Archive for February, 2009

Magnalia Dei

Again, a learned friend is doing the Lord’s work by translating the great doctors of the faith into the common tongue; many such works are suppressed today but so long as an authentic confessor of the antique faith draws breath there will yet be someone to preserve these treasures. 

What follows is  a wonderful piece– quite typical of the historical Church’s understanding of things. The author (and the church of his day) had no notion of the behaviorist theories of Freud and Young which have recently become so firmly entrenched; the Church of yesteryear believed in nurture but not to the exclusion of nature. In Fokelorist terms their cosmology was as anthropological as it was literary. For such views, unanimous though they once were, they would be harried from most modern congregations. But if we have little communion with those now living we will console ourselves with the communion of the venerable dead in Christ. 

“Through the flood, God had destroyed all men save eight persons; now the new world was to be reinhabited by Noah’s three sons. I will indicate just our own grandparents and those of our neighbors—other nations may take care of their own provenance. From Magog came the Turks and the Tatars. Magog means “a man who lives by plunder, not dwelling in cities or houses, but al-ways staying in the country”: those peoples have just such a nature. From Meshech came the Muscovites. Meshech means “a good shot”: Such are the terrifying warriors of that people. From Ashkenaz came the Germans. Ashkenaz means “a priest of the holy fire; a man who can call fire down from heaven.” From Elisha came the Silesians. Elisha means “God’s salvation; a man who knows and confesses the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.” These two men learned about our Lord Jesus in the churches of Shem and testified of the heavenly truth to all the wolves. Here we see that God often finds pious hearts among the foe as well. From Riphath came our Poles. Riphath means “a great giant”: so are there still big, tall, strong folk among this nation. No other scribe in the world could have given us such an account. From this it is proven that Moses was the oldest, noblest, best, and most trustworthy writer of history. Hence it is now clear that Japheth was the grandfather of all of us who dwell in these countries. We are all Japheth’s children, and that which Noah foretold (Gen. 9:27), viz., that we children of Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem, has come true: For through the gospel we have all been brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, who was revered in the churches of Shem. God be praised and thanked for this forever! From Ham, Noah’s youngest son, came but idle, wicked knaves and adversaries of God’s people: Babylonians, Philistines, etc. For as the raven, so the egg. The apple falls not gladly from the branch. What by elders was sung is the lore of the young. Bad hair and bad hide always make a bad pelt. Hawks don’t hatch eagles. Nimrod was a towering tyrant before the Lord; that is, by the tolerance and permission of God: For without God’s permission and will no tyrant could lift a foot, nor would Pilate have had any authority. Nimrod was the first king of Babel, a mighty warrior, feared by all men like a hunter by hares. He was, as his name implies, amarus dominator, “a bitter, severe ruler,” who forced his people to work in his court and wait on him as though they were peasants in bondage. He might as well have been called “Never-bread,” for he took the bread from the mouths of his poor subjects and left them with never a piece of bread, and he turned never red over the matter: He was not ashamed by any knavish trick; he had the ἀδιατρέψιαν of Caligula, who thought it was the most commendable part of his nature that he could say and do as he pleased and had no shame before anyone: but periit, cui pudor periit, “He is lost who is lost in shame” Dear [reader], behold, the worst knaves snatch for themselves the most power and glory in the world; the fattest pigs always snap up the biggest beets; the worst rogues always have the best luck; they live on the fat of the land while the devoutest people bear their cross and gnaw the table-cloth of hunger.
From Shem came the children of Eber, the Hebrews; in German this means “wayfarers, pilgrims, and strangers in the world.” Such is God’s peo-ple; and such must always continue to wander in the world and endure much affliction as dwellers in the same house. They know, too, that they have no enduring place here, and so they behave like strangers and folks on a pil-grimage, setting their hearts on the eternal fatherland where they shall stay forever: for our Lord Jesus thus studiously calls the heavenly dwellings man-siones (“places in which to stay”). Here again we find our Lord Jesus in a beautiful mystery. With respect to God, our Lord Jesus truly had the pri-macy and the greatest esteem from among His friends; but as far as the world was concerned, He always came last and brought up the rear. You can see this very beautifully in Genesis. When Moses lists Noah’s sons in the beginning of Genesis 10 (v. 1), he puts Shem at the top regardless of the fact that he is not the oldest but the middle [son]: Moses did this for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ who was to be born from the bloodline of Shem. Thus Shem has the highest place for the sake of our Lord Jesus, as it has even been evinced above. He puts Japheth under him because that is where the circle is to be joined. In religion, Japheth’s children were to take after the children of Shem. In promotionibus Magistrorum (“when masters get their diploma”) the last locus is the locus gratiae, (“place of grace”). Thus Japheth is placed here in loco gratiae, for the children of Japheth “glorify God for His mercy,” as St. Paul says in Romans 15:9.
Ham, the wicked knave, is put in between them; for he, as the true tare among the wheat, was to plague and afflict the children of God just as has surely transpired. This is one thing. Shem has the highest place at the intro-duction of the chapter to the glory of our Lord Jesus; but when his children according to the flesh are counted, and Shem’s children are recorded in the manner in which they stood before the world, then Shem has to go to the bot-tom and come last: the precedence was given to Japheth with many wicked people, and to Ham with nothing but bad leaves. So it goes in the world: the worst knaves always get the greatest glory. It often cuts the pious to the lung and liver when they see it with their own eyes; for thus Psalms 37 and 73 are anguished, fretted and plagued with this grief. “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my kidneys,” says Psalm 73:21. Cain, too, was the cock of the hoop; he built for himself the first city: Abel was a cinder-sweeper. The Herods with their wanton dancing maiden got the rosarium and malthouse: John got the kiln. That gallows-bird Barrabas came first in Pi-late’s speech and the hearts of the Jews: Christ was last and least. Like-wise in our text, Magog, Meshech, Nimrod, and the Philistines come first: Shem’s children are forced to gather their dust and breathe their stink. The former were a whole nation; the latter barely a handful. The former had great fortresses; the latter were poor pilgrims, etc. Therefore do not let it grieve you when the world sweeps you and your gospel behind the stove. “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious against the workers of iniquity. For like the grass they shall soon be cut down and as the green herb they shall wither… fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way…For evildoers shall be cut off…For yet a little while, and the ungodly shall be no more: and when you seek for his place, it shall not be” (Ps. 37:[1-2, 7b, ]10). Where are the haughty nose-blowers of Ham’s bloodline today? There is nei-ther stick nor stocking of theirs to be found in the world. (Magnalia Dei, Part 2, Sermon XXIV, on Genesis 10, exerpt)

Valerius Herberger’s Magnalia Dei “The Mighty Acts of God” is subtitled: “Or, How Jesus Christ is the Core and Substance of Holy Scripture.” It is a 600 codex-page devotional commentary from Genesis to Ruth in which every chapter, or sermon, heading begins with “Jesus…”


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Gwlad, Gwlad

Now these are some Christian lyrics!

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The Prophet Jeremiah called the churchmen of his day “dumb dogs” because they refused to bark when danger was approaching. Nowadays bringing this issue up among elders in the church is liable to result in censure, excommunication or maybe even an IRS audit.

Notice what the puppet-pastor said in the interview? He claimed the whole “Romans 13 obliges us to do whatever Caesar commands” bit. This is an issue with which I’ve had a good deal of experience lately; it seems that even the once-conservative reformed churches have recently embraced the Hegelian idea that “government is god treading on the earth”. Of course, all of historic reformed thought rejects such notions but,  as with the issue of Kinism, the modern church has come about face to deny not only that these things (Kinism and the concepts of ‘consent of the governed’, and the ‘primary right of self-defense’) be biblical ideas but even to deny that anyone… ever believed such things. It boggles my imagination that a concept as historically non-controversial (in reformed thought atleast) as ‘consent of the governed’ is now completely alien to reformed churchmen. Not only is it alien to them, they are innately offended at the idea. Once Obama ascended these men were ‘activated’… like so many sleeper cells no doubt. 

This is an aspect of the subtle shifts going on christian thought; the church still invokes the same language but it is often completely denatured– completely redefined. The modern looks at Romans 13 recognizing only that the language therein is descriptive in nature, not prescriptive. That is their mandate. And due to that mandate they will subjugate all biblical ethics to the hermeneutical principle that description can never and in no wise be taken as prescriptive. But of course, to take it that way we immediately encounter the hypocrisy of such a hermeneutic: If Caesar commands that which is evil, it is declared righteous nonetheless… because it comes from the fount of modern judeo-ethics… Caesar. Because, they have ‘no king but Caesar’. (Of course the Jews are now sitting on Caesar’s throne but that’s another matter.) As such, they believe the decree of government actually sanctifies evil itself. But that’s just to say that they call evil, good and good, evil. ‘Dumb dogs’ indeed.

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