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Archive for August, 2015

patrick-fairbairnI’ve recently been picking away at a great 19th century treatise on pastoral theology by Free Church of Scotland minister and professor, Patrick Fairbairn.  A must read!  In the introductory chapter, he deals with foundational issues of ecclesiology that shape and mold the practice of shepherding souls.  Without the foundation, the house is shaky at best.  Here’s a very insightful quote on the bearing of right views of the Church as visible and invisible on the pastoral office:

“To the visible Church, then, belongs the public administration of the means of grace; and as it is by the instrumentality of these means that the true Church is gathered in, it is obvious that it is no more possible to sever the one from the other, than it is to sever the inward grace of the sacraments from the outward sign; and that, in fact, as in the sacraments the outward sign and the inward grace are not two sacraments, but the two aspects, the inward and the outward, of one and the same ordinance, so the visible and the true Church are not distinct communities, but one and the same, regarded from different points of view. The true Church depends for the maintenance of its existence on the visible Church; and, in turn, the visible Church is supported by the true. Thus a reciprocal action is ever going on : the visible Church, as such, dispensing the means of grace by which Christ works to the gathering in of His elect; and the true Church, as such, upholding and perpetuating the visible use of those means by furnishing faithful recipients of them.”

Sadly, it’s out of print.  But there appear to be several used copies on Amazon, and you can access it on GoogleBooks.

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From Flickr.com“In a newly formed mind, there is no idea of nature or of a single object in nature – yet no sooner is an object presented, or is an event observed to happen, than there is elicited the tendency of the mind to presume on the constancy of nature. At least as far back as our observation extends, this law of the mind is in full operation. Let an infant for the first time in its life, strike on the table with a spoon, and, pleased with the noise, it will repeat that stroke with every appearance of a confident anticipation that the noise will be repeated also.”

-Thomas Chalmers, On Natural Theology, Vol. 1

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Here’s a really helpful introduction to Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873), a prominent minister in the Church of Scotland and later Free Church of Scotland and a champion of biblically sound poor relief.

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