Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Month With the Puritans--Thomas Brooks--Part 4

As we have noted in the past in describing the Puritans, Alexander Whyte, one of the old Scottish preachers, noted them to be “specialists at sin.” They had the ability to look at human nature and character and draw out the nuances of behavior and use them effectively in their preaching. One aspect of their pastoral ministry was directly related to taking the Bible and using it in such a way that it shed great light on the walk of every Christian moving toward the ultimate end of Heaven being his final resting place. To do this kind of effective preaching warranted a time away from the public and locked into places of thoughtful study of the Word and prayerful looking to that Word.

The Puritans saw the devil as very real and very active in trying to trip up believers at every turn in life. He may depart for a season but he would be back with his imps to harass and buffet the best way that he could with all sorts of mayhem. So when Thomas Brooks wrote his most famous work, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, he had looked at a number of biblical characters and presented their mistakes, not with condescension, but with a measure of warning to all who read about them in the Bible.


• If David be proud of his people, Satan will provoke him to number them so he may yet be prouder (2 Samuel 24).
• If Peter be slavishly fearful, Satan will put him upon rebuking and denying of Christ to save his own skin (Matthew 16:22; 26:29-75).
• If Ahab’s prophets be given to flatter, the devil will straightway become a lying spirit in the mouths of four-hundred of them, and they shall flatter Ahab to his ruin (1 Kings 22).
• If Judas is a traitor, Satan will quickly enter his heart, and make him sell his master for money, which some heathens would never have done (John 13:2).
• If Ananias will lie for an advantage, Satan will fill his heart that he may lie, with a witness to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3).

So with all of that in mind, Thomas Brooks sat down and wrote his book on Precious Remedies to help his people. In what is called the Epistle Dedicatory, he gave seven reasons for writing such a book to his people (I have modernized the language a bit from what he has actually written.).

Reason 1: Satan has a far greater influence upon men and higher advantage over them than they think he has and knowing this will help. If we know what he is up to, we can disappoint him with biblical knowledge so the soul will be kept in a state of strong resistance.

Reason 2: Your pressing need for God has caused me to consider the ways Satan may attack.

Reason 3: I met great opposition from Satan in the study of this discourse. That opposition put an edge on my spirit knowing that the devil tries to keep those things from seeing the light of this knowledge because it disrupts his kingdom. It shakes the darkness and elevates the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ which elevates our souls.

Reason 4: This discourse has great use to all sorts, ranks, and conditions of those who are in the church. It is a salve for every sore, a dressing for every wound, and a remedy against every disease particularly those that create disruption in spiritual life and ruin the soul.

Reason 5: I do not know of anyone who has written on this subject at this time. I know that there may be better heads and better hearts that are able to write on this but I have not seen anything of it. I want to use this so that your talents are improved with a discovery of his devices and there are choice remedies to overcome his tactics.

Reason 6: I have many precious friends who have desired for me to undertake this project. I pray that this effort will be blessed as some of my former works have been blessed by God to be useful to all travelers.

Reason 7: Finally, not being aware of how many days that I have numbered to me or when my lamp will be turned off, I want to sow something useful and helpful before I am called home.

As a reader, you can see from this listing of reasons Brooks wrote Precious Remedies and from the previous two posts (Part 2 & Part 3) on the twenty-seven legacies that he used numbers for an orderly presentation of his material. I think that there is some merit in learning from this aspect of the sermons that the Puritans preached. You will particularly notice this when you read their sermons. They will begin under a heading labeled as “Doctrine” and it will have multiple points. They will follow the doctrine section with another heading labeled “Uses” which will have multiple points of how the doctrine should be applied to the believer’s everyday life.

After listing his reasons for writing the discourse, he then wants to give four bits of counsel on how to read the work.

1. Every man may not be able to be excellent but he can be useful. An iron key will unlock the door of golden treasure. Know that there are some things that iron can do that gold cannot do.

2. It is not fast reading but thoughtful reading on holy and heavenly truth that makes the most difference in your soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey but it’s resting for a time on the flower that draws out the nectar. It is not the man who reads the most but the one who meditates the most that will provide the best, wisest, and strongest Christian.

3. It is not in the knowledge or the speech of a reading man but the man who does what he reads will be the most productive man.

4. Look to the footnotes and you will find many precious and true gems that will often shed much light on the things you have read. Turn the book inside out and make it useful for your soul.

I will pick up tomorrow with some more thoughts from this book. Brooks’ Remedies was a book that I sort of stumbled across when I was reading William Gurnall’s very good book, The Christian in Complete Armor. I also commend that volume to you as well.

More tomorrow. . .

God Bless,
PH

No comments: