Archive for the ‘Puritan Persuasion’ category

Not by my experience, nor by my resolutions, but by the grace of Jesus

June 4, 2012

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

Sappy Assurance from the Spirit

February 2, 2012

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.

The Deeps

July 27, 2011

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.

The Greatest Gift – The Incarnation

December 13, 2010

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

Hope Loves Best to Live There Most

December 3, 2010

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!

Jeremiah Burroughs: The Sum of the Gospel

November 3, 2010

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.

Resurrection

April 4, 2010

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

In Prayer

March 28, 2010

This prayer from the Valley of Vision is working me over. Had to pass it along to you.

“In Prayer”

O LORD,

In prayer I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality.
Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments, never appears so inconsiderate as then.

In prayer I see myself as nothing;
I find my heart going after thee with intensity,
and long with vehement thirst to live to thee.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
that speeds me on my way to the New Jerusalem.

In prayer all things here below vanish,
and nothing seems important
but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.

In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear,
and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.

In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts
at what thou art doing for thy church,
and I long that thou shouldest get thyself a great name
from sinners returning to Zion.

In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life,
and taste heavenly joys;
entering into the eternal world
I can give myself to thee with all my heart,
to be thine for ever.

In prayer I can place all my concerns in thy hands,
to be entirely at thy disposal,
having no will or interest of my own.

In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners,
the church, thy kingdom to come, with great freedom, ardent hopes,
as a son to his father, as a lover to the beloved.

Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.

Lord, increase my faith.

January 8, 2010

This Sunday, I’m preaching on “the sin” of unbelief which ensnares believers in the Christian race.  I have been meditating on this prayer from The Valley of Vision called “Faith and the World” as it has been very fruitful in my thinking.  Would that God increase our faith and cause us to run with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

O LORD,

The world is artful to entrap,
approaches in fascinating guise,
extends many a gilded bait,
presents many a charming face.

Let my faith scan every painted bauble,
and escape every bewitching snare
in a victory that overcomes all things.

In my duties give me firmness, energy, zeal,
devotion to thy cause,
courage in thy name,
love as a working grace,
and all commensurate with my trust.

Let faith stride forth in giant power,
and love respond with energy in every act.

I often mourn the absence of my beloved Lord
whose smile makes earth a paradise,
whose voice is sweetest music,
whose presence gives all graces strength.

But by unbelief I often keep him outside my door.
Let faith give entrance that he may abide with me forever.

Thy Word is full of promises,
flowers of sweetest fragrance,
fruit of refreshing flavour when culled by faith.

May I be made rich in its riches,
be strong in its power,
be happy in its joy,
abide in its sweetness,
feast on its preciousness,
draw vigour from its manna.

Lord, increase my faith.

Praying in the New Year

January 1, 2010

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear by my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.

– Valley of Vision

Plough Deep In Me

October 18, 2009

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin, a dread of its approach.
Help me chastely to flee it
and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Yours alone.

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

Give me a deeper knowledge of Yourself
as Savior, Master, Lord, and King.

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

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

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 You alone are seen in me,
Your beauty golden like summer harvest,
Your fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but You,
no law but Your will,
no delight but in You,
no wealth but that which You give,
no good but of that which You bless,
no peace but that which You bestow.

I am nothing but what You make of me.
I have nothing but what I receive from You.
I can be nothing but what grace adorns me.

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

– a prayer from The Valley of Vision

We are not antinomians . . . we have something to do – repent.

October 8, 2009

“Repentance is necessary for God’s own people, who have a real work of grace.  They must offer up a daily sacrifice of tears.  The Antinomians hold that when any come to be believers, they have a writ of ease, and there remains nothing for them now to do but to rejoice.  Yes, they have something else to do, and that is to repent.  Repentance is a continuous act.  The issue of godly sorrow must not be quite stopped till death.  Jerome, writing in an epistle to Laeta, tells her that her life must be a life of repentance.  Repentance is called crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), which is not done on a sudden, but leisurely; it will be doing all our life.

Search with the candle of the word into your hearts and see if you can find no matter for repentance there:

1.  Repent of your rash censuring.
2.  Repent of your vain thoughts.
3.  Repent of your vain fashions.
4.  Repent of your decays of grace.
5.  Repent of your non-improvements of talents.
6.  Repent of your forgetfulness of sacred vows.
7.  Repent of your unanswerableness to blessings received.
8.  Repent of your worldliness.
9.  Repent of your divisions.
10. Repent for the iniquity of your holy things.

Behold here repenting work cut out for the best.  And that which may make the tide of grief swell higher is to think that the sins of God’s people do more provoke God than do the sins of others.  The sins of the wicked pierce Christ’s side.  The sins of the godly go to his heart.”

– Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance, 69-72.

True Repentance: A Wound That Bleeds Till Glory

October 7, 2009

“[Repentance] is not a transient action, as Papists and some ignorant creatures imagine, as if a sigh for sin, an act of sorrow for it, a confession of it with a ‘God be merciful to me a sinner,’ were repentance.  No, no; these may be acts of repentance while they proceed from a truly penitent heart.  But repentance itself is not a passing act, but an abiding grace (Zech. 12:10); a continuing frame and disposition of the soul; a principle lying deep in the heart, disposing a man to mourn for and turn from sin on all occasions.

It is not the passing work of the first days of one’s religion, as some professors take it to be; but a grace in the heart, setting one to an answerable working all the days of his life.  It is a spring of waters of sorrow in the heart for sin, which will spring up there while sin is here, though sometimes through hardness of heart it may be stopped for a while.

They that look on repentance as the first stage in the way to heaven, and looking back to the sorrowful hours which they had when the Lord first began to deal with them, reckon that they have passed the first stage, are in a dangerous conditionAnd whoever endeavours not to carry on their repentance, I doubt if they ever at all repented yet. As when Moses had smote the rock in the wilderness, and the waters began to gush out, those waters ran and followed them in the wilderness: so the heart first smitten with repentance for sin at the soul’s first conversion to god, the wound still bleeds, and is never bound up to bleed no more, until the band of glory be put about it in heaven (Rev. 21:4).

Hence initial and progressive repentance, though the former be the repentance of a sinner, the latter of a saint, are no more different kinds of repentance, than the soul’s virgin love to Christ, and their love to him through the course of their spiritual marriage with him; or than faith in the first, and after actings.  But as the midday and evening sun are the same with the morning sun, so are these; though the rising morning sun may be most noticed by the traveler, who having traveled in the night, was thereby brought from darkness to light.”

– Thomas Boston, Repentance: Turning from Sin to God – What It Means and Why It’s Necessary, 31-32 (emphasis mine).

Who Is Richard Baxter?

November 4, 2008

[Reformation Heritage Books has graciously provided this biographical and reprint essay on the life and works of Richard Baxter. You can find this information and others in the book, Meet the Puritans.]

Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

Richard Baxter was born in 1615, in Rowton, near Shrewsbury,in Shropshire. He was the only son of Beatrice Adeney and Richard Baxter, Sr. Because of his father’s gambling habit and inherited debts, and his mother’s poor health, Richard lived with his maternal grandparents for the first ten years of his life. When his father was converted through “the bare reading of the Scriptures in private,” Richard returned to his parental home, and later acknowledged that God used his father’s serious talks about God and eternity as “the Instrument of my first Convictions, and Approbation of a Holy Life” (Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1:2-4).

Baxter’s education was largely informal; he later wrote that he had four teachers in six years, all of whom were ignorant and two led immoral lives. Nevertheless, he had a fertile mind, and enjoyed reading and studying. A prolonged illness and various books-particularly William Perkins’s Works-were the means God used to “resolve me for himself,” Baxter wrote (Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1:3-4). When he was fifteen, he was deeply affected by Richard Sibbes’s The Bruised Reed: “Sibbes opened more the love of God to me, and gave me a livelier apprehension of the mystery of redemption and how much I was beholden to Jesus Christ.” Subsequently, Ezekiel Culverwell’s Treatise of Faith (1623) “did me much good” (ibid., 1:4-5).

(more…)

Reformation Heritage Books Acquires Soli Deo Gloria Publications

February 3, 2008

This is great news to all of us who are lovers of Puritan literature! Very exciting stuff . . .

From Reformation Heritage Book Talk Blog (emphasis mine):

We are delighted to announce that Soli Deo Gloria Publications, which has put numerous Puritan books back into print, has been acquired by Reformation Heritage Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past few years, Soli Deo Gloria books have been produced by Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Florida. In 2007, Ligonier asked Reformation Heritage Books for guidance on managing Soli Deo Gloria Publications and later invited Reformation Heritage Books to publish and distribute the Soli Deo Gloria titles.

Reformation Heritage Books has received nearly 50,000 Soli Deo Gloria books that are currently in print, and we are ready to distribute them to individuals. Wholesale orders will be ready to process on February 15, 2008. Plans are under way to publish numerous additional Puritan titles. Reformation Heritage Books has agreed to continue publishing a select number of titles under the Soli Deo Gloria imprint, which Ligonier will continue to advertise in its catalogs; meanwhile, most Soli Deo Gloria titles will now be reprinted with the Reformation Heritage Books imprint. Reformation Heritage Books and Ligonier Ministries look forward to collaborating in order to promote Puritan literature around the world.

To be placed on the mailing list for catalogs that include all the Soli Deo Gloria titles (as well as 3,000 titles from other publishers) currently available at discounted prices, contact Reformation Heritage Books, 2965 Leonard N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525; 616-977-0599; orders@heritagebooks.org; www.heritagebooks.org. For further information, contact John M. Duncan, Vice President of Ministry Outreach, Ligonier Ministries; 407-333-4244; http://www.ligonier.org.