A Month With the Puritans--Thomas Brooks--Part 3

Since I am devoting the month of March to the Puritans, I only have a few more days left to go with this endeavor. We are currently introducing Thomas Brooks (Part 1 & Part 2) who preached a farewell sermon to his church because of his failing health. In a very similar format to Jonathon Edward’s resolutions, Brooks had some admonitions to the church that came in the form of “legacies.” There were a total of twenty-seven, of which fourteen were listed in the last post. I now give you the remainder of them.

Legacy 15: Look upon all the things of this world as you will look upon them when you come to die. At what a poor rate do men look on the things of this world when they come to die! What a low value do men set upon the pomp and glory of it, when there is but a step between them and eternity! Men may now put a mask upon them, but then they will appear in their own colors. Men would not venture the loss of such great things for them did they but look on them now, as they will do at the last day of their life.

Legacy 16:
Never put off your conscience with any plea or with any argument that you dare not stand by in the great day of your account. It is dreadful to consider how many in these days put off their consciences. We did this and that for our families, they would have else perished. I have complied thus, and wronged my conscience thus, for this and that concernment. Will a man stand by this argument when he comes before Jesus Christ at the last day? Because of the souls of men, many plead this or that.

Legacy 17: Eye more, mind more, and lay to heart more, the spiritual and eternal workings of God in your souls, than the external providences of God in the world. . . Look to the work that God is carrying on in your soul. . . He is carrying on some work or another at all times. . . either blinding or enlightening, bettering or worsening. All the motions of God within you are steps to eternity, and every soul shall be blessed or cursed, saved or lost to all eternity, not according to outward dispensations but according to the work of God in your souls. Observe what humbling work, reforming work, sanctifying work, he is about in the soul and what is going on in that little world within. . . If God should carry on never so glorious a work n the world as a conquest of nations to Christ, what would it advantage thee if sin, Satan, and the world should triumph in thy soul?

Legacy 18: Look on the bright side of providence as well as the dark side. If there is a great weakness amongst Christians; they do so pore over the dark side of providence as that they have no heart to consider the bright side.

Legacy 19:
Keep up precious thoughts of God under the sourest, sharpest, and severest of dispensations of God to you.

Legacy 20: Hold on and hold out in the ways of well-doing, in the want of all outward encouragements, and in the face of all outward discouragements. It is nothing to hold out when we meet with nothing but encouragements; but to hold out in the face of all discouragements is a Christian duty (Psalm 44). It is perseverance that crowns all of life (Rev. 2:10). It is perseverance in well-doing that crowns all our actions. If you have begun in the Spirit, don’t end in the flesh. Follow the Captain of your salvation, follow the Lamb though others follow the beast and the false prophets.

Legacy 21:
In all your natural, civil, and religious actions, let divine glory still rest on your souls. In all your bearings and prayers let the glory of Christ carry it.

Legacy 22:
Record all special favors, mercies, providences, and experiences. . . Many a Christian loses much by neglecting this duty.

Legacy 23:
Never enter upon the trial of your estate but when your hearts are at the best, and in the fittest temper. It is the great design of Satan, when the soul is deserted and strangely afflicted to put the soul on a trying work.

Legacy 24: Always make the Scripture and not yourselves nor your carnal reason, bare opinion to be the judges of your spiritual state and condition. . . The Scripture is that which must determine the case in the great day, whether you have grace or not, or whether it be true or not.

Legacy 25: Make much conscience of making good the terms which you closed with Christ. You know the terms, how that you would deny yourselves and take up your cross and follow the Lamb wheresoever he should go. Now you are to take up the cross and deny yourselves to follow the Lamb over hedge and ditch, through thick and thin. Do not turn your backs on Christ; the worst of Christ is better than the best of the world. Deny yourself, your natural self, your sinful self, your religious self, to follow him; and if you do, oh! what an honor it will be to Christ, and advantage to your souls, and a joy to the upright!

Legacy 26:
Walk by no rule but such as you dare die by and stand by in the great day of Jesus Christ. You may have many ways prescribed to worship by; but walk by none but such as you dare die by, and stand by, before Jesus Christ.

Legacy 27: Sit down and rejoice with fear (Psalm 2). Rejoice that God has done your souls good by his everlasting gospel; that he did not leave you until he had brought you to an acceptance of, a closing with, and a resignation of your soul to him and a clearing of your account in him.

Note the pastoral tone of warning and encouragement that appears in practically every one of these points. What is very interesting or alarming is the comparison of Brooks’ points to all of the material that is flooding the Christian bookstores in our day. Very little of it provokes self-examination as most of it is trying to prop up the fragile, carnal self-esteem driven market. Reading this kind of thing makes me want to be a better Christian and a better preacher. Be alert to the drift that is constantly upon us to soften, ease-up, and lose our vigilance.

More tomorrow. . .

Thanks for reading. . .

Philip Harrelson


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