Training in Righteousness
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Welcome to the Table

From the Olney Hymns
On Occasional Subjects
William Cowper
Welcome to the Table 

This is the feast of heav’nly wine,
And God invites to sup;
The juices of the living vine
Were pressed, to fill the cup.

Oh, bless the Savior, ye that eat,
With royal dainties fed;
Not heav’n affords a costlier treat,
For JESUS is the bread!

The vile, the lost, he calls to them,
Ye trembling souls appear!
The righteous, in their own esteem,
Have no acceptance here.

Approach ye poor, nor dare refuse
The banquet spread for you;
Dear Savior, this is welcome news,
Then I may venture too.

If guilt and sin afford a plea,
And may obtain a place;
Surely the LORD will welcome me;
And I shall see his face. 


Cowper speaks truth

I just began reading The Life of William Cowper, by Thomas Wright. It's an older book, originally published in 1892. 

In the chapter entitled, "The First Derangement," Wright uses Cowper's own words regarding his first major depressive episode. You can tell the book was written a long time ago. No one today would dream of referring to mental illness as a "derangement." 

Cowper describes his first bout with depression:

"In this state of mind, I continued near a twelvemonth, when, having experienced the inefficacy of all human means, I at length betook myself to God in prayer: such is the rank which our Redeemer holds in our esteem, never resorted to but in the last instance, when all creatures have failed to succour us. My hard heart was at length softened, and my stubborn knees brought to bow; I composed a set of prayers and made frequent use of them. Weak as my faith was, the Almighty, who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, was gracious pleased to hear me."

Isn't that the truth? Isn't it all too often that we wait to bow the knee until we've exhausted all other avenues of help? Cowper recognized his own folly, and that is was a reflection of how he regarded his Redeemer.

He was also right that no matter how weak or faith, God hears us when we cry out to him.


The evolution of summer

I decided this year not to come up with the "summer reading list." I enjoyed seeing what others are reading, but I decided to plan not to plan. I am purposely ignoring summer reading lists now so I don't get tempted to start compiling one. I just want to read what strikes my fancy, or follow a bunny trail, perhaps.

The fact that summer reading lists exists tells us something about our attitude about summer: it's different from the rest of the year. At least, it is supposed to be. Kids are out of school, and people take summer holidays. Some churches stop Sunday school for the summer. Our church does not, but we do have one big session rather than the individual classes for adults, and we go from two services to one service because it's expected that people will be away. Some churches don't have evening church in the summer, but our church still has evening service and prayer meeting. I'm glad for that. I confess to not entirely understanding why summer means everything slows down. When you look at nature, it's just the opposite. Things are growing and flourishing in the summer, not resting. They rest in the winter. At least where I live they do. There was a time when the majority of Canada was rural, and winter was the time of leisure. It's rather the opposite now. 

When we were kids, we didn't go on elaborate family vacations. Our holidays were spent at the farm, visiting family, and that meant visiting and working at the same time. People who own farms know that summer is the exact opposite for what it may mean for someone else. The work hours are long and hard for farmers in the summer, depending on what kind of farming they do. I can remember summers on the farm when we would eat dinner at 9:00 or 10:00 at night, because we waited for the guys to come in from the field. In winter, it's very different. That is when the work slows down a bit: when everything is resting. Well, at least, in Canada that's how we operate.

The fact that summer is seen as the time for holidays and a change in regular schedules shows how much urbanization and the value of leisure shapes our schedules. Summer is seen as a time for fun and recreation, for relaxed schedules. One thing we found when we homeschooled, however, was that the best time for a family vacation was not the summer. It was in September, when everyone else was in school, and the seasonal rates were not longer in effect. When we went to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, it was well after Labour Day, and we got amazingly cheap accommodations, and we had Cavendish Beach to ourselves. We are not huge fans of tropical weather, and we can go to a beach in the summer anytime we want (it's only a 15 minute drive), so being able to soak up the sun for a week isn't high on our list of great holidays. But September on the east coast was wonderful.

I can remember looking forward to summer as a child because it meant a break from school, and getting to stay up late. But in all honesty, I was pretty bored by mid-July, and I always looked forward to getting back to school. The summers I loved the best were the ones when I was at the farm, keeping busy. Yes, there was always work to do, but as my aunt always said, "Many hands make light work," and there was always a lot of fun while we worked. I think one of the ways people connect with each other is working together. 

Today, I made broccoli quiche for dinner. I made my own pie crust, a skill which I learned at the farm, at the hands of my capable aunt. I'm really glad I didn't always rest my summers away.



I'm really enjoying John Stott's book The Cross of Christ. One of the things I like about it is that because he comes from a different generation than the current popular Christian writers, he refers to other commentators and writers which I may be unfamiliar with. In his chapter called "The Self-Substitution of God," he quotes C.E.B. Cranfield, who made a succinct statement about the substution of God:

God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his very own self in the person of Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.

That's a reality to rejoice in.


Every place is hallowed ground

From the Olney Hymns
On Occasional Subjects
William Cowper
On Opening a Place for Social Prayer 

Jesus, where’er thy people meet,
There they behold thy mercy–seat;
Where’er they seek thee thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground.

For thou, within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind;
Such ever bring thee, where they come,
And going, take thee to their home.

Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few
Thy former mercies here renew;
Here, to our waiting hearts, proclaim
The sweetness of thy saving name.

Here may we prove the pow’r of prayer,
To strengthen faith, and sweeten care;
To teach our faint desires to rise
And bring all heav’n before our eyes.

Behold at thy commanding word,
We stretch the curtain and the cord;
Come thou, and fill this wider space,
And bless us with a large increase.

LORD, we are few, but thou art near;
Nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;
Oh rend the heav’ns, come quickly down,
And make a thousand hearts thine own!