Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Adolph Saphir’

The Hidden Life: Devotional Book, by Adolph Saphir

August 9, 2013 2 comments

After trying a few different free online Christian books recently (including works from Henry Morris and Alfred Edersheim), I am now reading Adolph Saphir’s “The Hidden Life”.  This work is available in several formats from archive.org, and also free on Google Play: the format I’ve chosen, without the many typo errors in, for instance, archive.org’s Kindle version.

I’ve only read the first three chapters so far, but finding it a good devotional with the proper emphasis on different aspects of the Christian life: prayer, reading of scripture, and the overall question of what it means to draw near to God.  Saphir’s work considers the epistle of James, and specifically James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Scripture verses and Christian poetry abound, as Saphir considers the proper way to come to God, how we should approach prayer (along with discussion of our tendency to not pray), and more.

A few excerpts are noteworthy, including this from the preface:

It is right to guard the house against the attacks of foes, or rather to point out the strength and security of the divinely-laid foundation. It is also right to point out the gate wide and open, and to declare to all the freeness and fulness of divine grace. But to describe the home itself, the inner sanctuary, seems to be more essential, and also more in accordance with the practice of the apostles, who declared the whole counsel of God, and regarded the preaching of the gospel, in its fulness, and with the power of the Holy Ghost, as at once the great argument to convince, and the great attraction to persuade.

And

The Word, or the Scripture, is the great, and in many respects the unique, channel of God’s communications to the soul; or rather it is central, round which all other divine influences gather. Scripture is the divine revelation in a special sense, but so that it connects itself with all other manifestations of God to the soul, be they in Nature or Providence, or by the direct influence of the Spirit.

Saphir keeps balance, avoiding the excesses and negative associations of mysticism and Christian mysticism, while noting the proper focus the Christian should have: on the Lord Himself, rather than on the “experience” of communion we enjoy with the Lord (which tends toward self-centeredness).  Notes at the end of chapter 1 specifically address the errors of mysticism, also observing:

The Christian knows not only wherein religion consists, but he also knows the source and power of the true life. The mystics outside Christianity have truly felt the necessity of death, of hating our own will and life, and in this respect put to shame many professing Christians who mind earthly things, and are the enemies of the cross of Christ. But they did not know : ” Ye have died with Christ, and your life is hid with Christ in God. ” They did not know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and the constraining love of the Divine Saviour, who for us died and lived again, that we henceforth may live unto Him. They may therefore be viewed as resembling those who, through the law, have become dead and long for life.

Later chapters deal with worldliness and the Christian’s proper response: to not love the world, yet in our service in the world, The less he loves the world in its God-opposed character, the more he truly loves the world, and is a blessing to those around him.

The Divine Unity of Scripture: The Bible in History and in Science

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m still reading The Divine Unity of Scripture, about three-fourths of the way through, and here are some important points to share.  Saphir points out the weaknesses of the Reformation, and the consequences of that which later developed, and still with us, to attack the Bible as a whole:

 In the second place, they did not understand clearly the important position of the Jews in the economy of God, nor did they see clearly the second advent of our Lord. … still they did not see clearly the second advent of our Lord, or the difference between the Church dispensation and the position of Israel, both in the past and in the future kingdom. The error which was made subsequently by those who preached the saving truths of the Gospel was this— that they thought that it was sufficient to preach personal salvation, man’s sinfulness, the atonement, the renewal by the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit— everything that referred to the individual.

 That is the centre, but all the circumference they left out,— the whole counsel of God as it is revealed in Scripture, the plan of God, the kingdom of God, the creation of the world, the creation of man, the unity of the human race, the judgment of the Tower of Babel, the elective dispensation under Israel, in its contrast to what came afterwards. The consequence was that — while it was all very good for those who spiritually and experimentally knew about sin and salvation — the world in its philosophy and in its science was constantly undermining the circumference, so that on all the other points, on which the Bible touches, false and anti-Biblical ideas became current, and each of these points afforded a position from which to attack and to assail the whole Scripture.

Later chapters develop this in more detail, as Saphir addresses the skepticism of his day with the power of the Word of God, especially in regard to the Bible as history and the Bible and its miraculous nature.  In the chapter, “Our Faith based on Facts – and the Bible a Book of Facts,” Saphir emphasizes two important points:  that Scripture history supplies us with the facts and principles, upon which all true philosophical and universal history is based, and that the history recorded in the Bible contains actual and real history.

 Ideas without facts make up a philosophy. Facts without ideas may make up a history. But that which we need is something which appeals not merely to our intellect, but also to our conscience and to our heart; and that which so appeals must be the revelation of God.  … It must record the initiative, creative, and redemptive acts of the Most High ; and, in recording these acts, it must contain a revelation of His character, and of His purpose, of His commandments concerning us, and of the promises, by which He sustains us. And only in Scripture have we such a combination. All Scripture facts are full of ideas. So to speak they are full of eyes, and light shines to us in them. And all Scripture ideas, the things which we believe and the things which we hope for, are based upon actual facts—manifestations of the Most High. If a Christian is asked, “What is your belief? what is your faith?” he does not answer by enumerating dogmas, in the sense of abstract philosophical truths ; but he answers by saying that he believes in God who created, in God who became incarnate, and died, and rose again, and in God who sent the Holy Ghost to renew his heart. So what is our creed but facts, but such facts as are full of light,—and in which God manifests Himself to us?

The next chapter, “Objections to Miracle have no Basis in Reason,” follows up with the topic of the Bible and science, and the miraculous.  How refreshing it is especially to read this from a man of God who lived in the late 19th century, at a time when so many preachers compromised with so-called science, not understanding what science is and is not.

… there is no collision whatever between science — if science keeps to its own limits — and that revelation of God and a supernatural kingdom which is given to us in the Scripture. They who do not believe in a personal God, but are atheists or pantheists, cannot logically accept the possibility of miracles; but all who believe that there is a living God, full of wisdom and of power and of love, can find no difficulty in accepting a testimony which shows us that God reveals Himself, and that God acts, here upon earth, and within the history of mankind. Therefore all that the Scripture tells us of God and of the unseen world, instead of interfering with the discoveries of science, only lays the basis and firm foundation for the activity of science. To quote a man who speaks of this subject with authority, Professor Dawson, “Any rational or successful pursuit of science implies the feeling of a community between the Author and Contriver and Ruler of nature, and the mind which can understand it. To science nature must be a cosmos, not a fortuitous chaos, and everything in the history and arrangements of the universe must be a manifestation not only of order but of design. The true man of science must believe in a divine creative will, in a God who manifests Himself and is therefore not the hypothetical God of the agnostic; in a God who must be distinct from and above material things, and therefore not the shadowy God of the pantheist who is everywhere and yet nowhere; in a God who causes the unity and uniformity of nature, and therefore not one of the many gods of polytheism; in a God who acts on His rational creatures daily in a thousand ways by His fatherly regard for their welfare, and who reveals Himself to them; a God, in short, who made the world and all things therein, and who made man in His own image and likeness.”

The Divine Unity of Scripture: Adolph Saphir

July 23, 2012 4 comments

I’m almost halfway through Saphir’s “The Divine Unity of Scripture,” one of the free online resources mentioned in this recent post.  The following is just some observations and general  notes concerning this book, which has been great reading.

This work comes from a series of lectures Saphir delivered, around the theme of the unity of scripture, in the late 19th century.  The overall theme is the exalting of scripture, how unique it is in all its ways, unlike any other writings we have, and how unified God’s word is in all its parts, with no conflicts between the Old and New Testament or amongst the many diverse human authors.  In the details, Saphir has a lot to say concerning the canon of scripture, the inspiration of scripture, the history of the writing of scripture, as well as summaries of what each Bible book highlights within the overall revelation from God, and the history of the Jews and the church to the present time (of his writing).

The early chapters remind me of J.C. Ryle’s great quotes about the Bible, affirming the same great truths.  Yet Saphir provides a much longer and more detailed treatment than Ryle provided in his comparatively-brief chapters, in this book about the book.  Like other 19th century authors Ryle and Spurgeon, Saphir frequently mentions the importance of the nation Israel.  Here, Saphir uniquely adds many more observations from his own Hebrew Christian perspective concerning the Jews of biblical as well as modern times.  The Divine Unity of Scripture sometimes reads like an apologetic, too, with Saphir’s responses to the liberal “higher criticism” of the day, refuting their notions of late-date authorship for the Pentateuch.  That particular idea is perhaps dated now, not something discussed that often, though I recall first coming across that idea in the introduction to a Chronicles of Narnia handbook in the early 1990s.  Saphir well responded with great points such as this:

therefore are all those fanciful theories, about the books of Moses having been fabricated after the exile, utterly void of common sense—as will appear still further from the next point. There is no other nation on the face of the earth that could have been induced to preserve books which so pictured their unthankfulness, their constant apostasies, comparing them with the other nations of the world and saying in effect, “You are worse than any other nation—less  loyal to me than the other nations are to their false gods.” If we read the five books of Moses from beginning to end, how they furnish a continuous picture of the wickedness and ingratitude of Israel  — and so with the other historical books …. Had such a record been artificially made, centuries upon centuries after the histories had taken place, it would not have been received. What an extraordinary thing it is that the Jews who killed the prophets and stoned them that were sent unto them, did not dare to touch the written records of their lives and all their testimonies,—nay, they reverenced those records and they looked upon them as the testimony sent to them by the Most High.

One trivial item: Saphir thought all the Bible authors, including Luke, were Jews; this was simply a given assumption without any reasons given for that conclusion.  I’ve come across a few reasons from people today holding to that idea, but mainly they argue from silence, such as what happened in Acts 21:29: if Luke were a Gentile, then why did they (the mob) only mention Trophimus with Paul, and not Luke?  I now concur with S. Lewis Johnson’s view, that Luke was a Gentile, primarily because of SLJ’s observation that Luke’s Greek was a very different style from the Greek used in the rest of the NT, that Luke’s Greek (except for the first two chapters) is the formal style used by the Gentile writers.

I highly recommend this Adolph Saphir work, even after reading only the first half.  Anyone who enjoys reading Christian authors who uplift the Bible and its amazing, timeless truths, will appreciate Saphir’s The Divine Unity of Scripture.

In closing, here is just one of many great quotes from Saphir’s The Divine Unity of Scripture:

The Bible needs no defense. The Bible defends itself; the Bible explains itself. I do not dread the pagans, I do not dread the infidels, I do not dread skeptics. I dread the false, compromising and conciliatory modern teaching in our Churches. That is the only thing that is to be dreaded. Let the Bible only be kept separate. As it is, it needs no defense. The Scripture needs no bulwarks. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, and who ever heard of defending a sword? It is the enemy who will advise you to put the sword into the sheath—a beautiful sheath with all kinds of metaphysical and artistic ornamentations. The sword must be unsheathed, for the sword is aggressive.

Oh that we may know the Scripture not merely as the sword of the Spirit; for that sword, although it may inflict pain, is meant for healing. Oh that we may know it as the gentle dew and rain that comes down from heaven and returneth not thither, but prospereth in the things which please God.

Online Free Resources: David Baron and Adolph Saphir

July 3, 2012 12 comments

David Baron

Following up on past reader recommendations, I recently looked up further details concerning authors David Baron and Adolph Saphir.  Both men were Jewish Christians, Jews who converted to Christianity as young adults, and authors of several Christian books, which are now available in print and other media formats.  See brief biographies here:  Adolph Saphir (1831-1891) and David Baron (1855 – 1926)

Amazon currently lists David Baron’s The History of the Ten “Lost” Tribes: Anglo-Israelism Examined, Kindle version at no charge.  Note that the Kindle for PC (free software download from Amazon) as well as the Amazon Cloud Reader (web-browser Kindle) can be used for any Amazon Kindle title.

Another new online reader I just discovered is Google-Play, a browser program used with your Google account, with some functionality similar to Kindle for PC: viewing page by page, and search feature.  Like Amazon, Google Play has many books available, some free and others for purchase.  The pages are images from actual print books, and so you cannot select and copy-paste actual text.  However, Google Play offers a few free books not available in Kindle format, including David Baron’s “The Scattered nation, nos. 13-28: occasional record of the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel,” as well as nos. 45-42 of the same book, and “Types, Psalms and Prophecies: Being a Series of Old Testament Studies.”  Google Play also has a few titles from Saphir.

Archive.org has the largest collection of Saphir books, available in several formats including PDF, web-view, full text file, and Kindle reader format. The Kindle format has its own link, which prompts to save the file or open in the Kindle for PC (already installed on the PC).  It’s possible that the saved file could be transferred to a Kindle device, so if anyone has a Kindle feel free to try and let me know if and how that works.  I have downloaded a few of the Saphir books, now in my “Kindle for PC” library, to begin reading.

Adolph Saphir

Adolph Saphir books from Archive.org:

David Baron books from Archive.org (available in several formats):

Addendum: free online writings of Alfred Edersheim, at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.  Available in several formats including PDF, browser and plain text.

Another update (7/27):  David Baron Book in Online web format, at Precept Austin site:  The Jewish Problem: Its Solution, or Israel’s Present and Future (1891).