March 26, 2021

Now online: S. Gibson, “Of Ecclesiastical Benediction” (1620), and A. Hill, “The Cry of England against the Sins of Sodom” (1595)

Samuel Gibson, A Sermon on Ecclesiastical Benedictions (1620)

The nature of ecclesiastical benediction has been a less-covered topic among theologians than some of the other topics in the doctrine of the church. Why have God’s ministers in the Old and New Testaments offered a blessing? What did it do, and whom was it for? And building on the example of Scripture, what exactly is an ecclesiastical benediction today, who can offer it, and what happens when it is given?

Samuel Gibson has written a little masterpiece on the subject. In the scope of a single sermon, he elaborates and explains the nature of an ecclesiastical benediction; why it is given; how benedictions functioned in the New and especially the Old Testaments. These are not frequently covered subjects, but he masterfully exposits the verses in 2. Chronicles together with many other supporting passages, to explain the doctrine of benedictions as God has established it.

In the course of making his exposition, Gibson also covers other ancillary but related topics: what is the nature of public prayers compared to the private? How to God’s ministers relate to the laity? Is a benediction necessary or optional? How should his brothers in the ministry see benediction in the wider scope of their particular mission? All these and more are succinctly and emphatically covered in this little gem. Enjoy!

Adam Hill, The Cry of England against the Sins of Sodom (1595)

In the late 16th century when this was written, many of those in the Church of England were under tremendous anxiety with regard to what was happening in the church and the nation as a whole. These anxieties are expertly captured in the powerful sermon preached by Adam Hill in 1593, in the presence of the Mayor of London, members of Parliament, and other dignitaries.

The big question looms: what are the people of God to look like? How are they to live, and how should they relate to the world around them? Some scholars have attribute concerns like these to the emergence of the modern era, but Adam Hill locates them thousands of years ago, equally as pronounced then as at any time today. Indeed he makes a direct parallel between modern times and ancient times, modern cities and ancient cities, arguing for a substantial equivocation: the problems are the same, the anxieties, as well as the reality of God’s presence across space and time.

In an incredibly impactful sermon, he exegetes the text of Genesis 18. with a particular analysis of each clause. Why is it there? What did God intend with that clause or this formulation? Taking a fine-toothed comb Hill lists the problems he finds in the society around him, and provides the answers from Scripture to them, in a display of tenacity rarely found in exegesis of those passages. The message of Scripture emerges as practical and relevant.