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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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PIETY

Gardiner Spring:

Gardiner SpringBy piety, we mean:

  •  the religion of principle, in distinction from the religion of impulse;

  • a spiritual religion, in distinction from a religion of forms;

  • a religion of which the Spirit of God, and not the wisdom or the will of man, is the author;

  • a self-denying and not a self-indulgent religion;

  • a religion that has a heavenward tendency, and not an earthly tendency;

  • a practical religion, in opposition to the abstractions of theory;

  • a religion that is so full of Christ, that the crucified One is at the basis of its duties and hopes; its center, its living head, and its glory.

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PIETY

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

“The whole lives of Christians ought to be a kind of aspiration after piety, seeing they are called unto holiness (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:5). The office of the law is to excite them to the study of purity and holiness, by reminding them of their duty. For when the conscience feels anxious as to how it may have the favor of God, as to the answer it could give, and the confidence it would feel, if brought to his judgment-seat, in such a case the requirements of the law are not to be brought forward, but Christ, who surpasses all the perfection of the law, is alone to be held forth for righteousness.” (Institutes III, 19, 2)

Speech and Piety

Al Martin:

Another area of practical piety, which holds peculiar danger for the minister, is that of his non-professional speech. A dear servant of God once said to me, ‘You cannot be a clown and a prophet both. You have got to make a choice.’ I hope I have made the right choice. This does not mean we shall not be truly human and that we shall feel there is something sinful in the natural ability to laugh, and in the natural exhilaration that comes from a hearty laugh. But the unnatural effort to be a ‘joker’ amongst our people must be done away. The transition from the clown to the prophet is a difficult metamorphosis If seriousness — not fleshly somberness, but true seriousness — is not the mark of our lives in our normal contacts with our people, let us not expect that when we ascend the pulpit, some kind of magical process will immediately cause them to sit trembling before the words of God. They will rather think that we are play-actors. If they never see us regarding the issues of eternity seriously in their presence individually and non-professionally, we shall not see them gripped by the sobriety of these issues as we communicate them ministerially. The problem with our preaching, brethren, is the shoddiness of our lives in the realm of practical piety as expressed in domestic life and in our speech. (“What’s Wrong with Preaching?”)

 

General Orders, May 2nd, 1778

Quoting George Washington:

“The Commander in Chief directs that divine Service be performed every Sunday at 11 o’clock in those Brigades to which there are Chaplains; those which have none to attend the places of worship nearest to them. It is expected that Officers of all Ranks will by their attendance set an Example to their men. While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian. The signal Instances of providential Goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labors with complete Success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of Gratitude and Piety to the Supreme Author of all Good.” (George Washington, General Orders, May 2nd, 1778)

The Practice Of Piety

Isaac Barrow

Quoting Isaac Barrow (1630-1677):

“It is a fair adornment of a man and a great convenience both to himself and to all those with whom he converses and deals, to act uprightly, uniformly, and consistently. The practice of piety frees a man from interior distraction and from irresolution in his mind, from duplicity or inconstancy in his character, and from confusion in his proceedings, and consequently securing for others freedom from deception and disappointment in their transactions with him.” (Godliness is Profitable for All Things by Isaac Barrow)

Substituting Zeal For Piety

John Angell James

Quoting John Angell James:

Amidst much that is cheering, there is, on the other hand, much that is discouraging and distressing to the more pious observer. We behold a strange combination of zeal and world-mindedness; great activity for the extension of religion in the earth, united with lamentable indifference to the state of religion in the soul; in short, apparent vigor in the extremities, with a growing torpor at the heart. Multitudes are substituting zeal for piety, liberality for mortification, and a social for a personal religion. No careful reader of the New Testament, and observer of the present state of the church, can fail to be convinced, one should think, that what is now lacking is a high spirituality.

The Christian profession is sinking in its tone of piety; the line of separation between the church and the world becomes less and less perceptible; and the character of genuine Christianity, as expounded from pulpits and delineated in books, has too rare a counterpart in the lives and spirit of its professors.

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