Friday, June 26, 2020

The Vision (6.26.20): Hope, when all hope seems lost

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 25.
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison (2 Kings 25:27).
Last Sunday we completed a 51-part expositional sermon series through 1-2 Kings (for the 1 Kings series look here and for the 2 Kings series here).
2 Kings ends in chapter 25 with the devastating fall of Judah and Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the exile in Babylon. The conclusion is bleak, even though God’s judgement of Judah was just.
The gloomy chapter concludes, however, in vv. 27-30 by noting that when a new king took the throne in Babylon he “lifted up the head” of Judah’s exiled King Jehoiachin. He even spoke kindly to the Jewish king and set his throne above the thrones of the other conquered and exiled kings (v. 28). He changed his prison garments and gave him to eat bread continually (v. 29), and he also gave him a good allowance (v. 30).
This ending has been variously interpreted. Some have seen it as a final tragic insult, but others (and I think this more likely) see it as a sign of hope.
Just as God was with Joseph even when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and cast into prison by Potiphar, so God would be with Judah.
Just as God was with Sampson, even after his hair was cut, his strength lost, and his eyes gouged out, and yet we read, “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he as shaven” (Judges 16:22).
So, the LORD would continue to be with the people of Judah in exile. The exile would be the worst of times, but it would also be the best of times. The people would understand that God was with them even in their chastisement, even in their failure and suffering. They would understand that their God was not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the God of the nations.
Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah was that a rod would come forth from “the stem” of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). To get the rod or shoot, Judah had to be cut down to a stump.
What lessons do we learn from 2 Kings 25?
First, we are taught here to fear the wrath of God. We deserve what Judah got, and we would receive it had not Christ interposed his precious blood (Romans 5:9: “we shall be saved from wrath through him”).
Second, we should understand how the Lord sovereignly uses the circumstances and powers of this world as instruments in his hand to bring about his greater purposes. Ours is not to know every detail but to trust with childlike faith. As the old hymn puts it, “What’er my God ordains it right.”
Third, we reminded that even when all hope seems lost, there is still hope for all those who place their faith in Christ. We can look to his blameless life, death, burial and resurrection. The rod has come from the stem of Jesse, and he will come again, and he will set all things right!
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Eusebius, EH.8.5-6: The Martyrs of Nicomedia

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 8, chapters 5-6.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters continue to describe the Diocletian persecution, focusing on the sufferings of Christians in Nicomedia (now the modern city of Izmit, Turkey), which Diocletian had made capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in AD 286, and in the imperial circles.

Chapter 5 notes that when the edict against Christians were announced, one unnamed upper-class Christian boldly took down a publicly posted copy and tore it to pieces. A footnote explains that this was probably the martyr Euethius, adding, “Tradition, however, identified him with St. George of England” (263, n. 2).

Chapter 6 describes the sufferings of those in the imperial household. The eunuch Dorotheus and Gorgonius were strangled.

An imperial servant named Peter suffered violent torture on the gridiron.

Anthimus, the bishop of Nicomedia was beheaded.

After a fire broke out in the palace, Christians were blamed and many more were “butchered with the sword” or burned, and the bodies of many were cast into the sea for fear that Christians would “worship” them if they were placed in tombs.

After an uprising in Melitene in Armenia, an imperial command was given for the “presidents” of the churches and other officers to be arrested and imprisoned. Further letters urged that the church officers to either sacrifice or face mutilation and torture. This led to numerous martyrdoms in each province and city.


These chapters note that among the first to suffer in the Diocletian persecution were those in the imperial household and in the city of Nicomedia. Christians were blamed for fires and insurrection to give cover to their persecution. This persecution is presented by Eusebius as the most serious and widespread faced by early Christians, and yet the believers remained faithful to death.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

When Restoration Goes Wrong

Image: The original depiction of Mary by Bartolome Esteban Murillo before its "restoration"

The story broke this week of yet another botched art restoration (read this article).

A priceless seventeenth century Baroque depiction of Mary by Bartolome Esteban Murillo was “cleaned and repaired” by a private art collector, but the restoration effort was something of a failure. A second attempt did not make things any better. Here are the two restoration efforts below:

This brought to mind the botched effort to restore a fresco titled Ecce Homo in a Spanish church eight years ago and now dubbed the “Monkey Christ.” See here:

Readers of this blog probably know where I am going with this. Can we draw an analogy from these recent calamitous attempts to “restore” master works of visual art  with parallel effort to "fix and repair" the traditional text of Scripture, leaving a masterpiece mangled and distorted? Food for thought.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WM 166: Wasserman & To Cast the First Stone

I have posted WM 166: Wasserman & To Cast the First Stone.

This is the first WM on text criticism I have posted since April.

In the first part of this episode, I offer a "historical" review of some previous conversations had on this blog, which began in WM 163: Gurry, Parker, Text, & Postmodernism.

In the comments of the WM 163 article, Swedish Baptist scholar Tommy Wasserman offered this rejoinder:

You cited me (and Jennifer Knust) again in your last comment, so perhaps I should emphasize again that it is not an either-or for me. I think that polarization is so unfortunate.

1) I do not believe the pericope adulterae belongs in the initial text of the Gospel of John, it entered in the early third century.

2) Our focus in this book was not on the initial text ... we did not find the pericope there. The focus was on the available textual objects, etc.

3) I am very interested in the reconstruction of the initial text and wrote another book with Peter Gurry whom you debate here. I think the easiest hypothesis is the assumption that the initial text is the authorial text.

4) I think the position that the Textus Receptus is God's word exclusively is completely untenable from both a logical–scientific and a theological viewpoint. I have no desire to debate with proponents of the Textus Receptus (I have done my share of that, and urge those who want more knowledge to first study the manuscripts and read an introduction to New Testament textual criticism).

Wasserman then offered a post on The Goal(s) of New Testament Textual Criticism on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, in which he again lamented the insistence of an "either-or" approach to text criticism.

The conversation continued in WM 164: Has there been a "major shift" in the goal(s) of text criticism?

Here also is a link to the audio of my debate with Stephen Boyce on the authenticity of the PA.

In the second part of this episode I offer a draft of my review of Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story (Princeton University Press, 2019).



Friday, June 19, 2020

The Vision (6.19.20): Discerning the Times

A friend of mine, Mark Tuso, a pastor in Florida, recently shared the devotion below, relating to discerning the times in which we live:

According to God’s design from the Bible, there are three main institutions:

The home;

The Church;

The state.

According to the Bible, God gave each of them a means of restraining/correcting evil/sin:

The home - the rod – Proverbs 22:15;

The Church - the keys – Matthew 16:19;

The state - the sword – Romans 13:4.

Satan has been working together through the world to break down the first institution of the home and to remove the rod, effectively removing the restraints of evil and sin designed to be used during the formative years of children born into sin.

We have also seen Satan, working through the world, to oppose the church in general, rejecting the Word of God, and the church of God, undermining what she teaches and her role in society.  In turn, we have seen churches across the country abandon God’s design for the church including the use of the keys (church discipline), effectively filling churches with unregenerate members free to sin without restraint.

Now, we are watching, for the first time in this country, a full attack by Satan on the third institution, and especially on its means of restraining and correcting evil in the cries and the moves to defund and abolish the police department.  Make no mistake, Satan’s aim is to ensure sin rules the day, and to remove any and all obstacles to it, while encouraging men and women and children to reject God and embrace their depravity.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Eusebius, EH.8.1-4: The Beginning of the Diocletian Persecution

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 8, chapters 1-4.

Notes and Commentary:

These opening chapters set the stage for book 8.

Chapter 1 provides a prelude to the great persecution suffered by the church under the emperor Diocletian.

As noted at the end of book 7, Eusebius sees the events recorded here as marking a significant transition in the Christian movement.

He begins by describing the freedom and privileges enjoyed by the church before this persecution. The Roman rulers allowed Christians to practice their faith, even as members of their households. Christian men like Dorotheus and Gorgonius were esteemed. Spacious church buildings were constructed in various cities.

With greater freedom, however, there also arose pride and sloth. Christians began to rail against one another and break into factions. When the persecution began among Christian brothers in the army, Eusebius says that the church did not seek the favor and goodwill of God.

Chapter 2 turns to the persecution itself. Eusebius notes that he was an eyewitness of “the houses of prayer” being cast to the ground, of the scriptures being “committed to the flames” in the marketplaces, and of pastors either hiding or being captured and mocked by their enemies.

He notes that the persecution began in the nineteenth year of Diocletian’s reign (c. 303) with the issuing of an imperial letter at the time of the “the festival of the Savior’s Passion.” This letter was promulgated which ordered, “the razing of churches to the ground and the destruction by fire of the Scriptures,” as well threatening loss of liberty to Christian leaders and ordinary believers. Later letters instructed the “presidents of the local churches to be imprisoned and pressured to make sacrifices.”

Chapter 3 describes the sufferings of the rulers of the churches. Some contended with stout hearts, while others proved cowardly and weak at the first assault. He gives several examples of those who stood firm in the faith.

Chapter 4 notes again how early attacks upon Christians began among those “in the camps” (i.e., in the army) with some leaving the military lest they should become renegades in the faith. A particular “supreme commander” (whom Oulton identifies in a footnote as Veturius) is mentioned, who, in the early stages, deprived some Christians of their rank if they disobeyed the command to sacrifice and even took the lives of several. In time to come there would be countless martyrs in all the cities and the countryside.


These chapters introduce the beginnings of the devastating Diocletian persecution which began with imperial letters in AD 303. This persecution would include the destruction of many churches and copies of Scripture, as well as producing numerous martyrs from the church’s officers and laymen. Eusebius saw this period as pivotal in the history of the Christian movement.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Church History Matters Podcast Interview: Eusebius, Father of Church History (Part Two)

Part Two of the interview I did on the Church History Matters podcast discussing Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History has been posted. You can listen above or find here. For Part One, look here.



Friday, June 12, 2020

The Vision (6.12.20): When Reformation Fails

Image: Rose, North Garden, Virginia, June 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 23:

2 Kings 23:27 Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.

2 Kings 23:1-24 describes the unprecedented efforts at spiritual reformation in Judah brought about by godly King Josiah. These reforms involved not only the removal of what was wicked (like the “high places”) but the restoration of what was right (like the celebration of the Passover). True revival involves both mortification (removing the evil) and vivification (including the right).

In the end, however, the historian must report that Josiah’s reformation failed. The announcement begins with these jarring words: “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his wrath….” (v. 26). Judah would be destroyed and carried off into exile (see v. 27).

Even the godliness of Josiah, great as it was, could not, in this instance, overcome the wrath that had been stored up against Judah. Dale Ralph Davis observes: “It is very sobering: there is such a thing as the hot heat of Yahweh’s anger that no amount of repentance or reform can dampen or douse” (2 Kings, 330). Davis then adds another intriguing observation: “But Josiah’s is a faithfulness that does not confuse obedience with pragmatism and so pushes on, not because it will change anything but simply because God demands it” (2 Kings, 330).

We are reminded that pragmatism is not the reason to be faithful. We may never be able to bring revival to our land, but that is no reason for the church to cease to be faithful. We live a faithful life not for what we can get or accomplish, but because the Lord is worthy of our obedience.

We can also be thankful that though there was no hope for faithless Judah who would be defeated by the Babylonians and carried away into exile, there is always hope for faithless and sinful men. In the last moments of his life, the thief on the cross heard Christ say, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). I was born in South Carolina where the state motto is the Latin dictum dum spiro, spero, “while I breathe, I hope.” If you are alive, there is still hope for you in Christ.

Josiah was not able to bring ultimate revival to Judah. He could not overcome their sin, as earnest and faithful as his efforts at reformation were. But we have one who is greater than Josiah, and who can bring salvation and reformation to sinful men. He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Hilarion Alfeyev on Pauline Authorship of Hebrews

Image: Dunes, Topsail Island, North Carolina, June 2020

I'm continuing to work my way through Volume 1 of Hilarion Alfeyev's Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching. In an overall discussion of how the prologue of John and Hebrews serve as "manifestos of the faith of the ancient church" in Jesus as not a mere prophet but as the Son of God (369-370), Alfeyev adds this footnote on the authorship of Hebrews:

Here and later in the present book, as well as in other books in the series Jesus Christ: His Life and Teaching, we will refer to the epistle of the Hebrews as one of the general epistles of the apostle Paul, in accordance with the attribution accepted in the tradition of the Church. An analysis of the polemics surrounding the authorship of this epistle is outside the scope of our investigation (369, n. 8).

It is interesting that though conversant with the findings of modern historical-critical methodology on this subject (the authorship of Hebrews), as on other topics, Alfeyev's orientation is to adopt the traditional perspective.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.32: The Calm in the Churches Before the Storm of Persecution

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 7, chapter 32.

Notes and Commentary:

This final chapter in book 7 begins with a summary of the succession of bishops in various cities.

In Rome Felix was followed by the short-lived rule of Eutychianus. Next came Gaius, and then Marcellanius.

In Antioch, Domnus was followed by Timaeus, and then Cyril. It is noted that during Cyril’s time, the eunuch Dorotheus came to prominence, who was skilled in reading the OT in the original Hebrew. After Cyril came Tyrannus, who was bishop when the attack upon the churches “was at its height.”

Next, Eusebius turns to the community at Laodicea. Here he notes that Socrates was followed by Eusebius of Alexandria as bishop. He was apparently drafted for this office when he came from Alexandria for the synod regarding Paul of Samosata. After him came another bishop from Alexandria named Anatolius, a learned man who, Eusebius states, had been deemed worthy by those of Alexandria to establish a philosophic school there in the tradition of Aristotle.

Eusebius then relays a rather lengthy anecdote to illustrate the worthiness of both Eusebius and Anatolius, from a time when they were both in Alexandria and the city came under siege, and they were able to arrange for the protection of and provision for innocent civilians, suffering under the siege.

To illustrate Anatolius’s gifts, Eusebius offers an extended citation from “The Canons of Anatolius on the Pascha.” This work was dedicated to determining the proper calendar for the celebration of the Pascha.  Translator and editor J.E.L. Oulton offers an extended note on this work, which begins, “The Paschal Table of Anatolius is based on the supposition that after the lapse of every cycle of nineteen years the full moons recur on the same days of the month, and at the same hours” (see pp. 244-245). Though noting that his method of calculation was not “strictly accurate”, he adds that Anatolius rightly insisted that “the pascal full moon must fall after the equinox, as opposed to those … who regarded the full moon (“the fourteenth day”), if it fell on the day before the equinox, as the pascal moon” (p. 245).

Eusebius further notes that Anatolius had written an Introduction to Arithmetic in ten treatises. He had originally been sought out by Theotecnus of Caesarea in Palestine to succeed him as bishop, but he was pressed into serve at Laodicea after the death of Eusebius while traveling to Antioch for deliberations on Paul. After Anatolius, Stephen was made bishop in Laodicea, “the last bishop before the persecution.” Though much admired before the persecution, Eusebius relays that Stephen did not prove to be a “true philosopher” but a dissembler and a coward. Things were, however, in the providence of God, set right when the worthy Theodotus became bishop after Stephen. Theodotus, it seems, had been a prominent physician who had reached “the first rank in the science of healing bodies” but was second to none in “the curing of souls.”

In Caesarea of Palestine, Theotecnus was succeeded by the worthy Agapius, distinguished in his care for the poor. Eusebius notes that in Agapius’s day he had come to know the presbyter Pamphilius, who became his mentor, whom he describes as “as most eloquent man and a true philosopher in his mode of life.” For more on Pamphilius Eusebius refers readers to his work on his life.

He adds notes on other godly men including the presbyter Pierius of Alexandria and Meletius, bishop of Pontus. Pierius, he says, was noted for his “life of extreme poverty and for his learning in philosophy.” Meletius was an accomplished scholar, called “the honey (Greek: melu) of Attica,” a gifted orator, who spent seven years fleeing from persecution in Palestine.

In Jerusalem, Hymenaeus was followed by Zabdas and then Hermo, the last bishop before the persecution. It is noted that the “throne” of the bishop of Jerusalem (see 7.19) was preserved up to that day.

In Alexandria, Maximus was followed by Theonas. At this time the presbyter Achillas was entrusted with “the school of sacred faith.” After Theonas came Peter who ruled three years before the persecution and nine years afterwards and was eventually crowned with martyrdom, by beheading, after twelve years as bishop.

At the close of this book, Eusebius notes a transition in this narrative. Heretofore the narrative has covered roughly the first 305 years of Christianity from the birth of Christ up to the Diocletian persecution and “the destruction of the places of prayer.”


This chapter continues Eusebius’s pattern of tracing the succession of bishops in the key city centers of early Christianity and the prominent bishops, writers, and theologians of the era. With the end of book 7, Eusebius sees this as a turning point as the movement is on the verge of experiencing its greatest period of persecution. There is a sense, however, that it will be able to endure due to the stability, giftedness, and faithfulness of its leaders. The churches were enjoyed a calm before the storm of persecution.


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.31: Against Manichaeism

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 7, chapter 31.

Notes and Commentary:

This short chapter briefly describes the gnostic Manichaean heresy which, Eusebius says, arose at this time (mid to late third century).

If we go back to EH 1.1 we see that Eusebius had stated at that time that his goal in this work was not only to present a history of the faithful orthodox teachers of the church, but also the heretical teachers who had ravaged the flock of Christ.

He begins his description of Mani, the leader of the Manichaeans, with a play on words, calling him a “madman” (maneis).

The language he uses in describing Mani is harsh and unsparing.

Mani is said to have had a “mental delusion, to have been “insane”, and to have been possessed by the devil. In mode of life, he was a “barbarian.”

Among his many doctrinal errors Mani is said to have attempted to pose as Christ, even choosing twelve disciples in imitation of Christ, while also making himself out to be the Paraclete, or Holy Spirit.

Eusebius notes that Mani “stitched together” his presumably dualistic false doctrine from the Persians and that he claimed to have “knowledge … falsely so called.” In closing he laments that the profane name of the Manichaeans was still on the lips of men in his day.


This brief chapter continues Eusebius’s task in the EH of compiling a catalogue of the heretical movements of the early years of Christianity by introducing and highlighting that of the Manichaean sect. He uses harsh and unsparing language in order to set a contrast of this false teaching with orthodoxy and to offer a warning to those tempted by this heresy.


CRBC Annual "Puritan" VBS Coming: June 15-18, 2020

CRBC will host its annual "Puritan" VBS for children ages preschool to age 12 next Monday-Thursday, June 15-18, 2020. See schedule and topics below.

For more info or to pre-register, email:

VBS 2020 Theme:  In the beginning (Genesis 1—11)

VBS Daily Schedule:

Arrival: 9:45-10:00 am

Opening: 10:00-10:15 am

Bible Lesson: 10:15-10:45 am

Recreation: 10:45-11:15 am

Refreshment break: 11:15-11:30 am

Craft/Drama: 11:30 am-12 nn

Bible Lesson Review/Closing: 12 nn -12:30 pm

Lunch on Site: 12:30-1:00 pm

VBS Daily Bible Topics:

Monday: The Creation (Genesis 1-2)

Tuesday: The Fall/Cain and Abel (Genesis 3—4)

Wednesday: Noah and the Flood (Genesis 5—9)

Thursday: The Tower of Babel (Genesis 10—11)


Friday, June 05, 2020

The Vision (6.5.20): Learning from Josiah

Image: Fishing at sunset on the sound side of Topsail Island, North Carolina, June 2020.
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 22.
And [Josiah] did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his Father, and turned not aside to the right hand or the left (2 Kings 22:2).
2 Kings 22 describes the rise of godly Josiah as king of Judah. The key event of this rule was the discovery, in the temple, of the book of the law, which had been suppressed, perhaps by his father Manasseh. When Josiah heard this word read, he “rent his clothes” in repentance (v. 11). Huldah prophesied that the Lord saw that Josiah’s heart was “tender” and that he humbled himself before him (v. 19).
Here a few a few points of spiritual application we can draw from this chapter:
First, we can aspire to live as Josiah did. Will it be said of us that we did what was right in the sight of the LORD, that we walked in the way of Son of David, that we turned not aside to the right or the left?
Second, we can learn how God preserves his Word. There were those in that day who had tried to suppress God’s Word. Paul noted in Romans 1:18 that ungodly men “hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness.” God’s Word and his truth, however, is like a beach ball. The more you try to push it under the surface, the more it keeps popping up!
Christ taught in Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Third, we are reminded of the power of the intake of God’s Word. We need to hear it read, preached, and taught.
Fourth, we are exhorted to respond to God’s Word as did Josiah, to have a tender heart and conscience, to rend, as it were, our garments before him and humble ourselves before him.
Josiah was indeed a great king, but we have a greater king. Josiah would die in peace, not seeing the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ would have the temple of his body crucified on the cross for us, so that we might have peace with God. Let us then look to him and live.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Church History Matters Podcast Interview: Eusebius, Father of Church History (Part One)

I was happy to do an interview last week with fellow RB brothers and members of Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, Virginia, Joseph Knowles and Rueben Rosalez, for their podcast Church History Matters.

The topic was Eusebius, Father of Church History. You can listen to part one of the interview above (and find it here also). Part two will be forthcoming.


Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Book Review posted: Robert W. Yarbrough's Clash of Visions: Populism and Elitism in New Testament Theology

My book review of Robert W. Yarbrough, Clash of Visions: Populism and Elitism in New Testament Theology appeared in Midwestern Journal of Theology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring 2020): 165-167.

You can read it here on my page or listen to the video or audio versions above.


Monday, June 01, 2020

May 2020 Thoughts for the Day

Image: CRBC meeting house, Louisa, Virginia, May 2020.

Here are the May "Thought for the Day" updates from the CRBC website:

May 1:

“Affliction is for our profit, as it is a refiner. It works us up to further degrees of sanctity…. The leaves of the fig tree and root are bitter, but the fruit is sweet; so afflictions are in themselves bitter, but they bring forth the sweet fruits of righteousness” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 4:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that there is no condition so bad but it might be worse. When it is dusk, it might be darker. God does not make our cross so heavy as he might: he does not stir up all his anger” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 6:

“Here was a stately building; man carved like a fair palace, but now lying in ashes: let us stand and look on the ruins and drop a tear…. Could we avoid weeping if we saw our country ruined and turned by the enemy into a wilderness? If we saw our houses on fire, and our property perishing in the flames? But all this comes far short of the dismal sight—man fallen as a star from heaven” (Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, 1720).

May 8:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that your case is not as bad as others, who are always upon the rack, and spend years with sighing (Psalm 31:10). Have you a gentle fit of the ague [a fever or shivering]?  Others cry out of the stone and strangulation. Do you bear the wrath of men? Others bear the wrath of God. You have but a single trial: others have them twisted together. God shoots but one arrow at you, he shoots a shower of arrows at others. Is there no kindness in all this? (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 12:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that, if we belong to God, it is all the hell we shall have. Some have two hells: they suffer in their body and conscience, which is one hell, and another hell to come is unquenchable fire. Judas had two hells, but a child of God has but one. Lazarus had his hell here; he was full of sores, but had a convoy of angels to carry him to heaven when he died. Say then, Lo! If this be the worst I shall have, if this be all my hell, I will patiently acquiesce: ‘Thy will be done.’” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 21:

“There is a kindness in that God gives gracious supports in afflictions. If he strikes with one hand, he supports with the other... There is not the least trial, but if God would desert us, and not assist us with his grace, we should sink under it….” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 26:

“There is a kindness in affliction that is preventative. God, by this stroke of his, would prevent some sin…. Affliction is sometimes sent for the punishing of sin, at other times for its prevention…. God’s people know not how much they are beholden to their affliction; that they might have fallen into some scandal, had not God set a hedge of thorns in their way to stop them. What kindness is this! God lets us fall into sufferings to prevent falling into snares; say then, Lord, do as it seems good in thy sight, ‘Thy will be done’” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 30:

“God by affliction would prevent damnation… A man by falling into briars, is saved from falling into the river; so God lets us fall into the briars of affliction that we may not be drowned in perdition” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).