The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘William S. Plumer

Alphabetizing the Saviour

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A friend sent me an excerpt from the Inauguration Address of William Swan Plumer as Professor of Didactic and Pastoral Theology at Western Theological Seminary in 1854. Some readers might know Plumer as the commentator on the Psalms, or as author of other excellent works. Within a couple of paragraphs in the written record, he takes off, flies, and soars. Here is his magnificent opening gambit. Do read it, soak in it, profit by it, and live in the light of it.

Jesus Christ is a wonderful, glorious person. To look away from self and man to Christ, is to lay hold on everlasting life. If men would be safe, let them flee to him. When he is in the ascendant, the night flies away, and the morning comes – a morning without clouds. His names and titles are as important as they are significant. Every one of them is as ointment poured forth. His lips drop as the honey-comb – honey and milk are under his tongue, and the smell of his garments is like the smell of Lebanon. His people sit under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to their taste. To them he is altogether lovely. He is their Advocate, the angel of the covenant, the author and finisher of faith. He is as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, the alpha and the omega, the Beloved, the shepherd and bishop of souls, the bread of life, the bundle of myrrh, the bridegroom, the bright and morning star, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person.

He is their Creator, captain, counselor, covenant, cornerstone, covert from the tempest, a cluster of camphor, and chiefest among ten thousand. He is to them as the Dew, the door into the fold, a diadem, a daysman, a day-star, a deliverer, and the desire of all nations, ranks and generations of pious men.

In their eyes he is the Elect Emmanuel, the everlasting Father, and eternal life. He is a Fountain of living waters to thirsty souls, of joy to troubled ones, of life to dying ones. He is the foundation on which his people, with safety, build their hopes of heaven. He is the father of eternity, the fir-tree under whose shadow the saints rejoice, the first and the last, the first fruits, the first-born among many brethren, and the first begotten from the dead.

To his chosen he is as the most fine Gold, a guide, a governor, a glorious Lord, God, the true God over all, God blessed forever. He is Head of the church, the help, the hope, the husband, the heritage, the habitation of his people. He is the horn of their salvation. He rides upon the heavens by his name, JAH. He is the Jehovah of armies, the Inheritance, Judge and King of his people. He is their Light, their life, their leader, their law-giver, their atoning lamb, the lily of the valley, the lion of the tribe of Judah.

He is the Man Christ Jesus, the master, the mediator, the minister of the true sanctuary which the Lord pitched, and not man. He is the mighty God of Isaiah, the morning-star of John, the Michael of Daniel, the Melchisedek of David and Paul, and the Messiah of all the prophets. He is the Only-begotten of the Father – full of grace and truth. He is both the root and the off-spring of David. He is the Peace, the prince, the priest, the prophet, the purified, the potentate, the propitiation, the physician, the plant of renown, the power of God, the passover of all saints. He is a polished shaft in the quiver of God.

He is the Rock, the refuge, the ruler, the ransom, the refiner, the redeemer, the righteousness and the resurrection of all humble souls. He is the rose of Sharon. He is the Seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the Son of God, the son of man, the strength, the shield, the surety, the shepherd, the Shiloh, the sacrifice, the sanctuary, the salvation, the sanctification, and the sun of righteousness of all believers.

He is that holy thing that was born of Mary. He is the Truth, the treasure, the teacher, the temple, the tree of life, the great testator of his church. He is the Way, the well of salvation, the word of God, the wisdom of God, the faithful witness, the wonderful.

His person is one; but his natures are two. He is both human and divine, finite and infinite, created and uncreated. He was before Abraham, though not born till for ages the patriarch had slept with his fathers. He was dead, and is alive forevermore. On earth he had not where to lay his head, yet he disposes of all diadems. He has the arm of a God, and the heart of a brother. To him all tongues shall confess and all knees bow; yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. None loves like him, none pities like him, none saves like him. It is not surprising that such a person lives and reigns in the hearts of his people. No marvel that the virgins love him, and the saints praise him, and the martyrs die for him, and the sorrowing long for him, and the penitent pour out their tears before him, and the humble trust in him, and the believing lay fast hold of him. His frown shakes the heavens, his smile gives life, his presence converts dungeons into palaces, his blood cleanses from all sin, his righteousness is the white robe of the redeemed.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 6 September 2018 at 10:23

Posted in Christology

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Wrapping up pastoral theology

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Well, here we are.

This is the last batch for the present of the alphabetical run-through of some pastoral theology volumes. It is by no means intended to be exhaustive. Indeed, since I began there are already another two or three volumes in my hands which need to be added (I hope to do so shortly), and countless others that might be considered.

The full list to date continues to be available here or from the sidebar under “Pastoral theology.” Comments and further recommendations are appreciated , and if you could put them on the full page, I will be able to keep track of them more readily.

A couple of things to watch out for: I am still planning a competition associated with the list, but need to get a couple of things in place first. Also, conscious of how much else is out there of enduring value in terms of pastoral theology but not formally found under that heading (perhaps hidden away in other collections or under cover of a different theme), I hope to begin a list of ‘pastoralia’ that may be helpful to gospel ministers in understanding their calling and developing their craft.

However, for the time being, I trust that these are useful and that the brief overviews might provide pastors and students for the ministry with some hints and helps toward a filling out and filling up of their work.

Thomas, Geoffrey. Preaching: The Man, the Message, the Method. Geoff can be utterly scintillating, and his credibility as a man who has laboured in one place for over fifty years gives him a solid platform for what he has to say. Sweeping, properly assertive, and full of insights, this again is one of those foundational treatments that it is good to revisit from time to time to recalibrate our efforts and expectations in our work. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Taylor, William M. and Plumer, William S. The Ministry of the Word & Hints and Helps in Pastoral Theology. I bundle these together because my edition is two-books-in-one. I really appreciate Taylor. His primary concern is preaching (although there is some good material on private pastoral ministry), and with a robust style he deals with his topic in a way that utterly exposes carelessness and lukewarmness. Taylor abounds with solid Scriptural sense and a bracing tone presses his advice deep into the soul. Plumer is another favourite, though his style is very different. He has a slightly broader scope than Taylor, taking up a variety of more circumstantial topics (such as religious excitements, revivals, visiting the sick, whether to become a foreign missionary, and so on) and is pithier, covering his ground more quickly. In typical style, he also provides a chapter of sayings for ministers, showing some of the gleanings of his own studies. Apart, these would be formidable; together, we are in the presence of Boanerges! (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk (Taylor/Plumer) / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Tyng, Stephen H. The Christian Pastor: The Office and Duty of the Gospel Minister. A very devotional little treatment, breathing a heavenly atmosphere and explicitly taken up with the preacher as a gospel minister. Much to say about the Christlike character of the man of God, and the Christlike way in which he goes about his duty, all borne of long pastoral experience and plainly the product of careful, prayerful consideration. One of those volumes that will do as much if not more to engage the heart for the work as it does to instruct the mind in it. Such always do my soul good, even if I am told little new. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Ventura, Rob and Walker, Jeremy. A Portrait of Paul. This book attempts to provide a portrait of the apostle as pastor and preacher grounded in his dealings with the Colossian church. It considers some of the elements of the apostle’s character and endeavours in a way intended to help the pastor-preacher, those who hear him and are served by him, and those seeking a faithful undershepherd for their souls. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Wells, John D. The Pastor in the Sick Room: Ministering the Gospel to Those on the Brink of Eternity. Really a plea not to neglect those on the borders of the world to come from a sense of despair at their prospects, together with a desire to ensure that flawed sentiments and feeble convictions do not breed false expectations and hopes in the minister or those to whom he ministers. In our society, death is sometimes considered a little further off, or held at arm’s length, but this is full of useful counsel for the moments when it presses near. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

White, James R. Pulpit Crimes: The Criminal Handling of God’s Word. White’s blending of quite highbrow or technical language with more earthy or popular phrases can take getting used to (e.g. a chapter on “Felonious Eisegesis” followed by one called “Cross Dressing,” a sort of cross-dressing in itself!). In a bracing style that can sometimes feel a little aggressive and self-confident, White comes close at times to absolutism and oversimplification, but it is the fruit of his deeply-held convictions and concerns. He has a righteously high view of the pulpit and of preaching, and begins by establishing these Scripturally. Then he brings his charges against modern mishandlers of the Word, considering each one in turn. I appreciate many of his concerns, and hope that he will be well heeded. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Witmer, Timothy Z. The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church. This is, of necessity, substantially an inward-looking book, concerned most directly with the care of the flock of God. It is a bold call for bold shepherding of a close, personal and specific nature, with much good counsel as to how to accomplish the task, and as such is warmly commended. The principles that our author sets out are clearly and Biblically delineated, but the assumed standards (the present norm) and the designated targets (the shepherd’s aims) in their outworking reveal the tragically, cripplingly low level of churchmanship that is practiced in the West today (this is not an inherent criticism of the author; I do not know his own practice). Some of his systems and recommendations can appear a little mechanical. The problem is undeniable, the principles are excellent, but the practice could do with a course of steroids. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

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

Posted in Miscellany

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