Hillsong NYC Youth Leader Appears as ‘Naked Cowboy’ Reportedly for Women’s Conference

Simila-compressed
Photo Credit: Instagram

NEW YORK — Concerns are being raised after the youth leader at Hillsong NYC appeared as the “naked cowboy” at a recent women’s conference.

Hillsong’s Colour Conference was held on May 6 and 7 in Madison Square Garden with ticket prices set at $209.50 a person in advance and $219.50 at the door.

“Colour seeks to ‘gather, equip and mobilize’ women of all age, background and culture in the belief that together we can and will make the world a better place,” a description of the event reads. “Our team labor to create an atmosphere that will refresh heart and soul, and inspire transformation. Our desire is that worship, creativity and the presentation of God’s Word (the Bible) will honor the King of heaven and cause faith to rise, enabling the enormous potential within to become reality.”

But online video footage of the event shows members of Hillsong NYC engaging in patriotic shout-outs and performing the song “New York, New York” surrounded by firemen, a costumed statue of liberty, Broadway dancers—and a look-alike of the city’s notorious “Naked Cowboy.”

The “Naked Cowboy,” dressed in only his underwear and a cowboy hat, moves to the front of the stage at one point and blows kisses to the cheering, flag-waving crowd. Hillsong NYC leader Carl Lentz is believed to be seen in the footage, as well as Bobbie Houston and her son Ben Houston, who leads Hillsong Los Angeles.

At first, the identity of the “Naked Cowboy” was a mystery to outsiders who viewed the online footage, but one Instagram user named Kelly Amber soon posted a snapshot of the event online, writing “light and shade #colour conf.” She also tagged Ben Houston and Hillsong NYC youth leader Diego Simila in the photograph.

Followers began chiming in, “Is that Diego with his shirt off?” “His shirt wasn’t the only thing missing!! @diegosimilaaka ‘naked cowboy’!!” and “Not surprised that it was @diegosimila.”

Simila has served as the youth leader at Hillsong NYC since 2010. A former model, Simila sports his last name tattooed in large script across his chest, which can be seen in the video footage.

According to an online video featuring Simila preaching at LifePointe Church in Olathe, Kansas last year, Simila was formerly a part of a boy band in California, but believed that God had called him to leave it all and attend Bible college at Hillsong Sydney. After graduating, he moved back to California where he worked as a model, until he then felt led to move to New York City.

“He lived homeless there for about three weeks and he was just jumping from couch to couch. But he was faithful, and all of a sudden in a short, short time, he winds up being asked, being told to be the Youth Pastor of Hillsong New York City, started in 2010,” LifePointe leader Patrick Norris explains to the congregation.

But some find it inappropriate to have a youth minister appear as the “naked cowboy” and parade himself in his underwear at a women’s conference presented by a professing Christian church.

“I usually don’t expect to see a near-naked cowboy gyrating from the stage of a Christian women’s conference. Nor would I see and hear thousands of Christian females applauding and squealing in delight, and spurring on the performance. Indeed if I were of the world, I’d expect these sights and sounds to come from a giant bachelorette party at a strip club,” wrote Amy Spreeman of Berean Research.

“Hillsong continues to astound by their complete and utter disregard for how scripture instructs Christians to conduct their lives in this present evil age,” also commented the blog Pirate Christian. “First they brought us sleezy Silent Night. Then they had the sexual pervert Austin Powers appear at their women’s conference in London and now they’ve had The Naked Cowboy appear at their women’s conference in New York. We fear to see what they have in store for their next conference.”

Hillsong’s contact information is not posted online and therefore none could be reached for comment.

A Tale of Two Assemblies

by theweeflea

A report of the Church of Scotland and Free Church General Assemblies in Christian Today – A Tale of Two Assemblies

Another year, another annual church assembly, another battle and series of headlines about the church and sexuality. Deja vue. At this year’s General Assembly the Church of Scotland ‘crossed a Rubicon’ (as the Principal Clerk pointed out). It voted by 339 to 215 to allow those in same sex marriages to be ministers. Although, somewhat bizarrely, it will not allow them to marry, or be married in church and it still officially holds to the biblical view that marriage is between a man and a woman. This will doubtless be rectified in the next couple of years when a theological commission reports and new rules will be put in place. It will probably be 2019 before the issue which began in 2009 is settled. Why is it taking so long?

It’s not so much the vagaries of Presbyterian procedure that is causing the delay, as it is church politics. There are still a declining number of evangelicals within the Kirk and the Establishment wants to do whatever it can to keep them on board. It was interesting that this year’s outgoing moderator, the evangelical Rev. Dr Angus Morrison, was thanked by the incoming moderator for being an evangelical Highlander who managed to keep most of the evangelicals on board. It was as the Moderator said, ‘for such a time as this’ that he was appointed.

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Of course same sex marriage (SSM) was not the only issue discussed – indeed the discussion was very limited. The Church of Scotland also had other issues to face. There was the Columba Declaration – a formal agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (something which had caused an adverse reaction from the Scottish Episcopal Church). Archbishop Welby spoke to the Assembly and declared that the most significant part of the Columba Declaration was both denominations formally recognising each other as Churches. This came as a bit of surprise to those who had assumed they already did. Meanwhile other Presbyterian churches, such as the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the United Free Church and the Presbyterian Church of Australia warned that they might have to withdraw from fellowship with the Church of Scotland if it continued on its current course.

Although the Kirk has not quite yet decided on SSM, it has decided that it would be better for the UK to remain in the EU, that the church should disinvest from companies who make their money out of fossil fuels, and that parents should be banned from smacking their children.

The main problem remains the accelerating decline within the church’s numbers. This year the Kirk lost over 14,000 members, the equivalent of one church per week being closed. It has 120 vacancies with many more due in the next decade and only 40 ministerial candidates in training. Its congregational demographic is aging with 20 per cent of congregations having no young people and children at all. It was suggested at the General Assembly that it would have to sell around 40 per cent of its buildings within the next decade. With some 350,000 members, the Kirk still remains a force within Scottish society but it is a fading one. The Rev Dr Andrew McGowan warned that although only 3 per cent of ministers had left over the SSM issue, thousands of members had and were continuing to leave. Although there was a great deal of positive talk about fresh expressions, internet initiatives and various new ministry outreaches, the reality is that just as there are arguments about sexuality at every Assembly so there are promises of jam tomorrow.

GA16 Sarah and John Nicholls nwb

Meanwhile, across the road the much smaller Free Church of Scotland also had an Assembly. The Free Church is in a period of growth, with around 15,000 members and adherents and 100 congregations. Some of this is due to people leaving the Church of Scotland. Two new congregations were welcomed into the denomination, Broughty Ferry in Dundee and the West church from Inverness – both from the Church of Scotland. One former C of S minister explained how he has been warned that leaving the Kirk would mean heading into the wilderness, but that he had found the wilderness to be a fruitful place! Much of the Free Church’s growth is due to new church plants, a renewed emphasis on evangelism and growing numbers of young people coming. The Free Church has 20 ministerial students in its rapidly expanding Edinburgh Theological Seminary which means that new churches and new ministries will need to be started. The Assembly also agreed to look at starting church schools and continuing to develop relationships with other denominations.

As the retiring moderator of the Free Church and a committed evangelical of course I have a bias. But my bias is best summed up in the words of Thomas Chalmers, one of the founding fathers of the Free Church – ‘who cares for the Free Church, compared with the Christian good of Scotland’. The Free Church will need to continue to develop, change and reach out if it is to be effective in winning back the lost ground for the Church in Scotland today. And no Christian can be glad at the decline of the C of S. It is distressing to me that the Church of Scotland has lost half its members in a decade and seems to be in freefall.

Former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Dr Russell Barr welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, to the general assembly in Edinburgh.
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(the future is African!)

One small unreported incident perhaps shows where things are going and points to a better future. The delegates from the East African Presbyterian Church left the Church of Scotland Assembly over the decisions on SSM, and came to visit the Free Church. They are a church which was founded by Scottish Presbyterians but which now has four million members in Kenya. They expressed concern at the continuing theological, moral and numerical decline of the Church of Scotland. Perhaps they will be the ones who send missionaries to the UK?

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(The empty chairs at the new Charlotte Chapel – which will be filled this Sunday).

There are churches in Scotland that are growing, not only in the Free Church. In another sign of good things to come Charlotte Chapel Baptist Church, in the centre of Edinburgh has purchased and refurbished the former Church of Scotland, St Georges West, in Edinburgh (at a cost of some £3.5 million). This growing congregation of over 700 people and other FIEC churches, along with charismatic churches such as the growing Destiny churches, and the renewed Free Church, perhaps indicate a different trajectory for the Church in Scotland. St Georges West was the place where the Free Church began, in the Great Disruption of 1843, which itself resulted in a flood of new churches, schools and missionary endeavour. Perhaps its physical renewal is a sign of better things to come, a spiritual renewal for the whole church in Scotland?

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Back to the Future – the 2009 General Assembly

by theweeflea

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In 2009 I was the editor of The Record.  As such I wrote a commentary on the Church of Scotland General Assembly of that year in which I argued that it was the beginning of the end for the C of S.  I doubt that there is an article that I have received a stronger backlash to -especially from some evangelicals who thought it was way too pessimistic, out of touch and not recognising what they were doing to take over the Kirk.  Even some within the Free Church thought I had gone too far.  People wrote of how they had been ‘hurt’ and how I just did not understand, that I was being denominational and just plain wrong.   Much as it would have been humbling (not a bad thing!) to have been wrong, I had hoped that I would have been proved to be wrong.  But yesterdays events show different.  They are the fruits of the ‘trajectory’ set in 2009 and the tactics adopted by evangelicals then.   As I watched the 2016 GA yesterday that article came to mind.   I will write something about yesterdays disastrous proceedings tomorrow, but in a sense I feel I almost don’t need to.  The article from seven years ago almost says it all.    How things have changed in both the Church of Scotland and the Free Church since then – and indeed in Scottish society!   Anyway the following is from August 2009.   Deja Vu….

Ichabod – The Glory has Departed

The history of the Church in Scotland is full of ups and downs. The Romans, the Celtic Church, the darkness of the Pre-Reformation period, the Scottish Reformation, the Covenanters, and the Disruption are all indicative of that. Most of us have been proud of the effect that the Gospel has had in this small country on the North West tip of Europe, and the impact that Scots have thus had upon the wider world. There was something glorious about what God did in making this small nation become ‘the People of the Book’. No longer. Ichabod – the Glory has departed. Over a century of theological liberalism being taught in and through our churches has finally come home to roost. If anyone doubted how sick the Church in Scotland has become then the recent events in the Church of Scotland General Assembly have provided more than enough proof.

What happened? On Saturday May 23rd the General Assembly voted to approve the induction of the Rev Scott Rennie to Queens Cross Church in Aberdeen – even though Mr Rennie is living with his male partner. In terms of logic, reason and Scripture the debate was overwhelmingly won by those who sought to be faithful to the Scriptures. But logic, reason and Scripture were trounced by emotion, illogic, church politics, political correctness and sheer cowardice (there were over 250 abstentions).

It got worse.   On Monday the Assembly dealt with a petition from the Presbytery of Skye and Lochcarron which called for those who are ordained as ministers to be faithful in biblical marriage and to abstain from sexual conduct outwith. It beggars belief that such a motion would even have to be voted on but through the machinations of the liberal establishment, aided and abeted by those who claim to be ‘evangelical’, the motion had to be withdrawn. The Acting Principal Clerk behaved in an appalling manner – allowing a motion which was opposed to the Skye petition to be treated separately and then, when it was passed, insisting that the Skye petition could not mention homosexuality. Rev Ivor MacDonald was hungout to dry and compelled to withdraw.   Dr John McPakes’ and Rev Angus Morrison’s motion set up a two year commission and ordered all office bearers to be silent in public about the issue. An amendment from Rev Jim Stewart means that no further ‘gay’ ordinations should take place during this period. The whole thing was a shambles.

To hear a post-modern post Free Presbyterian tell the assembly that there “is great diversity of opinion on issues of human sexuality…but greater is our unity in Christ” was breathtakingly depressing. Mr Morrison went on to say “The commission is to uncover and discover this unity we have in Christ”. How do you have unity in Christ if you ignore the Word of Christ?

The proposal from Dr McPake and Rev Angus Morrison is not of course about ‘finding the truth’ or ‘discerning what the Scriptures have to say’. It is simply about damage limitation and trying to ensure that the evangelicals stay in and do not stop providing money for the rest of the Church. No one seriously believes that the 2011 Assembly is going to undo the 2009 Assembly.

The seriousness of what occurred on Monday is underlined by the reason the Aberdeen Presbytery gave for supporting an active homosexual ministry. The Presbytery stated in their reasons –

“The ‘Word of God’ is not synonymous with the Scriptures, but it can, in part, be discerned from the Scriptures through prayer and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

The Assembly accepted this. It is now the official doctrine of the Church of Scotland that the Bible is not the Word of God but only contains the Word of God. How then do we know which parts of the Bible are the ‘Word of God’? Through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Does this mean that the Church of Scotland has gone all charismatic? No. This is a return to the pre-reformation Catholic church where the church determines what God is saying. The commission of nine is nothing less than a new magisterium. Presbyteries are only to be ‘consulted’ because they cannot be trusted. After all did Presbyteries not vote 36-9 against the idea of civil partnerships in 2007? Meanwhile the courts of the Church are ordered to be silent and not to discuss the matter. We have moved from the liberty of the Word of God (which is the Bible) to the tyranny of the magisterium.

And if you thought that Monday was the lowest – think again. On Tuesday the Assembly plumbed new depths. Rev Peter McDonald the new leader of the Iona community regaled the assembly with accounts of his pre-marital sexual activities.   This would have been bad enough, but not only was there not a word from the Moderator (who at the very least should have pointed out how inappropriate such language was) but there was lots of laughter and joking. At least one commissioner had to remove himself from the Assembly and be physically sick. A good friend walked out in disgust. Another commented

“I can hardly believe that fornication is being celebrated in the Assembly”. As one minister bravely pointed out to the Assembly – he would have been ashamed if any of his four daughters had been present. Was this really the same Assembly which Dr McPake boasted “we have redeemed ourselves by our dignity”?

So where are we? The Church of Scotland has declared that the Bible is not the Word of God, that active homosexuality is no bar to the ministry, that a magisterium is to be set up to determine what the Word of God is, and crowns it all by an unchecked stomach churning display of mockery and faux repentance. A rubicon has been crossed and there is no turning back.

In an irony beyond ironies, Alec Salmond addressed the Assembly and spoke about how the political institutions of the country were lacking in moral leadership. Was he really suggesting that such moral guidance would come from this Assembly?

I heard a Church of Scotland minister citing 2 Peter 2 as relevant to the situation. He was right. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. “ 2 Peter 2:1-2

Where do we go from here? There was much speculation in the press about another split in the Church, and there have been murmurings from some quarters. But anyone with any real knowledge of the Church in Scotland knows that that is not going to happen. Why? For the following reasons:

  • Evangelicals are far too divided (as one evangelical minister put it – you get ten evangelicals in one room and you will get twenty opinions),
  • It is written deep within the DNA of most C of S evangelicals that one just does not leave ‘Mother Kirk’. The strategy for years has been to ‘reform’ the national church and no-one will want to admit that that has at one level failed (although at another level the establishment of good congregations and the preaching of the Word to tens of thousands has been wonderfully successful).
  • Whilst there are many evangelical ministeries there are far fewer evangelical congregations. Many evangelical ministers exercise faithful ministeries in congregations which are ‘mixed’ and which can take decades to turn around.
  • The centralized control of the Church of Scotland means that many men would lose their wages, their manses and their buildings.   This is a high price to pay and one which most are not prepared to pay. It is all very well for people to cite the Disruption – but the Disruption men were well organized, well financed and had ten years to prepare. They also operated in a very different culture.
  • There appears to be no suitable alternative. Even if a minister could take his whole congregation and hold on to, or obtain new property (and don’t expect the tolerant ‘liberals’ to share or allow property to go – they need to be able to sell it to maintain their own stipends and properties and why should they care about the proclamation of a Gospel they do not believe in?) where do they go? Independency may seem attractive but surely it is not suitable for a Presbyterian. The Free Church is not open currently to congregations which use musical instruments and sing hymns, and there is no one else. Scotland needs yet another new denomination like a hole in the head – unless it is to be one which involves the whole Free Church, APC and most C of S evangelicals (and then of course we would be two denominations less!).

So most evangelicals will bite the bullet and stay. Some will act as virtual Independents as far as the Presbyterian system will allow them to (and this will be a lot harder than in the Anglican church), others are happy just to wear the badge evangelical but in reality only consider it to be one shade in a multi-coloured Church, still others will form organizations in the hope of both retaining their own people and ultimately reforming the Church.   In this latter respect it is good to see men like Willie Philip and Peter Dickson and others, putting their money where their mouth is, forming the Fellowship of Confessing Churches and seeking to actually do something.   And there are those who will drift away. Some ministers will go to other churches, some will get out of the country and many members will look for alternatives. It is the real politik of this latter fact that means that the energy of many evangelicals will be taken up in trying to persuade Christians to remain within the Church. Whatever happens, barring an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Church of Scotland is crippled and dying and will find itself increasingly unable to bring the Living Water of Jesus Christ to a thirsty nation.

What about the Free Church? What should our response be?

We have to respond. This is the most significant event in the history of the Church in Scotland since the union of 1929. It affects us all. Again we simply list some suggestions.

  • We need to repent as well. There must not be even a hint of schadenfreude, delighting in another’s misery in order to indulge in an ‘I told you so’ kind of self-justification. How effective are we in reaching Scotland’s millions? Any form of pride or thankfulness that we are not as others, is utterly reprehensible and totally unjustified.
  • We must offer as much support we can to our brothers and sisters who are really hurt and suffering within the Church of Scotland. Not because we want to entice them to join us, but simply because they are our brothers and sisters. Many of them are faithful, hardworking and fine Christians who have served Christ for many years within and through the Church of Scotland. They are pained beyond belief. Now is not the time to stick the boot in. Now is the time to offer a helping hand. Including to those who will stay.
  • We need to provide a home for those who cannot stay. If this means for the sake of Christian unity that we have to allow them to worship God in the way they are used to – then so be it. It is surely not a co-incidence that the year before the Special Commission is due to report the Free Church will be debating and deciding on whether to amend what forms of worship will be allowed within our bounds. We should not do what is unbiblical or sinful in order to facilitate Christian unity, but neither should we allow disagreement on secondary issues (disagreements which we have amongst ourselves already) to prevent us from uniting with like minded brothers and sisters.
  • A renewed Free Church is the best hope for Scotland just now.

  • We also need to gently challenge the pre-suppositions and paradigms that many evangelicals within the C of S and many within the Free Church have. It is time for us all to recognize that we are no longer in the 19th Century, or even in the 20th. We are no longer a Christian society with a national church which just needs to be reformed. We are in a post modern secular society where the vast majority of people are ignorant of the Gospel, ignorant of the Bible and have little or no meaningful concept of the Church. For us this is a new beginning. We need new wine and for that we need new wineskins.
  • We need to inform the Church of Scotland that the stumbling block in our negotiations with them has just become a mountain. We always knew that the issue of scripture was the major one, but now that the Assembly has decided that Scripture is not synonymous with the Word of God, it is difficult to see on what basis we can have any meaningful official discussions. One leading evangelical informed us at one point- ‘you work with all of us, or you work with none of us’. One hopes he was speaking on his own behalf and not on behalf of others. Because our position is crystal clear. We will work with any Christians who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the final authority of his Word.   We cannot work with or proclaim the Gospel with people with whom we do not share that same Gospel. The choice for evangelicals within the Kirk is simply who are you loyal to? Your brothers and sisters in Christ (whatever the denomination) or your denomination (whether or not they are your brothers and sisters in Christ).
  • I have heard men say that they need to stay in order to pastor their congregations. This is an admirable and worthy reason. But such men also need to ask whether it is good pastoring to ask people to remain in a denomination which rejects the Bible as the Word of God?

  • We need to seek realistic co-operation and build bridges to overcome years of prejudice and misinformation on all sides. At an official level Free Church presbyteries could offer associate status to Church of Scotland ministers, elders and congregations. We should seek to form Gospel partnerships in areas where we share the same theology and understanding of the Gospel. We would support rather than compete with one another and perhaps plant churches and worship together. Local congregations could have more joint services as has happened in some areas with the APC.

These are dark days and the worst is yet to come. But these are also days of great opportunity for the light of the Gospel to shine all the more brightly. Evangelicals must not back down from the stance bravely taken by the Fellowship of Confessing Churches. People are not stupid and they will smell a meaningless compromise a mile off. Neither is there any time, space or reason for self-indulgent, self-seeking disunity. We may all have to pay a price. And we should expect to.

Where is the passion of Knox who declared ‘give me Scotland or I die’? Where is the vision of Chalmers when he stated, ‘Who cares for the Free Church compared with the Christian good of Scotland”?

Those who share that passion and vision must unite – across denominations and make a stand to uphold and proclaim the wonderful full gospel of Jesus Christ. Who knows – it may be that these past days have been the shake up that a complacent church in Scotland has needed. May the latter days of the Gospel in Scotland be greater than the former.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Faithful Preaching of the Word

from May 21, 2016 Category: Articles

Many things are talked about as necessary for the health and growth of the church today. People talk about certain programs as essential. It is true that they are important. We have such a diversified culture that people have their own individual problems. The family is fragmented, and the kind of reinforcement along Christian lines that ought to take place in homes does not always take place. The church is trying to minister specifically at these points through programs. Still, if you think back to the time of the Great Awakening in this country, you will realize that churches at that time had hardly any programs at all, at least nothing that we would recognize as programs. There were no youth groups, no graded Sunday schools, no bowling leagues, no baseball teams. But those churches were healthy. Why? Because they had the faithful preaching of the Word.

This excerpt is taken from James Boice’s contribution in Feed My Sheep.

A Blast of the Trumpet Against False Peace

The New Park Street Pulpit

A Blast of the Trumpet Against False Peace

 

A Sermon
(No. 301)Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 26th, 1860, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At Exeter Hall, Strand.


“Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”—Jeremiah 6:14.

INISTERS ARE FEARFULLY GUILTY if they intentionally build up men in a false peace. I cannot imagine any man more greatly guilty of blood than he who plays jackal to the lion of hell, by pandering to the depraved tastes of vain, rebellious man. The physician who should pamper a man in his disease, who should feed his cancer, or inject continual poison into the system, while at the same time he promised sound health and long life such a physician would not be one half so hideous a monster of cruelty as the professed minister of Christ who should bid his people take comfort, when, instead thereof, he ought to be crying, “Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion: be troubled, ye careless ones.” The work of the ministry is no child’s play; it is a labor which might fill an angel’s hands—did fill the Savior’s heart. Much prayer we need that we may be kept honest, and much grace that we may not mislead the souls whom we are bound to guide The pilot who should pretend to steer a ship toward its proper haven, but who should meanwhile occupy himself below with boring holes in her keel that she might sink, would not be a worse traitor than the man who takes the helm of a church, and professes to be steering it towards Christ, while all the while he is ruining it by diluting the truth as it is in Jesus, concealing unpalatable truths, and lulling men into security with soft and flattering words. We might sooner pardon the assassin who stretches forth his hand under the guise of friendship, and then stabs us to the heart, than we could forgive the man who comes towards us with smooth words, telling us that he is God’s ambassador, but all the while foments rebellion in ours hearts, and pacifies us while we are living in revolt against the majesty of heaven. In the great day when Jehovah shall launch his thunderbolts, methinks he will reserve one more dread and terrible than the rest, for some arch-traitor to the cross of Christ, who has not only destroyed himself, but led others into hell.
    The motive with these false prophets is an abominable one. Jeremiah tells us it was an evil covetousness. They preached smooth things because the people would have it so, because they thus brought grist to their own mill, and glory to their own names. Their design was abominable, and without doubt, their end shall be desperate—cast away with the refuse of mankind. These who professed to be the precious sons of God, comparable to fine gold, shall be esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter.
    But, my dear hearers, it is a lamentable fact, that without any hireling-shepherd to cry, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace,” men will cry that for themselves. They need not the syren song to entice them to the rocks of presumption and rash confidence. There is a tendency in their own hearts to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter—to think well of their evil estate and foster themselves in proud conceit. No man is ever too severe with himself. We hold the scales of justice with a very unsteady hand when our character is in the balance. We are too ready to say, “I am rich and increased in goods,” when at the game time we are naked, and poor, and miserable. Let men alone, let no deluder seek to deceive them, hush for ever every false and tempting voice, they will themselves, impelled by their own pride; run to an evil conceit, and make themselves at ease, though God himself is in arms against them.
    My solemn business this morning shall be, and O may God help me in it, drag forth to the light some of you who have been pacifying your own consciences, and have been crying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
    It is no uncommon thing with me to meet with people who say, “Well, I am happy enough. My conscience never troubles me. I believe if I were to die I should go to heaven as well as anybody else.” I know that those men are living in the commission of glaring acts of sin, and I am sure they could not prove their innocence even before the bar of man; yet will these men look you in the face and tell you that they are not at all disturbed at the prospect of dying. They laugh at death as though it were but a scene in a comedy, and joke at the grave as if they could leap in and out of it at their pleasure. Well, gentlemen, I will take you at your word, though I don’t believe you. I will suppose you have this peace, and I will endeavor to account for it on certain grounds which may render it somewhat more difficult for you to remain in it. I do pray that God the Holy Spirit may destroy these foundations, and pull up these bulwarks of yours, and make you feel uneasy in your consciences and troubled in your minds; for unease is the road to ease and disquiet in the soul is the road to the true quiet. To be tormented on account of sin is the path to peace, and happy shall I be if I can hurl a fire-brand into your hearts this morning; if I shall be able, like Samson, to turn at least some little foxes loose into the standing corn of your self-conceit and set your heart in a blaze.
    1. The first person I shall have to deal with this morning, is the man who has peace because he spends his life in a ceaseless round of gaiety and frivolity. You have scarcely come from one place of amusement before you enter another. You are always planning some excursion, and dividing the day between one entertainment and another. You know that you are never happy except you are in what you call gay society, where the frivolous conversation will prevent you from hearing the voice of your conscience. In the morning you will be asleep while God’s sun is shining, but at night you will be spending precious time in some place of foolish, if not lascivious mirth. Like Saul, the deserted king, you have an unquiet spirit and therefore you can for music, and it hath its charms, doubtless, charms not only to soothe the stubborn breast, but to still a stubborn conscience for awhile, but while its notes are carrying you upwards towards heaven, in some grand composition of a master author, I beseech you never to forget that your sins are carrying you down to hell. If the harp should fail you, then you call for Nabal’s feast. There shall be a sheep shearing, and you shall be drunken with wine, until your souls becomes as stolid as a stone. And then you wonder that you have peace. What wonder! Surely any man would have peace when his heart has become as hard as a stone. What weathers shall it feel? What tempests shall move the stubborn bowels of a granite rock? You sear your consciences, and then marvel that they feel not. Perhaps too, when both wine and the viol fail you, you will call for the dance, and the daughter of Herodias shall please Herod, even though John the Baptist’s head should pay its deadly price. Well, well, if you go from one of these scenes to another, I am at no loss to solve the riddle that there should be with you, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
    And now sit for your portraits, and I will paint you to the life. A company of idolaters are gathered together around an hideous image. There sits the blood-delighting Moloch. He is heated hot. The fire blazes in his brazen center, and a child is about to be put into his arms to be burnt to ashes. The mother and father are present when the offspring of their own loins is to be immolated. The little one shrieks with terror; its little body begins to consume in this desperate heat. Will not the parents hear the cry of their own flesh, and listen to the wailings of the fruit of their own bowels? Ah, no, the priests of Moloch will prevent the appeal of nature! Sounding their drums and blowing their trumpets with all their might they drown the cries of this poor immolated victim. It is what you are doing! Your soul is the victim to Satan! It is being destroyed now; and if you would but listen to its cries, if you would give yourself a little quiet, you might hear your poor soul shrieking, “Oh! do not destroy me; put not away from me the hope of mercy; damn me not; send me not down to hell.” These are shrieks that might penetrate your spirit, and startle you into wisdom. But no, you beat your drums, and sound your trumpets, and you have your dance and your merriment, that the noise of your poor soul may be hushed. Ah, sirs! there will be a day when you will have to hear your spirit speak. When your cups are empty, and not a drop of water can be given to your burning tongue—when your music has ceased, and the doleful “Miserere” of wailing souls shall be your Black Sanctus,—when you shall be launched for ever into a place where merriment and mirth are strangers—then you will hear the cries of your soul, but hear too late. Then shall each voice be as a dagger sticking in your souls. When your conscience shall, “Remember, thou hadst thy day of mercy; thou hadst thy day of the proclamation of the gospel, but thou didst reject it,” then thou wilt wish, but wish in vain, for thunders to come and drown that still small voice, which shall be more terrible in the ears than even the rumbling of the earthquake or the fury of the storm. Oh that ye would be wise and not fritter away your souls for gaiety. Poor sirs, poor sirs! There are nobler things for souls to do than to kill time—a soul immortal spending all its powers on these frivolities. Well might Young say of it, it resembles ocean into tempest tossed, to waft a feather or to drown a fly. These things are beneath you; they do no honor to you. Oh that you would begin to live! What a price you are paying for your mirth—eternal torment for an hour of jollity—separation from God for a brief day or two of sin! Be wise, men, I beseech you; open your eyes and look about you. Be not for ever madmen. Dance not for ever on this precipice, but stop and think. O Spirit of the loving God! stay thou the frivolous, and dart a burning thought into his soul that will not let him rest until he has tasted the solid joy, the lasting pleasure which none but Zion’s children know.
    2. Well, now I turn to another class of men. Finding that amusement at last has lost al its zest, having drained the cup of worldly pleasure till they find first satiety, and then disgust lying at the bottom, they want some stronger stimulus, and Satan who has drugged them once, has stronger opiates than mere merriment for the man who chooses to use them. If the frivolity of this world will not suffice to rock a soul to sleep, he hath a yet more hellish cradle for the soul. He will take you up to his own breast, and bid you suck therefrom his own devilish and Satanic nature that you may then be still and calm. I mean that he will lead you to imbibe infidel notions, and when this is fully accomplished, you can have “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” When I hear a man saying, “Well, I am peaceful enough, because I am not fool enough to believe in the existence of a God, or in a world to come, I cannot imagine that this old story book of yours—this Bible—is true,” I feel two thoughts within my soul, first, a disgust of the man for his dishonesty, and secondly, a pity for the sad disquietude that needs such dishonesty to cover it. Do not suspect the man of being honest. There are two sorts of infidels, one sort are such fools that they know they never could distinguish themselves by anything that was right, so they try and get a little fictitious glory by pretending to believe and defend a lie. There are another set of men who are unquiet in their consciences; they do not like the Bible because it does not like them; it will not let them be comfortable in their sins, it is such an uneasy book to them; they did put their heads upon it once, but it was like a pillow stuffed with thorns, so they have done with it, and they would be very glad if they could actually prove it to be untrue, which they know they cannot. I say then, I at once despise his falsehood, and pity the uneasiness of his conscience that could drive him to such a paltry shift as this, to cover his terrors from the eyes of others. The more the man brags, the more I feel he does not mean it; the louder he is in his blasphemies, the more he curses, the better he argues, the more sure I am that he is not sincere, except in his desire to stifle the groans of his uneasy spirit. Ah, you remind me with your fine arguments, of the Chinese soldiers. When they go out to battle, they carry on their arm a shield with hideous monsters depicted upon it, and making the loudest noise they can, they imagine their opponents will run away instantly, alarmed by these amazing manifestations. And, so you arm yourself with blasphemies and come out to attack God’s ministers, and think we will run away because of your sophistries. No, we smile upon them contemptuously. Once, we are told, the Chinese hung across their harbour, when the English were coming to attack them, a string of tigers’ heads. They said: “These barbarians will never dare to pass these ferocious heads.” So do these men hang a string of old, worn-out blasphemies and impieties and then they imagine that conscience will not be able to attack them, and that God himself will let them live at peace. Ah sir, you shall find the red-hot bullets of divine justice too many and too terrible for your sophisms. When you shall fall under the Arm of the Eternal God, vain will be your logic then. Dashed to shivers, you will believe in the omnipotence, when you are made to feel it; you will know his justice when it is too late to escape from its terror. Oh, be wise, cast away these day dreams. Cease to shut thy soul out of heaven; be wise, turn thee unto God whom thou hast abused. For “All manner of sin and blasphemy, shall be forgiven unto man.” He is ready to forgive you, ready to receive you, and Christ is ready to wash your blasphemy away. Now, to-day, if grace enable you, you may be an accepted child of that God whom you have hated, and pressed to the bosom of that Jehovah whose very existence you have dared to deny. God bless these words to you: if they have seemed hard, they were only meant to come home to your conscience; an affectionate heart has led me to utter them. Oh, do not this evil thing. Suck not in these infidel notions; destroy not your soul, for the sake of seeming to be wise, stop not the voice of your conscience by those arguments which you know in your inmost soul are not true, which you only repeat in order to keep up a semblance of consistency.
    3. I shall come now to a third class of men. These are people not particularly addicted to gaiety, nor especially given to infidel notions; but they are a sort of folk who are careless, and determined to let well alone. Their motto is, “Let tomorrow take care for the things of itself; let us live while we live; let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” If their conscience cries out at all, they bid it lie still. When the minister disturbs them, instead of listening to what he says, and so being brought into a state of real peace, they cry, “Hush! be quiet! there is time enough yet; I will not disturb myself with these childish fears: be still, sir, and lie down.” Ah! and you have been doing this for years, have you? Whenever you have heard an earnest powerful sermon, you have gone home and labored to get rid of it. A tear has stolen down your cheek now and then, and you have despised yourself for it. “Oh!” you say, “it is not manly for me to think of these things.” There have been a few twitches at times which you could not help, but the moment after you have your heart like a flint, impenetrably hard and stony. Well sir, I will give you a picture of yourself. There is a foolish farmer yonder in his house. It is the dead of night: the burglars are breaking in—men who will neither spare his life nor his treasure. There is a dog down below chained in the yard, it barks and barks, and howls again. “I cannot be quiet,” says the farmer, “my dog makes too much noise.” Another howl, and yet another yell. He creeps out of bed, gets his loaded gun, opens the window, fires it, and kills the dog. “Ah! it is all right now,” he mutters; he goes to bed, lies down, and quietly rests. “No hurt will come,” he says, “now; for I have made that dog quiet. Ah! but would that he could have listened to the warning of the faithful creature. Ere long he shall feel the knife, and rue his fatal folly. So you, when God is warning you—when your faithful conscience is doing its best to save you—you try to kill your only friend, while Satan and Sin are stealing up to the bedside of your slothfulness, and are ready to destroy your soul for ever and ever. What should we think of the sailor at sea who should seek to kill all the stormy petrels, that there might be an end to all storms? Would you not say, “Poor foolish man! why those birds are sent by a kind providence to warn him of the tempest. Why needs he injure them? They cause not the tumult; it is the raging sea.” So it is not your conscience that is guilty of the disturbance in your heart, it is your sin, and your conscience, acting true to its character, as God’s index in your soul, tells you that all is wrong. Would that ye would arise, and take the warning, and fly to Jesus while the hour of mercy lasts.
    To use another picture. A man sees his enemy before him. By the light of his candle he marks his insidious approach. His enemy looks fierce and black upon him, and is seeking his life. The man puts out the candle, and then exclaims, “I am now quite at peace.” This is what you do. Conscience is the candle of the Lord, it shows you your enemy; you try to put it out by saying, “Peace, peace.” Put the enemy out, sir I put the enemy out! God give you grace to thrust sin out! Oh may the Holy Spirit enable you to thrust your lusts out of doors! Then let the candle burn; and the more brightly its light shall shine, the better for your soul, now and hereafter. Oh! up ye sleepers, ye gaggers of conscience, what mean you? Why are you sleeping when death is hastening on, when eternity is near, when the great white throne is even now coming on the clouds of heaven when the trumpet of the resurrection is now being set to the mouth of the archangel—why do ye sleep! why will ye slumber? Oh that the voice of Jehovah might speak and make ye wake, that ye may escape from the wrath to come!
    4. A fourth set of men have a kind of peace that is the result of resolutions which they have made, but which they will never carry into effect. “Oh,” saith one, “I am quite easy enough in my mind, for when I have got a little more money I shall retire from business, and then I shall begin to think about eternal things.” Ah, but I would remind you that when you were an apprentice, you said you would reform when you became a journeyman; and when you were a journeyman, you used to say you would give good heed when you became a master. But hitherto these bills have never been paid when they became due. They have every one of them been dishonored as yet, and take my word for it, this new accommodation bill will be dishonored too. So you think to stifle conscience by what you will do by-and-bye. Ah, but will that by-and-bye ever come? And should it come, what reason is there to expect that you will then be any more ready than you are now. Hearts grow harder, sin grows stronger, vice becomes more deeply rooted by the lapse of years. You will find it certainly no easier to turn to God then than now. Now it is impossible to you, apart from divine grace; then it shall be quite as impossible, and if I might say so, there shall be more difficulties in the way then than even there are now. What think you is the value of these promises which you have made in the court of heaven? Will God take your word again, and again, and again, when you have broken it just as often as you have given it? Not long ago you were lying on your bed with fever, and if you lived you vowed you would repent. Have you repented? And yet you are fool enough to believe that you will repent by-and-bye, and on the strength of this promise, which is not worth a single straw, you are crying to yourself “peace, peace when there is no peace.” A man that waits for a more convenient season for thinking about the affairs of his soul, is like the countryman in Aesop’s fable, who sat down by a flowing river, saying, “If this steam continues to flow as it does now for a little while it will empty itself, and then I shall walk over dry-shod.” Ah, but the stream was just as deep when he had waited day after day as it was before. And so shall it be with you. You remind me by your procrastination of the ludicrous position of a man who should sit upon a lofty branch of some tree with a saw in his hand, cutting away the branch on which he was sitting. This is what you are doing. Your delay is cutting away your branch of life. No doubt you intend to cover the well when the child is drowned and to lock the stable door after the horse is stolen. These birds in the hand you are losing, because their may be some better hour, some better bird in the bush. You are thus getting a little quiet, but oh, at what a fatal cost! Paul was troublesome to you, and so you played the part of Felix, and said, “Go thy way for this time, when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” Conscience was unquiet, so you stopped his mouth with this sop for Cerberus; and you have gone to your bed with this lie under your pillow, with this falsehood in your right hand—that you will be better by-and-bye. Ah, sir, let me tell you once for all, you live to grow worse and worse. While you are procrastinating, time is not staying, nor is Satan resting. While you are saying, “Let things abide,” things are not abiding, but they are hastening on. You are ripening for the dread harvest, the sickle is being sharpened that shall cut you down, and the fire is even now blazing into which your spirit shall be cast for ever.
    5. Now I turn to another class of men, in order that I may miss none here who are saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” I do not doubt but that many of the people of London enjoy peace in their hearts, because they are ignorant of the things of God. It would positively alarm many of our sober orthodox Christians, if they could once have an idea of the utter ignorance of spiritual things that reigns throughout this land. Some of us, when moving about here and there, in all glasses of society, have often been led to remark, that there is less known of the truths of religion than of any science, however recondite that science may be. Take as a lamentable instance, the ordinary effusions of the secular press, and who can avoid remarking the ignorance they manifest as to true religion. Let the papers speak on politics, it is a matter they understand, and their ability is astonishing, but, once let them touch religion, and our Sabbath-school children could convict them of entire ignorance. The statements they put forth are so crude, so remote from the fact, that we are led to imagine that the presentation of a fourpenny testament to special correspondents, should be one of the first efforts of our societies for spreading the gospel among the heathen. As to theology, some of our great writers seem to be as little versed in it as a horse or a cow. Go among all ranks and classes of men, and singe the day we gave up our catechism, and old Dr. Watts’ and the Assemblies ceased to be used, people have not a clear idea of what is meant by the gospel of Christ. I have frequently heard it asserted, by those who have judged the modern pulpit without severity, that if a man attended a course of thirteen lectures on geology, he would get a pretty clear idea of the system, but that you might hear not merely thirteen sermons, but thirteen hundred sermons and you would not have a clear idea of the system of divinity that was meant to be taught. I believe that to a large extent that has been true. But the great change which has passed over the pulpit within the last two years, is a cause of the greatest thankfulness to God; and we believe will be a boon to the church and to the world at large. Ministers do preach more boldly than they did. There is more evangelical doctrine I believe preached in London now, in any one Sunday, than there was in a month before. But still there is in many quarters a profound ignorance as to the things of Christ. Our old Puritans—what masters they were in divinity! They knew the difference between the old covenant and the new; they did not mingle works and grace together. They penetrated into the recesses of gospel truth; they were always studying the Scriptures, and meditating on them both by day and night, and they shed a light upon the villages in which they preached, until you might have found in those days as profound theologians working upon stone heaps, as you can find in colleges and universities now a days. How few discern the spirituality of the law, the glory of the atonement, the perfection of justification, the beauty of sanctification, and the preciousness of real union to Christ. I do not marvel that we have a multitude of men who are mere professors and mere formalists, who are nevertheless quite as comfortable in their minds as though they were possessors of vital godliness, and really walked in the true fear of God.
    There was not—I speak of things that were—there was not in the pulpit a little while ago, a discernment between things that differ; there was not a separating between the precious and the vile. The grand cardinal points of the Gospel, if not denied, were ignored. We began to think that the thinkers would overwhelm the believers, that intellectuality and philosophy would overthrow the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. It is not so now, I do, therefore, hope, that as the Gospel shall be more fully preached, that as the words of Jesus shall be better understood, that as the things of the kingdom of heaven shall be set in a clearer light, this stronghold of a false peace, namely, ignorance of Gospel doctrines, shall be battered to its foundations, and the foundation-stones themselves dug up and cast away for over. If you have a peace that is grounded on ignorance, get rid of it; ignorance is a thing, remember, that you are accountable for. You are not accountable for the exercise of your judgment to man, but you are accountable for it to God. There is no such thing as toleration of your sentiments with Jehovah; I have no right to judge you; I am your fellow-creature. No State has any right to dictate what religion I will believe; but nevertheless, there is a true gospel, and there are thousands of false ones. God has given you judgment, use it. Search the Scriptures, and remember that if you neglect this Word of God, and remain ignorant, your sins of ignorance will be sins of wilful ignorance, and therefore ignorance shall be no excuse. There is the Bible, you have it in your houses; you can read it. God the Holy Spirit will instruct you in its meaning; and if you remain ignorant, charge it no more on the minister; charge it on no one but yourself, and make it no cloak for your sin.
    6. I now pass to another and more dangerous form of this false peace. I may have missed some of you, probably; I shall come closer home to you now. Alas, alas, let us weep and weep again, for there is a plague among us. There are members of our churches who are saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” It is the part of candour to admit that with all the exercise of judgment, and the most rigorous discipline, we cannot keep our churches free from hypocrisy. I have had to hear, to the very breaking of my heart, stories of men and women who have believed the doctrines of election, and other truths of the gospel, and have made them a sort of cover for the most frightful iniquity. I could, without uncharitableness, point to churches that are hot-beds of hypocrisy, because men are taught that it is the belief of a certain set of sentiments that will save them, and not warned that this is all in vain without a real living faith in Christ. The preacher does as good as say, if not in so many words: “If you are orthodox, if you believe what I tell you, you are saved; if you for a moment turn aside from that line which I have chalked out for you, I cannot be accountable for you; but if you will give me your whole heart, and believe precisely what I say, whether it is Scripture or not; then you are a saved man.” And we know persons of that cast, who can have their shop open on a Sunday, and then go to enjoy what they call a savoury sermon in the evening; men who mix up with drunkards, and yet say they are God’s elect; men who live as others live, and yet they come before you, and with brazen impudence, tell you that they are redeemed by the blood of Christ. It is true they have had a deep experience, as they say. God save us from such a muddy experience as that! They have had, they say, a great manifestation of the depravity of their hearts, but still they are the precious children of God. Precious, indeed! Dear at any price that any man should give for them. If they be precious to anybody, I am sure I wish they were taken to their own place, for they are not precious to any one here below, and they are not of the slightest use to either religion or morality. Oh! I do not know of a more thoroughly damnable delusion than for a man to get a conceit into his head, that he is a child of God, and yet live in sin—to talk to you about grace, while he is living in sovereign lust—to stand up and make himself the arbiter of what is truth, while he himself contemns the precept of God, and tramples the commandment under foot. Hard as Paul was on such man in his time—when he said their damnation is just—he spoke a most righteous sentence. Surely, the devil gloats over men of this kind. A Calvinist I am, but John Calvin never taught immoral doctrine. A more consistent expositor of Scripture than that great reformer I believe never lived, but his doctrine is not the Hyper-Calvinism of these modern times, but is as diametrically opposed to it as light to darkness. There is not a word in any one of his writings that would justify any man in going on in iniquity that grace might abound. If you do not hate sin, it is all the same what doctrine you may believe. You may go to perdition as rapidly with High-Calvinistic doctrine as with any other. You are just as surely destroyed in an orthodox as in a heterodox church unless your life manifests that you have been “begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
    7. I have but one other class of persons to describe, and then I shall have done when I have addressed a few solemn sentences of warning to you all. There remains yet another class of beings who surpass all these in their utter indifference to everything that might arouse them. They are men that are given up by God, justly given up. They have passed the boundary of his longsuffering. He has said, “My spirit shall no more strive with them;” “Ephraim is given unto idols, let him alone.” As a judicial punishment for their impenitence, God has given them up to pride and hardness of heart. I will not say that there is such an one here—God grant there may not be such a man—but there have been such to whom there has been given a strong delusion, that they might believe a lie, that they might be damned because they received not the gospel of Christ. Brought up by a holy mother, they perhaps learned the gospel when they were almost in the cradle. Trained by the example of a holy father, they went aside to wantonness, and brought a mother’s grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Nevertheless, conscience still pursued them. At the funeral of that mother, the young man paused and asked himself the question, “Have I killed her! have I brought her here?” He went home was sober for a day, was tempted by a companion, and became as bad as ever. Another warning came. He was seized with sickness; he lay in the jaws of the grave; he woke up; he lived, and lived as vilely as he had lived before. Often did he hear his mother’s voice—though she was in the grave, she being dead yet spoke to him. He put the Bible on the top shelf—hid it away; still, sometimes a text he had learned in infancy used to thrust itself in on his mind. One night as he was going to some haunt of vice, something arrested him, conscience seemed to say to him, “Remember all that you have learned of her.” He stood still, bit his lip a moment, considered, weighed chances. At last he said, “I will go if I am lost.” He went, and from that moment it has often been a source of wonder to him that he has never thought of his mother nor of the Bible. He hears a sermon, which he does not heed. It is all the same to him. He is never troubled. He says, “I don’t know how it is; I am glad of it; I am as easy now and as frolicsome as ever a young fellow could be.” Oh I I tremble to explain this quietude; but it may be—God grant I may not be a true prophet—it may be that God has thrown the reins on your neck, and said, “Let him go, let him go, I will warn him no more; he shall be filled with his own ways; he shall go the length of his chain; I will never stop him.” Mark! if it be so, your damnation is as sure as if you were in the pit now. O may God grant that I may not have such a hearer here. But that dread thought may well make you search yourselves, for it may be so. There is that possibility; search and look, and God grant that you may no more say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
    Now for these last few solemn words. I will not be guilty this morning, of speaking any smooth falsehoods to you, I would be faithful with each man, as I believe I shall have to face you all at God’s great day, even though you heard me but once in your lives. Well, then, let me tell you that if you have a peace to-day which enables you to be at peace with your sins as well as with God, that peace is a false peace. Unless you hate sin of every sort, with all your heart, you are not a child of God, you are not reconciled to God by the death of his Son. You will not be perfect; I cannot expect you will live without sin, but if you are a Christian you will hate the very sin into which you have been betrayed, and hate yourself because you should have grieved your Savior thus. But if you love sin, the love of the Father is not in you. Be you who you may, or what you may,—minister, deacon, elder, professor, or non-professor—the love of sin is utterly inconsistent with the love of Christ. Take that home, and remember it.
    Another solemn thought. If you are at peace to-day through a belief that you are righteous in yourself, you are not at peace with God. If you are wrapping yourself up in your own righteousness and saying, “I am as good as other people, I have kept God’s law, and have no need for mercy,” you are not at peace with God. You are treasuring up in your impenitent heart wrath against the day of wrath; and you will as surely be lost if you trust to your good works, as if you had trusted to your sins. There is a clean path to hell as well as a dirty one. There is as sure a road to perdition along the highway of morality, as down the slough of vice. Take heed that you build on nothing else but Christ; for if you do, your house will tumble about your ears, when most you need its protection.
    And, yet again, my hearer, if thou art out of Christ, however profound may be thy peace, it is a false one; for out of Christ there is no true peace to the conscience and no reconciliation to God. Ask thyself this question, “Do I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart? Is he my only trust, the simple, solitary rock of my refuge?” For if not, as the Lord my God liveth, before whom I stand, thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity, and dying as thou art, out of Christ, thou wilt be shut out of heaven; where God and bliss are found, thy soul can never come.
    And now, finally, let me beseech you, if you are at peace in your own mind this morning, weigh your peace thus: “Will my peace stand me on a sick bed?” There are many that are peaceful enough when they are well, but when their bongs begin to ache, and their flesh is sore vexed, then they find they want something more substantial than this dreamy quietness into which their souls had fallen. If a little sickness makes you shake, if the thought that your heart is affected, or that you may drop down dead in a fit on a sudden—if that startles you, then put that question of Jeremy to yourself, “If thou hast run with the footmen and they have wearied thee, what wilt thou do when thou contendest with horses? and if in the land of peace wherein thou hadst trusted they have wearied thee, what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan? If sickness make thee shake what will destruction make thee do?” Then again, put the question in another light. If your peace is good for anything, it is one that will bear you up in a dying hour. Are you ready to go home to your bed now to lie there and never rise again? For remember, that which will not stand a dying bed will never stand the day of judgment. If my hope begins to quiver, even when the skeleton hand of Death begins to touch me, how will it shake, “When God’s right arm is nerved for war, and thunders clothe his cloudy ear?” If death makes me startle, what will the glory of God do? How shall I shrink into nothing, and fly away from him in despair! Then often put to thyself this question, “Will my peace last me when the heavens are in a blaze, and when the trembling universe stands to be judged?”
    Oh my dear hearers, I know I have spoken feebly to you this morning; not as I could have wished, but I do entreat you if what I have said be not an idle dream, if it be not a mere myth of my imagination; if it be true, lay it to heart, and may God enable you to prepare to meet him. Do not be wrapping yourselves up, and slumbering, and sleeping. Awake, ye sleepers, awake! Oh! that I had a trumpet voice to warn you. Oh! while you are dying, while you are sinking into perdition, may I not cry to you; may not these eyes weep for you! I cannot be extravagant here, I am acquitted of being enthusiastic or fanatical on such a matter as this. Take to heart, I beseech you, the realities of eternity. Do not for ever waste your time. “Oh, turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die, O house of Israel.” Listen, now, to the word of the Gospel, which is sent to you. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be saved.” For “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” while the solemn sentence remains, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”

 

Heidelberg 53: We Believe In The Holy Spirit (1)

53. What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit ?

First, that He is co-eternal God with the Father and the Son. Secondly, that He is also given to me, by true faith makes me a partaker of Christ and all His benefits, comforts me and shall abide with me forever (Heidelberg Catechism).

Before the outbreak of neo-Pentecostalism in Topeka (1901) and Azusa St (1906) there was Cane Ridge (1801) and before Cane Ridge there was Northampton (1730s and 40s) and before Northampton there was Thuringia (1520s). Whatever the differences between the First Great Awakening and the Second, one thing that united them is a quest for an immediate experience of the Holy Spirit.1 Particularly in the nineteenth-century revivals American evangelical piety has been dominated by versions of Anabaptist theology and piety. Two centuries before Northampton, Thomas Muntzer (1489–1525) and others like him were advancing the notion that true believers must replicate the experience of the apostolic church (as reconstructed by the Muntzer et al). In this they were following the Montantists from the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries and various medieval primitivists in-between.2

Because the notion that, if only we have enough faith or if only we use the right techniques (or both) we can recapture the original apostolic experience is so widespread it is very difficult for American evangelical Christians to understand or appreciate the Reformed confession of the person and work of the Holy Spirit because the contrast between the Reformed understanding of the person and work of the Spirit is starkly different from that of neb-pentecostalism in all its forms. To put it bluntly: if one’s idea of the work of the Holy Spirit involves rolling on the floor or even talking in unknown languages, the Reformed view of the Spirit may not seem like a view of the Spirit at all. What hath Heidelberg to do with Azusa? Not much. They represent two radically different paradigms. The Reformed faith is one thing and the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements are another, attempts to synthesize them notwithstanding. Those attempts, however, well intentioned, must do violence to one or the other. The Reformed theology and piety begins with the sufficiency of Scripture. Pentecostalism certainly and the charismatic theology and piety to a lesser degree begin explicitly or implicitly with the insufficiency of Scripture. The “due use of ordinary means” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 88) is essential to Reformed theology and piety but it is not the Pentecostal and the Charismatic movements. The union of Reformed theology and these movements is achieved by radically re-defining Reformed theology, by reducing it to a single element: divine sovereignty and by adding that to Pentecostalism or Charismatic piety.

In order to understand the Reformed doctrine and piety of the Holy Spirit it must be received and judged on its own terms. If it is judged by the standards of Münster, Cane Ridge, Azusa, or even Safenwil, it will, of course, fail but those are false tests. Confessional Reformed Christianity rejects Montanism, Anabaptism, revivalism and existential encounters with the Word. We do, however, accept the teaching of God’s Holy Word and the holy catholic faith.

Scripture has a deep and robust doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He is revealed as hovering over the face of the deep in the acts of creation (Gen 1:2). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life. He manifested himself in the history of redemption in the glory cloud, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21). The salvation of his people has always been the work of all three persons of the holy Trinity. (1 Cor 10:1–14). That same Holy Spirit inspired and sustained the prophets. Our Lord Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1) was led by the same Spirit who led the church through the wilderness for forty days. He communed with the Spirit and the Spirit sustained and co-operated with the Son in Christ’s ministry (e.g., Luke 4;14, 18; 10:21). Our Savior promised that his disciples would be baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8) and they were. He empowered them to speak known, natural foreign languages supernaturally (Acts 2:4, 7) and to perform apostolic miracles. By his power they healed the lame (Acts 3:7), raised the dead (Acts 9:41), and even put to death the disobedient (Acts 5). These were not “healing services” in which the miracle was contingent upon one’s faith (or lack thereof). The prophecies they gave, the revelations they received were not “fallible. ” They were Spirit-inspired, holy, inerrant words from God’s Spirit. When a viper bit the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:4) he was unhurt. He was no Arkansas snake-handler. He was an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostles had a divinely instituted office, an objective authority, and power by the Spirit that ended when they died. Every attempt to replicate their ministry or to claim a restoration must re-describe ordinary post-apostolic experience in biblical terms (pasting over the discontinuities and radical differences) or simply fabricate experiences (post-apostolic “glossolalia”) that is both common to world religions and completely different from what was given to the Apostles and the Apostolic Church.

The Reformed churches are deeply committed to the person and work of the Holy Spirit but we are not wedded to Montanism, Anabaptism, neo-Pentecostalism, or the Charismatic renewal movements. We want to be biblical in our understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We think we are.

The transition, however, from the evangelical-charismatic-Pentecostal paradigm to the Reformed confession of the Spirit can be difficult and even painful. The first step is to recognize that Reformed and Pentecostal/Charismatic piety are two distinct things but that Reformed piety is every bit as “spiritual” (and even more so) than the Anabaptist-Pentecostal attempts to recreate the Apostolic experiences. At the same time, Reformed Christians need to stop feeling ashamed that they are not Charismatics or Pentecostals. This is especially true for those who’ve grown up in Reformed congregations and who wonder whether they might be “missing out” on something special. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Trust me. You’re not missing out on anything.

Heidelberg 53: We Believe In The Holy Spirit (1)

53. What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit ?

First, that He is co-eternal God with the Father and the Son. Secondly, that He is also given to me, by true faith makes me a partaker of Christ and all His benefits, comforts me and shall abide with me forever (Heidelberg Catechism).

Before the outbreak of neo-Pentecostalism in Topeka (1901) and Azusa St (1906) there was Cane Ridge (1801) and before Cane Ridge there was Northampton (1730s and 40s) and before Northampton there was Thuringia (1520s). Whatever the differences between the First Great Awakening and the Second, one thing that united them is a quest for an immediate experience of the Holy Spirit.1 Particularly in the nineteenth-century revivals American evangelical piety has been dominated by versions of Anabaptist theology and piety. Two centuries before Northampton, Thomas Muntzer (1489–1525) and others like him were advancing the notion that true believers must replicate the experience of the apostolic church (as reconstructed by the Muntzer et al). In this they were following the Montantists from the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries and various medieval primitivists in-between.2

Because the notion that, if only we have enough faith or if only we use the right techniques (or both) we can recapture the original apostolic experience is so widespread it is very difficult for American evangelical Christians to understand or appreciate the Reformed confession of the person and work of the Holy Spirit because the contrast between the Reformed understanding of the person and work of the Spirit is starkly different from that of neb-pentecostalism in all its forms. To put it bluntly: if one’s idea of the work of the Holy Spirit involves rolling on the floor or even talking in unknown languages, the Reformed view of the Spirit may not seem like a view of the Spirit at all. What hath Heidelberg to do with Azusa? Not much. They represent two radically different paradigms. The Reformed faith is one thing and the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements are another, attempts to synthesize them notwithstanding. Those attempts, however, well intentioned, must do violence to one or the other. The Reformed theology and piety begins with the sufficiency of Scripture. Pentecostalism certainly and the charismatic theology and piety to a lesser degree begin explicitly or implicitly with the insufficiency of Scripture. The “due use of ordinary means” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 88) is essential to Reformed theology and piety but it is not the Pentecostal and the Charismatic movements. The union of Reformed theology and these movements is achieved by radically re-defining Reformed theology, by reducing it to a single element: divine sovereignty and by adding that to Pentecostalism or Charismatic piety.

In order to understand the Reformed doctrine and piety of the Holy Spirit it must be received and judged on its own terms. If it is judged by the standards of Münster, Cane Ridge, Azusa, or even Safenwil, it will, of course, fail but those are false tests. Confessional Reformed Christianity rejects Montanism, Anabaptism, revivalism and existential encounters with the Word. We do, however, accept the teaching of God’s Holy Word and the holy catholic faith.

Scripture has a deep and robust doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He is revealed as hovering over the face of the deep in the acts of creation (Gen 1:2). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life. He manifested himself in the history of redemption in the glory cloud, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21). The salvation of his people has always been the work of all three persons of the holy Trinity. (1 Cor 10:1–14). That same Holy Spirit inspired and sustained the prophets. Our Lord Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1) was led by the same Spirit who led the church through the wilderness for forty days. He communed with the Spirit and the Spirit sustained and co-operated with the Son in Christ’s ministry (e.g., Luke 4;14, 18; 10:21). Our Savior promised that his disciples would be baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8) and they were. He empowered them to speak known, natural foreign languages supernaturally (Acts 2:4, 7) and to perform apostolic miracles. By his power they healed the lame (Acts 3:7), raised the dead (Acts 9:41), and even put to death the disobedient (Acts 5). These were not “healing services” in which the miracle was contingent upon one’s faith (or lack thereof). The prophecies they gave, the revelations they received were not “fallible. ” They were Spirit-inspired, holy, inerrant words from God’s Spirit. When a viper bit the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:4) he was unhurt. He was no Arkansas snake-handler. He was an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostles had a divinely instituted office, an objective authority, and power by the Spirit that ended when they died. Every attempt to replicate their ministry or to claim a restoration must re-describe ordinary post-apostolic experience in biblical terms (pasting over the discontinuities and radical differences) or simply fabricate experiences (post-apostolic “glossolalia”) that is both common to world religions and completely different from what was given to the Apostles and the Apostolic Church.

The Reformed churches are deeply committed to the person and work of the Holy Spirit but we are not wedded to Montanism, Anabaptism, neo-Pentecostalism, or the Charismatic renewal movements. We want to be biblical in our understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We think we are.

The transition, however, from the evangelical-charismatic-Pentecostal paradigm to the Reformed confession of the Spirit can be difficult and even painful. The first step is to recognize that Reformed and Pentecostal/Charismatic piety are two distinct things but that Reformed piety is every bit as “spiritual” (and even more so) than the Anabaptist-Pentecostal attempts to recreate the Apostolic experiences. At the same time, Reformed Christians need to stop feeling ashamed that they are not Charismatics or Pentecostals. This is especially true for those who’ve grown up in Reformed congregations and who wonder whether they might be “missing out” on something special. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Trust me. You’re not missing out on anything.

Next: The universal Christian teaching about the Holy Spirit.

All the posts on the Heidelberg Catechism.

NOTES

1. See the chapter on the QIRE in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

2. For more on this see “‘Magic and Noise:’ Reformed Christianity in Sister’s America,” in eds. R. Scott Clark and Joel E. Kim Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey (Escondido: Westminster Seminary California, 2010), 74–91.

Confessional Two Kingdoms

confessional two kingdoms

The doctrine of the two kingdoms is often confused as a distinction between church and state, but this is not the case. While Christ’s reign over all things in power and over His church in grace do indeed relate to the institutions of the church and the civil magistrate, the kingdom of power is not itself a reference to the institution of the civil magistrate. The civil magistrate finds its origin in the secondary laws of nature arising out of the fifth commandment, while the church finds its origin in the positive institution of the Mediator in the covenant of grace.

…a twofold kingdom of Jesus Christ: one, as he is the eternal Son of God, reigning together with the Father and the Holy Ghost overall things; and so the magistrate is his vicegerent, and holds his office of and under him; another, as Mediator and Head of the church, and so the magistrate doth not hold his office of and under Christ as his vicegerent.

George Gillespie, Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, pg. 90.

Reformed Theology historically has understood that Christ has two kingdoms, the kingdom of His power (regnum potentiae) and the kingdom of grace (regnum gratiae), not as disparate reigns but as distinctions in the manner and exercise of His rule.  Christ’s kingdom of power is His government of all things in providence which are “his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving, and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory” (WLC 18). The kingdom of grace is Christ’s special, mediatorial rule over His Church. “As God he needed not receive a kingdom, but as mediator his Father gifted him with a kingdom to him and all his heirs” (Rutherford’s Catechism, pg. 37).

Sometimes a third kingdom is identified, the kingdom of glory (regnum gloriae). However, the kingdom of glory is essentially the kingdom of grace consummated (Matt. 25:34), which will take place at His second coming; “the kingdom of glory may be hastened” (WSC 102) compared with “hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him for ever” (WLC 191). The kingdoms of grace and glory “are not so much different kingdoms, as different states in the same kingdom: according to the common maxim, Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummated, or in perfection” (Fisher’s Catechism, Second Petition, Q. 13).

The Kingdom of Grace

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6); to reign over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:33); the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens (Rev. 3:7; cf. Is. 22:22); Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

The Westminster Larger Catechism goes into more detail about what the kingdom of grace is, and how we ought to pray for its advance:

Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, (which is, Thy Kingdom come,) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrates; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him for ever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

Westminster Larger Catechism, 191.

So we see that Christ rules His kingdom of grace not only spiritually as Lord and Savior of the elect, but also in the ordinances, worship, and government that He has instituted for the visible church, “giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them” (WLC 45); “The visible Church…is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ” (WCF 25:2). The distinction between the visible and the invisible church is one which lies within the context of the kingdom of grace; it may be viewed “either as to outward dispensation, or inward operation” (Fisher’s Catechism, Second Petition, Q. 14). At the second coming the kingdom of grace/glory will come to an end as Christ delivers the kingdom back to the Father: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24).

Nothing can stop the gospel and expansion of the Church, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18); the salvation of the Jews, “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” (Rom. 11:26-27); the fulness of the Gentiles, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20); and the destruction of sin and Satan, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev. 12:10-11).

Many people are deceived into thinking that the general progress of human civilization, general education and culture, science and invention, and economic and social progress and organization can restrain or destroy Satan’s kingdom. All these things can fit in with Satan’s kingdom as much as with God’s kingdom. Only the gospel of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, really destroys Satan’s kingdom.

J.G. Vos, Commentary on WLC 191, pg. 551.

The gospel of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, advances through the visible Church. As churches are planted and the gospel is preached, as the sacraments are rightly administered and the public and private worship of God is kept pure, as heresy and unrepentant sin are disciplined according to the government that Christ has established, and as Christ is submitted to in all things as Head of the Church, His kingdom advances. The Directory for the Publick Worship of God admonishes us to pray particularly “for that church and kingdom whereof we are members, that therein God would establish peace and truth, the purity of all his ordinances, and the power of godliness; prevent and remove heresy, schism, profaneness, superstition, security, and unfruitfulness under the means of grace; heal all our rents and divisions, and preserve us from breach of our Solemn Covenant.”

The Kingdom of Power

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Col. 1:16-17).

Q. What is Christ’s kingdom of power?

A. The hand of Christ’s power coming in and bearing up the whole frame of nature tottering and like to fall to nothing through Adam’s sin (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2).

Rutherford’s Catechism, pg. 37

Contrary to the common notion that Christ rules only over the Church, John Owen explains:

Some seem to imagine, that the kingly power of Christ towards the church consists only in external rule by the Gospel and the laws thereof, requiring obedience unto the officers and rulers that he hath appointed therein. It is true, that this also belongs unto his kingly power and rule; but to suppose that it consisteth solely therein, is an ebullition from the poisonous fountain of the denial of his divine person. For if he be not God over all, whatever in words may be pretended or ascribed unto him, he is capable of no other rule or power. But indeed no one act of his kingly office can be aright conceived or acknowledged, without a respect had unto his divine person…

For this power over the whole creation is not only a moral right to rule and govern it; but it is also accompanied with virtue, force, or almighty power, to act, order, and dispose of it at his pleasure. So is it described by the apostle from the Psalmist, Heb. i. 10–12, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”

Christologia, ch. vii.

Christ, as the eternal Son of God and Creator of all things, has always been “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3), “none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass and has absolute authority and control over even the most insignificant and, humanly speaking, random events: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Ps. 16:33). 

There is some debate over how to speak of Christ as ruling and reigning as He is the eternal Son of God only or if He also rules the kingdom of power as Mediator. Earlier writers, largely due to the threat of Erastianism, would rather refer to His rule and reign over all things (kingdom of power) only as He is God and not as He is the Mediator. However, all agree that the rule and reign of the Son of God over all things (kingdom of power) serves the good of His rule and reign over His church (kingdom of grace). Christ uses the kingdom of His power to providentially expand His kingdom of grace. His being given to rule over nations (Ps. 2) shows that nations as nations will be joined to the visible church (Ps. 22:27-28) just as families as families are joined to the visible church (Gen. 18:19; Acts 16:31) without changing the nature of Christ’s rule.

After explaining the details of the kingdom of grace, the catechism admonishes us to pray “that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.” As J.G. Vos explains,

We pray for the extension and continuance of the kingdom of grace, the hastening of the kingdom of glory, and the success of the kingdom of power for its appointed ends. Note that the kingdom of power is not an end in itself, but a means to the furtherance of the kingdom of grace and the hastening of the kingdom of glory.

Commentary on WLC 191, pg. 557.

Part of Christ’s execution of the office of king is His “restraining and overcoming all [the Church’s] enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory and their good: and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel” (WLC 45). Christ does not act as Mediator over His enemies (unless He choses to save them and bring them into His kingdom of grace), but He does exercise His kingly power over His enemies (Ps. 110:5-7). The nations are Christ’s “heritage” and obligated to “serve the Lord with fear” and to “kiss the Son” lest He “dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2). “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste” (Is. 60:12). Natural disasters (Ps. 46:8), war (Is. 10:5-6), famine and pestilence (Jer. 14:11-2), giving a people over to their sin (Rom. 1:18-32), etc. Christ has control over all these things and uses them according to the council of His will and in His perfect timing to cause peoples to repent (2 Chron. 7:13-14) thus bringing them in to the kingdom of grace, or to remove the wicked off the face of the earth (Luke 17:26-37). 

In the exercise of His regal office, He governs all providential events and revolutions so as to promote the ultimate glory and triumph of His kingdom.

Archibald Alexander, A Compend of Bible Truth, pg. 94.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Eph. 1:22 similarly points out that Christ being raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” means that He uses His kingdom of power for the good and special advantage of the Church:

…he is entrusted with all power, that is, that he may dispose of all the affairs of the providential kingdom in subserviency to the designs of his grace concerning the church.

George Gillespie likewise recognizes the kingdom of power in relation to the kingdom of grace in this passage:

Eph. 1:21-23…doth plainly hold forth a twofold supremacy of Jesus Christ: one over all things, another in reference to the church only which is his body, his fulness, and to whom alone he is Head, according to that text.

Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, pg. 93.

Magistracy in the Kingdom of Power

Additionally, WLC 191 says that the civil magistrate ought to countenance and maintain the visible church, and the confession likewise teaches that the magistrate has the authority and duty to ensure “that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed” as well as the power to call synods (WCF 23:3).

The magistrate has duties to the moral law of God as he is a man who is under it, regardless of whether he is a Christian and a member of the covenant of grace. The application of penalties is not about redemption, but justice. Further, two kingdom theology reinforces the necessity of establishment. Not only does the magistrate have duties to God as Creator, but under the New Testament he is duty bound to submit to Christ’s mediatorial rule by establishing the Church (Ps. 33:12), and covenanting with God to further the kingdom of grace as a nursing father (Is. 49:23; 60:16). This means bringing the nation into the church, which is the kingdom of grace, by recognizing the visible catholic church within his borders. This is why a generic, trinitarian establishment is insufficient. The magistrate must recognize the visible Church as an institution, not merely protect an invisible reality.

It is God’s purpose to set up one kingdom and demolish the other, not only in the hearts of particular men, but in kingdoms and nations and public societies. Jesus Christ was appointed to be not only ‘king of saints‘ (Rev. 15:3), but ‘king of nations‘ (Jer. 10:7); and therefore not only to erect Himself a throne and a government in the hearts of His people, but to have His religion owned and countenanced, and supported by nations and kingdoms and public societies of men.

Thomas Manton, Sermon on Joshua 6:26, Works, Vol. 18, pg. 34.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46:6-11