I've given copies to several friends with children and all are enjoying it.
There is nothing new under the sun - that is definitely true with church history. Many of the same issues and problems face us today that faced the medieval church. So not only does this book give a good, fast-paced narrative through early christian history - it also highlights some of the mistakes and problems that have raised their heads again today. Most church history books for kids are either too textbook-ish to enjoy or too brief and sanitized to be accurate.
Our desire for the History Lives series is to provide an engaging, accurate introduction to the true story of Christianity.
These "fictionalized" accounts are based on extensive historical research and incorporate quotes from the character's actual writings. Volume 1 is not about the "heroes of the faith," but merely some of the flawed human beings that God used to establish his church in the first years after Christ.
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A man must lay up for posterity, the fathers lay up for posterity and children, and he is worse than an infidel that provideth not for his own. For the first, it is plain that it being spoken by way of comparison, it must be meant of the ordinary and usual course of fathers, and cannot extend to times and occasions extraordinary.
For the other place, the Apostle speaks against such as walked inordinately, and it is without question that he is worse than an infidel who through his own sloth and voluptuousness shall neglect to provide for his family. Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable or possible means of repaying thee, if there be none of those, thou must give him according to his necessity, rather than lend him as he requires; if he hath present means of repaying thee, thou art to look at him not as an act of mercy, but by way of Commerce, wherein thou art to walk by the rule of justice; but if his means of repaying thee be only probable or possible, then is he an object of thy mercy, thou must lend him, though there be danger of losing it, Deut.
If any of thy brethren be poor etc. The same as before, but with more enlargement towards others and less respect towards ourselves and our own right.
Hence it was that in the primitive Church they sold all, had all things in common, neither did any man say that which he possessed was his own. The definition which the Scripture gives us of love is this: Love is the bond of perfection. First it is a bond or ligament. Secondly it makes the work perfect.
There is no body but consists of parts, and that which knits these parts together, gives the body its perfection, because it makes each part so contiguous to others as thereby they do mutually participate with each other, both in strength and infirmity, in pleasure and pain. To instance in the most perfect of all bodies; Christ and his Church make one body; the several parts of this body considered apart before they were united, were as disproportionate and as much disordering as so many contrary qualities or elements, but when Christ comes, and by his spirit and love knits all these parts to himself and each to other, it is become the most perfect and best proportioned body in the world, Eph.
So this definition is right. Love is the bond of perfection. The next consideration is how this love comes to be wrought. Adam in his first estate was a perfect model of mankind in all their generations, and in him this love was perfected in regard of the habit. But Adam rent himself from his Creator, rent all his posterity also one from another; whence it comes that every man is borne with this principle in him: to love and seek himself only, and thus a man continueth till Christ comes and takes possession of the soul and infuseth another principle, love to God and our brother, and this latter having continual supply from Christ, as the head and root by which he is united, gets the predomining in the soul, so by little and little expels the former.
From the former Considerations arise these conclusions. First, this love among Christians is a real thing, not imaginary. Secondly, this love is as absolutely necessary to the being of the body of Christ, as the sinews and other ligaments of a natural body are to the being of that body. Thirdly, this love is a divine, spiritual, nature; free, active, strong, courageous, and permanent; undervaluing all things beneath its proper object and of all the graces, this makes us nearer to resemble the virtues of our heavenly father.
It rests now to make some application of this discourse, by the present design, which gave the occasion of writing of it.
Herein are four things to be propounded; first the persons, secondly the work, thirdly the end, fourthly the means. For the persons. We are a company professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, in which respect only though we were absent from each other many miles, and had our employments as far distant, yet we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love, and, live in the exercise of it, if we would have comfort of our being in Christ.
For the work we have in hand. It is by a mutual consent, through a special overvaluing providence and a more than an ordinary approbation of the churches of Christ, to seek out a place of cohabitation and consortship under a due form of Government both civil and ecclesiastical. In such cases as this, the care of the public must over sway all private respects, by which, not only conscience, but mere civil policy, doth bind us.
For it is a true rule that particular estates cannot subsist in the ruin of the public. The end is to improve our lives to do more service to the Lord; the comfort and increase of the body of Christ, whereof we are members; that ourselves and posterity may be the better preserved from the common corruptions of this evil world, to serve the Lord and work out our Salvation under the power and purity of his holy ordinances.
For the means whereby this must be effected: they are twofold, a conformity with the work and end we aim at. These we see are extraordinary, therefore we must not content ourselves with usual ordinary means. Whatsoever we did, or ought to have, done, when we lived in England, the same must we do, and more also, where we go. That which the most in their churches maintain as truth in profession only, we must bring into familiar and constant practice; as in this duty of love, we must love brotherly without dissimulation, we must love one another with a pure heart fervently.
We must not look only on our own things, but also on the things of our brethren.
Neither must we think that the Lord will bear with such failings at our hands as he dothe from those among whom we have lived. Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends.
We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath he ratified this covenant and sealed our Commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us; be revenged of such a [sinful] people and make us know the price of the breaches of such a covenant.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. So that we shall see much more of his wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with.
The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. I shall shut up this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut.
But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship and serve other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them ; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it;