The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

“All Things For Good”

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Thomas Watson wrote a book called A Divine Cordial, a heavenly medicine, grounded in the words of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It is usually known by its more modern title, All Things For Good. I recently completed a step by step study through the book in twenty-three videos of ten minutes (excepting the invitation, which is briefer). All are available at the YouTube channel of the church which I serve. The idea was to be able to read through the whole in about three weeks. Each video simply walks through a particular section, giving an outline with some particular comments. If you are interested, please follow the link. I hope it is of some profit.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 18 April 2020 at 11:20

John Blanchard

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John Blanchard at MaidenbowerFor those who may be interested in joining us, on Friday 8th November at 7.30pm, John Blanchard – author of a large number of gospel booklets such as Ultimate Questions and other volumes including Does God Believe in Atheists – will be joining us at Maidenbower Baptist Church to address the question, “Is God Past His Sell-By Date?”

All are very warmly invited to join us for what I trust will be an instructive and illuminating evening. If you would like to come, but have any questions, please do get in touch.

I hope that you will be able to join us.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 18 October 2013 at 09:31

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Beat the pope

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OK, it may not happen, but I hear that old Pontifex is up to over a million followers already. Even if you are not moved by such a stimulus, a note to say that you can follow me on Twitter, if you are so inclined.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 24 December 2012 at 09:03

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Keeping it clear

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Caleb and William want to learn about David and Solomon, so last night we began 1 Samuel. In the first verse, Elkanah is described as the son of – among others – Zuph. Naturally, Caleb found this a splendidly comical name:

“Zuph!”

“Yes, Caleb; he was one of Elkanah’s forefathers.”

“Oh.”

“Right, let’s keep reading.”

“‘And he had two wives . . .'”

“Woah! Four fathers and two wives!”

It is a reminder that – whether in family worship or church services – it is worth our time to make our meaning very clear.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 17 November 2012 at 08:52

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Wrong reckoning

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My father, with whom I had been going over a fine point for tomorrow’s sermon, sent through this thought-provoking nugget from Benjamin Keach:

Wicked men are undone by reckoning wrong; they do not keep their accounts well; they put the evil day far off; they measure their days not by the king’s standard, or by just rules and measures. Perhaps they reckon by their present health, their present strength, or by the lives of their progenitors. Their father and mother lived to a great age, and so they measure their days accordingly, and conclude they shall live long. But none of these rules are allowed, they are false measures of our days. God sends us to the morning dew, the weaver’s shuttle, to the shadow, the vapour, a swift post, and to the flower of the field, that today is, and tomorrow is burned in the oven.

Benjamin Keach, Expositions of the Parables (Series One) (Kregel, 1991), 274.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 May 2012 at 13:30

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Hijacked

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Cara Croft hijacks her husband’s blog for some straight talking:

Men, ministry is hard. I know that, you know that. It is no secret. It is a life that demands sacrifice, wisdom, time, and energy. What you may not know is that it is also hard for your wife and your families.

Having explained why, she asks:

I want to know (and I am sure your husbands do too), what is the biggest challenge in ministry life that you face? What has been the most surprising struggle? What has been your biggest joy?

Pastor’s wives may wish to contribute; others may also wish to watch and learn.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 14 April 2012 at 16:29

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In appreciation of the Evangelical Library

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I am, apparently, something of a book nerd. I did not realise this, but it does occasionally get pointed out or exposed (for example, when someone makes a passing reference to some musty volume, and my instinctive response is, “Which edition?” or something of that order). It feels very normal to me. But there we go.

It is, perhaps, as a result of said nerdery that I have had a little involvement with the Evangelical Library (including delivering the lecture on Hugh Latimer’s preaching that is found here on this blog, as well as among others here at the Library).

You may not have heard much or anything about the library, but I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to consider using and supporting this institution, for several reasons.

First, because of its history. The nucleus of what has become the Evangelical Library had its origin in the labours of a man called Geoffrey Williams. Geoffrey Williams was, if I might put it this way, a book nerd extraordinaire. Williams not only loved certain books, he loved – most importantly – the substance of those books, being concerned for the preservation of the best in the Reformed and Puritan strain of evangelicalism. If I remember rightly, it was Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones who – among others who shared Williams’ appetite for the truth found in these tomes – urged the establishment of the library on a more formal basis in a more central location, and eventually the Beddington Free Grace Library found its way to Chiltern Street in central London and became the Evangelical Library. It remained in Chiltern Street until forced out by the gradual deterioration of the premises yoked with the spiralling costs not just of maintaining but improving a central London property. Horrible tales of desperate measures to keep intruding rainwater from damaging valuable volumes are told on stormy nights by old preachers seeking to terrify their young protégés! The history and the legacy of the library call for some interest and concern among Reformed evangelicals today: many of those from whom we learned our theology cut their teeth on Evangelical Library materials, or were themselves taught by those who shared its vision and devoured its wares.

Which brings me, neatly, and secondly, to that vision. This is given on the Library’s website as follows: “the restoration of the Word of God at the heart of the Christian community, the continuing necessity of reforming the church which teaches that Word – and, ultimately, the revival of the people brought about by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” I would hope that this trifold aim would continue to engage us today.

A third reason is its stock: the library holds about 90000 volumes and periodicals galore (a rich but often overlooked resource for researchers), including an array of older works not readily available elsewhere or vast quantities of more modern texts that might lie beyond the pocket of many readers. Its collections of church history, doctrine and devotional reading are particularly impressive. Most excitingly for the bibliophile, budding or otherwise, is that delightful assortment of older works, many of them exceedingly hard to find in their physical form and unavailable online. Most of these (except the rarer and more valuable books) are available through a mail order service, removing the need for visits to the library proper while still providing the benefits of membership.

Of course, the world has moved on since the library was first established, and – in addition to the online catalogue – there is an ongoing effort to digitise some of the library’s collection.

A fourth reason it its situation. Now, I am sure that some visitors to its present premises will shy like a startled mustang when they read that its situation might be a reason to use and support the library. After all, Chiltern Street was a genuinely central location, fairly easily accessible, not far from Baker Street. The Gateway Mews at Bounds Green – though a straightforward ten minute stroll north from the Underground station of the same name, and just off that marvel of modern travel delight, the A406, or North Circular – does not enjoy those same benefits and surroundings, but some find that its home just off the North Circular – outside the congestion zone, and with free parking available – make it more accessible than otherwise. Nevertheless, while it may not be the easiest place to drop into (hence the value of the mailing service), that relative inaccessibility make it a fine place to research or study. In particular, the reference room, known as the Robert Sheehan Puritan and Research Centre, is an especially pleasant, quiet spot, and there are a number of nooks and crannies (as opposed to crooks and nannies) where one can settle down to a spot of deliberate and focused reading (not to mention the array of computers if one is not in the mood to bring one’s own). Seriously, if you are looking for an environment with a little peace to get some serious study and thought out of the way, then the Evangelical Library is a good place to consider. Whisper it softly, but there are also bursaries available for serious scholars: contact the library to discover more.

A fifth and final reason to support the library is its events. There are at least three “Lunchtime Lectures” each year, when some fascinating topic is covered by a competent scholar, and – on at least one occasion – by me. These are usually historical-theological-literary nuggets and well worth attending, giving opportunity both for instruction and for discussion. In addition, there is an annual lecture – this year’s takes place on Monday 2nd July when Ian Hamilton will address the gathered hordes on the history and contribution of Princeton Seminary – which often has a broader theme. Furthermore, from time to time there are special study days. For example, coming up on Tuesday 27th March we will be considering the topic of the Great Ejection, under the title 1662 and All That. Dr Garry Williams of the John Owen Centre will speak on “1662 and its aftermath;” Gary Brady, chairman of the Library trustees, will speak on “1662 and the men who were ejected;” and, Dr Robert Oliver will address “1689 and the toleration of dissent.” The day begins at 10am and ends at 4pm, and costs £25 in advance (£30 on the day). More details are here.

I am sure that there are other reasons, but here are five to put before you. Might I therefore encourage you, finally, to consider supporting the Library? Membership costs a mere twenty-five of your earth pounds for a year, entitling you to a whelming – it wouldn’t be quite right to describe it as overwhelming, unless you are prepared to use it to its full potential – package of benefits. Gifts and legacies are always gratefully received. And, as charity and church secretaries up and down the land are wont to say, “Your attention is drawn to the advantages of Gift Aid.” You can get information on how to chuck your wonga at this particular good cause here.

So, please, consider supporting this noble institution. It is by no means obsolescent, and – for those who love the truth and are inheritors of a good tradition with its feet both in past centuries and in more recent decades – I think it is genuinely worthwhile.

To keep up with news and events, subscribe to the Evangelical Library’s RSS feed.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 27 January 2012 at 10:30

Westminster Conference ahoy!

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A reminder that the Westminster Conference is now only a month away, taking place this year on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th December at the new venue of the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on Oxford Street. The brochure (see picture link or here) can be downloaded, filled in and sent off to the Secretary (no online booking at present, I am afraid). This year’s papers are as follows, God willing:

  • Christian liberty and the Westminster Assembly (Robert Letham). The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) contains a ground-breaking declaration of Christian liberty. What forces thrust this to the forefront of its agenda? On what basis did the Assembly set it? How did it work out in practice? How does it relate to the gospel? Robert Letham’s address will seek answers to these questions, as well as considering what lessons can be learned for our own day.
  • The Covenanting experience (Knox Hyndman). Within a few years of taking the throne Charles II began subjecting the Scots to a twenty eight year period of persecution and terror. During this period it has been estimated that the authorities “killed, impoverished or banished” over eighteen thousand people. However, the response to this cruelty was not uniform and this address will consider the different reactions in the church and the subsequent effect on its life and witness.
  • Obadiah Holmes: pioneer of religious freedom (Stephen Rees). Obadiah Holmes left Lancashire in 1638, crossing the Atlantic in search of purity of worship and clear gospel preaching. In New England he found saving faith but also came to Baptist convictions and found himself at odds with church leaders and magistrates alike. He discovered that there were limits to the religious liberty permitted by the Puritan establishment. Holmes’ stand for freedom of conscience had greater consequences than anyone could have predicted.
  • The broad road from orthodoxy to heresy (Robert Strivens). Anti-trinitarian views gained considerable ground in Old Dissent during the first half of the 18th century. By the second half of that century significant numbers of congregations had lapsed into heresy. Why did this happen? What attempts were made to turn back the tide and why were they largely unsuccessful? What lessons are there for us in this story, faced as we are today with increasingly strong attacks on central evangelical doctrines?
  • Puritanism: where did it all go wrong? (Lewis Allen). Why, after they had made such strides in the churches and in national life, was there such a disintegration of Puritan principles? And what accounts for the doctrinal descent into Unitarianism in the first quarter of the 17th Century? This paper will give an overview of the period after 1662, considering the ‘downgrade’ of Puritan ideals during this time and giving salutary lessons for our day.
  • John Eliot: “Apostle to the Indians” (Hugh Collier). This remarkable man was one of the first to take the gospel to the Indians of North America. He learned their Algonquian language, and, as it had no written text, devised one. He then translated the whole bible into their tongue. He preached to them, cared for them and was loved by them. This was all on top of a 58 year pastorate! There is much for us to learn from this servant of God.

It would only be fair to point out that the penultimate paper does not lay the blame for the demise of Puritanism at the door of Lewis Allen. The rather unfortunate phrasing simply identifies Lewis as the man addressing the question.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 8 November 2011 at 14:49

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The worth of books

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An aside from William S. Plumer in his rich commentary, Studies in the Psalms (Banner of Truth, upon whom we humbly urge a reprint):

When some one admired Leighton’s library, he said: “One devout thought is worth more than it all.”  He was right. (360)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 13 August 2010 at 17:00

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Searching the Scriptures

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Andrew Fuller wrote the following on divine truth and human instruction:

Many religious people appear to be contented with seeing truth in the light in which some great and good man has placed it; but if ever we enter into the gospel to purpose, it must be by reading the word of God for ourselves, and by praying and meditating upon its sacred contents. It is “in God’s light that we must see light” [cf. Psalm 36:9]… The writings of great and good men are not to be despised, any more than their preaching: only let them not be treated as oracular. The best of men, in this imperfect state, view things partially, and therefore are in danger of laying an improper stress upon some parts of Scripture, to the neglect of other parts of equal, and sometimes of superior importance…. If we adopt the principles of fallible men, without searching the Scriptures for ourselves, and inquiring whether or not these things be so, they will not, even allowing them to be on the side of truth, avail us, as if we had learned them from a higher authority. Our faith, in this case, will stand in the wisdom of man, and not in the power of God…. Truth learned only at second-hand will be to us what Saul’s armour was to David; we shall be at a loss how to use it in the day of trial.[1]


[1] Nature and Importance of an Intimate Knowledge of Divine Truth in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, revised Joseph Belcher (1845 ed.; repr. Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 1:164.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 14 August 2008 at 12:52

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