Monday, May 19, 2008

'This One Thing I Do.' John Brown of Broughton Place. - XXXII


July 1850 saw the publication of the next of Dr. Brown's major works, the three volumes entitled Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This was a study of Our Lord's words in the Gospels, omitting the parables, but dealing with all the main discourses of Our Lord, including the Sermon on the Mount and the lengthy discourses in John's Gospel.

Dr. Brown had been a diligent student of the Gospels for many years. As we have noted, it was his custom to preach expository discourses, or 'lectures', as the Scottish church called them, in the evening services on the Lord's Day. He had preached through John's Gospel between 1807 and 1813. At that time he had consulted mostly English works on John, with only the commentaries of Lampe and Calvin in Latin. Between 1813 and 1850 he consulted many more commentaries, and of course he based his expositions on the Greek text. He explained:
"In preparing these volumes for the press, I have studied the original text of their subjects with all the grammatical and lexical helps I possessed. I have further availed myself of every assistance within my reach, to be derived from versions of, and commentaries on, the passages explained. My aim was not to produce and original work, but a satisfactory exposition of an important portion of Scripture."

In the best tradition of Scottish piety, these works have nothing of the sentimentality so often associated with the Victorian era in them. They are strong, fervent books, written for the whole man, the mind as well as the feelings.

Dr. Brown's intention in writing and publishing these three volumes was to re-emphasise the centrality of the person of Christ in Christianity, and not some ideal person, but the man Christ jesus who lived a real life and died a terrible death. He noted:
"Dr. Owen did good service to the cause of Christianity, two hundred years ago, by showing the pre-eminent place the Person of Christ holds in that religion, in opposition to the British rationalists of the age, who had almost lost sight of Him in speculation about evidences and dogmas and ethics; and... Neander and Tholuck have done a similar service, in opposition to the German rationalists of our times. A personal Deity is the soul of natural religion; a personal Saviour, the real living Christ, is the soul of revealed religion
."
The book sold well, and in 1852 a second edition was called for. It remains an important work for those studying the teaching of Christ in the Gospels.
But Dr. Brown had not yet finished his second period of literary productiveness. Of which more, God willing, next time.

Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord is published today by the Banner of Truth Trust. It is available here for £40 for all three hardcover volumes.

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