Tag Archives: Heart

“The four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched” by Thomas Brooks

“Beloved in our dearest Lord, Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched.

If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.

It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 3.

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“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart” by John Reeve

“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart.”

–John Reeve, as quoted in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1866/2001), xxxvi. Thomas Brooks died at age 72 on September 27, 1680. In his funeral sermon, John Reeve said these words about this “fine old man” and this “faithful minister of Christ.”

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“Read and re-read” by D.A. Carson

Read and re-read and re-read and re-read the biblical book. It is a mistake to choose the book and then start reading commentaries. Read the book.

Read it in English. Read it in Greek, or Hebrew, as the case may be. I’m quite flexible. Ideally, that means you should start the process of preparation in this regard a long time before. If you have time to read it only once before the first Sunday you’re going to preach it, you won’t have absorbed a great deal of it.

I knew a man in Toronto a number of years ago (he has long since gone to be with the Lord). His name was William Fitch. He was a Presbyterian minister and a very able expositor. It was his lifelong practice not to preach any part of the Word of God until he had read it in preparation for that sermon 100 times.

I’m not laying that on you as a burden or anything! Still, some of us I suspect have managed to preach on occasion from passages where we barely read it once! We’ve read the commentaries, of course.… But read the text. Read the text. Read, read, read, re-read the text.

Start the process early. Give time to re-reading and, thus, to meditation, to turning it over in your mind, to thinking about it when you’re driving your car, to waking up in the middle of the night and dreaming about it. Partly, this is because a lot of your best insights come when you’re not trying, when you’ve just flooded your mind with the Word of God, and then you begin to see the connections and how it works. You can’t force that. It’s just re-reading plus time.

That also gives you time to start collecting illustrations and bits and pieces that fit into it just from your other reading, from reading the newspaper or reading a novel or talking with your kids or something in the church that happens. Suddenly, you’ll discover, because you have allowed a little extra time in preparation, you enrich the entire process.

Having said that, I have to tell you quite frankly that sometimes I have achieved that, and quite frankly, I often haven’t because I’m just as pressured as the next bloke. I can start my preparation the week before, the same as everybody else, but ideally … ideally.… I like to start a long time in advance. I try.

That also gives you time to pray over the text. That is, to incorporate the text into your personal prayers. In much the same way I incorporated some of the prayers of Paul into personal prayers, this can be done, of course, in one way or another with all kinds of texts.

Eschew the division of head and heart. (This a more general observation but probably still worth making.) Some of us think when we are reading the Bible devotionally we are supposed to go all fluttery in the stomach and feel very spiritual and deeply meditative and highly reverent, and then when we’re doing our exegesis we can forget the reverence and just get on with the commentaries. Fight that dichotomy like the plague.

Make your detailed, analytic, careful, competent exegesis reverent and make your devotional life thoughtful and rigorous. Eschew like the plague this common division between head and heart.

That means, then, so far as your sermon preparation goes, you will simultaneously be trying to do rigorous exegesis and biblical theology and so forth while also thinking reverently and offering up this work to the Lord and wondering how it will apply to people’s lives. It will be part of a unified vision of things that is going on all the time.”

–D.A. Carson, “Preaching through Bible Books,” in D.A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016).

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“Tenderness of heart” by Richard Sibbes

“Tenderness of heart is wrought by an apprehension of tenderness and love in Christ. A soft heart is made soft by the blood of Christ.

Many say, that an adamant cannot be melted with fire, but by blood. I cannot tell whether this be true or no; but I am sure nothing will melt the hard heart of man but the blood of Christ, the passion of our blessed Saviour.

When a man considers of the love that God hath shewed him in sending of His Son, and doing such great things as He hath done, in giving of Christ to satisfy His justice, in setting us free from hell, Satan and death: the consideration of this, with the persuasion that we have interest in the same, melts the heart, and makes it become tender.

And this must needs be so, because that with the preaching of the gospel unto broken-hearted sinners cast down, there always goes the Spirit of God, which works an application of the gospel.

Christ is the first gift to the Church. When God hath given Christ, then comes the Spirit, and works in the heart a gracious acceptance of mercy offered.

The Spirit works an assurance of the love and mercy of God. Now love and mercy felt, work upon the tender heart a reflective love to God again.

What, hath the great God of heaven and earth sent Christ into the world for me?

Humbled Himself to the death of the cross for me?

And hath He let angels alone, and left many thousands in the world, to choose me?

And hath He sent His ministers to reveal unto me this assurance of the love and mercy of God?

This consideration cannot but work love to God again. For love is a kind of fire which melts the heart.

So that when our souls are persuaded that God loves us from everlasting, then we reflect our love to Him again. And then our heart says to God, ‘Speak, Lord; what wilt Thou have me to do?’

The soul is pliable for doing, for suffering, for anything God will have it. Then, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth,’ 1 Sam. 3:9.

And when the heart is thus wrought upon, and made tender by the Spirit, then afterward in the proceeding of our lives, many things will work tenderness: as the works of God, His judgments, the word and sacraments, when they are made effectual by the Spirit of God, work tenderness.

The promises of God also make the heart tender, as Rom. 12:1, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, offer up your souls and bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.’

There is no such like argument to persuade men to tenderness of heart, as to propound the love and mercy of God.”

–Richard Sibbes, “Josiah’s Reformation,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; vol. 7; Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 6: 33-34.

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