portion of the glass represents the future which flows down through the middle point of the glass which represents the ever fulfilling present which moves into the building past. Here we can imagine that every grain of sand is specially decreed, or put in order, by God. That each sand representing any particular event in the course of space-time it is perfectly placed in sequential order in the future, that it precisely flows through the present, lands with perfect accuracy in the past, and makes calculated and flawless effects to those it touches and changes. With this picture of total calculation and precision it would be ludicrous to dare that God has not placed and moved every sand as it should, or determined each pieces cause and effect.)

IS GOD THE AUTHOR OF EVIL?

There are two questions reasonably raised from the doctrine of predestination and God’s decrees. The fist is an arminian logic which states if a total omniscience would necessarily mean that everything we will ever choose in the  present and future will have already been laid out in God’s divine order then the belief that we have truly significant choices to make would seem to be mistaken. Alternitavely, with God’s omniscience, we are all rendered as mere robots incapable of making any free and therefore meaningful, significant choices. To this first inquiry Oliver Cromnwell’s chaplain, Stephen Charnock, gives a courageous response to these neo-arminians with the following. “But what if the foreknowledge of God, and the liberty of the will, cannot be fully reconciled by man? Shall we therefore deny a perfection in God to support a liberty in ourselves? Shall we rather fasten ignorance upon God, and accuse him of blindness, to maintain our liberty?” In response to the dilemma posed by the arminians Charnock bodily stated, “So what? So what if you think you are a robot under God’s infinite power. Would you really rather criminalize God in order to justify yourself?”  Calvin also gave a vitriolic attack on such an accusation, “It is insufferable wickedness to think that we, who can hardly crawl on the earth, should take nothing as true except what submits itself to investigation by our eyes… But because of the dense darkness of the human mind by which all acknowledge is rendered thin and perishable, Scripture builds for us a higher watchtower for which to observe God overruling all the works of men so as to direct them to the end appointed by Him.” Both Calvin and Charnock end the debate by revealing the stupidity of the question in much the same way as Isaiah and Paul did with the illustration of the clay arguing with the moulder. As for the second question raised, since God has put everything in place does it also make him the author of the sins of the world? We know from Scripture that God cannot be the author of Sin, James 1:17. Furthermore we know that God’s own law forbids all sin. And thirdly we know by the nature of sin itself that it forbids God’s authoring. Sin, by definition and consequence, must be man’s own free activity, or else man would not be responsible and guilty. R.J. Rushdoony gave the best explanation I have come accross. “Evil is not a thing. and hence not a creature. It is a relationship, or better, a ruptured and broken relationship. God created heaven and earth, and all things therein, but sin is not properly a part of that creation, but rather a disruption of relationships between Creator and man, and between man and his fellow men…. In this sense that God’s eternal decree is the source of all creation, events, thoughts, and possibilities, the origin of sin as a possibility and a fact is in God’s creative purpose. With respect to the responsibility for sin, God is not its author. Because sin is a revolt against God and His law, sin it totally alien and impossible concept to ascribe to God. The question thus (Is God the author of sin?) is not an admissible one.”

CONCLUSION

We have reviewed that God has decreed, or put in order, all events before they were even created and has done so out of the abundance of his joy in himself and for the benefit of his people. Our infinite God has put an infinite number of events in order. Our unchanging God has put them all in order with one unfaltering purpose. Our infinitely wise God has put them in order with perfect effectiveness. Our infinitely powerful God has created and enforced all the events he has put in order. Our perfectly happy God has put all events in order to glorify himself. No event was unplanned, no event is without meaning, and no event is without effectiveness. The Christian can only have confidence in the present moment and faith in the future moments of 2014 by the full acknowledgement and adoration of the decrees of God.

THE SINGULARITY OF GOD

Continuing in our teaching series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism we come upon a singularly simple and short inculcation of Christian doctrine. Despite its short measure in pronouncement, it’s profoundness in thesis is without measure. For many there is not a more repudiating doctrine to be averred than in all Christendom. The eminent theologian, John Owen wrote, “This is the whole faith’s concernment in this matter as it respects the direct revelation of God made by Himself in Scripture, and the first proper general end thereof. Let this be clearly confirmed by direct and positive divine testimonies containing the declaration and revelation of God concerning Himself, and faith is secured as to all its concern, for it has both its proper formal object and its sufficiently enabled to be directive of divine worship and obedience.” To put it in layman’s terms, this doctrine has the greatest effect on our worship and obedience. But in our egalitarian and pragmatic age such a declaration by the Catechism is interpreted as a doctrinaire parti pris. This one question is the point of departure and indeed many have departed. To the Legal Positivist, monotheism cannot be observed. To the pragmatist, monotheism has no practical outworking. To the existentialist, monotheism is yet another discussion of vanity. To libertarian theology, monotheism is elitist. To the new age cultist, monotheism is a heresy. To the feminist who sings “A Mighty Goddess is our Forte”, monotheism is masculine and stereotyping. Yet, this question is a necessary conclusion of the last question we studied and furthermore the premise for the next question. If one answers this question in any enigmatic terms or with any dubious, dithering dubiety we will have sure cause to be concerned. With a doctrine of this magnitude there is no place for cunctation, but only concurrence.

Q: Are their more God’s than one?

A: There is but one only, the living and true God.

ONE BEING. ONE ESSENCE.

Why only one? Foremost, because He asseverates so. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” John Owen in his treatise on the Trinity taught we are simply to accept this declaration. “It is not to be prostituted to the captious and sophisticated scanning of men of corrupt minds, but to be humbly adored, according to the revelation that He has made of Himself.” Secondly, He forbids otherwise. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In this last passage God affirms His Aseity, that is, His self-existence. As was stated previously, numerically speaking, only one Divine Being can exist. Furthermore this one Being must have a oneness of inner unity in His essence. He cannot be any more divisible in essence than He can be multiplied in being. There are not parts of God (Essence) and there are not gods in part (Being). We cannot consider God to be composite even to the most exiguous point of essence or that of being. There is not room for more than one God or more than one essence in God because both the essence and the being of God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. There is mathematically not sufficient room for two coterminous beings of such nature. The riposte of the Greeks and Romans was to celebrate multiple gods. But as Francis Scheffer acutely observed, the problem with many gods is they are not big enough. Scheffer wrote that, “Plato understood that you have to have absolutes or nothing has meaning. But the difficulty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of reference or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and controlling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in this thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God.” There is no room for multiple infinite Gods and finite gods are no gods at all.

ONE GOD. ONE LAW.

Because there is on infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God there can only be one infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law. Morecraft noted, “To abandon God’s law revealed in the Bible for another system of law and morality is to change gods.” Rushdoony wrote, “The strength of man is in the absoluteness of his God.” Law is the revelation of righteous character and consequentially the outward expression of inward holiness. Man has denied the righteous character and holiness of God by renouncing his law in various and sundry manners. The legal positivist claims the only absolute is there are no absolutes and consequentially in denying infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law, must in return deny it’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable lawgiver. The pragmatist is one who holds himself as his own law-system because there is no universal order in his worldview. The pragmatist in his anarchy denies the King of kings in His monarchy. The libertarian in affirming his own economic order denies God’s created order when it is in contradiction to his. As Rushdoony wrote, “Men’s social applications and approximations of the righteousness of God may alter, vary, and waver, but the absolute law does not.” The new ageist confuse the separation between God and man and thus abjure God’s exclusive law order. The feminist in throning her own social order dethrones God of His in the process. Two infinite Gods is one to many and two law orders likewise. Many little gods are not enough and many law orders either. You cannot abandon God’s law without abandoning the God of that law first.

ONE GOD. ONE TRUTH.

Rather than their being a nimiety of hierologies there is one truth. Only God sets the terms of the law. Man does not set the terms of obedience, repentance, salvation, and peace with God. Only God sets the terms of reconciling us lawbreakers to Him, the lawgiver. Only God sets the terms of both the present remedial judgment and ultimate, final judgment of lawbreakers. Because there is one God there is one truth, the Gospel of God. Whosoever will may come, but he must come according to the one God’s terms in His one Gospel.

ONE GOD. ONE OBEDIENCE.

God does not require our ceremonial sacrifice but rather our obedience to His law. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth. David Chilton in his excellent book, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulation”, stated “The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture.”  Some would attest my approbation of Biblical law and obedience would border on legalism. This misjudgment is due to an incorrect understanding of true legalism. If indeed legalism was an ardent and zealous application and maintenance of the law, then Jesus Christ would be the prevailing legalist of all times. Legalism, rather, is based on justification by works and obedience to man-made regulations. Righteousness is based on God’s one Law, or to state it in reverse, God’s Law is the basis of righteousness. Whereas, legalism is based on man’s myriads of laws. Righteousness is the response to grace. Legalism is a response of antinomian rebellion. You may reasonably question how I can logically annex legalism with antinomianism. As one understands, that Antinomianism seeks to dispose of God’s authority in human affairs. Furthermore, Antinominaism can only replace the void of God’s law with the legalism of man’s. Legalism and antinomianism are not diametrically apposed, but fundamentally agreed in the rebuffing of God’s law. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20. Without obedience to God’s law we only face obedience to man’s law. It takes Biblical wisdom to connect all of life to God’s laws. It takes a fool to disconnect all of life from God’s laws. Otto Scott wisely wrote, “The figure of the Fool is widely misunderstood. He is neither a jester nor a clown nor an idiot. He is, instead, the dark side of genius. For if a genius has the ability to see and make connections beyond the normal range of vision, the fool is one who can see – and disconnect.”