Saturday, December 26, 2009

0 Caryl: The Word of God and its Fruit

I've decided as 2009 winds to a close to begin a study of Joseph Caryl's Exposition of Job, a mammoth 12-volume commentary recently republished in a very well done facsimile of the 17th century original printing (1644-1666) jointly by Dust and Ashes Publications and Reformation Heritage Books.

I have no fantasies about finishing the work in 2010, although stranger things have happened. What I do want to do, however, is work through it as the Lord sees fit, and blog my thoughts and reflections here as I make my way through this highly regarded work. There are some who find Puritan expositions such as this one cumbersome and exorbitantly verbose - but I honestly believe those who have such an opinion of THIS particular work haven't read it. I can sympathize to some extent with those who might take such a view of John Owen's work on Hebrews (which I've decided I shall be tackling next after this major reading project) but again I'd have to question there whether such criticism is worthy of an audience. In the case of Caryl's work, there is certainly an abundance of words - but they are merely, as Spurgeon wrote, evidence of a "full" exposition, and not one in which words are wasted or ill-spent. Caryl has made his exposition of Job a vehicle for teaching many of the great doctrines of our faith - and so I very much look forward to reading this work and recording my thoughts here. It is a masterpiece - perhaps not of brevity and concise commentary - but of Puritan exposition and teaching. (Note: Given that this is a 17th century facsimile, it is written in very old language. I will very lightly update Caryl's words - though when he quotes Scripture I will leave it alone, unless to make the tiniest of spelling changes to help the reader)

In the first chapter, Caryl makes an important point, one which ought to be kept in mind whenever one approaches the Holy Word of God, but perhaps particularly when one is brought to a more difficult book such as Job. He writes,
"That which God speaks concerning the whole work of Creation, we may speak concerning the whole book of Scripture, It is very good. Solomon observes that wheresoever the wisdom of God spake, it spoke of excellent things. (Prov. 8:6) And David, to quicken our endeavours and excite our diligence to the study of the word, prefers it in worth above thousands of gold and silver, and in sweetness above the honey and the honeycomb. And when he ceases to compare, he begins to admire, Wonderful are thy testimonies. And well may that be called Wonderful, which proceeds from the God of all Wonders. All Scripture is given by divine inspiration, (2 Tim. 3:16) or by inspiration from God; and I need not show you the excellency of any part, when I have but pointed at such an statement concerning the whole.

And therefore the whole Scripture, (whether we respect the majesty of the Author, the height or purity of the matter, the depth or perspicuity of the style, the dignity or variety of occurrences; whether we consider the art of compiling, or the strength of argument) disdains the very mention of comparison, with any other human author whatsoever. So, too, are comparisons within - e.g. book with book, chapter with chapter - dangerous. There is not in this great volume of holy counsel any book or chapter, verse or section, of greater power or authority than any other... we may fully match all Scripture together, and say, all must be received with the same devotion and affection." (pp. 3-4, Vol. 1, Joseph Caryl, Exposition of Job)
With this said, Caryl points his hearers to the fruit he hopes his exposition of (and indeed their study of) this and all Scripture will bring to them:
"Let me beseech you in the name of Christ, to take care for the carrying on of this work a degree further: I mean to translate the sense of Scripture into your lives, and to expound the Word of God by your works, Interpret it by your feet, and teach it by your fingers; (Prov. 6:13) as Solomon speaks in a different sense). That is, let your working and your walkings be Scripture explications... And therefore let the words of Christ by these verbal explications dwell richly in your understandings in all wisdom; and by a practical application, let it be held forth plentifully in your lives in all holiness. Add commentary to commentary, and exposition to exposition: add the comment of works to this comment of words, and an exposition by your lives to this exposition by our labors." (pp. 2-3, Vol. 1, Joseph Caryl, Exposition of Job)
Should this not be on our hearts and minds as we study Scripture in general? Shall it be mere learning - or shall it produce the fruit of righteousness and devotion to God in us? I know I fall woefully short in this - and thanks be to God that the glorious Gospel is indeed true... that Christ has died, is risen, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father - and that I am now righteous in Him. With that, these words from Caryl are a strong exhortation - and convicting indeed as I seek to glorify my Father in Heaven through a life lived in thanksgiving for what He has done.

May the Word of God dwell richly indeed in us - the body of Christ - that God might be glorified on Earth as He is in Heaven.



In Principio ... Deus Copyright © 2011 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates