Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vos: "The life above possesses for the believer the highest kind of actuality."

“Man belongs to two spheres. And Scripture not only teaches that these two spheres are distinct, it also teaches what estimate of relative importance ought to be placed upon them. Heaven is the primordial, earth the second­ary creation.

In heaven are the supreme realities; what surrounds us here below is a copy and shadow of the celestial things. Because the relation between the two spheres is positive, and not negative, not mutually repul­sive, heavenly-mindedness can never give rise to neglect of the duties pertaining to the present life. It is the ordinance and will of God, that not apart from, but on the basis of, and in contact with, the earthly sphere man shall work out his heavenly destiny.

Still the lower may never supplant the higher in our affections. In the heart of man time calls for eternity, earth for heaven. He must, if normal, seek the things above, as the flower’s face is attracted by the sun, and the water-courses are drawn to the ocean.

Heavenly-mindedness, so far from blunting or killing the natural desires, produces in the believer a finer organization, with more delicate sensibilities, larger capacities, a stronger pulse of life. It does not spell impoverishment, but enrichment of nature.

The spirit of the entire epistle (of Hebrews) shows this. The use of the words ‘city’ and ‘country’ is evidence of it. These are terms that stand for the accu­mulation, the efflorescence, the intensive enjoyment of values.

Nor should we overlook the social note in the representation. A perfect communion in a perfect society is promised. In the city of the living God believ­ers are joined to the general assembly and church of the first-born, and mingle with the spirits of just men made perfect.

And all this faith recognizes. It does not first need the storms and stress that invade to quicken its desire for such things. Being the sum and substance of all the positive gifts of God to us in their highest form, heaven is of itself able to evoke in our hearts positive love, such absorbing love as can render us at times forgetful of the earthly strife. In such moments the tran­scendent beauty of the other shore and the irresistible current of our deepest life lift us above every regard of wind or wave. We know that through weather fair or foul our ship is bound straight for its eternal port.

Next to the positiveness of its object the high degree of actuality in the working of this grace should be considered. Through the faith of heavenly-mindedness the things above reveal themselves to the believer, are present with him, and communicate themselves to him.

Though as yet a pilgrim, the Christian is never wholly separated from the land of promise. His tents are pitched in close view of the city of God. Heaven is present to the believer’s experience in no less real a sense than Canaan with its fair hills and valleys lay close to the vision of Abraham. He walks in the light of the heav­enly world and is made acquainted with the kindred spirits inhabiting it.

And since the word ‘actual’ in its literal sense means ‘that which works’, the life above possesses for the believer the highest kind of actuality. He is given to taste the powers of the world to come, as Abraham breathed the air of Canaan, and was refreshed by the dews descending on its fields. The roots of the Christian’s life are fed from those rich and perennial springs that lie deep in the recesses of converse (engagement; crb) with God, where prayers ascend and divine graces descend, so that after each season of tryst he issues, a new man, from the secrecy of his tent.” – Geerhardus VosGrace and Glory, pp. 112, 113.

5 comments :

Pastor Jack said...

FYI: This quote from "Heavenly Mindedness" (Heb. 11:9-10) is on pp. 144-146 in the 2007 reprint by Solid Ground Christian Books (Vestavia Hills, AL) from the 1922 edition by The Reformed Press (Grand Rapids, MI).

Chad Richard Bresson said...

So... they added thirty pages. What's different? A new preface?

Pastor Jack said...

I apologize for not responding to your questions sooner!

The page numbering in the Solid Ground 2007 reprint is identical to that of the Reformed Press 1922 edition. The "Introduction" by R. Scott Clark included in the 2007 reprint did not affect this since it is not assigned page numbers. You are apparently citing from the Banner of Truth reprint (1994) of the 1922 original by Reformed Press. Banner of Truth specifies that theirs is a “revised edition.” The nature of the revision done by this latter publisher should explain the pagination discrepancy. James T. Dennison, Jr. wrote the following in his review of the Banner of Truth edition in Kerux 9:2 (SEP 1994), pp. 55-56; on Kerux at http://www.kerux.com/doc/0902R1.asp [accessed 9 OCT 2014]:

“This volume needs no commendation from me; nor does it require promotion to our readers. We have eagerly anticipated the announcement of its release. Its contents were featured in these pages when, in 1986, Kerux published the first previously unpublished sermon from Vos's personal sermon notebook. The Banner of Truth Trust under the direction of Iain Murray has packaged all the Grace and Glory sermons of 1922 together with the sermons printed in Kerux. The Board of Kerux, Inc. is deeply indebted to the Trust for gathering the extant Vos sermon corpus into one volume.”

That being the case the Banner edition would include all fifteen sermons listed as printed individually in various editions of Kerux at http://www.kerux.com/Author.asp?id=1 [accessed 9 OCT 2014].

The original 1922 printing by The Reformed Press is on Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/graceglorysermon00vosg [9 OCT 2014], the Solid Ground Christian Books reprint is at http://www.solid-ground-books.com/detail_829.asp [accessed 8 OCT 2014], and the Banner of Truth revision is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Glory-Geerhardus-Vos/dp/0851516637 [accessed 9 OCT 2014].

Pastor Jack said...

The Feedbooks edition (1903?) has 16 chapters which include 5 of the 6 sermons in the 1922 edition plus 10 other sermons, and “The Nature and Aims of Biblical Theology.” See feedbooks at http://www.feedbooks.com/book/4235/grace-and-glory [accessed 9 OCT 2014]. The one sermon from the 1922 edition not included in this one is “Heavenly-Mindedness” (Heb. 11:9-10). Some of these sermons (9 of them) are included in Vos' Personal Sermon Notebook included in the “Miscellaneous Manuscripts: Dated Materials” deposited in the Heritage Hall Archive at Calvin College & Seminary (Grand Rapids, MI). The Feedbooks edition date of 1903 is suspect due to the following pair of facts:
1) No edition of Grace and Glory is listed in Dennison’s “Bibliography” other than the 1922, and,
2) It conflicts with the dates of at least 4 of the sermons included (1904, 1904, 1913, and 1914).
I have written to the publisher seeking an explanation for this date discrepancy.

See Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1980), pg. 558, s.v. “A Bibliography of the Writings of Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949),” by James T. Dennison, Jr. [Note 1: “This Bibliography originally appeared in The Westminster Theological Journal 38 (Spring, 1976) : 350-367. It is reprinted here with slight revision.”]

The article titled “The Nature and Aims of Biblical Theology” mentioned above was reprinted in Kerux 14:1 (May 1999) at http://www.kerux.com/doc/1401A1.asp [accessed 9 OCT 2014] with the following note: “Reprinted with correcttions [sic] from The Union Seminary Magazine 13/3 (February - March 1902): 194-99.” The original article is available (without the original page breaks or numbering) on Biblical Theology at http://www.biblicaltheology.org/nabt.pdf [accessed 9 OCT 2014]. Dennison’s explanation for not listing this article in his “Bibliography” published in 1976 and 1980 is included in his editorial “Introduction” to the article:

“The Vos article is a surprise, being only recently discovered in The Union Seminary Magazine for 1902. With other Princetonians, Vos was invited to contribute to the journal of the seminary of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) at Richmond, Virginia. While Vos's [sic] article reprises themes familiar from his other descriptive biblical-theological treatments (i.e., "The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline," in Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., ed., Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation [1980] 3-24; and Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments [1948]), there are some fresh insights which will enrich the Vos corpus. This article is not listed in the writer's bibliography of Vos, first published in the Westminster Theological Journal (1976) and revised in the Gaffin edited volume noted above.”

Source: James T. Dennison, Jr., “Introduction,” Kerux 14:1 (May 1999), on Kerux at http://www.kerux.com/doc/1401.asp [accessed 9 OCT 2014].

The Fig Classics series 2012 electronic (Kindle) edition has the same 15 sermons in the Feedbooks edition, but does not include “The Nature and Aims of Biblical Theology” (Ch. 16 in the Feedbooks ed.). This is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Glory-Geerhardus-Vos-ebook/dp/B008AP6W4A/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412878614&sr=1-14 [accessed 9 OCT 2014].

At least two other reprints of Grace and Glory were done recently: by Nabu Press (2014), and Forgotten Books (2012), on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Glory-Preached-Princeton-Theological/dp/1294776703/ and http://www.amazon.com/Sermons-Preached-Princeton-Theological-Seminary/dp/B0098J6D1Y/ respectively [accessed 9 OCT 2014].

Chad Richard Bresson said...

I'm absolutely humbled. Jackopedia is a great resource and a great friend. I'll work my way through your treasure trove of links.