Friday, June 27, 2008

Preaching This Coming Lord's Day

God willing, this coming Lord's Day morning I shall be peraching at Brooke Baptist Church, High Green, Brooke, Norfolk. The morning service is at 10.45. Brooke Baptist Church is a historic Strict and Particular Baptist Church dating back to the early 19th century. The chapel at Brooke is one of the earliest in Norfolk built in a Gothic style (in Brooke's case a Tudor Gothic)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

James Begg Society Lectures

The Annual lectures of the James Begg Society for the past ten years are available in MP3 format on their website here.

Subjects range from historical studies to theological discussions, covering a wide range of issues from the identity of the AntiChrist to the Synod of Dort. Reformed Christians will find a great deal of food for thought here.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'This One Thing I do': John Brown of Broughton Place XXXVI

In his old age Brown was the patriarch of the United Presbyterian Church. During the period in which he wrote his final works his life seemed like the 'Beulah Land' Of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. His health was preserved, his congregation at Broughton Place remained peaceful and the Theological Hall was quietly pursuing its important work of training a New Testament ministry. The denomination itself was peaceful and flourishing.
Just as the United Secession and the Relief had united, so thoughts turned to the uniting of the Free and United Presbyterian Church. This union was not to be, for the Free church stood by the Westminster teaching on the national establishment of religion, while the United Presbyterians, though taking no official position on the question, contained many who were conviced advocates of the Voluntary position that all churches ought to be entirely separate from the state. On this rock the union debate foundered, and it would not be until 1900 when the two churches united on the basis of the United Presbyterian position. Brown himself argued vociferously that this would have to be the basis for union in 1857. These were his principles, no doubt acquired through his contacts with English disenters.

On 6th February 1856 Dr. Brown completed the fiftieth year of his ministry. To make the occasion he preached that day in the great chapel at Broughton Place the sermon that he had preached at the opening of his ministry at Biggar. This same sermon was later published in his Parting Counsels. By doing this he showed that he still held to the same high view of the ministry with which he had begun fifty years before.
John Brown desired no other services commemorating his jubilee in the Christian ministry, but of course this was not to be. The church desired to honour him, and honour him they did in a jubilee service held on the 8th of April 1856. Brown, of course, sought to make this an occasion praising God, not man. Closing his own address he said: "I would feel as if I had neglected a duty did I not ere closing make an acknowledgement of how good a master, for these last fifty years, I have had, and how unprofitable a servant he has had in me. Yes, He has been a good Master, sustaining me in weakness, guiding me in perplexity, comforting me in sorrow... He has given me wages with my work, and wages in my work: all I am, all I have, I owe to Him."

Indeed, and so we must, for the time being, leave Dr. Brown before we return to him, God willing, next time.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preaching this Coming Lord's Day

God willing, this coming Lord's Day I shall be preaching at the Swanton Abbott Wesleyan Reform Church, Swanton Abbott, Norfolk. The service is at 11.00 AM. The chapel is the last surviving nonconformist chapel in Swanton Abbott, yet another small village chapel that needs our prayers.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Quote : P. M'Adam Muir - Morality without Religion

This Monday Quote comes from Pearson M'Adam Muir's Modern Substitutes for Christianity. In the lectures, Dr. Muir shows that Christianity is not only superior to all attempted substitutes, but that the very substitutes are in fact only possible because they draw upon the capital of Christianity. Muir is not completely orthodox, but he is quite insightful at times. Our quotation is taken from the close of the first chapter, 'Morality Without Religion'.
What are the facts? What is the growing tendency when men think themselves strong enough to do without religious beliefs, when they have been proclaiming that the suppression of Religion will be the exaltation of a purer Morality? There are plenty of indications that the laws of Morality are found to be as irksome as the dictates of Religion. The first step is to cry out for a higher Morality, to censure the Morality of the New Testament as imperfect and inadequate, as selfish and visionary. The next step is to question the restraints of Morality, to clamour for liberty in regard to matters on which the general voice of mankind has from the beginning given no uncertain verdict. The last step is to declare that Morality is variable and conventional, a mere arbitrary arrangement that can be dispensed with by the emancipated soul. The literature which assumes that religion is obsolete does not, as a rule, suffer itself to be hampered by the fetters of Morality. The non-Religion of the future is what, we are confidently told, increasing knowledge of the laws of Sociology will of necessity bring about. Should that day ever dawn, or rather, let us say, should that nightmare ever envelop us, it will mean the diffusion of non-Morality such as the world has never known." (Pp. 60-61)

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Another interesting book

Recently, whilst browsing in a secondhand bookshop in a seaside town in Norfolk we chanced upon a small brown hardcover volume of early 20th century date. Since we have been accused of liking "old brown books", it was worth a look. It proved to be Modern Substitutes for Christianity by Pearson M'Adam Muir, D.D., the Baird lecture for 1909. The chapters deal with:
I. Popular Impeachments of Christianity

II. Morality Without Religion

III. The Religion of the Universe

IV. The Religion of Humanity

V. Theism Without Christ

VI. The Tribute of Criticism to Christ

Obviously such a work is of great interest, whether quite sound or not, so we purchased the book, in the process missing the bus that we had intended to take home, thus requiring us to spend another hour in the town - no great hardship really.

Only after buying the book did we discover in its pages the card illustrated above. So who was this Dr. Muir who wrote the work and sent this particular volume to its first owner?

Born on 26th January 1846, son of the parish minister (Church of Scotland) of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, Pearson M'Adam Muir, though a son of the manse, did not have an easy early life. His father died when he was twelve, and his widowed mother moved the Glasgow with her children. He was educated at Glasgow High School and University, and in December 1868 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Glasgow Presbytery. He was assistant minister in the Parish of Monkton and Prestwick, and then in Stevenson. His first charge was the chapel-of-ease at Catrine, Ayrshire, where he was ordained in 1870. Two years later he was called to Polmont, Stirlingshire, and there he spent eight years before being called to Morningside Parish church, Edinburgh. It was from Morningside that he was called in 1896 to the pulpit of the High Church of Glasgow, commonly called Glasgow Cathedral. In 1910 he served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

He had married in 1871, his bride being Sophia, daughter of Rev. James Chrystal, D.D., LL.D., minister of Auchinleck. Tragically, she predeceased him, dying in February 1907. Dr. Muir was awarded his D.D. by Glasgow University in 1893.

Like many a pastor of a large and important congregation, Muir had many calls upon his time. For example, in 1895-7 and 1902-5 he was the General Assembly's lecturer on Pastoral Theology to the Scottish Universities. He gave a lecture of Samuel Rutherford in the St. Giles' Lectures for 1881-2, and in addition to Modern Substitutes for Christianity, he was the author of a History of the Church of Scotland (1890) and Religious Writers of England (1898). He also contributed a chapter on 'Monuments and Inscriptions in Glasgow Cathedral' to The Book of Glasgow Cathedral (1898).

John Henderson wrote a volume on Dr M'Adam Muir's Ministry and Labours in the High church Parish 1896-1915 , which was published in 1925. We are in the process of obtaining a copy of this book, which seems to be the only biographical work dealing with Dr. Muir ever produced.

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