Category Archives: Puritanical

Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Puritans. (And those of their theological ilk.)

“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works” by John Newton

“There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only shewing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from, and are nourished by, the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse was always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind.

I think I have known some Arminians—that is, persons who, for want of clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace—who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of.

Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.”

–John Newton, “Letter XIX: On Controversy,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 272-273.

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“He deserves our all, for He parted with all for us” by John Newton

“Our relief lies in the wisdom and sovereignty of God. He reveals His salvation to whom He pleases, for the most part to babes; from the bulk of the wise and the prudent it is hidden.

Thus it hath pleased Him, and therefore it must be right. Yea, He will one day condescend to justify the propriety and equity of His proceedings to His creatures; then every mouth will be stopped, and none will be able to reply against their Judge.

Light is come into the world, but men prefer darkness. They hate the light, resist it, and rebel against it. It is true, all do so; and therefore, if all were to perish under the condemnation, their ruin would be their own act.

It is of grace that any are saved; and in the distribution of that grace, He does what He will with His own: a right which most are ready enough to claim in their own concerns, though they are so unwilling to allow it to the Lord of all. Many perplexing and acrimonious disputes have been started upon this subject.

But the redeemed of the Lord are called not to dispute, but to admire and rejoice, to love, adore, and obey. To know that He loved us, and gave Himself for us, is the constraining argument and motive to love Him, and surrender ourselves to Him; to consider ourselves as no longer our own, but to devote ourselves, with every faculty, power, and talent, to His service and glory.

He deserves our all; for He parted with all for us. He made himself poor, he endured shame, torture, death, and the curse, for us, that we, through Him, might inherit everlasting life.

Ah! the hardness of my heart, that I am no more affected, astonished, overpowered, with this thought!”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 485-486.

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“Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures” by Michael Reeves

“In revealing Himself, not only does the Father send His Son in the power of His Spirit; together the Father and the Son send the Spirit to make the Son known. The Son makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Son known.

He does this first of all by breathing out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:11-12) so that in them, the ‘word of Christ,’ Christ may be known (Rom. 10:17; Col. 3:16).

Does this mean that we are, in fact, back to God just giving us a book, as in Islam? Far from it, for– as we shall see if you can bear the wait– God the Spirit not only inspires Scripture, He also comes to us. Indeed, He comes into us. There could be no greater intimacy than with this God.

What it does mean is that the point of all the Scriptures is to make Christ known. As the Son makes His Father known, so the Spirit-breathed Scriptures make the Son known.

Paul wrote to Timothy of how ‘from infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). He is referring to the Old Testament, of course, but the same could be said of the New.

Similarly, Jesus said to the Jews of His day: ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life… If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me’ (John 5:39-40, 46).

Clearly, Jesus believed that is quite possible to study the Scriptures diligently and entirely miss their point, which is to proclaim Him so that readers might come to Him for life.

It all dramatically affects why we open the Bible. We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons– as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives.

That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy or a list of various sacrifices.

And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work and pray today?

But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that He is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals His Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking, ‘What does this mean for me, right now?’ but ‘What do I learn here of Christ?’

Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on Him.

And as through the pages you get caught upon in the wonder of His story, you find your heart strangely pounding for Him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.”

–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 81-83.

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“The more Trinitarian the salvation, the sweeter it is” by Michael Reeves

“As the oil ran down Aaron’s head to his body (cf. Psalm 133:1-2; Lev. 8:12), so the Spirit would run down from Christ over our Head to His Body, the church. Thus we become ‘partakers of His anointing’ (Heidelberg Catechism, #32).

The Spirit, through whom the Father had eternally loved His Son, would now anoint believers ‘that they may be one as we are one’ (John 17:22). One with the Lord, one with each other.

This is salvation with jam on top. In fact, the more Trinitarian the salvation, the sweeter it is.

For it is not just that we are brought before the Father in the Son; we receive the Spirit with which He was anointed. Jesus said in John 16:14 that the Spirit ‘will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’

The Spirit takes what is the Son’s and makes it ours. When the Spirit rested upon the Son at His baptism, Jesus heard the Father declare from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’

But not that same Spirit of sonship rests on me, the same words apply to me: in Christ my high priest I am an adopted, beloved, Spirit-anointed son. As Jesus says to the Father in John 17:23, You ‘have loved them even as You have loved Me.’

And so, as the Son brings me before His Father, with their Spirit in me can boldly cry, ‘Abba,’ for their fellowship I now freely share: the Most High my Father, the Son my great brother, the Spirit no longer Jesus’ Comforter alone, but mine.

–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 74-75.

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“All of the work to which the church is called” by Herman Bavinck

“The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the foundation of prophets and apostles on which all Christian churches, in fellowship with each other, take their stand or claim to take their stand.

In their official confessions, all churches have acknowledged the Divine authority of those Scriptures and have appropriated them as a reliable rule of faith and life. There has never been a difference or conflict about this point of dogma in the Christian churches.

Formerly the attack on Scripture as the Word of God came from the outside, from such pagan philosophers as Celsus and Porphyrus in the second century; inside Christendom such an attack does not appear until the eighteenth century.

Now the church has not received this Scripture from God in order simply to rest on it, and still less in order to bury this treasure in earth.

On the contrary, the church is called to preserve this Word of God, to explain it, to preach it, apply it, translate it, spread it abroad, recommend it, and defend it—in a word, to cause the thoughts of God laid down in Scripture to triumph everywhere and at all times over the thoughts of man.

All of the work to which the church is called is the effort at, and the ministration, of the Word of God. It is a service of this Word of God when it is preached in the assembly of believers, is interpreted, and applied, when it is shared in the signs of the covenant and is maintained in discipline.

And in a larger sense much more is part and parcel of this service of the Word: this, for example, that in our own hearts and lives, in our profession and business, in house and field and office, in science and art, in state and community, in works of mercy and missions, and in all spheres and ways of life, this Word be applied, worked out, and made to rule.

The church must be the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15): that is to say a pedestal and foundation bearing up the truth and maintaining and establishing it over against the world.

When the church neglects and forgets this, the church is remiss in its duty and undermines its own existence.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 101-102.

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“Her sins cannot now destroy her since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by Him” by Martin Luther

“Christ’s righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell.

Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom.

So He takes to Himself a glorious bride, ‘without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word’ (Eph. 5:26–27), that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way He marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice.

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace?

Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all His goodness.

Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by Him.

And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, ‘If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all His is mine and all mine is His.'”

–Martin Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 352.

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“As we ripen in grace, we shall have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians” by Charles Spurgeon

“As we grow in grace, we are sure to grow in charity, sympathy, and love; we shall have greater and more intense affection for the person of ‘Him whom having not seen we love.’

We shall have greater delight in the precious things of His gospel. The doctrine which perhaps we did not understand at first, will become marrow and fatness to us as we advance in grace.

We shall feel that there is honey dropping from the honey-comb in the deeper truths of our religion.

We shall, as we ripen in grace, have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians.

Bitter-spirited Christians may know a great deal, but they are immature. Those who are quick to censure may be very acute in judgment, but they are as yet very immature in heart.

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case.

He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.

As he has sometimes to say of himself, ‘This is my infirmity,’ so he often says of his brethren, ‘This is their infirmity,’ and he does not judge them as he once did.

I know we who are young beginners in grace think ourselves qualified to reform the whole Christian church. We drag her before us, and condemn her straightway.

But when our virtues become more mature, I trust we shall not be more tolerant of evil, but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms.

Sweetness towards sinners is another sign of ripeness.

When the Christian loves the souls of men, when he feels that there is nothing in the world which he cares for so much as endeavouring to bring others to a knowledge of the saving truth, when he can lay himself out for sinners, bear with their ill-manners, bear with anything, so that he might but lead them to the Saviour– then is the man mature in grace.

God grant this sweetness to us all.

A holy calm, cheerfulness, patience, a walk with God, fellowship with Jesus, an anointing from the Holy One– I put all these together, and I call them sweetness, heavenly lusciousness, full-flavouredness of Christ.

May this be in you and abound.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Ripe Fruit,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 16; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 16: 448–449.

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