Some unmentionables unmentioned and Departure

On reflection, two things have happened in the last week which have required me to expend some long pondering. I have been rather shocked by some of the things over the last year I have been willing to talk about with people I hardly know and even scribble on the blog, but some things demand too much discretion to be entirely open about, either because, like an in-depth comment on exam results and the year’s work it is simply too hard not only to be truthful but also be confident that the information given is presented rightly and gently to avoid upsetting any friends; or, the events relate directly to friends and the story is not really mine at all. So, much musing has produced nothing which I feel I ought to write about.

Various other hefty events have taken place though, not least the Eden houseparty, Departure, over the weekend. Dave spoke on the five points under the consideration that they are essential doctrines of grace, and was very helpful in the slant he took. Even though he preached a very similar series of five sermons a little while ago, the material was fresh, and it was useful to hear again to think through more, get the layout of the truth which gives a slightly fuller understanding each time it is heard slightly differently, and to be challenged in our prayer lives (Packer’s classic to the effect that ‘all Christians who pray are Reformed’ from EATSOG’s introduction making several subtle appearances—the only quotation I remember from my first read through, and I do not seem to be alone in that).

The worship times were good, and I was particularly struck by A debtor to mercy alone, a Toplady hymn I had not seen before. It is not one of his in the English Hymnal, perhaps because it is rather less neutral than Rock of ages and more in the line of his major work translating The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted. Certainly he asserts faith alone, preservation, predestination, and hints at limited atonement, unconditional election, and irresistible grace. The old tune is “dreary” (Rob Patterson), so we used an interesting new setting by Bob Kauflin (spotted: leading worship at NWA 2011; Bob is the one with the book popular at Hope Greatham).

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

Rather amusingly, I did not bring swimming shorts at the start of term so had the joy of buying whatever Sheringham had to offer, and was able to give my new floral-print shorts several outings to general merriment. There was also a fantastic meal on Sunday night for the third and fourth years, and Genevieve gave two seminars.