Monday, March 26, 2012

A Month With the Puritans--Thomas Brooks--Part 2

Thomas Brooks was a truly unique character in his efforts at pastoral ministry. This is one thing that you really notice about the Puritans is the dedication that they had to pastoral ministry. They weren’t just concerned with numbers of people who attended their churches but they were very much intent on making sure that they understand and applied the Bible in their daily lives. They seemingly were not just interested in people coming in for a weekly session at church but deeply desired for their prayers to have vitality and their daily devotion to God to be rich and experiential. Some have attempted to place the Puritans into a dry, rigid formalism but that would be quite exaggerated to do so.

If you have ever ventured across the Resolutions of Jonathon Edwards, you are well aware of the goals that he set about to conduct his life in a godly manner. However, Thomas Brooks wrote something similar to them long before Edwards wrote his. Thomas Brooks wrote something called “legacies” to his local church in what was identified as his farewell sermon because of his fading health. His whole focus of leaving the congregation with the thoughts was that their soul was the most important thing they could preserve. He also asserted that the longer a man lives the more treacherous the spiritual battles become. I am certain that if you have been converted for any length of time that you find that the prayer and devotion that served you in your earliest times would never suffice for the present. That is why the Apostle Paul noted that there was a pursuit that went into this work of the Gospel (Philippians 3:13-14).



I want to list some of the twenty-seven legacies over the next few posts.

Legacy 1: Secure your interest in Christ; make it your great business, your work, your heaven, to secure your interest in Christ. This is not an age, an hour, for a man to be between fears and hopes, between doubting and believing. Take not up in a name to live, when you are dead God-ward. . . take not up an outward form and outward privilege. . .

Legacy 2: Make Christ and Scripture the only foundation for your souls and faith to build on (2 Cor. 3:11; Isaiah 28:6). Since it is a very dangerous thing, as much as your souls and eternity is worth, for you to build on anything beside Jesus Christ, many will say, Come, build on this authority and that, on this saying and that; but take heed.

Legacy 3: In all places and company, be sure to carry your soul preservative with you. . . It is holy care and wisdom. You know, in infectious times, men will carry outward preservatives with them; you had need to carry your preservatives about you, else you will be in danger of being infected with the ill customs and vanities of the times wherein you live. . .

Legacy 4: Look that all within you rises higher and higher, by oppositions, threatenings, and sufferings that your faith, love, courage, zeal, resolutions, nobility, and prayers will rise higher. Suffering will cause a rise in nobility of spirit.

Legacy 5: Take more pains and make more conscience of keeping yourselves from sin than suffering; from the pollutions and defilements of the day, than from the sufferings of the day. Remember the evil of sin over the evil of punishment. . . The children of God must be harmless and blameless and without rebuke in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation. . . White was the dress of nobles which imports the honor that God will put on those that keep their garments pure in a defiling day. . . If you will be tasting and sipping at Babylon’s cup, you must resolve to receive more or less of Babylon’s plagues!

Legacy 6: Be always doing or receiving good. Our Lord and Master went up and down in this world doing good; he was still doing good to body and soul; he was acted by an untired power. . . This will make your lives comfortable, your deaths happy, your accounts glorious, in the great day of our Lord. Oh, that our lips might be as so many honeycombs, that we might scatter knowledge.

Legacy 7: Set the highest examples and patterns before your face and grace and godliness for your imitation. In the business of faith, set an Abraham before your eyes. In the business of courage, set a Joshua. In the business of uprightness, set a Job. In the business of meekness, set a Moses. There is a disadvantage that returns to Christians looking more backwards than forwards. Men look on whom they excel, not on those they fall short of. Of all examples, set them before you that are most eminent for grace and holiness, for communion with God and acting for God. Next to Jesus Christ, set the pattern of the choicest brothers before you.

Legacy 8: Hold fast your integrity and rather than let all go than let that go. A man had better let liberty, estate, relations, and life go, than let his integrity go. . . Look, as the drowning man holds fast that which is cast forth to save him, as the soldier holds fast his sword and buckler on which his life depends, so, saith Job, ‘I will hold fast my integrity; my heart shall not reproach me. I had rather all the world should reproach me, and my heart justify me, than that my heart should reproach me and the entire world justify me.’ That man will make but a sad exchange his integrity for any worldly concernment. Integrity maintained in the soul will be a feast of fat things in the worst of days; but let a man lose his integrity, and it is not in the power of all the world to make a feast of fat things in that soul.

Legacy 9:
Let not a day pass over your head without calling the whole man to an exact account.

Legacy 10: Labor mightily for a healing spirit. Away with all the discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm to heal your wounds. Discord and division becomes no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder; but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous. God hath made his wrath to smoke against us for the divisions and heart-burnings that have been amongst us. Labor for a oneness of love and affection with every one that is one with Christ. Let their forms be what they will, that which wins most upon Christ’s heart should win most upon ours and that is his own grace and holiness.

Legacy 11: Be most in spiritual exercises of devotion. There are external exercises as hearing, preaching, praying. . . more exacting are exercises of grace, meditation, self-judging, self-trial, and examination. Bodily exercise will profit nothing if abstracted from those more spiritual. The glory that God has and the comfort and advantage will return to your soul is mostly from the exercises of devotion.

Legacy 12: Take no truth upon trust but all upon trial (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11). It was the glory of the church that they would not trust Paul himself. Bring it to the balance of the sanctuary and the Word. If they will not hold weight, reject them.

Legacy 13: The lesser and few opportunities and advantages you have in public to better and enrich your souls, the more abundantly address your souls to God in private (Mal. 3:16-17).

Legacy 14: Walk in those ways that are directly cross and contrary to the vain, sinful, superstitious ways that men of a formal, carnal, lukewarm spirit may walk in; this is the great concernment of Christians but the more as the days go by.

I will add the rest of them tomorrow. As you can see much of these legacies were used to promote the growth of the spiritual man. Some might object and say that these matters are too inwardly focused and would promote too much heavenly-mindedness. C.S. Lewis once intimated that the only people who really make a difference in this world are those who are heavenly-minded. Our great challenge of our times is that we are worldly-minded that we are no heavenly good.

I challenge you to meditate and think through these things and apply them to your soul. It will make you much more spiritually fit.

Thanks for reading. . .

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