To Catch Sight of the Ineffable Vision

Have you visited the Compilations page at Log College Press recently? We are adding special volumes by multiple authors as we can. One such gem that is very much worth downloading and studying with care is the 1909 Calvin Memorial Addresses.

In May 1909, the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) assembled in Savannah, Georgia, to honor the 400th anniversary of the birth of the French Reformer, John Calvin. It was on this occasion that a gavel was presented to the Moderator of the General Assembly. That gavel was made from a timber of wood obtained from the tower of the St. Pierre
Cathedral in Geneva from which John Calvin preached. It was a fitting tribute to a man whom we admire because he, it seems, had "caught sight of the ineffable Vision." In the Calvin Memorial Addresses delivered on that occasion, B.B. Warfield (1851-1921) gave a description of Calvinism and what it means to be a Calvinist, a description that resonates a century on: 

"The Calvinist, in a word, is the man who sees God. He has caught sight of the ineffable Vision, and he will not let it fade for a moment from his eyes—God in nature, God in history, God in grace. Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart. The Calvinist is therefore, by way of eminence, the supernaturalist in the world of thought. The world itself is to him a supernatural product. not merely in the sense that somewhere, away back before all time, God made it, but that God is making it now, and in every event that falls out. In every modification of what is, that takes place, His hand is visible, as through all occurrences His “one increasing purpose runs”. Man himself is His— created for His glory, and having as the one supreme end of his existence to glorify his Maker, and haply also to enjoy Him for ever. And salvation, in every step and stage of it, is of God. Conceived in God’s love, wrought out by God’s own Son in a supernatural life and death in this world of sin, and applied by God’s Spirit in a series of acts as supernatural as the virgin birth and the resurrection of the Son of God themselves—it is a supernatural work through and through. To the Calvinist, thus, the Church of God is as direct a creation of God as the first creation itself. In this supernaturalism, the whole thought and feeling and life of the Calvinist is steeped. Without it there can be no Calvinism, for it is just this that is Calvinism....But let us make no mistake here. For here, too, Calvinism is just Christianity. The supernaturalism for which Calvinism stands is the very breath of the nostrils of Christianity; without it Christianity cannot exist. And let us not imagine that we can pick and choose with respect to the aspects of this supernaturalism which we acknowledge—that we may, for example, retain supernaturalism in the origination of Christianity. and forego the supernaturalism with which Calvinism is more immediately concerned, the supernaturalism of the application of Christianity. Men will not believe that a religion, the actual working of which in the world is natural, can have required to be ushered into the world with supernatural pomp and display. These supernaturals stand or fall together....This is what was meant by the late Dr. H. Boynton Smith, when he declared roundly: 'One thing is certain,—that Infidel Science will rout everything excepting thoroughgoing Christian orthodoxy. . . . The fight will be between a stiff thoroughgoing orthodoxy and a stiff thoroughgoing infidelity. It will be, for example, Augustine or Comte, Athanasius or Hegel, Luther or Schopenhauer, J. S. Mill or John Calvin.' This witness is true....Calvinism thus emerges to our sight as nothing more or less than the hope of the world."

Have you seen all the works by B. B. Warfield on the Log College Press website?

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born on this day in 1851. He was a prolific author, and we've posted a lot of his works on the Log College Press website here. One of his most famous books is The Plan of Salvation (1915), which nicely lays out the competing claims of autosoterism (self-salvation), sacerdotalism, universalism, and Calvinism. It is a must read by any serious student of theology. If you don't have a copy of it, download it from Warfield's author page.

B. B. Warfield on Luther's 95 Theses

If you're looking for some insight into the theology of Luther's 95 Theses, don't miss B.B. Warfield (1851-1921), The Ninety-Five Theses in Their Theological Significance (1917). Originally published in The Princeton Theological Review in honor of the 400th anniversary of the Reformation, this is a fascinating study of the document by Martin Luther that launched the Reformation on October 31, 1517.

Three 19th century Presbyterian poets/hymn writers: J. W. Alexander, B. B. Warfield, and John L. Girardeau

I knew that James Waddel Alexander was a poet. He translated "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" from the German. But I had no idea that B. B. Warfield and John Lafeyette Girardeau were also poets and hymn writers. Yet listen to these rich gospel lines from the pen of Girardeau:

'Nothing to pay?' No, nothing, to win
Salvation by merit from law and from sin;
But all things, to buy, without money and price.
The wine and the milk of a free Paradise.

'Nothing to do?' No, not to procure
A heaven, by infinite blood made secure;
But all things, with labour and sweat of the face,
To honor my Saviour and magnify grace.

'What of the law?' Its thunders were stilled
Against my poor soul, by the blood that was spilled:
But the hands which were nailed to the wood of the Tree
Now wield its commands to be honored by me.

'Nothing of guilt?' No, not to my God,
As Judge and Condemner, uplifting His rod;
But, ah, I am guilty of breaking His Word
In the house of my Father—the Church of my Lord.

'What am I waiting for?' Spare me a while
To tell of Thy love to a sinner so vile!
Then take me to Heaven, which is not my due.
And give me the Crown of Fidelity, too!

You can find Alexander's translations of German hymns (entitled The Breaking Crucible) here; B. B. Warfield's Four Hymns and Some Religious Verses, a published volume of hymns (with some musical settings!) and poems, here; and Girardeau's poems on pages 345-364 of The Life Work of John L. Girardeau by George A Blackburn. Use these volumes in your private worship. And let me know if you think it would be a worthy project to reprint these hymns/poems in a single book.

Looking for information on the Westminster Assembly? Don't miss B. B. Warfield's "trilogy"

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was a voluminous author, and we've only just begun to post his works to the Log College Press website. Three of his works on the Westminster Assembly have already been posted: "The Making of the Westminster Confession, and Especially Its Chapter on the Decree of God," "The Printing of the Westminster Confession," and "The Westminster Assembly and Its Work." All three were originally journal articles. If you have an interest in the Westminster Standards, and/or the history of their composition, you can find these articles here.

Digital gold: B. B. Warfield's "On the Emotional Life of our Lord" and two Inaugural Addresses

One of the great American Presbyterian theologians, B. B. Warfield's article "On the Emotional Life of our Lord" (from Biblical and Theological Studies published by the Princeton Theological Seminary faculty) is among his most important works. His two inaugural addresses are not far behind. The first was given at Western Theological Seminary (modern Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) in 1880, entitled "Is the Church Doctrine of the Plenary Inspiration of the New Testament Endangered by the Assured Results of Modern Biblical Criticism?" The second was given at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1888, entitled "The Idea of Systematic Theology Considered as a Science." You can find them both on the B. B. Warfield page of the Log College Press site. 

One of the projects we have in mind for reprinting is an anthology of seminary inaugural addresses from the 19th century. Does anyone else think this would be a worthwhile endeavor?