I have a book that was published in 1789, the year George Washington was elected our first President, in Philidelphia. The guys who were responsible for it (Thomas Coke & Francis Asbury) had interactions with George Washington himself. It’s an old book, published in America only two years after the Constitution was published!
The first article in this book (which is a collection of writings, poetry, essays, hymns, letters, and sermons) is a sketch of the life of James Arminius, taken from an oration that was spoken at his funeral, which was another full 180 years before this book was published…in October of 1609. These are some old words, written and spoken on the same year that Galileo was introducing his first telescope!
Arminius is best known for his stand against what would come to be known as Calvinism (the idea that God’s sovereignty necessarily implies that all men are predestined/predetermined by Him to be either “saved” or not). He was so capable of standing opposed to this belief against numerous other great and respected minds that the view he took is now known as Arminianism (the idea that God’s grace is available to all, and each man has the free-will to accept or reject it).
Anyway, that is who he is, but that is not why I’m writing about him.
When I opened it, the last thing I expected to find written in this 221-year-old book were words written by a man 408-years older than me that so perfectly say what I want to be able to say.
They come from his will, upon which he added these words, as he laid on his deathbed…
“Above all, I commend my spirit to God, its faithful Creator and Saviour, before whom I have walked in my profession and calling, with a good conscience, in simplicity and sincerity. I call him to witness, that I have advanced nothing but what, after the most attentive consideration, I have deemed the sense of scripture: and that, in whatsoever I have advanced, I have had in view only to extend the knowledge of the religion of Christ Jesus, the worship of God, and the common holiness and peace of all.”
Arminius died when he was 49-years-old. I have 7 more years until I’m his age.
I hope I will be able to say what he said, with profound confidence, by then.
How about you? Can you say…
- That you have commended your spirit to God?
- That you have walked in your calling?
- That you have done so with a good conscience?
- That you have lived in simplicity and sincerity?
- That you have been most attentive to consider the “sense” of scripture?
- That you have advanced nothing but that?
- That you have as your goal the life of Christ and the worship of God?
- That you have as your goal the common holiness and peace of everyone?
I have some serious adjustments to make.