Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'This One Thing I do' John Brown of Broughton Place - XXXIV

John Brown’s next book appeared in May 1853, and it was one of his most elaborate and well-known works, his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. The amount of work that went into it was fantastic, as he cites more than one hundred works on the Galatians in his preparation for the writing of the book. Yet he also kept the treatise within a moderate compass, so that one hardcover volume contains the whole of Brown’s work on the Galatian epistle.
In his Galatians Brown shows an amazing familiarity with the Pauline theology. He is one of the most able expositors of the Apostle’s works, and understood Paul himself. These extracts will give some idea of Brown’s thought:
“Never was there a man more disposed than the Apostle Paul to bear with weak brethren; but never was there a man more determined to expose false brethren.”
“Let us be certain that a man is to be blamed before we withstand him; and when we do so, let it be to his face.”
Like Paul, John Brown was supremely concerned with the Gospel of Christ. He was a peaceable man, but was totally unable to be silent when the Gospel itself was under attack. Thus he saw that Paul had not merely lost his temper writing to the Churches in Galatia. He was writing in deep concern, yes, and he was emotionally affected, but it was out of love for the Galatian Churches, and for the truth of the Gospel. Unlike our present so-called postmodernists, Brown saw that Truth is of vital importance. Truth matters, it cannot be compromised.
So ended John Brown’s second period of authorship. Ten volumes had come from his hand in the course of five years, an average of one volume every six months. He had been pressed by some to write a commentary on the Second epistle of Peter as a companion to his commentary on the first. Since 2 Peter has been the subject of relatively few works, Brown considered the idea, and even began work on it. Increasing age and infirmity, joined with difficulty in understanding the second and third chapters of the book to a level that satisfied him, forced him to stop, however. As he had finished his exposition of Chapter One, which forms a unit by itself, he published that as a volume entitled ‘Parting Counsels’. It was a suitable title for a book written by a man who, at age 72, knew that he would soon be departing to be with Christ, ‘Which is far better.’

But John Brown’s labours were not yet done. Of which more, God willing, next time.



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