Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word and informing Christians about the possible loss of their religious liberties from current and proposed developments within the UK and European Union.
LOOKING BACK AND FORWARD
LOOKING BACK AND FORWARD
(Part of a New Year Address)
By: J. C. Philpot
But now let us look forward as well as backward. The year before our eyes may hold in its bosom events which may deeply concern us and affect us more sensibly than those of that which is past. We know what is past, but we know not what is to come. What personal, what family, what providential trials may await us, we know not. Sickness may attack our bodies, death enter our families, difficulties beset our circumstances, trials and temptations exercise our minds, snares entangle our feet and many dark and gloomy clouds make our path one of heaviness and sorrow. Every year hitherto has brought its trials in its train; and how can we expect the coming year to be exempt?
What then? Shall we sit down and wring our hands at the prospect of anticipated trials? Shall we go forward to meet them, or wait till they meet us? Anticipation is often worse than the reality and for this simple reason, that no strength or support is either promised or given for trials of our own forecasting. “As thy days” (not “as thy fears”) “so shall thy strength be.” “Hitherto,” said Samuel, “hath the Lord helped us”; but the Ebenezer (“the stone of help”) was the memorial of a battle won, not of a battle in prospect.
The well-known and often-sung lines,
“He that hath helped me hitherto,
Will help me all my journey through”
well express the hope and confidence of a believing heart. If indeed we are His, whatever our trials may be, His grace will be sufficient for us. He who has brought us thus far on the road, who has so borne with our crooked manners in the wilderness and never yet forsaken us, though we have so often forsaken Him, will still, we trust, lead us along; will still guide and guard us and be our God, our Father and our Friend, not only to the end of the next year, if spared to see it, but the end of our life.
May He bring us very near to Himself; may His fear be ever alive in our heart; may He hold up our goings in His paths, that our footsteps slip not; may He keep us from evil, that it may not grieve us; and may He constrain us, by every constraint of His dying love, to live to His praise that we may glorify Him in our body and spirit, which are His. Blessed with His presence, we need fear no ill; favoured with His smile, we need dread no foe; upheld by His power, we need shrink from no trial; strengthened by His grace, we need apprehend no suffering.
Knowing what we are and have been when left to ourselves, the slips that we have made, the snares that we have been entangled in, the shame and sorrow that we have procured to ourselves, well may we dread to go forth in the coming year alone; well may we say, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence”, and may we not add, “For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” May we be thus manifested as those who have found grace in the Lord’s sight; and, as a peculiar people, zealous of good works, may we be separated from all the people, profane or professing, who think and act otherwise, that are upon the face of the earth.
From: Sin and Salvation,
Selections from J. C. Philpot,
Edited by Mr. B. A. Ramsbottom
COVID-19: A CHRIST-REJECTING NATION’S
UTTER INABILITY TO COPE
By: Rev Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church, CW Committee Member)
Britain is in desperate need of spiritual direction. Liberal secularism has fashioned the national mindset in such a way that responses to national crises are now totally different in character to, say, those which prevailed during World War Two.
Whilst this writer feels that it is not appropriate to liken the pandemic to the grave adversity of war, the comparison has undoubtedly been made in recent months. So, let us examine the current response to the coronavirus in the light of how the nation once dealt with the affliction of war. The virus has exposed the deep spiritual void in our contemporary national life, whereas during the war, although the nation’s spiritual condition was far from thriving, there was still a general acceptance of the concept of God’s providence overruling in the affairs of men.
So, faced with a powerful enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, society understood that military might and strategy were not the only answers, but that there was also a need to seek the aid of the Almighty, He who determined the outcome of wars. Even the politicians publicly acknowledged this. As a result the war witnessed no less than 12 national days of prayer, all widely supported throughout the land, and this revealed that society still broadly appreciated the words of Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God”.
Britain today is doing the equivalent of trusting in horses and chariots in respect of dealing with Covid-19. It is putting all its hope in stringent medical precautions and in lockdowns, even when the scientific foundations for such measures are, in reality, a matter for intense debate. The nation today thinks itself far too sophisticated to humble itself before the Lord, but its trust instead is in the precautions.
The virus has also witnessed our God-ignoring nation resorting to a thoroughly unwholesome trust in the State and its institutions, most notably the NHS. The rainbow is meant to be a symbol of God’s covenant promise to be merciful to undeserving men; it is therefore deeply regrettable to see it being used to foster the notion that without the NHS and the State’s benevolence to us through it, we would all be hopelessly lost. A whole generation of children is being brought up to regard the NHS as the nation’s Saviour.
Now we of course value the work of dedicated doctors and nurses, but idolising the NHS is symptomatic of a deep God-rejecting malaise in contemporary British society. It is a classic example of man without God needing to look around for an alternative focus for his trust and devotion.
Secularism lacks the mental and philosophical faculties to deal with a pandemic. Its abandonment of the reality of the providence of God makes it react disproportionately to the need of the moment. When society loses an understanding of the sovereignty of the God over creation, it resorts to excessive fear and a misplaced trust in human ingenuity.
We have seen this with climate change alarmism, leading many, overcome with anxiety, to argue that our whole mode of economic existence must be radically changed, if ever WE are to save the planet. However, the very notion of man saving the planet or controlling the climate is in God’s sight a foolish usurping of authority which man simply does not possess.
Similarly, with the virus, society has been ramped up to disproportionate levels of fear. Yes, we should take reasonable medical precautions and pursue the appropriate scientific research, but this must not be at the price of forgetting our dependence on the Creator God. To do so is to idolise science and scientists. Excessively severe lockdown policies are leading to economic chaos. The Biblical principle for containing disease, as laid down in Leviticus 13, is to quarantine the sick, not the healthy and economically active.
Many will doubtless be shocked by this statement, but Covid-19 has actually come upon us in God’s providence. Ever since man’s first rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden all subsequent generations have lived in a fallen world which is no longer a paradise, a world always characterised by ongoing anti-God rebellion. This fallen condition includes sickness and disease, and always will do. It is impossible for modern man to create a world where there is no risk and no viruses. This is what secularism fails to understand.
We are drifting into frightening levels of State control over every nook and cranny of our lives. Also, whilst Governments in the past have occasionally endeavoured to direct the nature of Christian worship, the current situation of the State actually preventing Christians from worshipping at all is unprecedented in our history. As former PM, Mrs May, rightly pointed out recently in Parliament, this is dangerous territory indeed.
Covid-19 is God calling upon the nation to humble itself before Him and to come in repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, instead of crying out, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us’, the nation has tragically been proclaiming instead, ‘We shall beat this virus by working together and stopping normal living, until such time as we find a vaccine’.
Such is the contemporary secular response, but I submit that there is an alternative, namely that we should learn from the willingness of the wartime generation to swallow their pride and to confess in time of adversity their utter need of the help of the one true Trinitarian God.