CALVIN ON POSTURE IN WORSHIP

Source: The Calvinist International

SITTING ON THE PROMISES? Portrait of John Calvin

Two of the more common gestural accompaniments of prayer and worship in Scripture are kneeling and the lifting of one’s hands.

In several places in the Institutes and his commentaries, John Calvin reflects on the usefulness of such practices for Christian prayer and sketches an outline of what it is that God intends them to do; or, rather, what God intends to do by them (and the notion of instrumentality will emerge as clearly having been of great significance for Calvin).

We tend, I think, in the Reformed world particularly, to assume that posture has very little to do with prayer, for a variety of reasons (e.g., an allergy to certain traditions with which we’d rather not be associated; an intellectualizing and cerebral impulse in worship that has as a frequent corollary, though not as a necessary consequence, a perhaps too easy alliance with forms that fall within our collective comfort zones; 1etc.). Others perhaps move in the opposition direction, believing that certain actions must be done at certain times, and that a failure to perform these actions makes prayer less, well, prayerful.

For Calvin, both positions are errors because both misjudge the nature of externals and their relation to the worship of the heart–the former too easily dispensing with them and therefore too quickly leaving them to one side, the latter giving them more weight than is due to them. Worship of God without the heart is useless; but, at the same time, what we do with our bodies is closely bound up with what we do with our hearts, and not in a symbolic way merely. The posture of the body ought to be emblematic of the posture of the heart, yes. But, ideally, the posture of the body serves to form the posture of the heart as well: posture, that is, has what we might call, in syntactical terms, both an indicative and a hortatory function. Kneeling is not just a sign of submission; kneeling aids in producing submission.

To approach more closely to what should be involved in thinking about this issue, let us look at some excerpts from Calvin, beginning with the Institutes. (END QUOTE)

For the rest of the article please visit The Calvinist International

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Divine Examination

The Soul Submitting to Divine Examination
the Sincerity of its Repentance and Faith.

Philip Doddridge, 

“Lord God! thou searchest all hearts and triest the reins of the children of men! (Jer. 17:10). Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, (Ps. 139:23-24). Doth not conscience, Lord! testify in thy presence, that my repentance and faith are such as have been described, or at least that it is my earnest prayer that they may be so? Come, therefore, O thou blessed Spirit! who art the author of all grace and consolation, and work this temper more fully in my soul. O represent sin to mine eyes in all its most odious colors, that I may feel a mortal and irreconcilable hatred to it! O represent the majesty and mercy of the blessed God in such a manner that my heart may be alarmed, and that it may be melted! Smite the rock, that the waters may flow, (Ps. 78:20): waters of genuine, undissembled, and filial repentance! Convince me, O thou blessed Spirit! of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment! (John 16:8). Show me that I have undone myself; but that my help is found in God alone, (Hosea 13:9), in God through Christ, in whom alone he will extend compassion and help to me! According to thy peculiar office, take of Christ and show it unto me, (John 16:15). Show me his power to save! Show me his willingness to exert that power I teach my faith to behold him as extended on the cross, with open arms, with a pierced, bleeding side; and so telling me, in the most forcible language, what room there is in his very heart for me! May I know what it is to have my whole heart subdued by love; so subdued as to be crucified with him, (Rom. 6:6); to be dead to sin and dead to the world, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, (Rom. 6:11). In his power and love may I confide! To him may I without any reserve commit my spirit! His image may I bear! His laws may I observe! His service may I pursue! And may I remain, through time and eternity, a monument of the efficacy or his Gospel, and a trophy of his victorious grace!

“O blessed God! if there be any thing wanting towards constituting me a sincere Christian, discover it to me, and work it in me! Beat down, I beseech thee, every false and presumptuous hope, how costly soever that building may have been which it thus laid in ruins, and how proud soever I may have been of its vain ornaments! Let me know the worst of my case, be that knowledge edge ever so distressing; and if there be remaining danger, O let my heart be fully sensible of it, sensible while yet there is a remedy!

“If there be any secret sin yet lurking in my soul, which I have not sincerely renounced, discover it to me, and rend it out of my heart, though it may have shot its roots ever so deep, and have wrapped them all around it, so that every nerve shall be pained by the separation! Tear it away, O Lord, by a hand graciously severe! And by degrees, yea, Lord, by speedy advances, go on, I beseech thee, to perfect what is still lacking in my faith, (l Thess. 3:10). Accomplish in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness, (2 Thess. 1:11). Enrich me, O Heavenly Father, with all the graces of thy Spirit; form me to the complete image of thy dear Son; and then, for his sake, come unto me, and manifest thy gracious presence in my soul, (John, 14:21, 28), till it is ripened for that state of glory for which all these operations are intended to prepare it Amen.” – The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

Commune With God

Psalm 4:4 “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Psalm 63:6 “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”

Psalm 16:7 “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.”

Psalm 119:147 “I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.”

Occasional Meditation

Thomas Manton:manton

There is that which we call Occasional Meditation, which is an Act by which the Soul Spiritualizeth every Object, about which it is Conversant. A Gracious Heart is like an Alymbeck, it can distil Useful Meditations out of all things it meeteth with. Look as it seeth all things in God, so it seeth God in all things. Our Lord at the Well discourseth of the water of life, Iohn 21.10. At the Supper of the Pharisee one discourseth of eating bread in the kingdom of God, Luke 14.15. There is a Chemistry and Holy Art that a Christian hath, to turn Water into Wine, Brass into Gold, to make Earthly Occasions and Objects to minister Spiritual and Heavenly Thoughts. God trained up the Old Church by Types and Ceremonies, that upon a Common Object they might Ascend to Spiritual Thoughts; and Our Lord in the New Testament taught by Parables and Similitude taken from Ordinary Functions and Offices among Men, that in every Trade and Calling we might be employed in our Worldly Business with an Heavenly Mind, that whether in the Shop, or at the Loom, or in the Field, we might still think of Christ and Heaven. There is a Parable of Merchant-Men, a Parable of the Sower, a Parable of a Man calling his Servants to an Account; in all these similitudes Christ would teach us, that we should still think of God and Heaven. So small a matter as a grain of Mustard-seed may yield many Spiritual Applications. Sermons on Genesis

‘a mystery to myself’

A quote worth a few moments of your time taken from, “What Will Ye See in the Shulamite?

Are you not often a mystery to yourself? Warm one moment, cold the next; abasing yourself one half-hour, exalting yourself the following; loving the world, full of it, steeped up to your lips in it to-day; crying, groaning, and sighing for a sweet manifestation of the love of God tomorrow; brought down to nothingness, covered with shame and confusion, on your knees before you leave your room; filled with pride and self-importance before you have got down stairs; despising the world, and willing to give it all up for one taste of the love of Jesus when in solitude; trying to grasp it with both hands when in business.

What a mystery are you!

Touched by love, and stung with enmity; possessing a little wisdom, and a great deal of folly; earthly-minded, and yet having the affections in heaven; pressing forward, and lagging behind; full of sloth, and yet taking the kingdom with violence! And thus the Spirit, by a process which we may feel but cannot adequately describe, leads us into the mystery of the two natures, that “company of two armies,” perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom. So that one man cannot more differ from another than the same man differs from himself. But do not nature, sense, and reason contradict this? Do not the wise and prudent deny this? “There must be a progressive advance,” they say, “in holiness; there must be a gradual amendment of our nature until at length all sin is rooted out, and we become as perfect as Christ.”

But the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this, that our carnal mind undergoes no alteration, but maintains a perpetual war with grace: and thus, the deeper we sink in self-abasement under a sense of our vileness, the higher we rise in a knowledge of Christ; and the blacker we are in our own view, the more comely does Jesus appear. J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)

divider

I think Philpot lays blame for sin upon our own inclinations to sin. He is placing less emphasis on outside influences for we are the evil ones who sent Christ to the Cross and decide to sin daily. Philpot is telling us that we need to understand our inability to progress in holiness. We are in a constant struggle to bring our minds and bodies into subjection to Christ.

Isn’t that what Romans 7 is all about?

How can I know what is right and godly and do otherwise? How can I stand before God forgiven in Christ and still sin? How can I almost burst with love for God and fail to keep His commandments even…though I love Him and know His will and way is best? Philpot’s experiences of grace are similar to my own, God help me, God have mercy where I am wrong but I am ‘a mystery to myself.’

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Jesus, while he dwelt below…

Long, but like all of Hart’s hymns, worth reading and meditating on.

From Gadsby’s Hymns #802

1 Jesus, while he dwelt below,
As divine historians say,
To a place would often go;
Near to Kedron’s brook it lay;
In this place he loved to be,
And ’twas named Gethsemane.

2 ’Twas a garden, as we read,
At the foot of Olivet,
Low, and proper to be made
The Redeemer’s lone retreat;
When from noise he would be free,
Then he sought Gethsemane.

3 Thither, by their Master brought,
His disciples likewise came;
There the heavenly truths he taught
Often set their hearts on flame;
Therefore they, as well as he,
Visited Gethsemane.

4 Here they oft conversing sat,
Or might join with Christ in prayer;
O what blest devotion’s that,
When the Lord himself is there!
All things to them seemed to agree
To endear Gethsemane.

5 Here no strangers durst intrude;
But the Prince of Peace could sit,
Cheered with sacred solitude,
Wrapped in contemplation sweet;
Yet how little they could see
Why he chose Gethsemane!

6 Full of love to man’s lost race,
On his conflict much he thought;
This he knew the destined place,
And he loved the sacred spot;
Therefore ’twas he liked to be
Often in Gethsemane.

7 They his followers, with the rest,
Had incurred the wrath divine;
And their Lord, with pity pressed,
Longed to bear their loads – and mine;
Love to them, and love to me,
Made him love Gethsemane.

8 Many woes had he endured,
Many sore temptations met,
Patient, and to pains inured;
But the sorest trial yet,
Was to be sustained in thee,
Gloomy, sad Gethsemane.

9 Came at length the dreadful night,
Vengeance, with its iron rod,
Stood, and with collected might
Bruised the harmless Lamb of God;
See, my soul, thy Saviour see,
Grovelling in Gethsemane.

10 View him in that olive press,
Squeezed and wrung till ’whelmed in blood,
View thy Maker’s deep distress!
Hear the sighs and groans of God!
Then reflect what sin must be,
Gazing on Gethsemane.

11 Poor disciples, tell me now,
Where’s the love ye lately had,
Where’s the faith ye all could vow?
But this hour is too, too sad!
’Tis not now for such as ye
To support Gethsemane.

12 O what wonders love has done!
But how little understood!
God well knows, and God alone,
What produced that sweat of blood;
Who can thy deep wonders see,
Wonderful Gethsemane?

13 There my God bore all my guilt;
This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors which he felt,
Are too vast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
Doleful, dark Gethsemane.

14 Gloomy garden, on thy beds,
Washed by Kedron’s waters foul,
Grow most rank and bitter weeds;
Think on these, my sinful soul;
Would’st thou sin’s dominion flee,
Call to mind Gethsemane.

15 Sinners vile like me, and lost,
If there’s one so vile as I,
Leave more righteous souls to boast:
Leave them, and to refuge fly;
We may well bless that decree
Which ordained Gethsemane.

16 We can hope no healing hand,
Leprous quite throughout with sin;
Loathed incurables we stand,
Crying out, “Unclean, unclean!”
Help there’s none for such as we,
But in dear Gethsemane.

17 Eden, from each flowery bed,
Did for man short sweetness breathe;
Soon, by Satan’s counsel led,
Man wrought sin, and sin wrought death;
But of life, the healing tree
Grows in rich Gethsemane.

18 Hither, Lord, thou didst resort,
Ofttimes with thy little train;
Here would’st keep thy private court;
O confer that grace again;
Lord, resort with worthless me
Ofttimes to Gethsemane.

19 True, I can’t deserve to share
In a favour so divine;
But, since sin first fixed thee there,
None have greater sins than mine;
And to this my woeful plea,
Witness thou, Gethsemane.

20 Sins against a holy God;
Sins against his righteous laws;
Sins against his love, his blood;
Sins against his name, and cause;
Sins immense as is the sea –
Hide me, O Gethsemane!

21 Here’s my claim, and here alone;
None a Saviour more can need;
Deeds of righteousness I’ve none;
No, not one good work to plead;
Not a glimpse of hope for me,
Only in Gethsemane.]

22 Saviour, all the stone remove
From my flinty, frozen heart;
Thaw it with the beams of love,
Pierce it with the blood-dipped dart;
Wound the heart that wounded thee;
Melt it in Gethsemane.

23 Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One almighty God of love,
Hymned by all the heavenly host
In thy shining courts above;
We poor sinners, gracious THREE,
Bless thee for Gethsemane.