Saturday, January 5, 2013

Then and Now

I'm toying with the idea here of regular posts of a then-versus-now variety. I'm not doing this because of the belief that the past—well, "them's were the good 'ol days." No, that's not my thinking at all. I do believe the past has many glories and lessons to instruct us, even guard us and warn us. But I also believe that scriptural eschatology teaches us that the best days lie still yet ahead.

Instead, I want to start a then-versus-now category of posts simply for the sake of gaining whatever illumination might come about from making comparisons, guarding against drawing the wrong conclusions, guarding against succumbing to the "them's-were-the-good-'ol-days" mentality. With the brief quotation that follows, perhaps you'll get a sense of what I'm after.

Speaking of some of the problems (like one church member in Northampton punching another) and the influence of Christianity in rural New England in the days of Jonathan Edwards, Iain Murray records:
Much that we take for granted today— such as the existence of a criminal class in society— was unknown in rural New England. One fight was the sensation of a generation. Everyone in Northampton knew that Joseph Hawley, the town lawyer, could never find enough work to live on in that occupation; he was also town merchant, besides, no doubt, [doing] his own measure of farming (Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, 88). 
Lawyers couldn't find enough work? Interesting. One fight was the sensation of a generation? Incredible. Now, it's quite easy to think of the stark contrasts of today, isn't it? Is this illuminating? You must decide for yourself. I find it so.

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