Luther to his depressed friend: “I am told that you are plagued by a depressed spirit… I beg you, through Christ our Lord – and with all the prayers I can possibly pray – not to be dwelling on your own thoughts and feelings, but rather listen to Christ… Therefore I beg you, join us! We are truly great and hardboiled sinners, so that you do not diminish Christ for us, who is not a savior for imaginary or trivial sins, but rather a Savior for real sins – not only small ones, but great ones – yes even the worst, and for all sins committed by all people… You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior, and you a real sinner.” Letter to Spalatin, 1544 (📸 @rowye)
ALMIGHTY AND ETERNAL GOD, with Whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; we bring Thee thanks and praise for Thy blessings, more than we can number, with which Thou hast crowned our lives during the year now past; and since Thy mercies are ever new, let the year which has now begun, be to us a year of grace and salvation. Have pity upon us in our misery, whose days are as the grass. Deliver us from the vanity of our old fallen nature; and establish us in the fellowship of that life which is the same yesterday and today and forever. Graciously protect and conduct us through the uncertainties of this new year of our earthly pilgrimage. Prepare us for its duties and trials, its joys and sorrows. Help us to watch and pray, and to be always ready like men that wait for their Lord; and grant that every change, whether it be of prosperity or adversity, of life or of death, may bring us nearer to Thee and to that great eternal year of joy and rest, which, after the years of this vain earthly life, awaits the faithful in Thy blissful presence; where we shall unite, from everlasting to everlasting, with angels and saints, in ascribing blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen.
“May God’s Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen.”
A prayer from Flemish theologian Andreas Hyperius:
Thou, most wise heavenly Father, art the fount and origin of all knowledge and wisdom: thou pourest into the minds of all men knowledge of thyself and of thy will, thou pourest understanding, weightiness of judgment, prudence, right counsel, and the other excellent gifts of the Holy Spirit, by which thou both unitest, in accordance with thy good pleasure, and teachest the minds not only of small children but even of babes and sucklings, and fashionest their mouths to exalt thee with praises. I therefore pray that thou wouldst render my natural disposition docile both to the discipline of piety and to all good arts, in order that, when, by means of the example and aid of thy Son Jesus Christ, I have made some progress in true wisdom and grace and age before thee and before men, I may continuously refer all my study and effort to magnifying and propagating the glory of thy name and of the same your Son and to the advantage of men, through the same our Lord Christ. Amen.
Ineffable Creator, Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom, have established three hierarchies of angels, have arrayed them in marvelous order above the fiery heavens, and have marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill,
You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom, and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.
Pour forth a ray of Your brightness into the darkened places of my mind; disperse from my soul the twofold darkness into which I was born: sin and ignorance.
You make eloquent the tongues of infants. refine my speech and pour forth upon my lips The goodness of Your blessing.
Grant to me keenness of mind, capacity to remember, skill in learning, subtlety to interpret, and eloquence in speech.
May You guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to completion.
You Who are true God and true Man, who live and reign, world without end. Amen.
Creator ineffabilis, qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti, et eas super caelum empyreum miro ordine collocasti, atque universi partes elegantissime disposuisti,
tu inquam qui verus fons luminis et sapientiae diceris ac supereminens principium infundere digneris super intellectus mei tenebras tuae radium claritatis, duplices in quibus natus sum a me removens tenebras, peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam.
Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas, linguam meam erudias atque in labiis meis gratiam tuae benedictionis infundas.
Da mihi intelligendi acumen, retinendi capacitatem, addiscendi modum et facilitatem, interpretandi subtilitatem, loquendi gratiam copiosam.
Today is a grim day. Reformed Christians have no true “holy-day” except the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10), nevertheless there are seasons and days that are important. Today is one of those important days to me, and it is a grim day.
St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, 1572 On August 24th, 1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre was in full effect. Begun the night before with the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, many of the wealthiest French Reformed Christians were in town for the wedding of Henry of Navarre. After a few days, as many as ten thousand were dead.
In Roman Catholic France, the Reformed faith was viewed as wicked and with suspicion, a foreign infection from Frenchman Jean Caulvin (John Calvin) inserting itself from Geneva. But despite the distrust of Protestant theology in Popish France, the Reformed faith was flourishing. In 1555, there were ten churches in all of France that held to Calvin’s Reformed theology. Just seven years later, there were 2,000 churches that were Reformed Protestant strongholds. These Reformed believers went forth boldly under that name “Huguenots.”
and make the death of thy Son Jesus Christ effectual to my redemption at the hour of my death
Samuel Johnson (b. 1709) is an interesting figure for a number of reasons, but I wanted to post a prayer he wrote in his dying days. Having held a variety of beliefs, and only coming around to biblical orthodoxy in his later years, to see him grapple with his beliefs and end in certainty on what the Scriptures say is gratifying to behold. As his positions on God, man, Christ, and the truth became more certain, his attending physicians noticed the change in his speech – about doctrine – and in his behavior. In the last week of his life, Johnson composed the following prayer:
May we all go to our final moment, before our eyes close, with such clear-sighted faith!
From volume 5 of the works of Thomas Smyth (1808 – 1873), the following rules would help a lot of churches and Christians maintain the bond of peace. This advice is timely, even if it is around two hundred years old!
To remember that we are all subject ot failings and infirmities, of one kind or another Matthew 7:1 – 5; Romans 2:21 – 23.
To bear with and not magnify each other’s infirmities. Galatians 6:1
To pray one for another in our social meetings, and particularly in private. James 5:16
To avoid going from house to house, for the purpose of hearing news, and interfering with other people’s business. Leviticus 19:16
Always to turn a deaf ear to any slanderous report, and to allow no charge be brought against any person until well founded and proved. Proverbs 25:23
If a member be in fault, to tell him of it in private, before it is mentioned to others. Matthew 18:15
To watch against shyness of each other, and put the best construction on any action that has the appearance of opposition or resentment. Proverbs 10:12
To observe the just rule of Solomon, that is, to leave off contention before it be meddled with. Proverbs 17:14
John Witherspoon (1723-1794) was a key Presbyterian minister during the Revolutionary War period in American history, and is regarded among the Founding Fathers. As the only active clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence, to sign the Articles of Confederation, approve the Constitution, and serve as Moderator of the General Assembly for American Presbyterians, Witherspoon established himself in sacred and secular history of this nation. He has an important treatise on the doctrine of being born again, or regeneration.
But does not the Savior of sinners beseech you to be reconciled unto God? He entreats you to come unto Him that you may have life. He regardeth not the persons of men, but values a precious immortal spirit as much in a mean cottage as in a splendid palace. Your rags and nakedness can be no hindrance to your obtaining His favor. He counsels you “to buy of Him gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich, and white rainment that you may be clothed.”