Worldliness

In early 2009 Dr Peter Masters, pastor of the church meeting at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, wrote an article in the Sword and Trowel entitled “The merger of Calvinism with Wordliness”. In some circles this was well received, but in others it evoked a furious response. The polarisation was quite stark and the “anti” camp certainly had a great deal to say. Some contributions were less than charitable and we read many personal attacks on Dr Masters for speaking out on what we consider to be one of the most important issues of the day.

Ironically, a few years earlier there was a “School of Theology” the theme of which was the subject of “Worldliness”. Phil Johnson was one of the speakers on that occassion. How sad then that Dr Masters had to point to the capitulation of John MacArthur to Charismatic style worship and to his acceptance of well known “reformed charismatic” C J Mahaney. (Is John MacArthur the same man who wrote the “Charismatic Chaos”?) Phil Johnson, out of respect for Dr Masters, was typically more measured in his response, but nevertheless disagreed with Dr Masters that the style of worship was material to the question of worldliness.

What all this does demonstrate is that there is a very wide divergence of views on the issue of what exactly constitutes “worldliness”, even when 2 men have stood side by side as it were preaching on the theme warning Christians not to be worldly!

It was interesting therefore to come across the following in our reading of James Bennett’s “Justification as revealed in Scripture. The modern “christian mind” will probably recoil from acceptance of the views presented here, but these were the standards of our reformed forebears!

Worldliness

 

…….. We show our faith by obeying the voice that says, “Come ye out of the world, and be ye separate.” For our Redeemer says of his disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” But as there is something vague in the general term, world, we must consider what it includes, in order to see the works that show a real faith. In this, we are assisted by the apostle, who says,” All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, (i. e. sensuality, covetousness and pride,) is not of the Father, but of the world.”

 

To show our faith, we must quit the sensual world, or renounce the lust of the flesh. To say that we must not give ourselves to the more gross excesses of debauchery, of gluttony, drunkenness, whoredom, or adultery, is surely not necessary; for who would suppose that such slaves to lust had any regard for religion? But, when our Lord exhibited the rich man ” clothed with purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day,” the Saviour neither asserts nor insinuates anything more than what would be called high living within the bounds of morality; and yet this man is shown to us in hell, lifting up his eyes in torments, crying for a drop of water to cool a burning tongue. For what purpose? To warn us, that a life of sensual indulgence wars against the soul; and that we must “mortify our members that are on the earth.” “I keep under my body,” says the apostle, “and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Who have founded Temperance Societies to stem the torrent of drunkenness that is bearing down our population into the fiery lake? Believers; and they have shown their faith by these works, who prove their dominion over their own appetites. For other men may live to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, as they would say ; but such as live by faith “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof;” but prescribe to themselves abstinence from everything that would either injure or oppose any hinderance to the soul in the service of God. The senses clamour for indulgence, regarding nothing but sensual gratification; but faith looks at the things that are not seen,, that are spiritual and eternal; and to the interests of the soul subordinating the body, with its appetites and passions, believing the voice that says, ” If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Of unbelievers, it is said, “These are sensual, not having the Spirit.” He, therefore, shows his faith by his works, who regulates his eating and drinking by the rules of health and religion; who maintains chastity in thought and affection; who allows himself no unnecessary indulgence in relaxation or sleep, and who, when the interests of the soul require it, joins fasting and watching to prayer.

 

But the second part of what is called the world’s Trinity, is, the lust of the eye, or covetousness as is seen in Eccles. v. 10, 11.

 

In an age when banks and national stocks were unknown, the possessors of money kept it by them, to indulge their covetousness by feasting their eyes. Many who talk much of works, think it perfectly consistent with religion to set their hearts on riches, and to accumulate as much as they can. Yet our Lord has forbidden us to lay up treasures on earth; and if we would show our faith by our works, we must lay up our treasure in heaven. To quit the covetous world, is as essential to the demonstration of our faith, as it is to renounce the sensual world; though it is to be feared that many abandon the more expensive sins, to indulge in this more selfish one; and because it can be indulged under a cloak of religion, of which sensual excesses would strip us, it is supposed to be no sin at all.

 

To show our faith by our works, then, we must, under its influence, renounce all undue gain, or withholding of money. “He that believeth shall not make haste”  to be rich, “lest he fall into a snare, and the curse of ill-gotten gain be upon his house.” But, though it be said that the covetous can scarcely be honest, there are those who cherish high integrity with regard to the acquisition of wealth, but are yet within the blast of that sentence, “No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” We may sinfully retain what we have honestly acquired. But “rich men are charged to do good, to be ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”

 

In the declaration of Zaccheus both parts of the sin of covetousness are renounced. He restores fourfold to any whom he might have wronged, and gives half his goods to feed the poor. A conscientious use of our property, giving willingly to the purposes of religion and benevolence all that God enables us thus to bestow, is essential to the demonstration of our faith. If you ask what that word all means, I answer, every man must decide that question for himself; and according to the reality and strength of his faith, he will decide with accuracy, and act accordingly.

 

The pride of life is the third and last of the sins of the world which faith must overcome, in order to show itself by its effects. This signifies every thing of which men boast, or make a show, so that it is varied according to our tastes and circumstances. With many it is the love of finery in dress; with others it is display in furniture, and in their habitations; as with those in higher ranks, it extends to palaces, and carriages, and liveries. The pride of mixing with what is called good society, which means not good, but great, is a very extensive form of the pride of life. The amusements of the world, balls, races, theatres, parties of pleasure in general, are valued chiefly for the sake of being seen where our pride may be gratified. But it would be unjust to pass by those who pursue science and literature, in the same spirit as others hunt after pleasure. A valuable library may be as much an object of pride as a splendid carriage, or mansion. One may be more vain of the title of doctor, than another is of that of duke. If the motive is the same, where is the difference between crowding to the conversations of the learned, or the soirees of the fashionable? There is as much pride in science as in wealth, and the most arrogant of mankind were the ancient philosophers; not the rich only, in their splendid porches or rural groves, but the poor cynics also, like Diogenes in his tub. For, when he trode contemptuously on the rich furniture of Plato, exclaiming, “I trample on Plato’s pride,” the retort was - “Most true: and with still greater pride.” In fact; the pride of life may appear, as it too often does, without a blush, in the assemblies of the church; and in the pulpit too, where a thousand arts are employed to catch the eye, and the ear, and to fish for applause by those who ought to be “fishers of men.” Verily, here is “the abomination that maketh desolate standing where it ought not.” “But this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith;” and to show it by our works, we must renounce the pride of life in every form. It should, however, be known and remembered, that what is guilty pride in one, may be perfectly innocent in another. A king, born in a palace, cannot lay aside the splendid appendages of royalty, at his own pleasure; but, then, he may have no more pride in these things, than a labourer in his neat cottage, and pretty garden. “The rich and poor meet together, and the Lord is the maker of them both;” nor does it appear that he designed to destroy the differences of ranks, by the influence of religion. The pride of life is that which faith must overcome; and every genuine believer watches against this evil principle, so that to the eye that searches the heart, there may be more humility in high than in low life; “the brother of high degree rejoicing in that he is made low” by the Spirit of Christ, and the one of low degree vaunting that he is exalted, though he is “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”

 

A man that would show us his faith, must shun whatever would feed his pride. Who can read the apostolic writings, without being struck by the total absence of the spirit of the world which they evince? If any one were to say, they were clothed with purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; that they accumulated fortunes, and were gay and fashionable, figuring in courts and theatres, and public amusements, who would not be shocked with the gross violation of truth ? But was it peculiar to the apostles to renounce the world? No; Christians in general tread in their steps.

 

Not merely by negative excellence, or what would be called innocence, putting away every sin, do we show our faith, but by works of obedience. When our Redeemer sent his apostles into the world, to preach the gospel, that he who believeth might be saved, he added, “teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” “Faith worketh by love, and this is the love of God, that we keep his commands,, and his commands are not grievous.” For what some, who rely on their own works, think so hard that they take the liberty of neglecting it, faith makes easy. Of this, what a triumphant display is given in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews! There we see believers at God’s command, quitting their country, to go they knew not whither; offering up, without murmuring, an only child, passing from a court into a desert, and braving the wrath of a tyrant; in short, “working righteousness, obtaining promises, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching the violence of fire.” For that faith which some think a dull, passive thing, a mere apology for indolence, is the only working principle that produces obedience to all God’s commandments……………

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Are we really to believe that sensual indulgence, even in matters which are otherwise moral, can be worldly, except in the realm of worship?

Are we really to believe that indulgence in matters aesthetic can be wordly, except in the realm of worship?

Are we really to believe that pride does not encroach in matters of worship?

Good men can talk all they like about the regulative principle of worship, but if they are not prepared to guard the spirit of worship by protecting the form and substance of worship, then they err greatly! How jealous God is of worship! In the Old Testament the altar was to have no tool laid upon it. Nothing of human pride was to contribute to the worship of God. Nadab and Abihu suffered for their presumption in offering strange fire unto the Lord. We cannot just determine what we think is acceptable to God. The Israelites committed idolatry in so many forms, not least in their syncretism when they joined pure religion with the practices of other religions.

Some would lead us to believe that the argument is merely over individual tastes, but they make little or no allowance in their argument that one may have worldly tastes. Be that as it may, we beg to differ from them and think that the issue is a whole lot more serious than a mere matter of taste! There are broad and deep principles at stake which undermine the very nature of Christian experience and worship that we hold dear. The “new calvinists” are seeking to accommodate more and more of the world within the Church. And in the so called ‘worship wars’ we are witnessing the world invade the very sanctuary of the church!!

James Dickson Christian (?) Bookseller- Latest news

I wrote to Mr Dickson to ask what his church affiliation was so that I could bring our dealings to the attention of the church. Instead I received an acrimonious email from Mr Dickson’s assistant, a Martin Fulner, who now denies his previous statement that the money had been used to pay their taxes. He now also claims that the stock which they took from us so eagerly did not even fetch the figure which he had previously stated and that most of the stock was rubbish! And this despite that fact that he wanted to come for a second trip to take more stock.

Mr Fulner writes in justification of their actions, “You should never have got involved if (sic) a profession that you dont know the slightest thing about…… The truth which hurts you is that we may have saved you tens of thousands of pounds by making you realise that this stock is worthless”

So Mr Fulner, who does not know me from Adam, knows the limits of my knowledge of the secondhand book market, and they by their theft have helped me to realise that the stock I carried was worthless!! So precious a ministry they have, and I am truly grateful to both for such a valuable lesson.

So fine a gentleman is Mr Fulner that he claims he is willing to pay the £3,000 from personal money, even though they claim they have made a loss on the deal, provided I remove from this blog all mention of our dealings!! Forget the fact that the deal was to share the proceeds on sale and not any profit or loss. This is Intended, I am sure, as another lesson to me to ensure that I deal in future with men of character. So glad to know that they care for my sanctification!

I will tell you what Mr Fulner and Mr Dickson - in the  interest of truth I am prepared to replicate on this blog our entire email correspondence and the notes of all telephone conversations we have had so that the readers can judge for themselves the truth of the matter!

Conclusion: Thieves are always unscrupulous, even if they call themselves Christian.

“It has appeared to us that the majority of the book and tract depots (modern “Christian Bookshops”) are merely commercial enterprises, many of them being ready to handle almost anything which is “a good seller”; others providing the “manager” with an easy job at the expense of the gifts of hard-working people. Where such be the case, we cannot expect the blessing of God will attend in a spiritual way. ~ Arthur Pink, 1934″

Ames - Fresh suit against human ceremonies in the worship of God

Found HERE

Some more great finds!

HALL (THOMAS). Commentary on 2 Timothy III. and IV. Folio. Lond.,1632—1658. 8/.

NOW FOUND - Download here

Spurgeon said of this work:

Hall is often found in union with Barlow, completing the Commentary on 2 Timothy, as he completed Amos, (No. 840.)-He is a masterly expositor, of the old-fashioned school.

“The Mischievous effects of Slandering”, sermon preached at St Giles November 15, 1685 by Edward Fowler DD. Download it HERE

A Sermon preached before the honourable House of Commons November 6 1689 - P Birch D.D - Download it HERE

The Confession of Faith composed by reverend Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster, together with the Larger and Lesser Catechisms 1658. Download it HERE

Therapeutica Sacra, showing briefly the methods of the diseases of the conscience concerning Regeneration 1697. David Dickson. Download it HERE

The poor man’s help and young  man’s guide - William Burkitt 1693. Download it HERE

James A. Dickson, Secondhand Bookdealer in Christian Books - Postscript

To this day (2009-12-17) we have still had no response from Mr Dickson, despite further chases, and it is now clear to us that the money is not going to be paid to us.

Should Mr Dickson still be listed as a “Christian” dealer?!

May the Lord judge between us!

Sundry other works of interest

… which we hope to incorporate at some point into the main website:

THE WORKS OF EBENEZER ERSKINE

Vol 1

Vol 2

Vol 3

Life and Diary of Ebenezer Erskine

SERMONS AND PRACTICAL WORKS OF RALPH ERSKINE IN TEN VOLUMES

Vol 1

Vol 2

Vol 3

Vol 4

Vol 5

Vol 6

Vol 7

Vol 8

Vol 9

Vol 10

Gospel Sonnets or Spiritual Songs

New download links added

For Poole’s English Annotations (number 51 under whole Bible Commentaries) and John Allen’s Spiritual Exposition - volume dealing with section from Joshua to Psalms (number 1 under whole Bible Commentaries).

Book-Academy DVD Set

The long awaited DVD set is ready!

The special price on the first 100 orders is £155 per set of 10 DVDs. Thereafter the price will be £199 per set. Postage and Packing will be additional and will be charged at cost.

For friends who registered their interest in the DVD set by the 21 November 2009 we will keep the special introductory price open until 30 June 2009. Thereafter the price will be the full price.

This is a wonderful set at a very competitive price, containing many priceless works and will make a wonderful present to a minister, lay preacher or serious bible student. So why not order your set today?

See our Home page for more details

Website news

We are pleased to advise our readers that we have now commenced listing the Baptist works that we have come across. Unfortunately, there are so many to list that we have created an initial list to which we shall be adding more and more as time progresses.

We trust that our readers appetites will be whetted and that they will return regularly to find what other works have been added.

We have also added more Spurgeon works on the Spurgeon page, including the Sword and Trowel magazines, and the entire New Park Street Pulipit and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series.

THEFT by James A Dickson, secondhand bookdealer!

We write this article with great sadness, but feel constrained to do so, because to our mind it reflects the moral malaise that infects so much of the Christianity that we find in the UK.

As many of our readers will know, we have had a very large stock of secondhand and antiquarian Christian books which we have not personally had the time to take to market. Over the years we have tried to find others who might have been able to help, or even to sell the entire stock to dealers at a modest fraction of their real value in order to recover some of the costs that we have incurred, knowing that we just would not be able to give our time and attention to this precious ministry. We had never seen the venture as anything but a ministry and would have been prefectly happy just to break even.

In any event, earlier this year following a telephone discussion with Mr Dickson (of Livingstone House, 16 Edward Street, Kilsyth, G65 9DL. Scotland U.K) and his helper Martin, it was agreed that they would come to view the stock to see what, if anything, they could do to help. On the appointed day they arrived, examined the stock and they wanted to strike a deal. We shook hands on a deal under which they would take responsibility for bringing the entire stock (including the non Christian books) to market, or find an outlet for them and for their troubles they would take 50% of any proceeds.  They had come with a lorry, obviously expecting a deal, and they took some 60-80 boxes of books which were listed in the next few months. Since we did not have time to list all the books that they were taking, they agreed that they would list the books and account to us for all books taken and those that were sold.

Since the original list was published we have been chasing Mr Dickson and Martin for an account, but nothing has been forthcoming. When we asked about the book sales we were informed that they were reneging on their agreement and would not now be able to help us with the rest of the stock! Then we were informed that we were only due a modest £3,000 from the sale of the books. Even so, despite promises that we would have the money, including one from Mr Dickson who told us that he would deal with it personally, nothing has materialised. In early July Martin even had the audacity to inform us that our share of the proceeds had been used by them to settle their personal tax liabilities!!

We remember a time when a gentleman’s agreement was honoured even by unbelievers. In the morally lax days in which we live, we might expect the unconverted not to feel obligated by any such agreement, but it comes to something when even professing Christians capitulate to such moral laxity. But then to add insult to injury by using money that did not belong to them to settle their tax liabilities beggars belief. Is this not theft? Can this possibly glorify God? I wonder what church Mr Dickson attends, and whether, if this news were made known to the church, it will affect in any way his standing in his church? Somehow I doubt it.

What sad days we live in when professing Christians privately commit crimes without their conscience feeling outraged!

With great sorrow of heart we have to add that over the years the biggest disappointments that we have experienced have been at the hands of those who profess the name of Christ; those who claim to have real religion in their soul! What a sad indictment of present day Christianity!