Two Prayers for the Start of School – M. Coverdale and J. Calvin

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor the start of the school year I find these two prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers (complied by Clyde Manschreck, London: Muhlenberg Press, 1958) fitting.

For scholars (M. Coverdale)

O God, thou that of thy grace and fatherly love hast given such good and excellent gifts with singular light in all sciences; grant unto such as be learned a heart and mind that in all things they may have respect only to thy glory, and that in all their readings, writings, teachings, and doctrines they may prefer the same. For ‘knowledge puffeth a man up, but love edifieth.’

O suffer not thy holy and excellent gifts to be stained, defiled, and marred. Grant that our studies be not heathenish but godly and Christian. Preserve the tender and good youth from wicked and ungodly schoolmasters; that the pure hearts which thou hast consecrated to be a temple for thee and thy Holy Spirit be not defiled with vice. Amen.

On preparing to go to school (J. Calvin)

O Lord, who art the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since thou of thy special goodness hast granted that during our youth we be instructed in the good arts which may assist us to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening our minds, which otherwise labor under blindness, that we may be fit to acquire knowledge. Strengthen our memory faithfully to retain what we have learned: and govern our hearts, that we may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which thou now givest us be lost through our sluggishness. Be pleased to infuse thy Spirit into us, the Spirit of understanding, of truth, judgment, and prudence, lest our study be without success, and the labor of our teachers be in vain.

In whatever kind of study we engage, enable us to remember to keep its proper end in view, namely, to know thee in Christ Jesus thy Son; and may every thing that we learn assist us to observe the right rule of godliness. And seeing thou promisest that thou wilt bestow wisdom on babes, and such as are humble, and the knowledge of thyself on the upright in heart, while thou declarest that thou wilt cast down the wicked and the proud, so that they will fade away in their ways, we entreat that thou wouldst be pleased to turn us to true humility, that thus we may show ourselves teachable and obedient first of all to thyself, and then to those also who by thy authority are placed over us. Root out all vicious desires from our hearts, and inspire us with an earnest desire to seek thee.

Finally, let our only aim be so to qualify ourselves in early life, that when we grow up, we may serve thee in whatever station thou mayest assign us. Amen.

15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker referenced this in a post today but the original post was back in February of this year. It is still worth looking up to see the treasures found at Yale University.

Below is the brief introduction to the post at the Huff Post “Religion” section; follow the link to see all fifteen of the religious treasures Krattenmaker highlights.

Yale, a place that started out as a training ground for Congregationalist ministers (whose students included none other than Jonathan Edwards) retains to this day a dazzling array of religious treasures and relics, all publicly available.

Source: 15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker

Here are a few of my own personal highlights:

gutenberg bible

Johann Gutenberg; “Biblia latina” (Gutenberg Bible); 1454; paper and 18th-century calf.

Gutenberg Bible – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Five-hundred years ago, the Reformation transformed Christianity and the Western world. What made it possible was the dissemination of the Bible into many people’s hands. And what made that possible was the printing press, which allowed, for the first time, mass production of Bibles. Printed in Latin and known for its high aesthetic quality, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book ever printed by movable type. The 22 complete copies that exist today are among the most valuable books in the world. By appointment, Yale classes get to take this priceless piece of history out of the case and page though it, like the first Protestants half a millennium ago.

jonathan edwards

Jonathan Edwards; Deut. 32:35(c): “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at each moment out of hell but the meer pleasure of God,” from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; June 1941; paper; Jonathan Edwards Collection.

Original text of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Rarely has a single piece of sermonizing conjured fear of hell like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As the story goes, this Yale alum didn’t stir much of a reaction when he first delivered the sermon (a milder, more pastoral version than what was to come) to his own congregation in Northampton, Mass., in 1741. Edwards amped up the scary parts as he began to give the sermon at other churches. “There was a great moaning – & crying out throughout ye whole House”–that’s how one witness described the effect after hearing Edwards give the sermon. The outline from which Edwards preached it out on the circuit, like the original “Sinners” sermon, resides in the Beinecke collections. (They say cursive writing is a dying art these days. Judging from Edwards’ penmanship, not everyone was great at it in the 1700s either.)

“It is what we believe about Scripture more than anything else that sets us apart.” – August 2015 “Standard Bearer” – Prof.R. Cammenga

SB-Aug-2015-coverThe latest issue of The Standard Bearer has been published and is now available. The August 2015 issue (the “SB” is published monthly in the months of June, July, and August; otherwise bi-monthly) contains a fine variety of articles once again – from a meditation on 1 Cor.12:3 to material on Reformed doctrine, world and life view, missions, and family matters (cf. cover image to the left; click on it to enlarge).

One of the featured articles is the latest installment on the Second Helvetic Confession from the pen of Prof.R. Cammenga (PRC Seminary). In this article he expounds Chapter I,B of this Reformed confession, “Of the Holy Scripture Being the True Word of God.”

Here are his opening lines as he introduces his conclusion to Chap.1:

Fundamental to everything that the Reformed Christian believes and confesses is the truth of sacred Scripture: “…in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God….” (SHC, 1.1). What we believe and confess is derived from Scripture, is taught in Scripture, and can be defended on the basis of Scripture. It is what we believe about Scripture more than anything else that sets us apart. It distinguishes us from those who are not Christians and who have no regard for the authority of Scripture. It sets us apart from those who have apostatized from the faith, who invariably regard Scripture as less than the divinely inspired book that it is and therefore undervalue its authority. For good reason, then, the very first article of the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith concerns the doctrine of Holy Scripture. In the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1, the SHC affirms the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture, as well as the sufficiency of Scripture. In addition, the creed relates Scripture and preaching, expressing the Reformed conviction that “the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”

Part of Cammenga’s exposition is pointing out the errors of those who deny the Bible’s sole authority and sufficiency:

Either error, whether taking away from or adding to the canon of Scripture, is a fundamental denial of sola Scriptura—Scripture alone. Both fall under the condemnation of the apostle in Revelation 22:18, 19: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

What arrogance, that puny man should presume to excise certain books of sacred Scripture—the Word of God! What arrogance, that puny man should presume to exalt his writings to the level of the Word of God! That same arrogance is on exhibition in our own day. It is evident in the cults and sects, who add to Holy Scripture either the writings of the founder of the cult, or additional sacred writings like the Book of Mormon or the Quran.

And so he concludes with this positive point:

The distinctive mark of the believer and of the true church of Jesus Christ in the world is the confession that Scripture alone is the authority for faith and for life. Nothing may be taken away from Scripture and nothing may be added to Scripture. Because Scripture is the Word of God nothing need be added to Scripture and nothing may be placed alongside Scripture. Scripture is sufficient for the individual believer and for the church as a whole. In the words of the opening paragraph of this first article of the SHC: “And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God….”

To receive this Reformed magazine, contact the Reformed Free Publishing Association at the “SB” link above.

Prayers of the Reformers (2) – M.Coverdale

prayersofreformers-manschreckThe following two prayers I recently discovered while browsing further through the wonderful collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958.

These two are from the section headed “Prayers of Petition and Supplication” (pp.50ff.), and are both attributed to Miles Coverdale (1488-1569), whom we know as one of the early translators of the Bible into English. I found both of these fitting with my earlier post on the blessedness of our communion with Christ.

This saving union with our Lord is not and never must become static from our side, but must be experienced and developed daily, as these prayers assume and express. May they be ours in this coming week, as we seek to grow in closer, intimate fellowship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For increase of knowledge and truth

O gracious Father, grant unto us, which through thy Son have known thy name, that in such knowledge and light of the truth we may increase more and more; that the love wherewith thou lovest thy dear Son may be and remain in us; and that thy only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, our head, may in us his members continue still to work, live, and bring forth fruit acceptable unto thee. Amen (p.50).

Draw thou our hearts

O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee; join them together in inseparable love, that we may abide in thee, and thou in us, and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure forever. O wound our hearts with the fiery darts of thy piercing love. Let them pierce through all our slothful members and inward powers, that we, being happily wounded, may so become whole and sound. Let us have no lover but thyself alone; let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee. Amen (p.55).

Humanism and the 15th Century Church: Erasmus and the Greek NT – R.Reeves

Setting the Stage by Ryan Reeves | Reformed Theology Articles at

Before taking leave of the July issue of Tabletalk, we will spend one more post looking at the history of the church during the 15th century – the theme of this month’s issue.

Dr. Ryan Reeves has the final featured article on the subject and he gives us another “big picture” glance at this important century of church history.

ErasmusHis entire article is worth your time and effort – lots of new things to learn or be reminded of as far as major events during this time; but I will give you the end of his article because of the special significance of a certain Dutchman whom God used to set the stage for the Reformation in a special way, and whom a certain great Reformer would engage theologically and biblically on the doctrine of free will (Remember the great Reformation work The Bondage of the Will?!).

Sensing the opportunity to expand learning and literacy, the humanists unleashed a torrent of writing on theology, Bible, classical studies, and history. Of all the humanists, Erasmus of Rotterdam was their prince. Born in 1466 as the illegitimate son of a priest, Erasmus demonstrated skill with languages and textual criticism that propelled him onto the stage as a leading light of the new intellectual movement of the Renaissance. In the course of his life, Erasmus gave the world complete editions of the works of the church fathers as well as numerous tracts on theological subjects.

By far his most impactful work was the Greek New Testament—a work he admitted was gathered in a slapdash manner from twelfth-century Byzantine texts, with some passages wrongly added to the Bible and six verses of the book of Revelation missing entirely. The Greek New Testament was something like a modern interlinear Bible. In one column was the Greek text; next to it was a fresh Latin translation by Erasmus. Not only did this provide readers with the original Greek, but it also provided a road map for students to help determine how to render the Greek into their language. It is no surprise, then, that Luther used this text as the basis of his German New Testament, which he translated after his trial at the Diet of Worms.

Through destruction and exploration, the fifteenth century did more than bridge the gap between the medieval age and the modern world; it set the stage for the Reformation.


Wycliffe’s Bible: From Obscurity to Popularity – Dr. David Allen

JWycliffe-Bible-2The last Quarterly Record I have in hand (April-June 2015 – a publication of the Trinitarian Bible Society) contains an informative article by Dr. David Allen on John Wycliffe (1320-1384), “Morning Star of the Reformation.” Naturally, the article has much on the translation of the Bible that Wycliffe produced.

As a follow up to my post from yesterday, I quote a portion of Allen’s article today on the effect Wycliffe’s Bible had on the people of his day.

The translators of Wycliffe’s Bible are wrapped in obscurity. We scarcely find in Wycliffe’s writings any reference to the progress of that great work: he and those who aided him were afraid that if they blazed the matter abroad, the powerful hand of authority would prevent them continuing the translation and would inflict severe persecution upon them. The consequence therefore is that we are ignorant of the stages of the work which prepared the way for the Reformation and the spiritual destiny that awaited millions through the following centuries.

The Bible was completed by the end of the year 1382. In all probability it was John Wycliffe who translated the New Testament and Nicholas of Hereford the Old Testament. When Nicholas was forced to flee in 1382, the Bible was then revised in a free style by John Purvey, the ‘Librarian of the Lollards.’ In addition to Nicholas and Purvey, Wycliffe was also aided by other disciples, perhaps former Oxford scholars. It was an exact, literal translation of the Latin Vulgate into English, the language of the people.

So great was the eagerness to possess Wycliffe’s Bible that those who could not procure the volume of the Book would give a load of hay for just a few chapters. They would hide the forbidden treasures under the floors of their houses, and expose their lives to danger rather than surrender the Book. They would sit up all night, their doors being shut for fear of surprise, reading or hearing others read the Word of God. They would bury themselves in the woods and there converse with it in silence and solitude. They would be attending their flocks in the field, stealing an hour for drinking in the good tidings of grace and salvation (pp.22-23).

Something we so take for granted – the Bible in our own tongue. May we not forget the history of its translation and transmission to us, and may we treasure it for the best and most precious Book in all the world that it is.

Jan Hus: God’s Czech “Goose” – Aaron Denlinger

The Goose by Aaron Denlinger | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-July-2015 As noted on previous Mondays this month, the July issue of Tabletalk takes us through the 15th century of church history, when God’s hand was sovereignly preparing the world, especially Europe, for the coming Reformation of His church. One of the ways in which God worked was through certain “pre-Reformers”, such as John Wyclif and Jan Hus.

The above-linked article by Dr. Aaron Denlinger, professor of church history and historical theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, FL, focuses on the latter man and his place in this part of the history of Christ’s church.

I believe you will find this article to be a stimulating account of how God used “the goose” to  open the door to further and full Reformation in the church. Here are the opening paragraphs; read all of it at the Ligonier link above.

If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after.” So wrotJan-Huse John Foxe in his sixteenth-century Book of Martyrs, referring to a statement attributed to the Bohemian reformer Jan Hus on the occasion of his death. Convicted of heresy in 1415 by the Council of Constance, Hus—according to a story that originated some years after the fact—turned to his executioners shortly before his sentence was carried out and remarked, “Today you burn a goose, but in one hundred years a swan will arise which you will prove unable to boil or roast.”

Why might Hus have identified himself as “a goose”? And why might later commentators—not least, Luther himself—have believed that Hus’ legendary prophecy referred to the German monk whose protest against indulgences launched the Reformation a century later?

The first question is easier to answer than the second. Hus, born about 1372, hailed from the southern Bohemian town of Husinec (literally, “Goosetown”) in what is now the Czech Republic. His surname, derived from his place of birth, means “goose” in Czech. Understanding why Luther and later Protestants believed Hus had anticipated, if not predicted, the Reformation is more difficult and requires some consideration of Hus’ life, doctrine, and death.

Luther, Libraries, and Learning (3) – John W. Montgomery

Luther&LearningAs we take another look at Luther’s love for and support of libraries and learning at the outset of the Reformation – through the great essay by John W. Montgomery, “Luther, Libraries, and Learning”, as found in his book In Defense of Luther (Northwestern, 1970) – Montgomery directs us to Luther’s most significant piece of writing encouraging the establishment of libraries for the sake of good learning.

That work is Luther’s treatise of 1524 “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany, That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools,” which Montgomery quotes in full. As soon as I read it, I recalled that I had done a post on this before, and sure enough, you will find it here (from 2011). And you may find the complete treatise on this website (scroll down until you get to the pdf by this title).

I am not going to re-quote from that treatise today, but I am going to give you Montgomery’s evaluation of it – at least part of it today. Because he asks and answers the question, Why did Luther have such a passion for learning and libraries (the same holds true for the entire Reformation movement)? He finds it in several truths Luther rediscovered. We give two of these in this post:

Thus the reading of the Bible, the study of the original languages of the Scriptures, and the collection of libraries became mandatory in Luther’s program. The chain of reasoning was inescapable: To be saved a man has to believe in Christ the Word; to comprehend who Christ is, one must meet him in the preaching of the Gospel and in Holy Writ; and to understand what the Scriptures say, pastor and even layman cannot avoid the tools of scholarship.

Certain corollaries of Luther’s basic theological principle provided added motivation toward library establishment. The universal spiritual priesthood of believers was one such corollary. In his Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520) Luther declared: ‘Let everyone.. who knows himself to be a Christian be assured of this, and apply it to himself, that we are all priests, and there is no difference between us, that is to say, we all have the same power with respect to the Word and all the sacraments.’ In practice this view freed the layman from the legal demands of a priestly caste, but at the same time it placed a great personal responsibility on him. The matter of salvation could no longer be handled for one by a hierarchy; now, each man would have to confront the Word. Luther’s monumental translation of the Bible into the German vernacular testifies to his conviction that the Bible must not be allowed to remain the property of a special class of believers. Compulsory education, and municipal schools with libraries in conjunction with them, were thus essential for making the universal priesthood a practical reality” (pp.136-37).

I also appreciated the way Montgomery concluded his essay on this subject:

…Luther’s concern for library promotion may also suggest revision of the old aphorism that ‘it matters little what you believe as long as you are sincere’; in the realm of books and libraries, as in all other realms, what one believes makes all the difference in the world as to what one does (p.139).

Free John Calvin eBooks for 24 Hours – Reformation Trust

Free John Calvin eBooks for 24 Hours by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

I just received this notice from Ligonier and pass it on to our readers. Two fine books that are FREE in ebook form today:


John Calvin was born on this day in 1509. In honor of his birthday, Reformation Trust and Ligonier Ministries are making two John Calvin ebooks available free for 24 hours.

John Calvin was a man who died to himself and sought to take up his cross daily so that he might serve the Lord and the flock God had entrusted to him (Luke 9:23).” —Burk Parsons

July 2015 “Tabletalk” – The Eve of the Reformation

The Dawn of Reformation by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-July-2015With the July 2015 issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries continues it series on the centuries of church history. This issue features and focuses on the fifteenth century, with the appropriate sub-theme, “The Eve of the Reformation.”

For a great overview of this century and to be reminded of how God was preparing the world (especially Europe) for the great Reformation of the 16th century, read Dr. Nicholas Needham’s article, “The Fifteenth Century”, half of which I read yesterday.

For today, we take a few paragraphs from editor Burk Parsons’ introductory article, “The Dawn of Reformation.” Find the entire article at the Ligonier link above.

The brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, is the morning star. It appears about an hour before dawn. John Wycliffe (c. 1330-84) is often called the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” and for good reason, for his life shone brightly as a forerunner of the Reformation. Jan Hus (c. 1370-1415) worked by the light of this morning star, even as the greater light of the Reformation was about to dawn. Through Wycliffe, God brought light to people who were dwelling in darkness—one of whom was Hus. Hus boldly carried on the controversy that Wycliffe began, the controversy over the final authority of Scripture that would soon engulf the entire continent of Europe in the Reformation of the sixteenth century. In fact, Martin Luther (1483-1546), in his debate with Johann Eck, even declared, “I am a Hussite.”

These men were by no means the source of light; they were tarnished mirrors who reflected the one source of light, the Light of the World—Jesus Christ. The living and active Word of God reveals this Light. In His sovereignty, God used these forerunners of the Reformation to direct His people back to His Word. Once Scripture was rediscovered, the light of God’s truth began to shine ever more brightly in the hearts of God’s people, which, in turn, led to the Reformation.

Though Wycliffe died a natural death, his remains were later disinterred, burned, and scattered. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church burned Hus at the stake, even though he was promised safe conduct to and from his trial. It is said that he sang a hymn to Christ as the flames engulfed his body. His remains, like Wycliffe’s, were scattered. Nevertheless, the darkness could not dispel the Light of the World. This light, long obscured but still shining, soon dawned on Europe anew and subsequently throughout the rest of the world.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 564 other followers