The CCEL Times 2.7 (July 2, 2007)
To view this newsletter on the Web, go to www.ccel.org/newsletter/2/7
In This Issue:
From the Director
Do you know how to pray?
Of course you do. So did the disciples after years of temple services. But after spending time with Jesus, they were no longer sure. They asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Part of the problem is that there are several definitions of “prayer,” including “fervent request” and “fellowship with God.” Anyone can make a fervent request, but knowing and loving God is not something that can be perfectly completed in this life.
Methods of prayer are not sure-fire systems for knowing God, but surely prayer is the best means—and in particular, prayer that seeks to make room for two-way communication, rather than merely a one-way series of “fervent requests.”
In A Short and Easy Method of Prayer, Madame Guyon gives relatively brief instructions toward contemplative prayer. Though the book is short, it is anything but shallow, and it has generated a great deal of interest and even controversy. If you are interested in deeper methods of prayer, it might be a good introduction.
The CCEL has produced a new, beautifully done audiobook of Guyon’s Short and Easy Method of Prayer, narrated by Dr. Stephanie Sandberg. We also still have some supplies of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God, which is shipped free with each CCEL order, so while supplies last you can get both audiobooks for $15 plus shipping.
Jonathan Edwards' "Christ's Agony"
Anyone who has read Jonathan Edwards' works knows that they are not for the faint of heart—especially his sermons. And if you know anything of Edwards' sermons, you are probably familiar with his infamous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," preached to awaken the tepid hearts of second- and third-generation New England Puritans. While Edwards' hellfire-and-brimstone-filled rhetoric won't fly in most North American congregations today, there remains much in his sermons to be culled for reflection.
Rich in the language of the Incarnation, "Christ's Agony" isn't any less challenging than Edwards' sermons to potential converts. It gives us a picture of Christ in his moments of greatest suffering, describing in minute detail the exact nature and degree of his agony. Perhaps the most affecting part of the sermon is Edwards' description of Christ's state as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death. Edwards says, "The distress and anguish of his mind was so unspeakably extreme as to force blood through the pores of his skin, and that so plentifully as to fall in great clots or drops from his body to the ground."
Reading this sermon will not only give you a sense of how utterly human Christ is, but also how extraordinarily divine. That he should put on flesh with all its limitations and suffer the great pain he did for ungrateful sinners—Edwards' makes it quite clear that only the highest love could accomplish this.
Again, Edwards' sermons are not for those unwilling to be challenged and changed. He still seems to have a special knack for reviving the hearts of lapsed Christians. But he does so not by reciting ancient Christian doctrine (though his sermons are full of it) but by setting Jesus Christ in all his glory and weakness in front of your very eyes so that he cannot be ignored.
Reading the CCEL in India
Your website had been so useful for me, because the books available in this website are not easily accessible and not affordable for a person like me who is living in India. I am a student of engineering who wants to translate some of the books into the Tamil language, purely for non-profit. I have a vision of translating good English classic books so that the non-English-speaking Tamil people can also have access to such richly spiritual books. I plan to start with Autobiography of Madame Guyon and Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law.
How have you used the CCEL to deepen your research, discover new voices, and enliven your faith? Submit a usage testimonial.
"Works By" and "Works About"
Did you know that the CCEL contains works not just by religious thinkers like Saint Augustine and John Calvin but also works about these important figures? In addition to the Confessions or the Institutes of Christian Religion, you can easily find encyclopedia articles and other informational pieces about the authors of these works at the CCEL. Simply click on "Book Information" at the top left of the page, then click on the name of the author. You should see smaller tabs near the top of the page that read "Biography," "Works By," and "Works About." Go to "Works By" to view a comprehensive list of your chosen author's works available at the CCEL. Click "Works About" to view a list of the works that will provide either biographical information about your chosen author or analysis of the author's works. Note that not every author will have works about him or her available on the CCEL.
Praying With the Classics
Praying With Augustine
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
Read more by this author at the CCEL.
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