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From whatever perspective I consider this holy solemnity that we observe today, the picture of what happened long ago at the reestablishment of the temple of Jerusalem comes to mind: two very different experiences. On the one hand there was peace and blessing, and on the other mourning and contrition, sadness and joy, affliction and consolation, weeping and triumphant singing mixed together. Indeed, if I consider the reason we have come together, it is on the one hand to give thanks to God for so many favors that his paternal hands have shed on these blessed Provinces [of the Netherlands]. Who doubts that this is not reason for great joy? But we are also gathered together no less in order to lament the sad ravages that one of the most important sections of our mystical Zion3 has suffered and continues to suffer. Who could not see that here is the victim of the most raw and profound suffering that anyone can imagine? If then I lift my eyes on the people who make up this assembly I find both: some in good circumstances and some in bad circumstances, some in prosperity and some in calamity. And what is even more remarkable, is that I find people in these situations not separated out as were the darkness and the light when they divided the camp of the Israelites and that of the Egyptians, but I find them thrown together and mixed with each other through the admirable effect of our mutual love. “The love of Jesus Christ constrains us,” says Saint Paul. That is to say, that it ties us together, bonds us together and unites one with another. This is a wise saying of which you and I are today the living proof.

No silly "Prosperity Gospel" here! No "God loves everyone and if you will only let Jesus into your heart your life will be filled with your every wish..."! nope Jean Claude, who lived in the 17th century, and who knew very well about adversity, suffering and sorrow but who was given to know God and to rest upon all that He had revealed in Holy Writ, writes about the reality of life which God has ordained for all. As is typical of the "Doctors of the Soul" (Puritans), of which Rev. Claude was one of the first, he wasn't given to superficiality and theatrical antics, but rather he loved his congregations and delivered to them what was necessary for their spiritual life (cf. Acts 20:26-29). Thus, to start off this new year I thought it best by the Spirit's prompting to provide words of spiritual wisdom which is food indeed for those who strive after that prize awaiting them at the end of life. May this sermon supply in some measure the means for you all be conformed to the image of Christ and rejoice in God in ALL things knowing:

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Romans 8:28-31 (KJV) "28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?"

You can read this wonderful sermon now by clicking here: A Sermon by Jean Claude on Ecclesiastes 7:14.

And, for later reading, this article and all previous articles can be accessed by going to The Article of the Month archive.

In His service and grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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