Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to Do the Job You Don't Really Want to Do

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10a).

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I recently ran across this short devotion in Elisabeth Elliot’s book A Lamp for My Feet (Vine Books, 1985) and thought it would be good to share with the Labor Day weekend on the horizon. Elliot reminds us that our occupations are God’s gift to us to help move us toward greater holiness and faithfulness:

Certain aspects of the job the Lord has given me to do are very easy to postpone. I make excuses, find other things that take precedence, and, when I finally get down to business to do it, it is not always with much grace. A new perspective has helped me recently:
The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with—into the image of Christ.
Thank you, Lord, for the work You have assigned me. I take it as your gift; I offer it back to you. With your help I will do it gladly, faithfully, and I will trust You to make me holy.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article (8/27/08).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Conversation Continues: Solomon or Jedidiah?

This is an ongoing series featuring responses to questions that were submitted for our summer 2008 Church Family fellowship discussion that we did not get time to discuss.


In 2 Samuel 12:24-25, it says the Lord sent word through the prophet Nathan to name the son of David and Bathsheba "Jedidiah." So, why was he called "Solomon"?


Here’s the passage in question:

2 Samuel 12:24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, 25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

It appears that the son of David and Bathsheba was given two names. The first was the name "Solomon" given him by his parents. The second was the name "Jedidiah" given him by the Lord through the mediation of the prophet Nathan.

The second name has spiritual significance. In Hebrew it literally means "Beloved by the LORD." The name was likely given by God as a sign of assurance to David in particular. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of her former husband (see 2 Samuel 11). Nathan had confronted David in his sin, saying, "You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). David then repented: "I have sinned against the LORD" (2 Samuel 12:13). Psalm 51 was written by David to express his repentance for his sin. Still, however, there were consequences for David’s actions. The Lord "struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill" (2 Samuel 12:15). Eventually, the child died. The name God gave to Solomon through Nathan was, therefore, an expression of assurance to David. This child would be beloved by the Lord. God would preserve this child’s life and even, one day, set him on the throne of Israel.

It is not uncommon in the Bible for the Lord to give a spiritually significant name to a person. Jacob, for example, is given the new name of "Israel" in Genesis 32:28 ("Your name shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed."). The Lord also gave spiritually significant names to the sons of the prophet Hosea (cf. Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).

2 Samuel 12:25 is the only place in the Bible where Solomon is referred to by the name "Jedidiah," and it is the only place where this word appears in Scripture. "Solomon" obviously became the name by which the child was primarily known.


Monday, August 25, 2008

John Howe's Worship Practice

Pastor Kyle from Good Hope shared with me about the worship practice of the Puritan John Howe (1630-1705):

When the Puritans held fast days, Howe worshipped with his flock from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. He began with a fifteen-minute prayer, then spent forty-five minutes reading and expounding the Scripture. After that, he prayed for an hour, preached for an hour, and prayed again for half an hour. After a half-hour break, he prayed and preached for another three hours.

From Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson’s Meet the Puritans (Reformation Heritage, 2006): p. 365.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

12 Searching Questions

It used to be a custom in churches for Pastors to compile lists of questions for the congregation to use in spiritual examination (2 Corinthians 13:5). John Fletcher of Madeley (1729-85) was an early Wesleyan Pastor who compiled these searching questions for his congregation to use in such spiritual exercises (source: Richard Alderson's No Holiness, No Heaven! [Banner of Truth, 1986]: pp. 67-68). These would be a good set of questions to review in your private or family evening devotions:

1. Did I awake spiritual, and was I watchful in keeping my mind from wandering this morning when I was rising?
2. Have I this day got nearer to God in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy, idle spirit?
3. Has my faith been weakened by unwatchfulness, or quickened by diligence this day?
4. Have I this day walked by faith and eyed God in all things.
5. Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts; have I delighted in seeing others preferred before me?
6. Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I had light, strength and opportunity?
7. Have I kept the issues of my heart in the means of grace, so as to profit by them?
8. What have I done this day for the souls and bodies of God’s dear saints?
9. Have I laid out anything to please myself when I might have saved the money for the cause of God?
10. Have I governed well my tongue this day, remembering that in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin?
11. In how many instances have I denied myself this day?
12. Do my life and conversation adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Let every man examine himself.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note: Evangel article (8/20/08)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Conversation Continues: Is Anger a Sin?

This is an ongoing series featuring responses to questions we did not have time to get to in our summer Church Family Fellowship series:


Is anger really a "sin" or just something we all have to deal with? Does it lead to other areas of sin? How can we tell if we have a problem with this?


In the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:21-26), Jesus equates unjust anger with the breaking of the sixth commandment ("You shall not murder"). Jesus warns: "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:22a). Though unjust anger is sin, there is also just anger or "righteous indignation." Jesus was often frustrated by the faithlessness of his disciples (e.g., Mark 9:19) and with zeal he overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple (see John 2:13-17), but he never lapsed into sinfulness in this (Hebrews 4:15).

Paul gives some excellent guidance for expressing anger in Ephesians 4:26-27 when he wrote, "‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (cf. Psalm 4:4; 37:8). In Colossians 3:8 Paul admonishes: "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." Among the "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19-21 Paul names "outbursts of anger" which are to be replaced in the believer’s life by "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Can anger lead to other areas of sin? Yes. It can lead to sin against the brethren (Matthew 5:21), against our children (see Ephesians 6:4), and to sub-Christian conduct (Colossians 3:8). At root it reflects a restless and sinful heart, and a lack of faith in God’s sovereign justice.

How do you know if you have a problem in this area? Here are some questions to ask:
  • Do I often become angry at others without cause?
  • Even if my anger comes from a just cause, do I speak the truth with a loving spirit?
  • For parents: Are my children obedient in a healthy way or out of fear alone? Am I embittering them? (see Ephesians 6:4).

Do you struggle in this area? Read Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Pray daily and ask the Lord to grow this fruit in your life, speech, thought, attitude, and actions. If you have a serious problem, call on your Pastor and Christian friends for more detailed counsel and prayer.


Packer on Temptation

I ran across this definition of "temptation" in J. I. Packer's A Passion for Holiness (Crossway, 1992):
"Temptations are places and times of decision in which Satan works to bring us down in an experience of defeat while God acts to build us up through an experience of overcoming" (p. 260).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homecoming and Revival at Good Hope

Yesterday I preached in the Lord's Day morning service at Good Hope Baptist Church in Radiant, Virginia (Madison County). It was their annual Homecoming Service. For those who do not know, most rural Baptist churches in the South have an annual "Homecoming" service to which former members and friends of the church are especially invited. These services are also typically followed by a series of "Revival" meetings. I also preached yesterday evening at Good Hope to begin their "Revival" meetings and will continue through Wednesday evening (7:30 pm each evening).
Good Hope has a long history. It was established in 1828. The building was constructed pre-Civil War and features a "slave gallery" (a flat landing, not a balcony, as is typical in such buildings) at the rear of the sanctuary.
Madison County is an absolutely beautiful place. If I did not live in Albemarle County, Madison would be my next choice. This is the scenic view just across the street from the church, at the corner of Good Hope Church Road (Rt. 616) and Beautiful Run Road (Rt. 621).

Pastor Kyle Balderson has been the Pastor at Good Hope for the past four years. Here are the two of us standing by the covered picnic area where the church shared in a plentiful meal on the grounds after the morning service.
The message topics for the week:
Sunday morning: "Four Marks of the Church" (Acts 2:42);
Sunday evening: "How do I know if I am a Christian?" (1 Corinthians 13:4-6);
Monday evening: "A Ransom for Many" (Mark 10:45);
Tuesday evening: "Personal Reformation" (Ephesians 2:1-10);
Wednesday evening: "Church Reformation" (Titus 1:5-9; 2:1-10; 3:3-7).

Sermon of the Week: Evaluating "Exclusive Psalmnody"

If you happened to listen to the final message from Malcolm Watts in the last "Sermon of the Week," you heard a spirited defense of "Exclusive Psalmnody" (the position that only canonical psalms should be sung in worship). The question of what is proper to sing in Scripturally regulated worship is an ongoing concern/interest of mine.
This "Sermon of the Week" features two items related to the issue of "Exclusive Psalmnody":
The second is an address by Gary Hendrix, "A Critique of the Doctrine of Exclusive Psalmnody," given to his church after an internal division on the matter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Conversation Continues: Is Baptism Required for Salvation?

Last Sunday evening (8/10/08) at our final 2008 Church Family Fellowship of the summer, there were several questions submitted that we did not get a chance to address. This new series poses and responds to some of those lingering questions:

Question: Is baptism required for salvation?

The short answer to that question is "No." Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not by human works (see Eph 2:8-9). Jesus told the thief on the cross "today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). This man never had the opportunity to be baptized, and yet Jesus gave him assurance of salvation.

This is not to say, however, that baptism is unimportant. Those who have the opportunity to be baptized after their conversion should do so. Why? First, Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize (see the Great Commission, Matt 28:19-20). Second, this was the normative practice of the apostolic church (see as an example the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:36: "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"). Third, baptism is a scripturally approved symbol of the believer’s identification with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (see Romans 6:3-4; Gal 3:26-29; Col 2:11-14).

We should acknowledge that there are some who disagree with the position stated above. On one hand, there are those who teach that baptism is a requirement for salvation. This is sometimes called "baptismal regeneration." This is the view taught by Roman Catholics. It is also taught by those in the "Churches of Christ" (Campbellite movement). The latter often stress hyper-literal interpretation of passages like Acts 2:38 and argue that baptism "completes" the salvation process. This passage should be balanced, however, with others in Acts. In Acts 16, for example, when the Philippian jailer asks Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" they respond: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (vv. 30-31). Notice that belief in Christ is pivotal for salvation, not baptism. On the other extreme, there are those who discount the practice of literal baptism by water altogether. This is true of Quakers and some ultra-dispensational sects. These neglect the command of Christ (Matt 28:19-20) and the clear practice and example of the early church (see again Acts 8:36). If Roman Catholics and Cambellites err in hyper-literalism, Quakers and ultra-dispensationalists err in neglecting appropriate literalism (i.e., when Jesus commanded the baptism of new disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 he clearly meant by water).

Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Ransom for Many

Last Sunday's (8/10/08) message was drawn from Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Here's part of the closing reflection:

The Biblical word "ransom" (lutron) refers to the price that was paid to purchase or redeem a prisoner of war or a slave.

To get what Jesus is saying we must understand the desperation of our state apart from Christ. Compare:

NKJ Psalm 49:6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, 7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him -- 8 For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever --

Jesus is saying that he came to offer his life as a purchase price, a ransom, to be the means for securing the redemption of those who have been the slaves of sin and were on their way to hell.
You can go to downtown Charlottesville to "0 Court Square" and see the plaque that marks the spot where at one time human beings were bought and sold in this town. I went there last year with Dr. Michael Haykin, and he wept to think of the human beings who were bought and sold on that spot.

But when we come to the marker of the cross we do not weep tears of sadness but tears of joy. Our good heavenly Master took those of us who were in bondage to those cruel taskmasters Sin and Death, and he paid down the purchase price of Christ’s blood and bought us. Paul tells the Corinthians: "For you were bought with a price" (1 Cor 6:20) and again, "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men" (7:23). Here is the thing. Once he purchased us by the ransom of Christ, he did not keep up as slaves, but he made us his sons. In Galatians 4:5 Paul said Christ came in the fullness of time "to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal 4:5).


Judges Series Sermon Texts Online

Back in 2006-07 I did a sermon series from the book of Judges. JPBC webmaster Brian D. has begun posting some of the written texts for those sermons on the JPBC website. You can read the sermons here. The audio for the messages are also on sermon audio.


Regarding the AV rendering of Hebrews 2:17

I. Introduction:

Chip C. was asking me about the AV rendering of Hebrews 2:17. Namely, why does the AV use the word "reconciliation" and not "propitiation"?

Here is the verse in several popular evangelical versions:

AV Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

NASB Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

NKJV Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

NIV Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

And in the RSV tradition (including its evangelical grandchild, the ESV):

RSV Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.

NRSV Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.

ESV Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

II. The Issue:

Here is the central issue: Why does the AV use "reconciliation" and not "propitiation"? The question is significant because evangelical scholars have long chided some modern versions for their elimination of the word "propitiation" and the substitution of less forceful words to describe the atonement not merely as the removal of sin (expiation) but as the appeasement of God’s righteous wrath against sin (propitiation). Specifically, evangelicals have criticized the RSV’s use of "expiation" and the NIV’s use of "atoning sacrifice" in place of "propitiation" in I John 2:2; 4:10; and Romans 3:25.

The question might be raised, ‘Does the AV rendering of Hebrews 2:17 soften the notion of "propitiation" by using the word "reconciliation"?’

III. The explanation:

The explanation of the AV rendering becomes clear when we examine the Greek text. The phrase rendered "to make reconciliation" (AV; "to make propitiation" NASB, NKJV, ESV) comes from the deponent verb hilaskomai. BAGD (2nd ed.) gives the first definition for this verb as "propitiate, conciliate" noting that in the passive it means "be propitiated, be merciful or gracious." The second definition given is "expiate" and lists Heb 2:17 as an example (erroneously, in my opinion). The only other time this verb appears in the NT is in Luke 18: 13 in the Parable of the Publican and the Tax Collector, when the penitent tax collector cries out, "God be merciful (hilastheti, an aorist passive) to me, a sinner." Most translations agree on the "be merciful" (AV, NASB, NKJV, ESV) or "have mercy" (NIV) rendering here.

In the other disputed passages over "propitiation," the issue has been the proper translation of the noun hilasmos (appearing only in the NT in I John 2:2; 4:10) and hilasterion (Rom 3:25; the only other use of this noun in the NT is in Heb 9:5 where it is typically translated as "mercy seat"(AV, NASB, NKJV, ESV; "atonement cover" NIV).

So, the AV translators chose to render the verb hilaskomai in Heb 2:17 as "to make reconciliation"; whereas, modern evangelical translations have preferred to render it "to make propitiation" (NASB, NKJV, ESV). Modern evangelical versions are most likely influenced by disputes over the proper translation of the nouns hilasmos in 1 John 2:2; 4:10; and hilasterion in Romans 3:25. Clearly, the AV translators had no notion of softening the sense of Christ’s atonement as a "propitiation," as their renderings of 1 John 2:2; 4:10 and Rom 3:25 make clear. Modern evangelical translations, making clear the fact that the noun for "propitiation" comes from the verb hilaskomai in Hebrews 2:17, reflect polemical struggles with liberals over the meaning and significance of the atoning death of Jesus.


Monday, August 11, 2008

The Spurgeon Suite

Mike S. sent me this link to the "Honeymoon Mansion" in New Albany, Indiana (near Louisville) where guests may choose to stay in the Charles Spurgeon Suite (for more on the quintessential Victorian Baptist Pastor look here). Other suites bear tribute to the likes of Stephen Foster, Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Robert E. Lee (see here). Honeymooning evangelical, Calvinistic Baptists, of course, will prefer the Spurgeon room. As one wag has said, "Spurgeon has been lighting a fire in the hearts of young Calvinists for years!"

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Byron Glaspy Fan Club

The Daily Progress has a nice article this morning on JPBC's Byron Glaspy: "UVA's Glaspy takes ownership of safety position." There's also a nice interview with Byron on the Cavalier sports website (read the encouragement to Jon Copper and Ben Parziale near the end).

There are plenty of news stories about college athletes behaving badly. It's nice when a Christian young man of admirable character gets some notice.

How many starting D-I defensive backs do you think spent part of their summer reading selections from Charles Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students and have Paul Washer on their I-pod?


Sermon of the Week: Malcolm Watts on Ecclesiology and Worship

Malcom Watts is Pastor of Emmanuel Church in Salisbury, England. He also serves as Chairman of the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Bible League Trust.

He preached a series of three messages in Spring 2008 for a Reformed Baptist Fellowship in Dublin that touch on Baptistic and Biblical ecclesiology and "Reformed" church life and Worship. All are worth hearing:


New Reviews and Articles Online

JPBC webmaster Brian Davis has posted some more writings on the church website, including my book reviews on Maurice Robinson, ed's The New Testament in the Original Greek, Byzantine Textform 2005 and Alister McGrath's The Twilight of Athesim.
There are also three new academic articles I have done at various meetings:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Habitual Repentance

I recently listened to an online sermon in which a pastor told of a time when he called on his congregation to repent of some ungodly decisions they had made. The Pastor noted that many in the congregation were upset, because they thought of repentance as something that was just done once when a person first became a believer. The Pastor noted that repentance was always to be part of the Christian life, both individually and corporately.

This reminded me of J. I. Packer’s discussion of the spiritual discipline of "habitual repentance" in his book A Passion for Holiness (Crossway, 1992):

What I intend to argue is that Christians are called to a life of habitual repentance, as a discipline integral to healthy holy living. The first of Luther’s ninety-five theses, nailed to the Wittenberg church door in 1517, declared, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ [Mt 4:17], he willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance." Philip Henry, a Puritan who died in 1696, met the suggestion that he made too much of repentance by affirming that he hoped to carry his own repentance up to the gate of heaven itself….

In my part of British Columbia, where rainfall is heavy, roads on which the drains fail soon get flooded and become unserviceable. Repentance … is the drainage routine on the highway of holiness on which God calls us all to travel. It is the way we get beyond what proved to be dirt, rubbish, and stagnant floodwater in our lives. This routine is a vital need, for where real repentance fails, real spiritual advance ceases, and real spiritual growth stops short (pp. 122-23).

What dirt, rubbish, and stagnancy needs to be removed from your heart and life? Paul urged the Corinthians to be filled with "godly sorrow" that would lead to repentance and then issue in greater zeal:

2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Let us pursue together this discipline of habitual repentance!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel (8/5/08) article

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Layman's Meditations

JPBC's Steve Belcher has entered the blogosphere. He started his blog, "A Layman's Meditations" while I was away in China. I have recently been trying to catch up on Steve's thoughts. He has also offered a challenge to the men of our church to set aside a half hour each day for prayer. Let me encourage JPBCers to take a look at Steve's blog and chime in.

Mary Beeke: The Law of Kindness

Our interns are reading their final book of the summer (which they have taken to calling their "summer semester"). It is Mary Beeke's The Law of Kindness: Serving with Hearts and Hands (Reformation Heritage, 2007) and today we discussed part one (pp. 1-50). I was convicted by Mary Beeke's comment in the preface that her husband Joel Beeke "has never said an unkind word to me" (p. 3). Having met Joel I do not doubt that this is true (though I am sure Joel would be the first to acknowledge that he is a sinner saved by grace)--and it might also be that Mary has a "keeping no record of wrong" spirit. Sadly, however, I do not think that my wife could say of me what Mary Beeke said of her husband in that preface. I shared that quote at lunch at JPBC yesterday with some other husbands, and they too agreed that the comment is convicting.

The third chapter on "our motives" for kindness is also convicting. Are we kind merely for personal gain? Do we only show preferential kindness to our family and friends? Are we ever kind only because we seek attention and praise? Or does kindness flow as we seek "to follow Jesus Christ's example in every sphere of life" (p. 48)?

To listen to a good radio interview with Mary Beeke about her book, look here.


The Indefatigable Industry of John Calvin

Charles Bridges in The Christian Ministry (Banner of Truth, 2006 [1830]) in a section on "habits of general study" praises the industry of John Calvin whom he describes as "the most diligent preacher." He adds this in a footnote:

‘What shall I say of his indefatigable industry, even beyond the power of nature, which being paralleled with our loitering, I fear I will exceed all credit, and may be a true object of admiration, how his lean, worn, spent, and weary body could possibly hold out? He read every week in the year three divinity lectures, and every other week over and above; he preached every day, so that (as Erasmus saith of Chrysostom) I do not know, whether more to admire the indefatigableness of the man, or his hearers. Yea, some have reckoned up, that his lectures were yearly one hundred and eighty-six, his sermons two hundred and eighty-six, besides Thursdays he sat in the presbytery,’ &c. &c. Clark’s Lives. Calvin's own account in one of his letters to Farel, thus speaks—‘When the messenger called for my book (The Commentary on the Romans), I had twenty sheets to revise—to preach—to read to the congregation—to write forty-two letters—to attend to some controversies—and to return answers to more than ten persons, who interrupted me in the midst of my labors, for advice' (p. 43, n. 3).