Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Counsel for a Father Who Is Looking to God to Help Him Lead His Family Out of Household Observance of the Feast Day of the Nativity

When a head of household, comes to the conviction that the religious observance of a feast (or feast day) of the nativity is unwarranted in the church, he sometimes comes to the further conviction that it is also not pleasing to God in his home, or an appropriate shepherding of his family's souls. 

This is especially the case if he is one of those blessed men who understands that what is profitable to his family's souls is not so much what he himself does, but which God alone can do. He understands that the reason that we do what we do is not that it somehow mechanically benefits the eternal souls of our dear ones, but because we are entirely dependent upon God to bless it to them. And therefore man's wisdom in application takes a distant, back seat to God's wisdom in prescription with regard to what we do for family discipleship.

From time to time, I receive an inquiry (in this case a prayer request) from a man who is already convicted about religious observance, and has begun to come under the conviction about family observance. Today, I took time that I did not really have for "only" one household's benefit, to give counsel at greater length—in hope that it might be used to benefit many households. And, of course, the strengthening, gladdening, and maturing of one household has a reinforcing benefit to the body as a whole (cf. Eph 4:11–16, 1Cor 12:18–26).

Note well (n.b.!): this is not intended or expected to convince who have not gotten there by Spirit-powered sitting under the Word in secret worship, family worship, or especially(!) preaching in public worship. Yet, such as are not convinced are welcome to read and see if the Lord may help them, while understanding that it is really "someone else's mail" as it were.

The following is my advice to a father whom the Lord is already bringing to conviction and is looking to the Lord for wisdom and grace for how to carry it out, and how to communicate it to his family. May the Lord bless it to you, as well, gentle reader.

Monday, December 25, 2023

John Murray on manmade holy days

"Here I am alone in the library and apparently everyone has gone from Machen Hall until Friday morning. Now it is 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. You may think this dismal. Well, I love it. It is a delightful change from the usual stir. I have had two good days in the Library. Monday was taken up with committee meetings, forenoon and afternoon. I hope to be here all day tomorrow. I have not even accepted a dinner engagement for what they call ‘Christmas.’ I hate the whole business." — ๐‰๐จ๐ก๐ง ๐Œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ซ๐š๐ฒ, December 1958 Letter in ๐ถ๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘™๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘Š๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”๐‘ , Vol. 3, p. 120

[ht: Log College Press] 

Samuel Miller on manmade holy days

 "The observance of uncommanded holy-days is ever found to interfere with the due sanctification of the Lord's day. Adding to the appointments of God is superstition. And superstition has ever been found unfriendly to genuine obedience." — ๐’๐š๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ž๐ฅ ๐Œ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ž๐ซ, ๐‘ƒ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘๐‘ฆ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘š ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‡๐‘Ÿ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘ƒ๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘š๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐ด๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐ถ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ข๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐ถโ„Ž๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘โ„Ž ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐ถโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ก (1835, 1836), p. 77 [pictured: Howard Pyle, ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ƒ๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘› ๐บ๐‘œ๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐ผ๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐ถโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘†๐‘๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ก๐‘  (1883)]

JG Vos on manmade holy days

 "In former times the Reformed Presbyterian Church was solidly opposed to the religious observance of Christmas, East­er and other special days of the same kind. But in recent years this opposition has be­gun to weaken and here and there a Coven­anter congregation is beginning to copy the big denominations and do more or less as others do in this matter of observing days.

Three hundred years ago the Westmin­ster Assembly of Divines met in London, England, to compile the Confession of Faith, Catechisms and other standards that have become the heritage of all churches of the Presbyterian family throughout the world. Let me quote what the Westminster Assem­bly said about the observance of holy days. It is found in the Appendix to the Directory for Worship which they prepared. This is what they said: 'There is no day command­ed in Scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival-days, vulgarly called ‘holy-days’, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.' 300 years ago that was the accepted belief of all Presbyterians. Since then, the majority have gradually adopted the customs of the Episcopalians and Catholics, and today they observe a variety of special days in their re­ligious services. But we should realize that we Covenanters, in opposing the observance of Easter and other 'holy' days, are only holding to the original principle which was once held by ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ Presbyterians everywhere. It is not the Covenanters that have changed." — ๐‰.๐†. ๐•๐จ๐ฌ, "The Observance of Days" in ๐ต๐‘™๐‘ข๐‘’ ๐ต๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘›๐‘’๐‘Ÿ ๐น๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘กโ„Ž ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐ฟ๐‘–๐‘“๐‘’ (Jan.-March 1947), pp. 17-18

[ht: Virginia is for Hugenots]

Warfield on manmade holy days

"There is a certain passionate intensity in the way in which Christmas is now celebrated among us. But after all, what can be said for the customs to which we have committed ourselves. There is no reason to believe that our Lord wished His birthday to be celebrated by His followers. There is no reason to believe that the day on which we are celebrating it is His birthday. There is no reason to believe that the way in which we currently celebrate it would meet His approval. Are we not in some danger of making of what we fondly tell ourselves is a celebration of the Advent of our Lord, on the one side something much more like the Saturnalia of old Rome than is becoming in a sober Christian life; and, on the other something much more like a shopkeeper’s carnival than can comport with the dignity of even a sober secular life?" — ๐.๐. ๐–๐š๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ฅ๐, ๐‘…๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘–๐‘’๐‘ค ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐บ๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘” ๐‘…๐‘–๐‘’๐‘ก๐‘ ๐‘โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘™, Weihnachten in Kirche, Kunst und Volksleben (1903) [pictured: Franz Skarbina, ๐‘Š๐‘’๐‘–โ„Ž๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘โ„Ž๐‘ก๐‘ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘˜๐‘ก, ๐ต๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘› (1892)] 

[ht: Log College Press]