Archives For Puritan Persuasion

Edwards Devotion to GodAt the beginning of this year, I preached a message entitled “A Reasonable Resolution” from Romans 12:1-2. In my study of what it means to be a “living sacrifice”, I came across this journal entry from Jonathan Edwards on his self-dedication to God at the age of 20(!). I find this to be a powerful summary of what it means to be a living sacrifice to God.

“I have, this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, this affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members–no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste.

I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing as my own. . . . I have given every power to him; so that, for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, no respect whatsoever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace I will not. I have this morning told him that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me.

This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. I shall not act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.”

– Jonathan Edwards, January 12, 1723.

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Christ the KingI read this yesterday and thought it was illustriously excellent.

“To possess such a kingdom God had to

(1) prepare a body for the Son to be hypostatically united to (Heb. 10:5)

(2) anoint Him with the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34) in order to furnish Him with the requisite endowments for being a godly king (Isa. 11:3)

(3) publicly declare that Christ is King (Matt. 3:17; 17:5)

(4) give Him a sceptre of righteousness, put a sword in His mouth, and enable Him (as a Prophet-King) to reveal the will of God to mankind

(5) honor Christ with ambassadors and servants (Eph.4:11-12; 2 Cor. 5:20)

(6) grant to Christ the souls of men, not just Jews but Gentiles also (Ps. 2:8; John 17:6)

(7) give Him power to regulate the church according to divine law (Matt. 5; Col. 2:14)

(8) provide Him with power to judge and condemn His enemies (John 5:27)

(9) empower Christ to pardon sins (Matt. 9:6).

These privileges are give to the Son are given to Him as the God-man.”

– Edward Reynolds, An Explication of the Hundred and Tenth Psalm (London: Religious Tract Society, 1656), 6-7. Excerpted in A Purtitan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle edition), Loc 13792-13806.

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Favorite Puritan Paperbacks

Tim Brister —  December 5, 2012 — 15 Comments

Several of you may recall the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge where I challenged folks to read with me one Puritan Paperback a month. Within a short period of time, it took a life of its own, with over 25,000 people across the world getting on board. In my regular reading schedule, I hardly ever go without a Puritan paperback in my hand. Most recently, I have been reading The Heart of Christ by Thomas Goodwin.

Recently, Westminster Bookstore asked Mark Dever, Sinclair Ferguson, and Carl Trueman about their five favorite Puritan paperbacks. I was intrigued by their lists, and thought I’d pass them on to you with a list of my own.

Mark Dever

1.  The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
2.  The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
3. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
4. All Loves Excelling by John Bunyan
5. The Love of Christ by Richard Sibbes

Sinclair Ferguson

1.  The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
2.  The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
3. Letters of Samuel Rutherford
4. The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie
5. Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks

Carl Trueman

1.  The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
2. The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins
3. A Puritan Golden Treasury by I.D.E. Thomas
4. The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson
5. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter

My List

1.  The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
2.  The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
3.  The Glory of Christ by John Owen
4. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
5. The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson

Do you have any favorite Puritan paperbacks?
Do share (and why if you don’t mind either).

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I have been especially helped this Monday morning with this prayer and petition. I encourage you to consider it and meditate on it. May our strength not be in our experiences or our resolve, but in the grace of Jesus.

Grant that I may never trust my heart,
depend upon any past experiences,
magnify any present resolutions,
but be strong in the grace of Jesus:
that I may know how to obtain relief
from a guilty conscience
without feeling reconciled to my imperfections.

Sustain me under my trials
and improve them to me;
give me grace to rest in thee,
and assure me of deliverance.

May I always combine thy majesty
with thy mercy,
and connect thy goodness
with thy greatness.
Then shall my heart always rejoice
in praises to thee.

– Taken from “Self-Noughting” in The Valley of Vision

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I don’t know of any contemporary author who lays open the heart of God to us like the Puritans. I know they get a bad wrap from some circles today, but perhaps no other literature has affected me more outside Scripture than the writings of the Puritans. To give you a taste of what I’m talking about, let me provide you a brief excerpt from the man who succeeded Richard Sibbes at Holy Trinity Church, Thomas Goodwin.

In his book, The Heart of Christ in Heaven Toward Sinners on Earth (first published 1651), Goodwin writes about the heart of Christ being communicated to us through the comforting work of the Spirit indwelling us.  Of the Spirit, Goodwin writes, “he is the greatest token and pledge of Christ’s love that ever was” (18).  Consider the following words from the pen of Goodwin on the heart of Christ opened to us through His Spirit.

“Him I (Jesus) shall send on purpose to be in my room, and to execute my place to you, my bride, spouse, and he shall tell you, if you will listen to him, and not grieve him, nothing but stories of my love.

[ . . .] All his speech in your hearts will be to advance me, and to greaten my worth an love unto you, and it will be his delight to do it.  And he can come from heaven in an instant where he will, and bring you fresh tidings of my mind, and tell you the thoughts I last had of you, even at the very minute when I am thinking of them, what they are at the very time wherein he tells you them.

[. . .] He dwelleth in Christ’s heart, and also ours, and lifts up from one hand to the other what Christ’s thoughts are to us, and what our prayers and faith are to Christ. So that you shall have my heart as surely and as speedily as if I were with you; and he will continually be breaking your hearts, either way with my love to you, or yours to me, or both; and if either, you may be sure of my love thereby.

[ . . .] He will tell you, where I am in heaven, that there is as true conjunction between me and you, and as true a dearness of affection in me towards you, as is between my Father and me, and that it is as impossible to break this knot, and to take off my heart from you, as my Father’s from me, or mine from the Father” (18-20).

I know this sounds a little sappy, but that’s the point. I believe Goodwin knows something of the succor of Christ’s love that I have not tasted, and instead of getting embarrassed by his writings, I should be overwhelmed by Christ’s love and embarrassed of how little I have truly known and experienced it.

Goodwin is right to elaborate on the communicative nature of the Spirit’s comforting work, so as to daily assure us of Christ’s love and our status as no longer orphans but adopted sons and daughters of the greatest lover the world has ever known.  I want to be known as the greatest recipient of the greatest love the world has ever known.  And Goodwin is, especially for that aspiration, a worthy guide.

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The Deeps

Tim Brister —  July 27, 2011 — 2 Comments

It still amazes me how much a particular prayer from The Valley of Vision resonates with my soul at various seasons or periods in my spiritual journey.  This particular prayer, called “The Deeps”, has been the source of meditation and supplication for me recently, and I thought I’d pass it along.  BTW, if you are looking to pray the prayers from The Valley of Vision, be sure to see Joe Thorn’s excellent guide.

The Deeps

Lord Jesus,
Give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin,
a dread of its approach;
Help me chastely to flee it,
and jealousy to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in thee,
the ground of my rest, the spring of my being.

Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King.

Give me deeper power in private prayer,
more sweetness in thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.

Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly Husbandman,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until thou alone art seen in me,
thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no Master but thee,
no law but thy will,
no delight but thyself,
no wealth but that thou givest,
no good but that thou blessest,
no peace but that thou bestowest.

I am nothing but that thou makest me,
I have nothing but that I receive from thee,
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.

Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

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O Source of all good,

What shall I render to You for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mind and I am his.

In him, you have given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

~ “The Gift of Gifts”
taken from The Valley of Vision

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Thomas Brooks, in his amazingly encouraging book, Heaven on Earth, writes about the nature of the Christian hope.  He explains that the first property of our hope is that it “elevates and raises the heart to live above, where its treasure is.”  He adds:

This hope is from above, and it makes the heart to live above: it is a spark of glory, and it leads the heart to live in glory.  Divine hope carries a man to heaven,
for life to quicken him,
for wisdom to direct him,
for power to uphold him,
for righteousness to justify him,
for holiness to sanctify him,
for mercy to forgive him,
for assurance to rejoice him,
and for happiness to crown him.
Divine hope takes in the pleasures of heaven beforehand; it lives in the joyful expectation of them.  It fancies to itself, as I may say, the pleasures and joys of eternity, and lives in a sweet anticipation of what it possesses by faith. Hope’s richest treasures, choicest friends, chiefest delights, and sweetest contents are in the country above; and therefore hope loves best to live there most.

Meditate on that today and see this divine hope elevate your heart heavenward!

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Ligonier Ministries has posted an excellent excerpt of Gospel Conversation by Jeremiah Burroughs wherein he gives this great summary of the gospel:

The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.

The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

That these souls and bodies shall be raised to that height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live forever enjoying the presence of God and Christ, in the fullness of all good, is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

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Tim Brister —  April 4, 2010 — Leave a comment

O God of my Exodus,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed
in the dust.

Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives forever.

He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.

Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.

Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
in him I rose,
in his life I live,
in his victory i triumph,
in his ascension I shall be glorified.

Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who was lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to the highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows
wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.

Once, no shame more deep than thine,
no agony more bitter,
no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious,
no advocate more effective.

Thou art in the triumph car leading captive
thine enemies behind thee.

What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life,
Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope,
Thy prayers my comfort.

– “Resurrection” from The Valley of Vision

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