Today in Church (and US) History

Illegal to Deny the Bible

Illegal to Deny the Bible

Suppose the U.S. Congress passed a law making it illegal to deny the Bible as the Word of God? Today, the Supreme Court would quickly rule that such a law is unconstitutional because it violates religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment of the American Constitution. But did you know that on this day, November 4, l646, the little Massachusetts Bay Colony passed just such a law?

For the Puritans, who founded the colony, and for John Cotton, one of their most prominent preacher-leaders, it made sense for them to have a theocratic (God-directed) government in which the laws ruling society were also the laws of God as found in the Bible.

Yet the Puritans did not strictly combine church and state. They recognized that church and state had different purposes–one was for the salvation of souls; the other was for the preservation of society through justice. Both, however, had their source in God, and both should look to the Bible as the source for standards, direction, and guidance.

Most Puritans used the Geneva Bible translation. Its preface summarized what the Bible meant by calling it the “light to our path, the key to the kingdom of heaven, our comfort in affliction, our shield and sword against Satan, the source of all wisdom, the food for our souls, and the glass in which we see God’s face.”

For the Puritans, it was unthinkable that the teachings of the Bible were meant to deal only with a narrow religious sphere. They believed the Scriptures provided the rule and guidance for all of life–government, economics, education, church, family, and morals. And so, on this day, November 4, 1646 the Massachusetts Puritans passed a law prohibiting their people from denying that the Bible is the Word of God. The penalty for persistence in this error was death. The same act also set a fine of five shillings for failing to attend church on Sunday.

I am guessing this fact is not being taught at all in Massachusetts schools. 

Fear of Thee

Image result for Psalm 119:120 KJV

Mi carne se ha estremecido por temor de ti,
Y de tus juicios tengo miedo. (RVR 1960)

Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon

My flesh trembleth for fear of thee. Such was his awe in the presence of the Judge of all the earth, whose judgment he had just now been considering, that he did exceedingly fear and quake. Even the grosser part of his being, — his flesh, felt a solemn dread at the thought of offending one so good and great, who would so effectually sever the wicked from among the just. Alas, poor flesh, this is the highest thing to which thou canst attain!

And I am afraid of thy judgments. God’s words of judgment are solemn, and his deeds of judgment are terrible; they may well make us afraid. At the thought of the Judge of all, — his piercing eye, his books of record, his day of assize, and the operations of his justice, — we may well cry for cleansed thoughts, and hearts, and ways, lest his judgments should light on us. When we see the great Refiner separating the precious from the vile, we may well feel a godly fear, lest we should be put away by him, and left to be trodden under his feet.

Love in the previous verse is quite consistent with fear in this verse: the fear which hath torment is cast out, but not the filial fear which leads to reverence and obedience.

SUNDAY”S SERMON

A Holy Fear of God and His Judgments
by John Cotton (1693-1757) Preached November 3, 1727