The Soil the Nourishes

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. (Deuteronomy 32:7)

July was a frustrating month. I had been long looking forward to the publication of The Works of Thomas Manton, but they were still stubbornly listed as “upcoming release”. That was fine, patience is a virtue after all, but the fact that the Americans were receiving their copies was galling. Oh there they were, putting up photos on the internet and writing reviews, and all we had was “upcoming release”.

Then they were released in the UK. Order swiftly placed, and a day or two later a heavy box was left by the door (social distancing delivery) and the doorbell rung. As the courier swiftly departed, I lugged the box into my study and carefully put all twenty-two hardback volumes into the long prepared space on my shelves. And there they are now, glinting in the light.

Apart from giving you a glimpse into my addiction to books, and helping you to have even more sympathy for Mary, why do I tell you this? Well, Manton is a man from another age. Born in 1620, and dying in 1677, his experience of life was entirely different from ours. This means that when you read his writings, you can gain another perspective on the faith. It’s the same faith, of course, but he does not take the same things for granted as we do and his prejudices are not the same as our prejudices. There is great benefit from reading older authors as they can help you question your assumptions.

G K Chesterton once wrote: “real development is not leaving things behind, as on a road, but drawing life from them, as from a root.” We have two thousand years of Christian writing to nourish our roots, and the voices of the the Christians of the past are helpful echoes in a swiftly changing society. As I read through a sermon of Manton’s on prayer it was wonderfully refreshing. So much so, that I thought might share some of his many gems over the coming days. So buckle up, and this week join me in the Christian past.

Guilt, Grace and Forgiveness

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21) - “We are beggars: that’s the truth”. As he lay dying, Luther's final words reflected on this truth which had lay at the heart of the entire Reformation project: “we are beggars: that’s the truth”.

Dr & Mrs Luther

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4) - The life of the Luthers reminds us of the great truth that the home is a little church. God does not simply reside in old stone buildings, but lives in our homes. A great comfort that can be.

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