A Mother’s Day Tribute

Apparently, when it comes to thinking highly of my mother, I’m in good company:

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her. —George Washington

2016-08-24T16:30:23+00:00 May 13th, 2007|Family, Quotes|

The Yankee, Defined

I found the following quote by Nicholas Davis, Confederate Chaplain of the 1st Texas Infantry, to be interesting. He defines for us the meaning of the New Englanders’ nickname, “Yankee”:

The popular name for the citizens of New England. This is what Webster says it means, “…a name for the people of New England” and, as their history is well-known to the civilized world, the whole world will understand us. The word extends to all their ten thousand schemes of deception and fraud and comprehends their every act of lying and stealing… from the days of Washington to the present hour… in all their political, legislative, executive, commercial, civil, moral, literary, sacred, profane, theological, and diabolical history.

The word Yankee when thus applied means meddlesome, impudent, insulant, pompous, boastful, unkind, ungrateful, unjust, knavish, false, deceitful, cowardly, swindling, thieving, robbing, brutal, and murderous. This Yankee country has given birth to Socialism, Mormonism, Spiritualism, and Abolitionism with every other devilism which has cursed the nation of unionism.

2016-08-24T20:11:20+00:00 May 9th, 2007|History, Quotes|

God and Government

Observations from the wise:

“…can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” — Thomas Jefferson, 1781

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams, October 11, 1798

2016-08-24T19:09:19+00:00 March 16th, 2007|Politics, Quotes|

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

A joke on the back of a punctuation book I’ve started to read:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes toward the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation:

Panda: Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death!

The book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss is proving to be a very entertaining read, although not incredibly instructive, at least not so far. Then again, I’ve only made it into the second chapter.

Most hysterical so far is a point where the author quotes Churchill to emphasize that prepositions are not something one should end sentences with:

There is a rumour that, in parts of the Civil Service, workers have been pragmatically instructed to omit apostrophes because no one knows how to use them any more — and this is the kind of pragmatism, I say along with Winston Churchill, “…up with which we shall not put”.

2016-08-24T19:10:22+00:00 March 12th, 2007|Quotes|

Happy 200th, General Lee

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

Happy Robert E. Lee Day! Today is the 200th birthday of one of the finest men ever to walk American soil. Today we honor him and praise the Lord for the example we have in men such as he was.

Most well-known for his role as general of the army of Northern Virginia during the War of Northern Aggression, Lee also served in the Mexican-American war and in various capacities at West Point and Washington College (later Washington and Lee College). Lee was a faithful Christian soldier and unlike many of his northern counterparts, acted nobly and principally in his leadership role as general. Compare him, for example, to the likes of William T. Sherman or Ulysses S. Grant of whom 19th century English historian/author G.A. Henty writes:

[Grant’s warfare tactic]… was a terrible programme and involved an expenditure of life far beyond anything that had taken place. Grant’s plan, in fact, was to fight and to keep on fighting, regardless of his own losses, until at last the Confederate army, whose losses could not be replaced, melted away. It was a strategy that few generals have dared to practise, and fewer still to acknowledge. — from With Lee in Virginia, G.A. Henty

stars-and-barsAlthough the war was lost, the integrity of his character and the memory of his Christian nobility will never be forgotten. He acted with courage and did not act pragmatically when facing seemingly impossible odds. His unflinching trust in the sovereignty of God can be a lesson to each of us. To end the post… not only my favourite quote by Lee, but one of my very favourites by anyone:

The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. —Robert E. Lee

2017-02-22T16:44:14+00:00 January 19th, 2007|History, Quotes|

Tales from the Reformation

As a family, we have been studying the reformation recently. Along with a series of messages by Dr. Joe Morecraft on the Reformation, we have also studied in more detail the London Baptist Confession of 1689, the Westminster Confession of 1646, and various key reformers. As none of these people or events forms in a vacuum, we have also backed up in history to look at people like the Waldenses, John Wycliffe and others. Tonight’s study brought us to look at the French Huguenots in more detail. We read of their spiritual strength and their steadfast faith in the face of fierce Catholic persecution. We came across the story of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Sketches from Church History and were extremely moved by what we read there. What we read reminded me how instrumental trials can be in forging men of sterling character, and it makes me despise the softness and complacency that are the trademarks of our modern society. Below is a brief account from the book of the unbelievable persecution of the Huguenots at the hands of the Catholics:

From the year 1560, the French protestants were known as Huguenots. The chief Huguenot leaders were Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, and Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France. On the Catholic side, members of the Guise family who were related to the king were the chief leaders, particularly, Francis de Guise, and Charles, a Cardinal of the Roman church.

The death of Henry II brought his son to the throne as Francis II, a youth of 16 who had married Mary Queen of Scots. Before long, however, he died of a disease of the ear and was replaced by his brother, Charles IX, a boy of ten. Catherine de Medici, his mother, then became Regent of France. At the time of her husband Henry the II’s death, she had been left with a family of five children, and was determined to protect their interest against the Guises on the one hand, and the Bourbons on the other. The Bourbons had married into the important house of Navarre, a kingdom on the frontier with Spain, and were represented by their Prince Henry, a friend of Coligny and a Huguenot, though not a man of deep religious convictions.

Shortly after 1560 a period of religious wars, which lasted on and off for thirty years, set in for France. Into the details of these wars, we cannot here enter, but we concentrate attention on the lights and shadows of the period. At the center of action was Catherine de Medici, and although at the beginning she seemed to wish to maintain balance of power between Protestant and Catholic forces, it soon became clear that her ultimate aim was to crush the Huguenots.

Craftily she hit upon a plan to gain her object. To cement a treaty between the two parties, she proposed that the Catholic princess Margaret, the sister of King Charles IX, should be given in marriage to Henry de Bourbon, the new Huguenot King of Navarre. All the notables of the land were invited to Paris where the marriage was to take place. Among them was Admiral Coligny. The Huguenots were not aware of the trap that was being set for them. Before the festivities that followed the wedding were over, there occurred one of the most hideous crimes recording in history. The date was Saint Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August, 1572. On the evening of that day Catherine went to her son, the king, and told him that the Huguenots had formed a plot to assassinate the royal family and the leaders of the Catholic party, and that to prevent the utter ruin of the house and cause, it was absolutely necessary to slay all Protestants within the city walls. Catherine had prepared a document to this effect and she presented it to the king for signature, in order to make it an official document. The weak-minded king at first refused to contemplate such a dreadful crime against a section of his subjects, but finally pressed by his mother, he yielded and exclaimed, “I consent, but, then, not one of the Huguenots must remain alive in France to reproach me with the deed; and what you do, do quickly”.

The Paris mob was to be given a free hand; only Henry of Navarre, the bridegroom on the occasion, was to be spared. At midnight, August 24, the castle bell tolled; this was the signal for the horrible butchery to begin.

It later became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 24 August — 17 September 1572, Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris. Similar massacres took place in other towns in the weeks following, with a total death toll estimated as high as 110,000. An amnesty granted in 1573 pardoned the perpetrators.

2017-02-22T16:44:15+00:00 January 14th, 2007|History, Quotes|

Samuel Adams on Morality & Freedom

As Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Adams wrote to James Warren, February 12, 1779:

A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader… If we would enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.

Amen Mr. Adams. To that I would add:

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep. — from Psalm 127

And also:

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. — from Deuteronomy 28

2016-08-24T20:03:01+00:00 January 4th, 2007|History, Politics, Quotes|

Letter from John Robinson

Having recently returned from the Faith and Freedom Tour, we remembered the Pilgrims’ sacrifice this Lord’s Day and reviewed the history leading up to the departure of the Pilgrims. The number of men that gave their all to the cause of reformation is astounding. Wycliffe, Hooper, Tyndale… just to name a few. All under-studied and under-appreciated sadly. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d not even heard of them until just a few years ago (it has become my habit to blame any and all of my short-comings on my government school education). At break-neck speed we reviewed just a few of the people and events (good or bad) that ultimately shaped the outcome of the great Protestant Reformation… the Waldenses, King Edward I, the Battle of Bannockburn (William Wallace), John Wycliffe, Gutenberg’s printing press, the Muslim capture of Constantinople, Luther’s ninety-five theses, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, King Henry VIII, John Hooper, Bloody Mary, 1560 – First Geneva Bible, Thomas Cartwright, Sodomite King James…and many others.

Laying this historical foundation was crucial to seeing that the brave men of the reformation did not simply appear out of nowhere. The recapitulation culminated in the reading of Pastor John Robinson’s farewell letter to the Pilgrims as they departed for the new world. As shepherd of the Scrooby congregation, he had every intention of joining them soon afterwards, but never did. He died in England only five years after their departure. Below is practical, godly counsel from the first pastor of the Scrooby congregation to those departing. Amazingly, that very congregation is alive and well today in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and this year celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Scrooby covenant written in 1606!

Loving Christian friends, I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all, as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you, though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, and much rather than otherwise, I would have born my part with you in this first brunt, were I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me in the mean while, as of a man divided in myself with great pain, and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms, you both foresee and resolve upon that which concerns your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them, who run already, if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses, so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner upon occasions of such difficulty and danger as lies upon you, to a both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in his sight; least he, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, and in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other; whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up unto a mans conscience by his spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death.

Now next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lies, especially with our associates, and for that watchfulness must be had, that we neither at all in our selves do give, no nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man’s corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man or woman either by whom the offense cometh, says Christ (Matt. 18:7). And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things in themselves indifferent, be more to be feared than death itself, as the Apostle teaches (1 Cor. 9:15), how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except with all we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how imperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person, who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the scriptures speak. Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are, that persons ready to take offense, either want charity, to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh humane frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teaches (Matt. 7:1-3), as indeed in my own experience, few or none have been found which sooner give offense, then such as easily take it; neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor. But besides these, there are diverse motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons, so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, least when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which does require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men’s doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God himself, which yet we certainly do so often as we do murmur at his providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith he pleases to visit us. Store up therefore patience against the evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord himself in his holy and just works.

Another thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding as a deadly plague of your both common and special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way; let every man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men’s selves, not sorting with the general convenience. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful, that the house of God which you are, and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminence above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations; not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God’s ordinance for your good, not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat, than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord’s power and authority which the magistrate bears, is honorable, in howsoever mean persons. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.

Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned, in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also diverse among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerns them. These few things therefore, and the same in few words, I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that he who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of waters, and whose providence is over all his works, especially over all his dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by his Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of his power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising his name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.

An unfeigned well-willer of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,
— John Robinson, 1620

2017-02-22T16:44:15+00:00 December 10th, 2006|History, Quotes|

His Mercy Endureth Forever

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever. Give thanks unto the God of gods: for His mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for His mercy endureth forever. To Him who alone doeth great wonders: for His mercy endureth forever. To Him that by wisdom made the heavens: for His mercy endureth forever. To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for His mercy endureth forever.

— from Psalm 136

2016-08-24T20:14:55+00:00 December 5th, 2006|Quotes|

Perspective

A fantastic dose of perspective from the past:

In spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present aspect of affairs, do I despair the future? The truth is this: the march of Providence is so slow, our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. —Robert E. Lee

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old; which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. —Psalm 78:1-4

2017-02-22T16:44:15+00:00 October 26th, 2006|History, Quotes|