Saturday, May 24, 2008
There is surprisingly little story to tell regarding Kalibak, he is just big, ugly, strong, and not quite as dumb as appearance would lead you to believe. He fights beside his father, leader of Apokolips, Darksied, sometimes picking fights with earth heroes just to win dad's approval.
To me the most interesting thing about him, is his change of appearance through the years. Note the lion like qualities in the picture here at left, compared to the Kirby original rendering below. Kirby hinted at the lion thing, but mostly made him look like a really hairy guy with a bad trim. Also not the mechanical contrivance Kirby used to tame the facial hair. Yet above, we see a different rendering wherein is is quite humanoid and the animated version has him just alien.
Sometimes it seems like guys just draw differently to prove they are not "slaves to what has gone before." It is a shame, what is below is a classic image to me and worth repeating endlessly. That's why Jack Kirby is the King.
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Friday, May 23, 2008
Too Close Too Home
MUSKEGON, MI – In the days leading up to July 6th, the U.S. government and private technology experts issued warnings that hackers involved in a loosely organized contest planned to attack thousands of computers across the country. Although the contest is over and the severity of the damage is unknown, it is certain that at least the owners and users of BibleGateway.com have fallen victim to one hacker's malicious and deceptive onslaught. The attack involved breaking into BibleGateway.com's computers and switching the online versions of the King James Bible and the Amplified Bible. The results of this assault echoed through sanctuaries and chapels all across the nation.The power of parody lies in its reflection of reality, and as someone that has actually been shouted at over Bible translations, I had to read very deep into this before I understood its true nature.
Unfortunately, for some users who were slightly less observant, passages from these mislabeled Bible versions made their way into PowerPoint slides and sermon notes all across the country. One of the more controversial debacles occurred at the American Fundamental Baptist Association National Conference on July 12th, where pastor and co-chair of the AFBA Jimmy Rainford accidentally quoted and displayed a verse from the Amplified Bible instead of his authorized KJV on three 20-foot screens during an evening sermon. More than 11,000 of the 13,000 appalled attendees walked out of the stadium while over 100 attending pastors' wives fainted in their dismay.
I weep for the church. We deserve so much of the attack that we get, and this is illustrative of why. There are real people that behave in a fashion that here is portrayed as silly. What are we to do?
Parody is a good solution sometimes, but I am not sure that the people that really need to hear the parody will in this instance. They are more likely to shout "AMEN!" than get the message. How does one reach out with grace to the ungraceful? Or do we simply write them off?
Which raises the question in my mind - Do you think Jesus wrote the Pharisees off? He certainly did not afford them the grace and understanding He did the more profligate sinners like prostitutes and tax-collectors. How do we know when someone's heart is hardened beyond reachability? Does such a state even exist?
How do we balance the need to set ourselves apart from such foolishness with the command to reach out to both the world, and people like this?
I have no answers to this one, only questions.
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On The Day In History...
...May 23, 2007 saw my parents in an automobile accident that ten days later took my father's life and has left my mother in rapidly accelerated decline, robbing her of her independence.
If you know me, it may be best to stay out of the car today. (I know - not very funny, but what is one to do on a day like this?)
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Thursday, May 22, 2008
Reason #3,465 Why I Love Scotwise
"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."How true, how true - and how true for faith in general. How much time to we worry about how much faith we have when we should be acting like we have it. How much time do we lose worrying about whether we know enough scripture when we are not yet acting in accordance with the scripture we do know? How many opportunities pass us by while we search for our spiritual gifts when we could be working with what is at hand? Does it not seem like we spend a bunch of time preparing to be God's person instead of simply getting about it?
Quick watch this video - watch it a bunch of time if you like. Are you ready for the NBA? I don't think so. There is only one way to learn how to shoot a jump shot - practice. And not just practice on the driveway, you have to do it in competition. The jumper is quite different in traffic than it is alone.
Being a Christian begins with faith, but if it ends there, I am not sure it is worth the effort. Did Jesus come just to save us from hell? What about the hell right here, right now? Is it just about what I think and believe, but my life is composed of so much more, who I love, how I love, what I feel, what I do....
The point that Lewis makes in the quotation above may be the most obvious and least practiced idea in all of Christianity. We learn by doing.
As someone who studied a laboratory science in college, my store of knowledge from that time readily divides into to categories, what I read/heard and what I did. Much of what is in the read/heard category is long gone, I have to look it up if I need it. I no longer can reproduce a periodic table from scratch from memory. I no longer can recall the X number of common synthesis reaction for an ester.
But I can tell you the details of every lab experiment I ever did. I can still recall what pathway I DID take to synthesize an ester, and I can recall the portions of the periodic table in which I routinely worked.
Knowledge used is deep knowledge, and largely unforgettable knowledge.
Let's use what we know of our faith. It will be come a apart of us. It will transform us.
P.S. Blessings to Scotwise on his blogging hiatus. GBYAY John!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"Debunking" Faith Disguised As Science
What's worse, the study only looks at the commonality and apparently genetic nature of the phobia, but there is no data whatsoever that it "evolved" - only that we seem to be born with it.
I hope you are tracking with me here. Remember the important role of the serpent in the whole creation story? - Providing a "natural" account of the development of the natural human snake fear would, like the very idea of evolution, help to "demythologize" that account and put another nail in the coffin of religion.
There are a couple of points I want to make out of all of this. The first is how difficult it is to separate the science and the reporting in the story. There is definitely an anti-religious agenda at play in here somewhere, but I cannot decide if it resides with the scientists or the reporter. In the quotations the scientists seem to make evolutionary assertions, but such is the prevailing theory so I would expect them to discuss things in those terms - they do not seem to be proselytizing, just reporting. But the way the story is told, by the reporter, sensationalizes the findings in such a way that one just knows the average reader is going to jump all over this with a "See - I told you so" kind of anti-religious response.
But this brings me to my second point - literal creationists, young-earth, precise Bible-narrative types are a pretty rare breed amongst Christians these days. Most Christians are in the Genesis as metaphor mode, or a mode that suggests the science has not finished its work yet, so let's just see where all this comes out - the Intelligent Design crowd. But what happens is we allow the fringes to define the rest of us, and others are more than willing to go along because they are such easy targets.
Christians need to begin to take a little better control of their own press. I am not expert enough at managing the media to even know where to begin on this, but it is something we have got to do. Too many people come to the church now with preconceptions that are so far from reality.
I know one thing that we all must do. We have to do a better job of standing up and being noticed. When the unpleasant conversational assault happens, we cannot slink away quietly. We do not have to be "in your face" but we can debunk the myths about us.
Bold, but not pushy. I like that
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Should We Always Talk About What We Know?
But setting aside the theo-philosophical discussion for a minute, I do not understand why anyone would want to surrender to the dictates of their genetics. That may make change hard, but it does not render it impossible. However, given the tendency of many people to "surrender to genetics," I wonder about the wisdom of the publication of this news, in this case, by the BBC:
Our level of happiness throughout life is strongly influenced by the genes with which we were born, say experts.Frankly, when I first read that, I wondered if the entire study is not a CYA by the psychological community to explain its less that stellar success rate. I KNOW it will be latched onto by the "woe is me, my life sucks" types out there to justify not even bothering, even given the caveats right there in the early paragraphs of the story.
An Edinburgh University study of identical and non-identical twins suggests genes may control half the personality traits keeping us happy.
The other half is linked to lifestyle, career and relationships.
However, another expert said despite the research in the journal Psychological Science, we can still train ourselves to be more content.
There are a lot of ways one could go with commentary on something like this, but the place I want to go is the value of publishing information, particularly when the entire picture is not known.
Consider, several decades ago, research emerged that homosexuality was a genetic trait. Follow-up research has shown that while there may be a genetic component to it, it is not determinative - a tendency at best. And yet, in the wake of the early finding homosexuality as fate, based on genetics, has become near gospel in public discourse.
The dangers of atomic energy and nuclear radiation is another example. There are hazards associated with it, that is unquestionable, but it is nothing like the stuff of common public understanding. Again, early results revealed the dangers and were published, but follow-up work describing the limitations and controls for those hazards have gone largely underreported and certainly under appreciated by the public at large.
This phenomena even happens in non-scientific areas where Calvinism is written off on the basis of the "Cliff's notes version" without people taking the time to really understand something. - But I want to limit myself to scientific discussion here.
To do science, we need money. Science that does not sink to the bottom line VERY rapidly cannot be funded privately, and so, scientists everywhere turn to the government. And if the government is the source of the money, then science must be done in the full view of the public. Even privately funded results tend to go public because it is necessary to attract additional funding to keep going.
The general thought is the more informed the pubic is, the better society is. I tend to agree, but what do we do in cases like the ones I have just discussed. Nuclear energy, the lowest polluting, if most potentially acutely hazardous, method of power production has gone undeveloped in this nation for nearly 40 years now. All because of an accident that produced no real harm, and one that produced far less harm the the common generality - I should know.
It is constantly debated inside science circles how to better inform the public to avoid precisely the kinds of misconceptions here discussed. Since this blog enjoys a largely non-scientific audience, I am curious as to what the public's role in all this should be. Does the public not bear the responsibility to understand?
What have you done to make sure you fully understand what you are reading, both the facts and the limitations? And when you know you do not fully understand, do you keep your mouth shut?
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Kitty Kartoons - Memorial Day Edition
Monday, May 19, 2008
Alright - That's It!
Obese people are contributing to the world food crisis and climate change, experts say.It seems like it is human nature to need a bad guy in any tough situation and if there is nothing we can do about the bad guy, we will tilt up some false bad guy just to knock him down and make ourselves feel better - generally victimizing someone who is already a victim. Where's the compassion in that?
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average.
They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil.
The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported.
There are basically two arguments here - obese take food from the mouth of the poor and the obese contribute disproportionately to global warming. Each in turn.
The obese are largely the poor. Check the statistics, obesity is largely a problem of the poor in developed nations, something which illustrates the second salient fact - food is plentiful and cheap. The poor are fat because it is something satisfying that they can do with what little money they have. The world's poor, sub-Saharan Africa, Pacific Islands, those sorts of places are poor and food-less because of political or geographical conditions, or because THEY WANT TO BE. The Sudan has a huge nutrition problem because of political circumstance. Some places are so isolated that the cost of food rises simply to get it there, BUT people that live in such isolation generally want to be there because they can move themselves to the food for a fraction of what it costs to move a lifetime of food to them.
So there we have it, obesity has nothing to do with hunger in the world, but the things that do have to do with it are insoluble so we tilt up the poor fat guy because we think he's ugly. (Does anybody besides me remember when black people were inferior because they were consider unattractive?)
The global warming contention is just pure CRAP. That is a naked attempt to tie "my cause" into the "cause celebre'" "Oh my God, all the donations, all the grants, are running to global warming - we need to make our efforts sound like they are part of that so we can get some of that money." Welcome to the world of the non-profit.
Global warming itself is such a tissue of barely connected facts woven into a cartoon without resemblance of theory that to make this tie into it is just ludicrous. In an automobile, the difference between a normal person and an obese person in gas consumption is in a percentage that would be undetectable to the person purchasing the fuel - even at today's gas prices. On public transportation, the weight of the bus or aircraft, or ship, its fuel and cargo makes the passenger weight load disappear in the significant digit truncation. What a pile of nonsense.
As to requiring more fuel burning to feed the obese, I thought we needed that fuel to feed to world's hungry?! Oh wait they will grow it naturally, without burning fossil fuels, remaining on the edge of poverty because such agriculture can barely produce at sustenance levels.
It's no secret I am an obese person currently of more normal weight, he said adopting the language of addiction. I have to make a choice, daily, to be thin or fat. Fat is a choice. But that being said, the psychology of obesity is such that demonizing it will worsen the problem, not help it.
What is happening here is that we are competing - COMPETING! - over which problem is worse, and then rather than simply ignore the problem that is "less worse" we tell them they are the problem.
Well, to those of you that think that way - GO POUND SAND! At all my 400 pound plus glory I still found the times and means to write checks to your sorry institutions to help feed the starving of this world. All you have done with this sorry pile of crap you call an argument is send me out to find the someone to give my money to that will both feed the poor, and understand that I have my own problems. Take this sanctimonious pile of horse manure and put it where the sun don't shine.
There, I feel much better now
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Sunday, May 18, 2008
Sermons and Lessons
George Whitefield, evangelist and leader of Calvinistic Methodists, who has been called the Demosthenes of the pulpit, was born at Gloucester, England, in 1714. He was an impassioned pulpit orator of the popular type, and his power over immense congregations was largely due to his histrionic talent and his exquisitely modulated voice, which has been described as “an organ, a flute, a harp, all in one,” and which at times became stentorian. He had a most expressive face, and although he squinted, in grace and significance of gesture he knew perfectly how to “suit the action to the word.” But he had not the style or scholarship of Wesley, and his printed sermons do not fully bear out his reputation. Whitefield died in 1770.
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. - Jeremiah 6:14.
As God can send a nation or people no greater blessing than to give them faithful, sincere, and upright ministers, so the greatest curse that God can possibly send upon a people in this world is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm, and unskillful guides. And yet, in all ages, we find that there have been many wolves in sheep’s clothing, many that daubed with untempered mortar, that prophesied smoothest things than God did allow. As it was formerly, so it is now; there are many that corrupt the word of God and deal deceitfully with it. It was so in a special manner in the prophet Jeremiah’s time; and he, faithful to his Lord, faithful to that God who employed him, did not fail from time to time to open his mouth against them, and to bear a noble testimony to the honor of that God in whose name he from time to time spake. If you will read his prophecy, you will find that none spake more against such ministers than Jeremiah, and here especially in the chapter out of which the text is taken he speaks very severely against them. He charges them with several crimes; particularly he charges them with covetousness: “For,” says he, in the thirteenth verse, “from the least of them even to the greatest of them, every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest, every one dealeth falsely.”
And then, in the words of the text, in a more special manner he exemplifies how they had dealt falsely, how they had behaved treacherously to poor souls: says he, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” The prophet, in the name of God, had been denouncing war against the people; he had been telling them that their house should be left desolate, and that the Lord would certainly visit the land with war. “Therefore,” says he, in the eleventh verse, “I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in; I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together; for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord.”
The prophet gives a thundering message, that they might be terrified and have some convictions and inclinations to repent; but it seems that the false prophets, the false priests, went about stifling people’s convictions, and when they were hurt or a little terrified, they were for daubing over the wound, telling them that Jeremiah was but an enthusiastic preacher, that there could be no such thing as war among them, and saying to people, Peace, peace, be still, when the prophet told them there was no peace.
The words, then, refer primarily unto outward things, but I verily believe have also a further reference to the soul, and are to be referred to those false teachers who, when people were under conviction of sin, when people were beginning to look toward heaven, were for stifling their convictions and telling them they were good enough before. And, indeed, people generally love to have it so; our hearts are exceedingly deceitful and desperately wicked; none but the eternal God knows how treacherous they are.
How many of us cry, Peace, peace, to our souls, when there is no peace! How many are there who are now settled upon their lees, that now think they are Christians, that now flatter themselves that they have an interest in Jesus Christ; whereas if we come to examine their experiences we shall find that their peace is but a peace of the devil’s making - it is not a peace of God’s giving—it is not a peace that passeth human understanding.
It is a matter, therefore, of great importance, my dear hearers, to know whether we may speak peace to our hearts. We are all desirous of peace; peace is an unspeakable blessing; how can we live without peace? And, therefore, people from time to time must be taught how far they must go and what must be wrought in them before they can speak peace to their hearts. This is what I design at present, that I may deliver my soul, that I may be free from the blood of all those to whom I preach - that I may not fail to declare the whole counsel of God. I shall, from the words of the text, endeavor to show you what you must undergo and what must be wrought in you before you can speak peace to your hearts.
But before I come directly to this give me leave to premise a caution or two.
And the first is, that I take it for granted you believe religion to be an inward thing; you believe it to be a work of the heart, a work wrought in the soul by the power of the Spirit of God. If you do not believe this, you do not believe your Bibles. If you do not believe this, though you have got your Bibles in your hand, you hate the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart; for religion is everywhere represented in Scripture as the work of God in the heart. “The kingdom of God is within us,” says our Lord; and, “he is not a Christian who is one outwardly; but he is a Christian who is one inwardly.” If any of you place religion in outward things, I shall not perhaps please you this morning; you will understand me no more when I speak of the work of God upon a poor sinner‘s heart than if I were talking in an unknown tongue.
I would further premise a caution, that I would by no means confine God to one way of acting. I would by no means say that all persons, before they come to have a settled peace in their hearts, are obliged to undergo the same degrees of conviction. No; God has various ways of bringing His children home; His sacred Spirit bloweth when, and where, and how it listeth. But, however, I will venture to affirm this: that before ever you can speak peace to your heart, whether by shorter or longer continuance of your convictions, whether in a more pungent or in a more gentle way, you must undergo what I shall hereafter lay down in the following discourse.
First, then, before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must be made to see, made to feel, made to weep over, made to bewail, your actual transgressions against the law of God. According to the covenant of works, “the soul that sinneth it shall die”; curst is that man, be he what he may, be he who he may, that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.
We are not only to do some things, but we are to do all things, and we are to continue to do so, so that the least deviation from the moral law, according to the covenant of works, whether in thought, word, or deed, deserves eternal death at the hand of God. And if one evil thought, if one evil word, one evil action deserves eternal damnation, bow many hells, my friends, do every one of us deserve whose whole lives have been one continued rebellion against God! Before ever, therefore, you can speak peace to your hearts, you must be brought to see, brought to believe, what a dreadful thing it is to depart from the living God.
And now, my dear friends, examine your hearts, for I hope you came hither with a design to have your souls made better. Give me leave to ask you, in the presence of God, whether you know the time, and if you do not know exactly the time, do you know there was a time when God wrote bitter things against you, when the arrows of the Almighty were within you? Was ever the remembrance of your sins grievous to you? Was the burden of your sins intolerable to your thoughts? Did you ever see that God’s wrath might justly fall upon you, on account of your actual transgressions against God? Were you ever in all your life sorry for your sins? Could you ever say, My sins are gone over my head - a burden too heavy for me to bear? Did you ever experience any such thing as this? Did ever any such thing as this pass between God and your soul? If not, for Jesus Christ’s sake, do not call yourselves Christians; you may speak peace to your hearts, but there is no peace. May the Lord awaken you, may the Lord convert you, may the Lord give you peace, if it be His will, before you go home!
But, further, you may be convinced of your actual sins, so as to be made to tremble, and yet you may be strangers to Jesus Christ, you may have no true work of grace upon your hearts. Before ever, therefore, you can speak peace to your hearts, conviction must go deeper; you must not only be convinced of your actual transgressions against the law of God, but likewise of the foundation of all your transgressions. And what is that? I mean original sin, that original corruption each of us brings into the world with us, which renders us liable to God‘s wrath and damnation. There arc many poor souls that think themselves fine reasoners, yet they pretend to say there is no such thing as original sin; they will charge God with injustice in imputing Adam’s sin to us; although we have got the mark of the beast and of the devil upon us, yet they tell us we are not born in sin. Let them look abroad and see the disorders in it, and think, if they can, if this is the paradise in which God did put man. No I everything in the world is out of order.
I have often thought, when I was abroad, that if there were no other arguments to prove original sin, the rising of wolves and tigers against man, nay, the barking of a dog against us, is a proof of original sin. Tigers and lions durst not rise against us unless it were as much as to say, “You have sinned against God, and we take up our master’s quarrel.” If we look inwardly, we shall see enough of lusts and man’s temper contrary to the temper of God. There is pride, malice, and revenge in all our hearts; and this temper can not come from God; it comes from our first parent, Adam, who, after he fell from God, fell out of God into the devil.
However, therefore, some people may deny this, yet when conviction comes, all carnal reasonings are battered down immediately, and the poor soul begins to feel and see the fountain from which all the polluted streams do flow. When the sinner is first awakened, he begins to wonder, How came I to be so wicked? The Spirit of God then strikes in, and shows that he has no good thing in him by nature; then he sees that he is altogether gone out of the way, that he is altogether become abominable, and the poor creature is made to lie down at the foot of the throne of God and to acknowledge that God would be just to damn him, just to cut him off, though he never had committed one actual sin in his life.
Did you ever feel and experience this, any of you - to justify God in your damnation - to own that you are by nature children of wrath, and that God may justly cut you off, though you never actually had offended Him in all your life? If you were ever truly convicted, if your hearts were ever truly cut, if self were truly taken out of you, you would be made to see and feel this. And if you have never felt the weight of original sin, do not call yourselves Christians. I am verily persuaded original sin is the greatest burden of a true convert; this ever grieves the regenerate soul, the sanctified soul. The indwelling of sin in the heart is the burden of a converted person; it is the burden of a true Christian. He continually cries out: “Oh! who will deliver me from this body of death, this indwelling corruption in my heart?” This is that which disturbs a poor soul most. And, therefore, if you never felt this inward corruption, if you never saw that God might justly curse you for it, indeed, my dear friends, you may speak peace to your hearts but I fear, nay, I know, there is no true peace.
Further, before you can speak peace to your hearts you must not only be troubled for the sins of your life, the sins of your nature, but likewise for the sins of your best duties and performances.
When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then the poor creature, being born under the covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of works again. And as Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden and sewed fig-leaves together to cover their nakedness, so the poor sinner when awakened flies to his duties and to his performances, to hide himself from God, and goes to patch up a righteousness of his own. Says he, I will be mighty good now - I will reform - I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me. But before you can speak peace to your heart you must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all your duties - all your righteousness - as the prophet elegantly expresses it - put them all together, are so far from recommending you to God, are so far from being any motive and inducement to God to have mercy on your poor soul, that He will see them to be filthy rags, a menstruous cloth - that God hates them, and can not away with them, if you bring them to Him in order to recommend you to His favor.
My dear friends, what is there in our performance to recommend us unto God? Our persons are in an unjustified state by nature; we deserve to be damned ten thousand times over; and what must our performance be? We can do no good thing by nature: “They that are in the flesh can not please God.”
You may do things materially good, but you can not do a thing formally and rightly good; because nature can not act above itself. It is impossible that a man who is unconverted can act for the glory of God; he can not do anything in faith, and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
After we are renewed, yet we are renewed but in part, indwelling sin continues in us, there is a mixture of corruption in every one of our duties, so that after we are converted, were Jesus Christ only to accept us according to our works, our works would damn us, for we can not put up a prayer but it is far from that perfection which the moral law requireth. I do not know what you may think, but I can say that I can not pray but I sin - I can not preach to you or any others but I sin - I can do nothing without sin; and, as one expresseth it, my repentance wants to be repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer.
Our best duties are so many splendid sins. Before you can speak peace to your heart you must not only be sick of your original and actual sin, but you must be made sick of your righteousness, of all your duties and performances. There must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness; it is the last idol taken out of our heart. The pride of our heart will not let us submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But if you never felt that you had no righteousness of your own, if you never felt the deficiency of your own righteousness, you can not come to Jesus Christ.
There are a great many now who may say, Well, we believe all this; but there is a great difference betwixt talking and feeling. Did you ever feel the want of a dear Redeemer? Did you ever feel the want of Jesus Christ, upon the account of the deficiency of your own righteousness? And can you now say from your heart Lord, thou mayest justly damn me for the best duties that ever I did perform? If you are not thus brought out of self, you may speak peace to yourselves, but yet there is no peace.
But then, before you can speak peace to your souls, there is one particular sin you must be greatly troubled for, and yet I fear there are few of you think what it is; it is the reigning, the damning sin of the Christian world, and yet the Christian world seldom or never, think of it. And pray what is that?
It is what most of you think you are not guilty of - and that is, the sin of unbelief. Before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be troubled for the unbelief of your heart. But can it be supposed that any of you are unbelievers here in this churchyard, that are born in Scotland, in a reformed country, that go to church every Sabbath? Can any of you that receive the sacrament once a year - oh, that it were administered oftener! - can it be supposed that you who had tokens for the sacrament, that you who keep up family prayer, that any of you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
I appeal to your own hearts, if you would not think me uncharitable, if I doubted whether any of you believed in Christ: and yet, I fear upon examination, we should find that most of you have not so much faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the devil himself. I am persuaded that the devil believes more of the Bible than most of us do. He believes the divinity of Jesus Christ; that is more than many who call themselves Christians do; nay, he believes and trembles, and that is more than thousands amongst us do.
My friends, we mistake a historical faith for a true faith, wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God. You fancy you believe be¬cause you believe there is such a book as we call the Bible—because you go to church; all this you may do and have no true faith in Christ. Merely to believe there was such a person as Christ, merely to believe there is a book called the Bible, will do you no good, more than to believe there was such a man as Caesar or Alexander the Great. The Bible is a sacred depository. What thanks have we to give to God for these lively oracles! But yet we may have these and not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My dear friends, there must be a principle wrought in the heart by the Spirit of the living God. Did I ask you how long it is since you believed in Jesus Christ, I suppose most of you would tell me you believed in Jesus Christ as long as ever you remember—you never did misbelieve. Then, you could not give me a better proof that you never yet believed in Jesus Christ, unless you were sanctified early, as from the womb; for they that otherwise believe in Christ know there was a time when they did not believe in Jesus Christ.
You say you love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. If I were to ask you how long it is since you loved God, you would say, As long as you can remember; you never hated God, you know no time when there was enmity in your heart against God. Then, unless you were sanctified very early, you never loved God in your life.
My dear friends, I am more particular in this, because it is a most deceitful delusion, whereby so many people are carried away, that they believe already. Therefore it is remarked of Mr. Marshall, giving account of his experiences, that he had been working for life, and he had ranged all his sins under the ten commandments, and then, coming to a minister, asked him the reason why he could not get peace. The minister looked to his catalog. “Away,” says he, “I do not find one word of the sin of unbelief in all your catalog.” It is the peculiar work of the Spirit of God to convince us of our unbelief—that we have got no faith. Says Jesus Christ, “I will send the comforter; and when he is come, he will reprove the world” of the sin of unbelief; “of sin,” says Christ, “because they believe not on me.”
Now, my dear friends, did God ever show you that you had no faith? Were you ever made to bewail a hard heart of unbelief? Was it ever the language of your heart, Lord, give me faith; Lord, enable me to lay hold on Thee; Lord, enable me to call Thee my Lord and my God? Did Jesus Christ ever convince you in this manner? Did he ever convince you of your inability to close with Christ, and make you to cry out to God to give you faith? If not, do not speak peace to your heart. May the Lord awaken you and give you true, solid peace before you go hence and be no more!
Once more, then: before you can speak peace to your heart, you must not only be convinced of your actual and original sin, the sins of your own righteousness, the sin of unbelief, but you must be enabled to lay hold upon the perfect righteousness, the all-sufficient righteousness, of the Lord Jesus Christ; you must lay hold by faith on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and then you shall have peace. “Come,” says Jesus, “unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
This speaks encouragement to all that are weary and heavy laden; but the promise of rest is made to them only upon their coming and believing, and taking Him to be their God and their all. Before we can ever have peace with God we must be justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be enabled to apply Christ to our hearts, we must have Christ brought home to our souls, so as His righteousness may be made our righteous ness, so as His merits may be imputed to our souls. My dear friends, were you ever married to Jesus Christ? Did Jesus Christ ever give Himself to you? Did you ever close with Christ by a lively faith, so as to feel Christ in your hearts, so as to hear Him speaking peace to your souls? Did peace ever flow in upon your hearts like a river? Did you ever feel that peace that Christ spoke to His disciples? I pray God he may come and speak peace to you. These things you must experience.
I am now talking of .the invisible realities of another world, of inward religion, of the work of God upon a poor sinner ‘s heart. I am now talking of a matter of great importance, my dear hearers; you are all concerned in it, your souls are concerned in it, your eternal salvation is concerned in it. You may be all at peace, but perhaps the devil has lulled you asleep into a carnal lethargy and security, and will endeavor to keep you there till he gets you to hell, and there you will be awakened; but it will be dreadful to be awakened and find yourselves so fearfully mistaken when the great gulf is fixt, when you will be calling to all eternity for a drop of water to cool your tongue and shall not obtain it.
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