Category Archives: Stephen Charnock

“It runs through the whole web of the world” by Stephen Charnock

“Can anything more delightful enter into us, than that of the kind and gracious disposition of that God who first brought us out of the abyss of an unhappy nothing, and hath hitherto spread His wings over us?

Where can we meet with a nobler object than Divine goodness?

What nobler work can be practiced by us than to consider it?

What is more sensible in all the operations of His hands than His skill, as they are considered in themselves, and His goodness, as they are considered in relation to us?

It is strange that we should miss the thoughts of it.

It is strange that we should look upon this earth, and everything in it, and yet overlook that which it is most full of, namely, Divine goodness (Psalm 33:5).

It runs through the whole web of the world. All is framed and diversified by goodness. It is one entire single goodness, which appears in various garbs and dresses in every part of the creation.

Can we turn our eyes inward, and send our eyes outward, and see nothing of a Divinity in both that is worthy of our deepest and most serious thoughts?

Is there anything in the world we can behold, but we see His bounty, since nothing was made but is one way or other beneficial to us?”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 347.

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“Behold the glory of God in the pieces of His art” by Stephen Charnock

“Study God in the creatures as well as in the Scriptures. The primary use of the creatures, is to acknowledge God in them.

They were made to be witnesses of Himself in His goodness, and heralds of His glory, which as the glory of God the Creator ‘shall endure forever’ (Psalm 104:31).

That whole psalm is a lecture of creation and providence. The world is a sacred temple. Man is introduced to contemplate it, and behold with praise the glory of God in the pieces of His art.

As grace doth not destroy nature, so the book of redemption blots not out that of creation. Had He not shown Himself in His creatures, He could never have shown Himself in His Christ. The order of things required it.

God must be read wherever He is legible. The creatures are one book, wherein He hath writ a part of the excellencey of His name, as many artists do in their works and watches.

God’s glory, like the filings of gold, is too precious to be lost wherever it drops. Nothing so vile and base in the world, but carries in it an instruction for man, and drives in further the notion of a God.

It’s as if He said of His cottage, ‘Enter here.’ God disdains not this place.

So the least creature speaks to man, as well as in the highest creature. Every shrub in the field, every fly in the air, every limb in a body: ‘Consider me, God disdains not to appear in me; He hath discovered in me His being and a part of His skill.’

The creatures manifest the being of God and part of His perfections.

We have indeed a more excellent way, a revelation setting Him forth in a more excellent manner, a firmer object of dependence, a brighter object of love, raising our hearts from self-confidence to a confidence in Him.

Though the appearance of God in the one be clearer than in the other, yet neither is to be neglected. The Scripture directs us to nature to view God.

It had been in vain else for the apostle to make use of natural arguments. Nature is not contrary to Scripture, nor Scripture to nature, unless we should think God contrary to Himself who is the Author of both.”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1682/1853), 86.

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“His whole library was swept away from him” by William Symington

“To a person of these studious habits it may easily be conceived what distress it must have occasioned to have his library swept away from him. In that dreadful misfortune which befell the metropolis in 1666, ever since known as ‘the fire of London,’ the whole of Charnock’s books were destroyed.

The amount of calamity involved in such an occurrence can be estimated aright only by those who know from experience the strength and sacredness of that endearment with which the real student regards those silent but instructive friends which he has drawn around him by slow degrees, with which he has cultivated a long and intimate acquaintance, which are ever at hand with their valuable assistance, counsel and consolation, when these are needed, which, unlike some less judicious companions, never intrude upon him against his will, and with whose very looks and positions, as they repose in their places around him, he has become so familiarized, that it is no difficult thing for him to call up their appearance when absent, or to go directly to them in the dark without the risk of a mistake.

Some may be disposed to smile at this love of books. But where is the scholar who will do so? Where is the man of letters who, for a single moment, would place the stately mansions and large estates of the ‘sons of earth’ in comparison with his own well-loaded shelves?

Where is the student who, on looking round upon the walls of his study, is not conscious of a satisfaction greater and better far than landed proprietor ever felt on surveying his fields and lawns—a satisfaction which almost unconsciously seeks vent in the exclamation, ‘My library! A dukedom large enough!’

Such, and such only, can judge what must have been Charnock’s feelings, when he found that his much cherished volumes had become a heap of smouldering ashes.

The sympathetic regret is only rendered the more intense, when it is thought that, in all probability, much valuable manuscript perished in the conflagration.”

–William Symington, as quoted in Stephen Charnock, “Life and Character of Charnock” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol.1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 14.

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“Christ crucified” by Stephen Charnock

“Christ crucified is the sum of the Gospel, and contains all the riches of it. Paul was so much taken with Christ, that nothing sweeter than Jesus could drop from his pen and lips. It is observed that he hath the word ‘Jesus’ five hundred times in his Epistles.”

–Stephen Charnock, “The Knowledge of Christ Crucified,” in The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 4 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1684/1865), 495.

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“What a wonder!” by Stephen Charnock

“Now let us consider, what a wonder of power is all this: the knitting a noble soul to a body of clay, was not so great an exploit of Almightiness, as the espousing infinite and finite together.

Man is further distant from God, than man from nothing.

What a wonder is it, that two natures infinitely distant, should be more intimately united than anything in the world; and yet without any confusion!

That the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity!

That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle.

That the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man.

These are such expressions of mighty power, as well as condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On the Power of God” in The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 63–64.

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“God’s goodness is His glory” by Stephen Charnock

“The goodness of God is the most pleasant perfection of the Divine nature.

His creating power amazes us. His conducting wisdom astonisheth us. His goodness, as furnishing us with all conveniences, delights us and renders both His amazing power, and astonishing wisdom, delightful to us.

Just as the sun, by effecting things, is an emblem of God’s power, so also by discovering things to us, it is an emblem of His wisdom. But by refreshing and comforting us, the sun is an emblem of His goodness.

And without this refreshing virtue it communicates to us, we should take no pleasure in the creatures it produceth, nor in the beauties it discovers.

As God is great and powerful, He is the object of our understanding. But as good and bountiful, He is the object of our love and desire.

The goodness of God comprehends all His attributes. All the acts of God are nothing else but the streams of His goodness, distinguished by several names, according to the objects it is exercised about.

As the sea, though it be one mass of water, yet we distinguish it by several names, according to the shores it washeth, and beats upon. When Moses longed to see His glory, God tells him, He would give him a prospect of His goodness (Ex. 33:19): ‘I will make all My goodness to pass before thee.’

His goodness is His glory and Godhead, as much as is delightfully visible to His creatures, and whereby He doth benefit man: ‘I will cause My goodness,’ or ‘comeliness,’ as Calvin renders it, ‘to pass before thee.’

What is this, but the train of all His lovely perfections springing from His goodness? The whole catalogue of mercy, grace, long-suffering, abundance of truth, summed up in this one word (Ex. 34:6). All are streams from this fountain. He could be none of this, were He not first good.

When it confers happiness without merit, it is grace.

When it bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy.

When he bears with provoking rebels, it is long-suffering.

When he performs His promise, it is truth.

When it meets with a person to whom it is not obliged, it is grace.

When He meets with a person in the world, to which He hath obliged himself by promise, it is truth.

When it commiserates a distressed person, it is pity.

When it supplies an indigent person, it is bounty.

When it succors an innocent person, it is righteousness.

And when it pardons a penitent person, it is mercy. All summed up in this one name of goodness.

And the Psalmist expresseth the same sentiment in the same words (Psalm 145:7, 8): ‘They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over his works.’

He is first good, and then compasssionate. Righteousness is often in Scripture taken, not for justice, but charitableness. This attribute, saith one, is so full of God, that it doth deify all the rest, and verify the adorableness of Him.

His wisdom might contrive against us, His power bear too hard upon us. One might be too hard for an ignorant, and the other too mighty for an impotent creature.

His holiness would scare an impure and guilty creature, but His goodness conducts them all for us, and makes them all amiable to us.

Whatever comeliness they have in the eye of a creature, whatever comfort they afford to the heart of a creature, we are obliged for all to His goodness. This puts all the rest upon a delightful exercise.

This makes His wisdom design for us, and this makes His power to act for us. This veils His holiness from affrighting us, and this spirits His mercy to relieve us.

All His acts towards man, are but the workmanship of this. What moved Him at first to create the world out of nothing, and erect so noble a creature as man, endowed with such excellent gifts? Was it not His goodness?

What made Him separate His Son to be a sacrifice for us, after we had endeavored to erase the first marks of His favor? Was it not a strong bubbling of goodness?

What moves Him to reduce a fallen creature to the due sense of his duty, and at last bring him to an eternal felicity? Is it not, only His goodness?

This is the captain attribute that leads the rest to act. This attends them, and spirits them in all His ways of acting. This is the complement and perfection of all His works.

Had it not been for this, which set all the rest on work, nothing of His wonders would have been seen in creation, nothing of His compassions would have been seen in redemption.”

–Stephen Charnock, “Discourse XII: On the Goodness of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 219-220.

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“God’s patience” by Stephen Charnock

“God’s patience is the silence of His justice, and the first whisper of His mercy.”

––Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000),  478.

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