The Secret of Communion with God, by Matthew Henry; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 128 pp., $6.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Rev. John A. Heys.]
This book, written in 1712 by Matthew Henry, brings to us an awesome calling, which presents to us what we must do every day without any exception. Let it be pointed out that this is not a book about the sacrament of Holy Communion, even though the word communion appears in the title of the book. The word communion here means covenant fellowship with God.
We do well to read this book in order to be reminded of our calling, and to become more earnest in our prayers. The title of the first section of the book is, “How to Begin the Day with God.” With prayer we must begin the day. As the book points out, we must with prayer commune with God every morning of every day.
Read the book to see more fully in chapter one the calling which we have to come to Him in prayer, and the blessedness for us when we do have communion with Him through prayer. Surely, coming to God in prayer the first thing in the morning, and understanding our calling to do so, will help us to do what the next chapter presents, namely, “How to Spend the Day with God.”
Reading the second chapter in this book raises an important question in our minds. The book indirectly, but very really, raises the question to the reader as to how often he has God in mind during the day. We do well to read the book for the strengthening of our faith in God, and to move us to a closer spiritual fellowship with God in whatever situation we find ourselves.
To pray to God the first thing in the morning, and then not to have Him in our thoughts the rest of the day, does not manifest a spiritual life of faith in Him. The text Matthew Henry quotes as the basis for what he writes in this second chapter is Psalm 25:5c. There we read, “On thee do I wait all the day.” And, beginning on page 55, Matthew Henry presents to us four reasons why we must wait on God during all the day, and not merely the first thing in the morning. Get this book and read those four reasons presented in chapter two.
Then follow the six reasons why we should not allow ourselves to wander away from God in our thoughts. He concludes this chapter with an application of our calling to wait on God. Read those nine points for your instruction, and the five motives for persuading us to live a life of communion with God, by waiting on Him all the day.”
It is noteworthy that each of the three chapters in this book begins with a quotation from the book of Psalms. The book begins chapter one with the quoting of Psalm 5:3, namely, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” The second chapter begins with the quoting of Psalm 25:5. There David writes, “On thee do I wait all the day.” And now chapter three begins withPsalm 4:8. Notice then that, having written about and quoted Scripture in regard to praying in the morning, and then of waiting on God all the day, the author of this book now quotes these words of David, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, maketh me dwell in safety.”
Thus all the day, from the first thing in the morning, until we close our eyes in sleep at night, we must, as David did, have communion with God through prayer. We do well, therefore, to read this book, and in this third chapter to consider the “holy serenity,” or peace, which we have with God, and the “holy security,” which is the fruit of God’s favor or grace. With that confidence we can close our eye? in sleep at night, with the assurance that all is well; for we are in the hands of an almighty, gracious God. Read, then, how this book presents to us the truth that prayer is the privilege and duty of those who are chosen in Christ.
This third chapter of the book contains four main sections; and then it concludes with an application of what had been presented in that chapter. The first of these four sections deals with the fact of our lying down to sleep. The second presents our lying down in peace when we seek sleep. The third deals with composing wisdom in regard to sleep. And the fourth one presents the necessity of our believing and having complete dependency upon God.
Then comes the application of all this. Therein we find six points. And in this section the author begins with the truth that we must carry our religion with us wherever we go; and thus also do this when we lie down to sleep.
How true is that last statement in the last paragraph of this book. The author states, “It is certain, all that will go to heaven hereafter begin their heaven now, and have their hearts there.” The idea is that, in this life already, such who enter into spiritual rest, every night before they fall asleep have evidence that they “shall not rest day or night from praising Him, who is, and will be, our eternal rest.”
Read the book for the strengthening of faith, and for more enjoyment of sweet communion with God already in this life. Living in a day and age that, from a spiritual point of view, is increasingly devilish and antichristian, it is well to be reminded of our calling to have more communion with God, rather than with Satan and his godless host.
By communion with God in prayer and contemplation we will know that which is secret. We will know and enjoy what He wrought for us through Christ and His cross, and in His grace. Be sure, then, to have communion with God, and know the joy which unbelievers cannot have and enjoy. What is a secret, that is, hidden from the unbelievers, those Saved by God’s grace will everlastingly know and enjoy.
Grace and Glory Days, by Thomas Boslooper. Clearwater, Florida: Woodswalker Books, 1990. 130 pages. Paper. No price given. [Reviewed by the Editor.]
Grace and Glory was a religious periodical published in Western Michigan in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Its leading editors were the four preachers who are the subjects of this informative little history: M.R. DeHaan, Harry Bultema, Albert Waalkes, and JohnBennink. All were originally ministers in the Reformed Church of America or in the Christian Reformed Church. All were either deposed or dismissed because of their falling away from the Reformed faith to dispensationalism (premillennialism).
This error involved them in the denial of infant baptism and the covenant. DeHaan’s troubles in Calvary Reformed Church began when he refused to preach Question 74 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Harry Bultema ended in a complete repudiation of water baptism. The only baptism recognized in his church was the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Water baptism was for the dispensation of the Jews.
DeHaan started Calvary Undenominational Church in Grand Rapids (now Calvary Church); Bultema, the Berean Church in Muskegon; Waalkes, The Church of the Open Door in Grand Rapids; and Bennink, the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Muskegon.
Grace and Glory Days follows the stormy careers of these strong willed, gifted heretics. Having split Calvary Reformed Church when he left to form Calvary Undenominational Church, DeHaan later nearly destroyed Calvary Undenominational Church by leaving it in order to found The Radio Bible Class. Determined not to submit to the Board that governed the church, DeHaan walked out of the congregation in the middle of a worship service:
On a Sunday morning in May of 1938 . . . well before the end of the sermon with about 15 minutes left of radio time he announced that this was his last sermon in Calvary Undenominational Church, closed his Bible, took his hat from inside the pulpit, and proceeded up the aisle with a sobbing woman trying to take hold of him, and headed for the door (p. 88)
The book makes abundantly clear that independency is fraught with peril. It makes clear also that there are always ministers who find this church set-up appealing and that there are always people who will follow them, heedless of the peril.
Herman Hoeksema is’ mentioned as “one of Bultema’s chief antagonists” at the CRC synod of 1918 that treated Bultema’s case (p. 18). Hoeksema and Henry Danhof are characterized as “ultra-conservatives.” Boslooper, a retired RCA minister, is mistaken in his history and confused in his theology (to say nothing of his grammar) when he writes that a cause of the founding of the Protestant Reformed Churches was the issue “whether or not Election took place before (Hoeksema) or after the Fall” (p. 113).
Certain incidents are memorable. There is Prof. Volbeda of Calvin Seminary coming to Bultema’s church on the Sunday morning after Bultema’s deposition in order to occupy the pulpit only to find the service well underway with Bultema doing the preaching. The consistory had decided to begin the service a half-hour early in order to forestall Volbeda. Bultema’s sermon that morning, taken from John 9:34, was entitled, “And They Cast Him Out.”