Preparing to be Filled with the Spirit – Letters to Wesley

John Wesley

John Wesley

Gathering Information on the health of the new believers

In John Wesley’s Journal entry for December 5th 1738 he writes,

‘About this time, being desirous to know how the work of God went on among our brethren in London, I wrote to many of them concerning the state of their souls.’ He then quotes from some of the replies he received.

The experiences described, and which he includes in his journal may well have been the perfect preparation for him to be positive about the outpouring of the Spirit that took place on January 1st 1739. This outpouring, during an all night prayer meeting, has arguably been portrayed as the beginning, the spark, of the Great Awakening in the British Isles.

[N.B. In sharing these quotes I am encouraging us to learn about the processes of church history. I am noting openness to the Holy Spirit exhibited by the early Methodist leadership –  just on the eve of a mighty breakthrough that  radically affected their generation. I am not endorsing Wesley’s later teaching on sinless perfection.]

Sealed with the Spirit

One of the letters Wesley quotes from includes the following remarkable statements:

‘Now St. Paul says, ‘After ye believed, ye were sealed with the Spirit of promise.’ So it was with me.

After I had believed on Him that ‘justifieth the ungodly,’ I received that seal of the Spirit, which is the ‘earnest of our inheritance.’…

‘then I began to feel the ‘Spirit of God bearing witness with my spirit, that I was born of God.’

‘Because I was a child of God, He ‘sent forth the Spirit of his Son into me, crying, Abba, Father.’ For that is the cry of every new born soul.

The love of God undeniably experienced

‘O mighty, powerful, happy change!…

‘The love of God was shed abroad in my heart, and a flame kindled there, so that my body was almost torn asunder.

‘I loved. The Spirit cried strong in my heart.

‘I trembled: I sung: I joined my voice with those ‘that excel in strength’

Hungering after God!

‘My soul was got up into the holy mount. I had no thoughts of coming down again into the body. I who not long before had called to ‘the rocks to fall on me, and the mountains to cover me,’ could now call for nothing else but, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’

‘Then I could cry out with great boldness, There, O God, is my Surety! There, O death, is thy plague! There, O grave, is thy destruction! There, O serpent, is the Seed that shall for ever bruise thy head!

The Lover and the Beloved

‘O, I thought my head was a fountain of water. I was dissolved in love. ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am his.’ He has all charms.

‘He has ravished my heart. He is my comforter, my friend, my all. He is now in his garden, feeding among the lilies.

‘O, ‘I am sick of love.’ He is altogether lovely, ‘the chiefest among ten thousand.’”

(From John Wesley Journals Vol 1, p.168-169, Baker edition)

Wesley makes no comment on the letters he quotes but leaves judgement to the reader.

Next time we’ll look at the historic gathering on January 1st 1739…

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Lloyd-Jones on Howell Harris part 1

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors

‘Harris is one of the great heroic figures in the Christian Church, and his story is truly an astonishing one.’ Lloyd-Jones (1973)

Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the greatest evangelical teachers of the 20th Century. Few would argue with that. His powerful and faithful teaching ministry both in Wales (1927-1938) and later in London (1939-1968) has continued to inspire leaders and movements around the world.

Leading evangelical preachers such as J.I. Packer and Terry Virgo were powerfully impacted by his passionate expository style of preaching. His was a voice of authority and certainty in an increasingly wishy-washy church context.

In 1950 Packer and others urged Lloyd-Jones to begin a regular teaching conference on the importance of the Puritans and the Puritan movement. Papers were delivered followed by robust discussion chaired (and adjudicated?) by Lloyd-Jones himself.

Lloyd-Jones lectured on many subjects during the conferences (called first, The Puritan and, later, The Westminster Conference).

In 1959 he preached on ‘Revival: An historical and Theological Survey’, in 1964 on ‘John Calvin and George Whitefield’, in 1972 on ‘John Knox – The Founder of Puritanism’ and in 1973 on ‘Howell Harris and Revival’.

It is to this particular lecture that we now turn our attention. We’ve seen something of Harris’ amazing influence in Wales and we shall go on to see his continuing influence in England through the preaching methods of George Whitefield (Harris also pastored Whitefield’s London church in his absence). But what does ‘The Doctor’, as Lloyd-Jones was affectionately called, say of Harris?

Lloyd-Jones’ excellent lectures have been published by the Banner of Truth Trust (the publishing company he helped form) under the title ‘The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors’. Page numbers refer to that edition.

On Harris’ conversion

Lloyd-Jones mentions the phrase that was to have such an impact on Harris. He had been in church when, during an announcement for communion, the Minister had said, ‘If you are not fit to take Communion you are not fit to pray, and if you are not fit to pray you are not fit to live, and if you are not fit to live you are not fit to die.’

Lloyd-Jones remarks, ‘These words hit this thoughtless schoolmaster with great force…I emphasise this incident because it reminds us of one of the amazing things about being a servant of God. You can bring people to conviction of sin even through an announcement! You never know what God is going to use; your asides are sometimes more important than your prepared statements.’ (p.285)

On the descending of the Spirit as a definition of Revival

Of particular interest is that Lloyd-Jones emphasises Harris’ encounter with the Holy Spirit as the key experience of his ministry.

This is typical of Lloyd-Jones who was frankly fed up of what he saw as a misunderstanding of the dynamic role of the Holy Spirit which was then prevalent amongst Reformed teachers and preachers. Happily, things have normalised in our day but it was different then and a post conversion experience of the Spirit needed to be constantly emphasised.

Lloyd-Jones writes, ‘What is revival?  Revival is an outpouring of the Spirit of God. It is a kind of repetition of Pentecost. It is the Spirit descending upon people.

This needs to be emphasised in this present age. For we have been told so much recently by some that every man at regeneration receives the baptism of the Spirit, and all he has to do after that is to surrender to what he has already.

But revival does not come as a result of a man surrendering to what he already has; it is the Spirit being poured upon him, descending upon him, as happened on the day of Pentecost.’ (p.289)

To read the Part Two click here

You can purchase ‘The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors’ here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Fire in the Fields – Howell Harris cuts the Gospel Loose!

 

Howell Harris

Howell Harris

 

After the rediscovery of Justification by Faith and the key doctrine of the New Birth the genius of the 18th Century Awakening was outdoor evangelistic preaching!

That may not sound very radical to us but in those days church was confined to…well, church! Church buildings were the legitimate context for church services and the few that gathered did so without making any noise or disturbing the culture outside.

There was, however, one Welshman who arose to shake up the status quo. Born in 1714 and born again in 1735 (the same year as Whitefield), Howell Harris could not stay silent!

In fact, Harris would not shut up! He had a job as a schoolmaster, but had not yet gone on to University or to ordination in the Church of England in Wales. Later on, he was rejected for both.

The failure of legalism and the triumph of faith

His youth was filled with rebellion and he lamented, ‘no one told me that I was on the way to hell.’ (Richard Bennett, Howell Harris and the Dawn of Revival, Evangelical Press of Wales, p.16)

Bennett tells us that ‘the majority of the clergy were content to leave their parishioners to live just as they pleased.’ (ibid p.19)

But in 1735 Harris became powerfully convicted of his sinfulness and then, like George Whitefield, launched into a highly legalistic and superstitious set of ritual and religion that brought no relief whatsoever. He later described it as ‘being in hell for five weeks’ (ibid p.25)

Finally, as he was taking communion one Sunday, he was enabled to ‘believe that I was receiving pardon on account of that blood.’ He describes the freedom that followed: ‘I lost my burden. I went home leaping for joy, and I said to my neighbour…I know my sins have been forgiven!’ (ibid p.26)

Baptism in the Spirit

He was truly set free and yet his soul yearned for more. About three weeks later he experienced what many would describe as a ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ and this truly marked him out and empowered him for service.

While not quoting Harris verbatim (which is disappointing) Bennett conveys Harris’ experience: ‘when he was at…the sacred spot where he had given himself to God, God now gave Himself to him…The richest biblical terms are heaped one on another in an attempt to give expression to his experience at that time. He was cleansed from all his idols, and the love of God was shed abroad in his heart. Christ had come in previously, but now He began to sup with him; now he received the Spirit of adoption…’ (ibid p.27)

Harris himself tells us the result: ‘I devoted myself to exhorting everyone I met to flee from the wrath to come!’ (ibid p.36)

Rejected by men

In 1736 he offered himself as a candidate for ordination within the Church of England but it had become known that Harris was already preaching evangelistically (Harris preferred to call his preaching ‘exhorting’ or ‘reading’ out of deference to the fact that only ordained clergy were really authorised to ‘preach’).

This unofficial preaching was considered inappropriate. Preaching to the people in streets, and at fairs and in homes was irregular and unrefined. Not the dignified behaviour for a potential vicar, or priest of the Church of England. His application was rejected.

His brother was keen to try and get him to Oxford so that he might be ordained after having obtained a degree. But things were moving way too fast for the hero of the Welsh awakening: ‘I could not rest, but must go to the utmost of my ability to exhort. I could not meet or travel with anybody, rich or poor, young or old, without speaking to them of religion and concerning their souls.’ (ibid p. 41)

What is the source of your authority?

The question for Harris, and one that troubled him for much of his life, was this: ‘What is the source of your authority?’ – not ordained by the establishment church, not having obtained a degree, therefore unrecognised by both English religion and English academia, was the power of the Holy Spirit really enough to authorise this young man to preach?

And could that young man really awaken a nation and bring his people to Christ? And could that young man really begin a preaching phenomena that released the gospel from the confines of religious walls to actually impact and shape the surrounding culture?

Oh yes! The answer is yes!

The source of authority was the word of God and the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God calling him to the work, but I must refrain.

Read more about Howell Harris here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Humility, Hell and the Assurance of Salvation

New Edition of Edwards' Thoughts on the New England Revival

New Edition of Edwards' Thoughts on the New England Revival

Here are some choice quotes from Jonathan Edwards. These thoughts and insights represent a sampling of his style both in the pulpit and on paper.

Most are pretty challenging and all show his eagerness to apply Biblical thinking to living the Christian life.

Humility
‘The humble man is…disposed to renounce all the glory of the good he has or does, and to give it all to God.’ (Charity and its Fruits (Sermons on 1 Cor 13), Banner of Truth, p.137)

On Martin Luther’s Aggressive Style
‘Luther, that great Reformer, had a great deal of bitterness with his zeal.’ (Edwards, Thoughts on the New England Revival, Banner of Truth, p.28)

Edwards on the Reasonableness of Passion when urging folk to escape the possibility of Hell
‘If any of you who are heads of families saw one of your children in a house all on fire, and in imminent danger of being soon consumed in the flames, yet seemed to be very insensible of its danger, and neglected to escape after you had often called to it–would you go on to speak to it only in a cold and indifferent manner?

Would not you cry aloud, and call earnestly to it, and represent the danger it was in, and its own folly in delaying, in the most lively manner of which you was capable?

If you should continue to speak to it only in a cold manner, as you are wont to do in ordinary conversation about indifferent matters, would not those about you begin to think you were bereft of reason yourself?’ (Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, from Edwards on Revival, Banner of Truth, p.107)

On a Man being powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit
‘There have been instances before now, of persons crying out in transports of divine joy in New England.

We have an instance in Capt. Clap’s Memoirs, published by the Rev. Mr. Prince, not of a silly woman or child, but a man of solid understanding, that in a high transport of spiritual joy, was made to cry out aloud on his bed.

His words are: “God’s Holy Spirit did witness (I do believe) together with my spirit, that I was a child of God; and did fill my heart and soul with such full assurance that Christ was mine, that it did so transport me as to make me cry out upon my bed with a loud voice, He is come, he is come!”’ (Edwards, Thoughts on the New England Revival, Banner of Truth, p.22)

You can purchase several books by Jonathan Edwards here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Sarah Edwards, the Presence of God and the Dignity of the Priesthood

Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards

Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards

Was Sarah Edwards an over-emotional person? Was she a kind of ‘balance’ for her supposedly unemotional, strict husband Jonathan Edwards?

Or was she an intelligent and articulate woman, highly respected in the community, who had the privilege of personal encounters with God?

Jonathan encouraged her to record her various experiences (covering two and a half weeks in 1742) for the edification of others.

Iain Murray calls her words ‘an amazing testimony to how much of heaven can be enjoyed upon earth.’ (Murray, Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth, p.193)

So without more ado, these are a few excerpts of her story…

The Presence of God
‘Under a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God, these words seemed to come over and over in my mind, ‘My God, my all;
my God, my all.’

The presence of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any things else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness, and mildness, and gentleness, and their great and immutable love to me.

I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; and Christ appeared to me as a mighty Saviour.’

The Dignity of a Royal Priesthood
‘The next day, which was the Sabbath, I enjoyed a sweet, and lively and assured sense of God’s infinite grace, and favour and love to me, in taking me out of the depths of hell, and exalting me to the heavenly glory, and the dignity of a royal priesthood.’

Intense admiration of God’s Grace
‘To my mind there was the clearest evidence, that God was present in the congregation, on the work of redeeming love; and in the clear view of this, I was all at once filled with such intense admiration of the wonderful condescension and grace of God, in returning again to Northampton, as overwhelmed my soul, and immediately took away my bodily strength.’

Back at the house…trying not to leap for joy
‘While I was uttering the words [of one of Isaac Watts’ hymns], my mind was so deeply impressed with the love of Christ, and a sense of his immediate presence, that I could with difficulty refrain from rising from my seat, and leaping for joy.’

(From ‘The Narrative of Sarah Pierpont Edwards’, Jonathan Edwards [1743], Family Writings and Related Documents (WJE Online Vol. 41)

More from Mrs. Edwards next time…

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Jonathan Edwards and Authentic ‘Power Encounters’ with God!

Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections

Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections

While arguing that the effects on the body are not in themselves evidence of true conversion, Edwards is careful not to dismiss such effects automatically as being wrong, in and of themselves.

Whether Edwards desired it or not, he found himself pastoring people who claimed to be having wonderful encounters with God. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they remained silent and sometimes they seemed to lose all physical strength.

This was inevitably a concern both to him and to those who heard what was happening. And so, in seeking to discern the way God was working, Edwards finds himself defending the work of the Spirit while urging restraint on those affected by their experience of God’s glory.

As this is a common feature of times of revival we would do well to allow Edwards’ insights and comments to help shape our own opinion.

And in so doing, perhaps our minds and hearts might be prepared for fresh encounters with the ‘the glorious splendour of His majesty’ (Psalm 145:5)!

God’s Glory can ‘overbear’ the body!
In his ‘Treatise Concerning Religious Affections’, Edwards is keen to discern authentic spiritual encounters, and the fruit that follows such encounters. But he very definitely defends the role of emotion, or ‘affections’ as a key element in Christian spirituality. Sometimes these religious affections can overpower us physically.

‘And who that considers what man’s nature is, and what the nature of the affections are, can reasonably doubt but that such unutterable and glorious joys, may be too great and mighty for weak dust and ashes, so as to be considerably overbearing to it?

It is evident by the Scripture, that true divine discoveries, or ideas of God’s glory, when given in a great degree, have a tendency, by affecting the mind, to overbear the body.’ (A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, 1746, Section 2, Yale, http://edwards.yale.edu/)

Good Jonathan Edwards spends so much time considering these ‘power encounters’ that we will spend a few more posts listening both to his eye-witness accounts and to his judicious conclusions.

You can purchase Edwards on Revival here
You can read a review of Edwards on Revival here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

The Variety of the Work of the Spirit in Conversion

Northampton, Massachusetts about a century after Edwards

Northampton, Massachusetts about a century after Edwards

A young peoples’ revival
In writing of the revival that broke out in 1735, Jonathan Edwards gives an objective yet compassionate account. The first changes visible were amongst the youth of the town, but the influence quickly spread to other age groups until he was able to make this astonishing observation:

‘In all companies…on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them.

Our young people, when they met, were [inclined] to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ…

Those amongst us that had been formerly converted, were greatly enlivened and renewed with fresh and extraordinary incomes of the Spirit of God.’  (Jonathan Edwards, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, from Jonathan Edwards On Revival, Banner of Truth, p.13-15)

The work of the Spirit in Conversion is Varied
Edwards describes in general terms the order of events in those who were converted at this time:

‘Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature, the danger they are in of perishing eternally, and it is of great importance to them that they speedily escape and get into a better state…

Some are more suddenly seized with convictions-it may be, by the news of others’ conversion, or some thing they hear in public, or in private conference-their consciences are smitten, as if their hearts were pierced through with a dart.

Others are awakened more gradually…’ (ibid p.23)

George Whitefield, the pre-eminent Evangelist of the 18th Century spoke in similar terms:

‘Therefore, far be it from me to confine the Almighty to one way of acting, or say, that all undergo an equal degree of conviction: no, there is a holy variety in God’s methods of calling home his elect.’ (From Sermon, The Holy Spirit Convincing the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment)

Soul Distress
Jonathan Edawrds describes different levels of alarm and concern experienced amongst the people, but the same objective – forgiveness – being reached by those who seek God’s mercy.

‘Some are from the beginning carried on with abundantly more encouragement and hope than others. Some have had ten times less trouble of mind than others, in whom yet the issue seems to be the same.

Some have had such a sense of the displeasure of God, and the great danger they were in of damnation, that they could not sleep at nights.’ (ibid p.24)

‘Many times persons under great awakenings were concerned, because they thought they were not awakened, but miserable, hard-hearted, senseless, sottish creatures still, and sleeping upon the brink of hell.’ (p.25)

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit is active He would reveal to men and women the reality of their condition before God.

‘And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…’ (John 16:8 NASB)

And, as Whitefield urged when he preached on that verse, it is in order that mercy might be obtained. Yet, what a challenge it is for us to read of the impact of conviction of sin on a whole town!

The people of Northampton in the 1730’s could thank God that they had at least one wise Christian leader in Edwards to help them find their way to the cross of Christ and receive forgiveness there.

More next time….

You can purchase Edwards on Revival here

You can read a review of Edwards on Revival here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Jonathan Edwards – a participant in Revival and a judicious student of Revival

Jonathan Edwards, first among America's theologians and philosophers

Jonathan Edwards, first among America's theologians and philosophers

Edwards in Revival
One of the contributory factors to Edwards’ depth and openness to the Spirit in his writings is simply the fact that he had experienced the power of God himself.

He was not merely an armchair theologian or commentator, writing from a remote perspective, without having seen the power of God at work in the conversions of men and women and the subsequent impact in a community.

This made a considerable difference in his ability to value peoples’ spiritual experience. To put it simply, he wasn’t freaked out by the operation of the Holy Spirit in peoples’ lives, and their various responses to His power.

Edwards was a participant as well as an observer. At just 33 years of age, he was an astute student of the ways of God.

From single to multiple conversions

It wasn’t long after the sudden conversion of a young lady that the whole town was in the grip of a full-scale revival.  This was not a case of christian believers becoming more fervent in their faith. This was the major part of the population being suddenly drawn to God.

The impact on the town itself was palpable. The main topic of conversation was Jesus Christ and the way of Salvation. Hundreds were converted.

Edwards writes:
‘All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things, was soon thrown by; all the conversation, in all companies and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business.’ (Jonathan Edwards, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, from Jonathan Edwards On Revival, Banner of Truth, p.13)

He continues,
‘But although people did not ordinarily neglect their worldly business; yet religion was with all sorts the great concern, and the world was a thing only by the bye.

The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it.

The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid, it appeared in their very countenances.

It then was a dreadful thing amongst us to lie out of Christ, in danger every day of dropping into hell;

and what persons’ minds were intent upon, was to escape for their lives, and to fly from wrath to come.

There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.

‘The work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ. (ibid p.13)

Old Northampton

Old Northampton

The Town itself seemed altered
This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town…

the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it was never so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then.

There were remarkable tokens of God’s presence in almost every house. (p.14)

Our public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God’s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship,

every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth;

the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbours. (p.14)

More next time…

You can purchase Edwards on Revival here

You can read a review of Edwards on Revival here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

The Puritans on Hell and How to Avoid it

The English Puritans have a reputation. Within our popular culture, it’s not a good one!

These ‘Old Calvinists’ didn’t really hold back, and when they felt the souls of men and women were in danger. They cried, and called, and declared and wept – to try and turn people from sin to Christ.

Here is Ralph Venning again, urging his readers to change their beliefs and lifestyle. This is as ‘pure puritan’ as it gets, and while some of the statements are strong, they represent the passion of the Puritan preachers of the 17th century accurately.

venning
On the Weakness of Punishment over the Power of Sin
‘Even the flood, which washed away so many sinners, could not wash away sin; the same heart remains after the flood as before.’ (p.46)

On the Deceitfulness of Sin

‘[Sin] It is like the pleasure of the man who receives much money, but it is all counterfeit.’ (p.210)

On the Eternal Consequences of sin
‘Sin costs dear, but profits nothing. They make a bad purchase who buy their own damnation.’ (p.201)

On Hell
‘The torments themselves will be universal. It will not be merely one or two torments but all torments united. Hell is the place of torment itself (Luke 16.28). It is the centre of all punishments, sorrow and pain, wrath and vengeance, fire and darkness’ (p.84)

The Deceitfulness of Sin
‘Sin disappoints men; they have false joys but true miseries.’ (p.131)

On the Need to put our Trust in Jesus Christ
‘No matter how much you have, and how much you use it, [sin] will never satisfy, and therefore must vex you. No satisfaction, no profit! A man’s aim is satisfaction (Luke 12.19), but the eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear with hearing (Ecclesiastes 1.8). Now if these things cannot satisfy the senses (Ecclesiastes 6.7), much less can they satisfy the souls of men.’ (p.203)

‘Sin cannot fill up the boundless and infinite desire which is in the heart of man, but disappoints it.’ (p.207)

On the Goodness of God in the Gospel
‘The goodness of God leads you to repentance; he might have driven you into it by terrors, but he gently leads you…God waits to be gracious, and is patient…
He might have called and knocked at your door once and then no more, but he has stood and knocked and begged, and [has] given you space and means (Revelation 2.21; Luke 16.31)…If, then, you do not repent, it is a greater affront to God than was your former sin.

On Finding Salvation at last!
‘Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3.19); they shall be as if they had not been…God looks upon men, and…if anyone repents, he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light (Job 33.27,28).
Indeed, God is not only merciful, but if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1.9). How this obliges us to repent!’ (p.218-219)

All quotes are taken from ‘The Plague of Plagues’ Banner of Truth edition, now published as ‘The Sinfulness of Sin’.

Read the next post on ‘Wealth, Comfort and the Gospel – from a Puritan Perspective’

You can purchase ‘The Sinfulness of Sin’ here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Puritan Priorities – A Passion for Souls continued…

Joseph Alleine urges repentance and faith in Christ

Joseph Alleine urges repentance and faith in Christ

Joseph Alleine, one time Chaplain of Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford, pleads with believers and non-believers alike. He urges believers to share the good news with those around them who as yet don’t understand the truth of the gospel. To those not yet safe, not yet at peace with God, he urges them to awake and seek God for His mercy in Jesus Christ.

It’s been a long time since a hero from Oxford sounded such a clear and distinct call. These quotes give us a good sample of Puritan Passion.

On the importance of Evangelism
‘Would it not grieve a person of any humanity, if in a time of raging plague,
he should have a remedy that would infallibly cure all the country
and recover the most hopeless patients,
and yet his friends and neighbours
should die by hundreds around him,
because they would not use it?’ (p.101)

On the need for a decision about whether to follow Christ
‘Set the world, with all its glory, and paint, and gallantry,
with all its pleasures and promotions, on the one hand;
and set God,
with all His infinite excellencies
and perfections on the other;
and see that you do deliberately make your choice.’ (p.108)

On Hell, and our need to escape it by trusting Christ
‘O how fearful would the cry be if God
should take off the covering from the mouth of hell,
and let the cry of the damned
ascend in all its terror among the children of men!

And of their moans and miseries,
this is the piercing, killing emphasis and burden:
‘For ever! For ever!’

As God liveth that made your soul,
you are but a few hours distant from this,
except you be converted.’ (P.132)

Next time we will hear from the great Puritan Pastor and physician of souls, Thomas Brooks.

(All quotes are taken from Joseph Alleine, ‘Alleine’s Alarm’, Banner of Truth Edition, 1978)

Read the next post, ‘The Puritan Call to Holiness’
You can Purchase Alleine’s Alarm, now titled ‘a Sure Guide to Heaven’, here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Puritan Priorities – A Passion for Souls

St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, where Joseph Alleine served

St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, where Joseph Alleine served

Inspirational Quotes from Puritan Works
I propose, over the next few posts to quote from those puritan authors who have had an impact on me.  This merely serves as an introduction and is by no means exhaustive.

Spurgeon’s description of the works of Puritan pastor Thomas Watson is in many ways characteristic of much Puritan literature:

‘There is a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom throughout.’ (Introduction, A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson, Banner of Truth)

And the mighty Evangelist of the 18th Century, George Whitefield, wrote in 1767, ‘For these thirty years past I have remarked that the more true and vital religion hath [increased] either at home or abroad, the more the good old Puritanical writings…have been called for.’
(Quoted in J.I Packer, A Quest for Godliness, The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, p.46 )

Joseph Alleine
Alleine (1634-1668) was chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and later served as assistant Pastor in Taunton, Somerset, England. He was also a keen evangelist. As with about a thousand other faithful Puritan pastors, he was fired and turned out of the Church of England in 1662, and was later imprisoned for continuing to preach the gospel. He died aged only 34.

These quotes are taken from his incredible book, ‘An Alarm Call to the Unconverted’ (BOT edition), which has recently been republished as ‘A Sure Guide to Heaven’. You can certainly feel his evangelistic passion in these few quotes, and they also provide a good example of puritan thinking and style.

Man like a choice instrument
‘Unconverted man is like a choice instrument that has every string broken or out of tune.’ (p. 52)

On the futility of religion to appease God
‘You can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you.’ (p. 55)

On continuing in sin
‘If you have a false peace continuing in your sins, it is not of God’s speaking, and therefore you may guess the author.’ (p.56)

‘To save men from the punishment, and not from the power of sin, were to do His work by halves, and be an imperfect Saviour.’ (p.65)

‘You cannot be married to Christ except you be divorced from sin.’ (p.107)

On the spiritual condition of those not yet made alive in Christ
‘In a word, he carries a dead soul in a living body, and his flesh is but the walking coffin of a corrupt mind that is twice dead.’ (p.82)

On preaching about Hell
‘I would not trouble you, nor torment you before the time with the thoughts of your eternal misery, but in order that you may make your escape.’ (P.100)

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© 2009 Lex Loizides