Archive for ‘Puritans’

11/29/2014

Don’t Despise the Pulpit

I was looking at my copy of Charles Spurgeon’s autobiography and happened upon this quote at the beginning of the book:

 

We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears.  We have dire need of such.  Whence will they come to us?  They are the  gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time.  He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.

 

I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it.  The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her.  It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His Church.

 

I’m so wearied by all the creative attempts to stem the tide of Christianity’s decline today with some new way of doing church that doesn’t involve preaching.

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02/26/2014

Full of Leaks

From The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions:

My mind is a bucket without a bottom,

with no spiritual understanding,

no desire for the Lord’s Day,

ever learning but never reaching the truth,

always at the gospel-well but never holding water.

My conscience is without conviction or contrition,

with nothing to repent of.

My will is without power of decision or resolution.

My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.

My memory has no retention,

so I forget easily the lessons learned,

and thy truths seep away.

Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.

05/07/2013

Bunyan’s Struggles

In John Bunyan’s concluding thoughts to Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners he confesses that “of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to question the being of God, and truth of his gospel, is the worst, and the worst to be borne.” Even after his conversion Bunyan testified to experiencing these temptations. God could visit his soul with “ever so blessed a discovery of himself” and then shortly afterwards in his spirit he could be “so filled with darkness, that [he] could not so much as once conceive what that God and that comfort was, with which [he had] been refreshed.” Sometimes he saw “more in a line of the Bible than [he] could well tell how to stand under,” and other times the whole Bible appeared to him to be “a dry stick.”

Bunyan is an encouragement to those Christians who struggle with spiritual ups and downs. They are not unusual. Bunyan wrote:

I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:

1.) Inclining to unbelief.
2.) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifesteth.
3.) A leaning to the works of the law.
4.) Wanderings and coldness in prayer.
5.) To forget to watch for that I pray for.
6.) Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I have.
7.) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves. ‘When I would do good, evil is present with me.’

But then listen to this:

These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with, yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good.

1.) They make me abhor myself.
2.) They keep me from trusting my heart.
3.) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness.
4.) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus.
5.) They press me to pray unto God.
6.) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober;
7.) And provoke me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world.

Numbers 3 and 4 are especially powerful. May we learn more and more to fly to Jesus and his alien righteousness imputed to us!

Found in The Life of John Bunyan (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), 131-32.

05/02/2013

John Bunyan

I’m reading a little biography of John Bunyan – The Life of John Bunyan (Baker, 1977). I can’t even tell who it’s by. It’s been on my shelf for years. It’s turning out to be mostly autobiography. I had heard part of this section before, but not all of it. It’s really good. Bunyan had been a tortured soul with big ups and downs. But then:

One day, as I was passing into the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest all was not right yet, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, – ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven;’ and methought withal I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand: there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, ‘He wants [lacks] my righteousness,’ for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, ‘the same yesterday, to day, and for ever,’ Heb. xiii. 8.

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me: now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God; so when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, – ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven,’ but could not find such a saying [how did they do this before computers?]; wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance, – ‘He is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,’ 1 Cor. I. 33: by this word I saw the other sentence true.

For by this scripture I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as he is distinct from us as touching his bodily presence, so he is our righteousness and sanctification before God: here, therefore, I lived, for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; oh! methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I was not now only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or resurrection, but considering him as a whole Christ; as he in whom all these, and all other his virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that he sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

It was glorious to me to see his exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all his benefits, and that because now I could look from myself to him, and would reckon that all those graces of God that now were green on me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunk at home: oh! I saw my gold was in my trunk at home in Christ my Lord and Saviour. Now Christ was all; all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.

Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with the Son of God; that I was joined to him, ‘that I was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone,’ Eph. v. 30; and now was that word of St. Paul sweet to me. By this also was my faith in him, as my righteousness, the more confirmed in me; for if he and I were one, then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once, – in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person.

Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked upon of God, and should also be looked upon by us, as that common or public person, in whom all the whole body of his elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by him, died by him, rose from the dead by him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell, by him: when he died, we died; and so of his resurrection. ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise,’ saith he, Isa. xxvi. 19. And again, ‘After two days he will revive us, and the third day we shall live in his sight,’ Hos. vi. 2. Which is now fulfilled by the sitting down of the Son of man on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, – ‘He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ Ephes. ii. 6.

Ah! these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others of like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eye, so that I have cause to say, ‘Praise ye the Lord God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness,’ Psa. cl. 1, 2.

(pp. 61-63)

02/07/2013

Preach and Pray; Love and Stay

I just got back from the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis. More posts will come, I’m sure. The first session on Monday was Mark Dever doing what he does best – encouraging pastors to preach, pray, love, and stay. He closed with this story:

One day, before the American Revolution, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness. There was an eclipse over the New England states known for years afterwards simply as “The Dark Day” – a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished. The legislature of Connecticut was in session and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on they shared in the general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that this was the Last Day, that the Day of Judgment had come and someone, in consternation, moved an adjournment. And then there arose an old Puritan legislator – Mr. Davenport of Stamford – and said that if the Last Day had come he desired to be found in his place doing his duty and therefore moved that candles be brought in so that the house could proceed with its duty.

I think there was a quietness in that man’s mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. My pastor friend, you and I should do our duty in all things like this old Puritan.

08/03/2012

Updates

The Church Retreat was great! Dane Ortlund gave us some refreshing ‘gospel defibrilation’. One of the best parts was celebrating two baptisms!

This week has been busy helping people move in and out of our apartments, but we’re excited to be having more people from church living in the same building with us.

This afternoon we head out for Wheaton. Next week we will be camping with all of Andrea’s family in Iowa and then we’ll be living out in Wheaton with Andrea’s parents for the rest of the month.

I leave you with a great quote I came across recently in my reading:

But there is no understanding the period of the Reformation in England until we have grasped the fact that the quarrel between the Puritans and the Papists was not primarily a quarrel between rigorism and indulgence, and that, in so far as it was, the rigorism was on the Roman side. On many questions, and specially in their view of the marriage bed, the Puritans were the indulgent party; if we may without disrespect so use the name of a great Roman Catholic, a great writer, and a great man, they were much more Chestertonian than their adversaries.

By the way, that’s from C.S. Lewis.

If you want to see what I’ve been reading lately, check out my Goodreads page.

06/07/2012

The Puritans and the Holy Spirit

From Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer (Grand Rapids: Reformed Heritage, 2011) –

It is often forgotten that Bunyan was a vital participant in what Ronald Reeve has described as the Puritan ‘rediscovery of the Holy Spirit as the mainspring of all christian activity.’ The claim by some contemporary authors and theologians that no post-Reformation movement until this century has really given the Spirit His due is shown to be quite false by the interest that the Puritans had in the person and work of the Spirit.