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Last year marked the 350th anniversary of the publication of Paradise Lost, by John Milton. It is the greatest epic poem in the English language and certainly one of the greatest works in Western literature. Sadly, the anniversary went by largely unnoticed. What is encouraging is that this work has been translated more frequently in the last 30 years than in the preceding 300 and mostly in non-Western languages.

Milton began this work in 1652, the year he became completely blind and lost his first wife. He dictated the more than 11,500 lines of verse to his nephew, Edward, in perfect form in groups of 10 to 30. He finished this work in 1665.

The importance of this work to the Christian faith is that is is a collection of mirrors displaying evil as disarmingly close in appearance to the good! In 1639 he wrote in his commonplace book, “In moral evil much good may be mixed, and that with singular craft.”

This is all too apparent in the news of our day where we find our human depravity being displayed in all of our institutions. How can this be in a nation that was founded subsequent to the “Great Awakening”?

Jonathan Edwards, who was the most gifted theologian and philosopher ever to set foot on this continent, said it best in his work, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections.” It was written principally to describe the quenching of this amazing awakening of which Edwards was its chief preacher.

It was Edwards assertion that there is no greater importance of understanding than this: “What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?” He goes on to say that, “Though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another.” With the number of Christian Denomination now surpassing 40,000 it is not hard to see that the saints are separated by a distance spiritually in a similar manner as the stars within the multitude of galaxies in the universe.

“It is a hard thing to be a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraordinary appearances, and to rejoice much in it; and at the same time to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has been bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly but fully persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom till we do so. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particular saint.”

From Milton to Edwards we see the threat is true Christianity mixed with the counterfeit not discerned and distinguished by which Satan has enjoyed his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ (Edwards, paraphrase mine). The magnificent ramparts of the city of Mansoul become of none effect when the “Eye-gate, Ear-gate, Mouth-gate, Feel-gate, and Nose-gate are left open to the enemy as he approaches in a form over which the inhabitants think they have dominion (The Holy War, John Bunyan). The personification of virtues are thus extinguished in Bunyan’s allegory and Mansoul lay shipwrecked and lying in a pool of blood from self-inflicted wounds unable to be extricated (Edwards, Paraphrase mine).

It is fair to say that Jesus requires us to follow Him, not just attend Him. The former leads to “experiences of saving affections,” while the latter results in “those manifold fair shows and glistering appearances, by which they are counterfeited.” (Edwards)

Perhaps it is almost prophetic that Easter will be celebrated on April 1st this year. For it is written of a time when even the saints will be deceived. May we find this as an opportunity to ensure that we are on the “highway of holiness” that Isaiah described which is Christ Himself. For He said, “I AM the High Way, the truth and he life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.”

This immutable Christ is still available to us at the ground level. We need not try to climb into a second-story window, that is to “bring Christ down.” Nor do we have to dig a tunnel under a wall, that is to “raise Christ up” (Calvary Road, Roy Hession. Illusion to Romans 10:6-8). The foot of the Calvary Cross, according to Hession, is the place where the proud stiff-necked “I” is made to bow low until it becomes a “C”! This is what Andrew Murray call “Absolute Surrender.” This then is what fueled the Great Awakening and birthed a nation of which Tocqueville spoke: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

This Easter let us not just go through the motions of attendance but rather prepare our hearts with the cloak of thankfulness for this so great a salvation! For Christ has risen just as He said! Death could not hold Him in the grave. By his vicarious sacrifice He has purchased us out of the market place of sin and delivered us from the sinful travails of bondage into the liberty of His kingdom.

May we rejoice with renewed exuberance as we ponder the immensity of the Grace that saved us and extol with our loudest voice joined in unity that Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed! Now Go and tell somebody what Jesus did for you!

Last year marked the 350th anniversary of the publication of Paradise Lost, by John Milton. It is the greatest epic poem in the English language and certainly one of the greatest works in Western literature. Sadly, the anniversary went by largely unnoticed. What is encouraging is that this work has been translated more frequently in the last 30 years than in the preceding 300 and mostly in non-Western languages.

Milton began this work in 1652, the year he became completely blind and lost his first wife. He dictated the more than 11,500 lines of verse to his nephew, Edward, in perfect form in groups of 10 to 30. He finished this work in 1665.

The importance of this work to the Christian faith is that is is a collection of mirrors displaying evil as disarmingly close in appearance to the good! In 1639 he wrote in his commonplace book, “In moral evil much good may be mixed, and that with singular craft.”

This is all too apparent in the news of our day where we find our human depravity being displayed in all of our institutions. How can this be in a nation that was founded subsequent to the “Great Awakening”?

Jonathan Edwards, who was the most gifted theologian and philosopher ever to set foot on this continent, said it best in his work, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections.” It was written principally to describe the quenching of this amazing awakening of which Edwards was its chief preacher.

It was Edwards assertion that there is no greater importance of understanding than this: “What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?” He goes on to say that, “Though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another.” With the number of Christian Denomination now surpassing 40,000 it is not hard to see that the saints are separated by a distance spiritually in a similar manner as the stars within the multitude of galaxies in the universe.

“It is a hard thing to be a hearty zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraordinary appearances, and to rejoice much in it; and at the same time to see the evil and pernicious tendency of what has been bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly but fully persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way acceptable to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom till we do so. There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particular saint.”

From Milton to Edwards we see the threat is true Christianity mixed with the counterfeit not discerned and distinguished by which Satan has enjoyed his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ (Edwards, paraphrase mine). The magnificent ramparts of the city of Mansoul become of none effect when the “Eye-gate, Ear-gate, Mouth-gate, Feel-gate, and Nose-gate are left open to the enemy as he approaches in a form over which the inhabitants think they have dominion (The Holy War, John Bunyan). The personification of virtues are thus extinguished in Bunyan’s allegory and Mansoul lay shipwrecked and lying in a pool of blood from self-inflicted wounds unable to be extricated (Edwards, Paraphrase mine).

It is fair to say that Jesus requires us to follow Him, not just attend Him. The former leads to “experiences of saving affections,” while the latter results in “those manifold fair shows and glistering appearances, by which they are counterfeited.” (Edwards)

Perhaps it is almost prophetic that Easter will be celebrated on April 1st this year. For it is written of a time when even the saints will be deceived. May we find this as an opportunity to ensure that we are on the “highway of holiness” that Isaiah described which is Christ Himself. For He said, “I AM the High Way, the truth and he life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.”

This immutable Christ is still available to us at the ground level. We need not try to climb into a second-story window, that is to “bring Christ down.” Nor do we have to dig a tunnel under a wall, that is to “raise Christ up” (Calvary Road, Roy Hession. Illusion to Romans 10:6-8). The foot of the Calvary Cross, according to Hession, is the place where the proud stiff-necked “I” is made to bow low until it becomes a “C”! This is what Andrew Murray call “Absolute Surrender.” This then is what fueled the Great Awakening and birthed a nation of which Tocqueville spoke: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

This Easter let us not just go through the motions of attendance but rather prepare our hearts with the cloak of thankfulness for this so great a salvation! For Christ has risen just as He said! Death could not hold Him in the grave. By his vicarious sacrifice He has purchased us out of the market place of sin and delivered us from the sinful travails of bondage into the liberty of His kingdom.

May we rejoice with renewed exuberance as we ponder the immensity of the Grace that saved us and extol with our loudest voice joined in unity that Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed! Now Go and tell somebody what Jesus did for you!



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Christian Military Fellowship

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