From the Heavenly Home of John G. Paton: ‘He Walked with God, Why May Not I?’

Recently I’ve started reading an autobiography that’s long been on my list: John G. Paton: The Autobiography of the Pioneer Missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanautu).

I first learned of it when I asked a Banner of Truth bookseller at a conference, “What’s the best book in your stack?” Without hesitation he pointed me to Paton’s autobiography.

Sometime later I saw a friend post about it online, and just a few months ago I heard a pastor say something like, “If you want an unforgettable image of a nurturing Christian home, read the beginning of ol’ Paton’s autobiography.”

So I bumped it up the list and I’m finally getting to it. And I’m underlining everywhere.

I happened to have it with me when I arrived at work this morning, and was sharing all this with a coworker, who encouraged me to post about it. And seeing as we’re so close to Father’s Day, now’s as fitting a time as ever to share my favorite two passages of the book so far.

Here is Paton describing the layout of their home and the spiritual disciplines that took place there. (Note that this book was published in the late 1800s. The author’s spelling is left intact.)

Our home consisted of a “but” and a “ben” and a “mid room,” or chamber, called the “closet.” The one end was my mother’s domain […]. The other end was my father’s workshop […]. The ‘closet’ was a very small apartment betwixt the other two, having room only for a bed, a little table and a chair, with a diminutive window shedding diminutive light on the scene. This was the Sanctuary of that cottage home.

Thither daily, and oftentimes a day, generally after each meal, we saw our father retire, and ‘shut to the door’; and we children got to understand by a sort of spiritual instinct (for the thing was too sacred to be talked about) that prayers were being poured out there for us, as of old by the High Priest within the veil in the Most Holy Place. We occasionally heard the pathetic echoes of a trembling voice pleading as if for life, and we learned to slip out and in past that door on tiptoe, not to disturb the holy colloquy. The outside world might not know, but we knew, whence came that happy light as of a newborn smile that always was dawning on my father’s face: it was a reflection from the Divine Presence, in the consciousness of which he lived.

Never, in temple or cathedral, on mountain or in glen, can I hope to feel that the Lord God is more near, more visibly walking and talking with men, than under that humble cottage roof of thatch and oaken wattles. Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, or blotted from my understanding, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and shut itself up once again in that Sanctuary Closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal, “He walked with God, why may not I?”

And then later…

And so began in his seventeenth year that blessed custom of Family Prayer, morning and evening, which my father practised probably without one single avoidable omission till he lay on his deathbed, seventy-seven years of age; when, even to the last day of his life, a portion of Scripture was read, and his voice was heard softly joining in the Psalm, and his lips breathed morning and evening Prayer—falling in sweet benediction on the heads of all his children, far away many of them over all the earth, but all meeting him there at the Throne of Grace. None of us can remember that any day ever passed unhallowed thus; no hurry for market, no rush to business, no arrival of friends or guests, no trouble or sorrow, no joy or excitement, ever prevent at least our kneeling around the family altar, while the High Priest led our prayers to God, and offered himself and his children there.

Fathers, may God strengthen you for your high calling of raising children in the Lord.

When the New York Times and Billy Graham Agreed on Theology

The most important work of evangelical theology in modern times.

— Kenneth Briggs, New York Times

Establishes [Carl] Henry as the leading theologian of the nation’s evangelical flank.

— Richard Ostling, Time Magazine [Read more…]

Outer Edges: Who Are You Forgetting in Your Sermons?

Most preaching is aimed at the people in the middle. How do we preach so people on the edges can feast, too?

By Patricia Batten

I preached on five verses in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel. In verses 40–45, Mark tells us about a man who lived on the outer edges of society. [Read more…]

What Is Repentance? A Moving Description by Charles Octavius Boothe

By repentance is meant a true godly sorrow for sin; that is, a sorrow which arises from the understanding that sin, in its worst forms, is an act of disobedience or of positive enmity to God, who demands our best obedience, and who is worthy to be loved by all men with all their heart and soul and might and mind and strength. But Paul says: [Read more…]

June’s Free Course: John Frame on Scripture

This month, pick up your free Mobile Ed course by John Frame: TH207 The Clarity of Scripture. [Read more…]

How to Use Sermon Archives like Commentaries in Logos

Did you know sermons function much like commentaries in Logos?

This post will show you how to get the most use out of sermon collections in Logos. For a limited time, several sermon archives are 30% off, so take a look at the sale if you’d like to add more sermons to your library. [Read more…]

Every Logos Sale Ending at Midnight—Including Free Book

At midnight tonight, we pull down a number of incredible sales. Find links to all of them here so you don’t miss out. [Read more…]

10 Quotes on the Christian Life from John Stott

Nearly 50 years ago, the evangelical church was on the brink of shirking the call to global missions.

As framer of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974, John R. W. Stott (1921–2011), an Anglican priest, was on the forefront of the movement to preserve modern missions endeavors. He founded the Langham Partnership to equip churches with biblical resources and training for global missions. [Read more…]

Grab May’s Free Book before It Gets Replaced

May’s almost over, which means A Critical Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles moves over for June’s free book and goes back to full price.

So grab it now, plus two more commentaries for just $5: [Read more…]

A Commentary for the Most Neglected Part of Your Sermon

Every preacher knows it’s easy to explain a text without moving into theological reflection. It’s even easier to stop short of application.

Yet no sermon is complete without it.

The Treasures of Scripture commentary series (65 vols.), currently half-off on Pre-Pub, is designed especially for this crucial part of the sermon.

A preacher’s commentary

The Treasures of Scripture is truly a preacher’s commentary. It contains:

  • Historical information
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For example, here’s a potent illustration on fearing God, taken from the Job volume:

Charlemagne, it is said, gave instructions to be buried in the royal posture of a king upon his throne, with the Gospels opened on his knees, his sword beside him, and his crown upon his head. When his tomb was later uncovered, there he was. The crown was still perched on his skull, and a bony finger rested on these words: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

What an image, and how easy it would be to launch from it into a charge to keep watch over our souls. Though Job had king-like wealth and stature, he feared God. Job, and apparently, Charlemagne, understood that the fear of God and the eternal destiny of our souls were more important than the praise of man or wealth of this world. Flesh may fail, but the word of the Lord stands forever.

The Treasures of Scripture is full of powerful illustrations, not to mention outlines, alliterative helps, and other commentary to aid in preparing for preaching.

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The commentary is also edifying in its own right. Here is what some pastors and preachers say about it:

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Explore this well-loved pastoral resource, and get it now while it’s half off. The more interest it gathers, the higher the price, so get in early.

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