Archive for the ‘Puritans’ Category

Joseph Alleine’s Sinner’s Prayer is printed below. The prayer is not a simple quick response to a simple quick gospel presentation. Alleine ensures the unbeliever understands the conversion process. Notice his advice to how the unbeliever should prepare him or herself before the prayer is paryed.

Set apart some time, more than once, to be spent in secret before the Lord – in seeking earnestly His special assistance and gracious acceptance of you – in searching your heart, whether you are sincerely willing to forsake all your sins, and to resign yourself, body and soul, unto God and His service; to serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of your life.

Compose your spirit into the most serious frame possible, suitable to a transaction of so high importance. Lay hold on the covenant of God, and rely on His promise of giving grace and strength, by which you may be enabled to perform your promise. Do not trust to your own strength, to the strength of your own resolutions; but take hold on His strength.

Being thus prepared, on some convenient time set apart for the purpose, enter upon the work, and solemnly, as in the presence of the Lord, fall down on your knees and spreading forth your hands towards heaven open your heart to the Lord in these, or the like words:

O most holy God, for the passion of Your Son, I beseech You accept Your poor prodigal now prostrating himself at Your door. I have fallen from You by mine iniquity, and am by nature a son of death, and a thousandfold more the child of hell by wicked practice. But of Your infinite grace You have promised mercy to me in Christ, if I will but turn to You with all my heart. Therefore upon the call of Your gospel, I am now come in, and throwing down my weapons, submit myself to Your mercy. And because You requirest, as the condition of my peace with You, that I should put away my idols, and be at defiance with all Your enemies, which I acknowledge I have wickedly sided with against You, I here from the bottom of my heart renounce them all, firmly covenanting with You, not to allow myself in any known sin, but conscientiously to use all the means that I know You have prescribed for the death and utter destruction of all my corruptions. And whereas formerly I have inordinately and idolatrously set my affections upon the world, I do here resign my heart to You who madest it, humbly declaring before Your glorious Majesty, that it is the firm resolution of my heart, and that I do unfeignedly desire grace from You, that when You shall call me hereunto, I may practise this my resolution through Your assistance, to forsake all that is dear unto me in this world, rather than to turn from You to the ways of sin; and that I will watch against all its temptations, whether of prosperity or adversity, lest they should withdraw my heart from You. I beseech You also to help me against the temptations of Satan, to whose wicked suggestions I resolve by Your grace never to yield myself a servant. And because my own righteousness is but as filthy rags, I renounce all my confidence therein, and acknowledge that I am of myself a hopeless, helpless, undone creature, without righteousness or strength.

And forasmuch as You have of Your bottomless mercy offered most graciously to me, a wretched sinner, to be again my God through Christ, if I would accept You; I call upon heaven and earth to record this day, that I do here solemnly avouch You for the Lord my God, and with all possible veneration, bowing the neck of my soul under the feet of Your most sacred Majesty, I do here take You the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for my portion and chief good, and do give myself, body and soul, to be Your servant, promising and vowing to serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.

And since You have appointed the Lord Jesus Christ the only means of coming unto You, I do here solemnly join myself in a marriage covenant to Him.

O Blessed Jesus, I come to You hungry and thirsty, poor and wretched, miserable, blind and naked, a most loathsome polluted wretch, a guilty condemned malefactor, unworthy to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord, much more to be solemnly married to the King of Glory. But such is Your un­paralleled love, I do here with all my power accept You, and do take You for my Head and Husband, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for all times and conditions, to love, honour and obey You before all others, and this to the death. I embrace You in all Your offices. I renounce my own worYouss, and do here avow You to be the Lord my Righteousness. I renounce my own wisdom, and do here take You for my only Guide. I re­nounce my own will, and take Your will for my law.

And since You have told me that I must suffer if I will reign, I do here covenant with You to take my lot, as it falls, with You, and by Your grace assisting to run all hazards with You, verily supposing that neither life nor death shall part between You and me.

And because You have been pleased to give me Your holy laws, as the rule of my life, and the way in which I should walk to Your kingdom, I do here willingly put my neck under Your yoke, and set my shoulder to Your burden; and subscribing to all Your laws as holy, just, and good, I solemnly take them as the rule of my words, thoughts, and actions; promising that though my flesh contradict and rebel, yet I will endeavour to order and govern my whole life to Your direction, and will not allow myself to neglect anything that I know to be my duty.

Only because through the frailty of my flesh, I am subject to many failings, I am bold humbly to request, that unintentional shortcomings, contrary to the settled bent and resolution of my heart, shall not make void this covenant, for so You have said.

Now, Almighty God, Searcher of hearts, You knowest that I make this covenant with You this day, without any known guile or reservation, beseeching You, that if You espiest any flaw or falsehood therein, You wouldst reveal it to me, and help me to do it aright.

And now, O God the Father, whom I shall be bold from this day forward to look upon as my God and Father, glory be to You for finding out such a way for the recovery of undone sinners. Glory be to You, O God the Son, who have loved me and washed me from my sins in Your own blood, and art now become my Saviour and Redeemer. Glory be to You, O God the Holy Ghost, who by the finger of Your almighty power have turned about my heart from sin to God.

O high and holy Jehovah, the Lord God Omnipotent, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, You art now become my covenant Friend, and I through Your infinite grace am become Your covenant servant. Amen, so be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Source: ‘The Nature of Conversion’ in Joseph Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted. Joseph Alleine (8 April 1634 – 17 November 1668) was a nonconformist Puritan pastor.

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Joseph Alleine discusses his difficulty in trying to convert a person. His solution is to speak the gospel but because he believes in total depravity and effectual calling he also prays a certain way.

… this is yet the more perplexing difficulty, that I am to speak to them that are without spiritual sense. Alas! this is not the least part of man’s misery, that he is dead, dead in trespasses and sins.

Could I bring paradise into view, or represent the kingdom of heaven to as much advantage as the tempter did the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof, to our Saviour; or could I un­cover the face of the deep and devouring gulf of Tophet in all its terrors, and open the gates of the infernal furnace; alas, he has no eyes to see it. Could I paint the beauties of holiness or the glory of the Gospel; or could I expose to view the more than diabolical deformity and ugliness of sin; he can no more judge of the loveliness and beauty of the one, and the filthy and hatefulness of the other, than a blind man of colours. He is alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in him because of the blindness of his heart (Eph 6:18). He neither knows nor can know the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). His eyes cannot be savingly opened but by con­verting grace (Acts 26:18). He is a child of darkness, and walks in darkness. Yea, the light in him is darkness .

Shall I ring his knell, or read his sentence, or sound in his ear the terrible trump of God’s judgments, that one would think should make both his ears tingle, and strike him into Belshazzar’s fit, even to change his countenance, loose his joints, and make his knees smite one against another? Alas, he perceives me not; he has no ears to hear. Or shall I call up the daughters of music, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb? Yet he will not be stirred. Shall I allure him with the joyful sound, and lovely song, and glad tidings of the Gospel; with the most sweet and inviting calls, comforts, and cordials of the divine promises so exceedingly great and precious? It will not affect him savingly unless I could find him ears as well as tell him the news.

What then shall I do? Shall I show him the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; or shall I open the box of spikenard, very precious, that fills the whole house of the universe with its perfume, and hope that the savour of Christ’s ointments and the smell of His garments will attract him? Alas! dead sinners are like the dumb idols; they have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not; they have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak they through their throat. They are destitute of spiritual sense and motion.

O Thou all-powerful Jehovah, who workest, and none can hinder Thee, who has the keys of death and hell, pity Thou the dead souls that lie here entombed, and roll away the grave-stone, and say as to the dead body of Lazarus, Come forth. Lighten Thou this darkness, O inaccessible Light, and let the day-spring from on high visit the dark regions of the dead, to whom I speak; for Thou canst open the eye that death itself hash closed. Thou that formedst the ear, canst restore the hearing; say Thou to these ears, Ephphatha, and they shall be opened. Give Thou eyes to see Thy excel­lencies, a taste that may relish Thy sweetness, a scent that may savour Thy ointment, a feeling that may discern the privilege of Thy favour, the burden of Thy wrath, the intolerable weight of unpardoned sin; and give Thy servant order to prophesy to dry bones, and let the effects of this prophecy be as of Thy prophet when he prophesied the valley of dry bones into a living army exceeding great.’

Source: ‘The Nature of Conversion’ in Joseph Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted. Joseph Alleine (8 April 1634 – 17 November 1668) was a nonconformist Puritan pastor.

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The author of conversion is the Spirit of God.

If you have no more than you had by your first birth, a good nature, a meek and chaste temper etc., you are a stranger to true conversion. This is a supernatural work.

The efficient cause of conversion is both internal and external.

The internal cause is free grace alone.

God finds nothing in man to turn his heart, but enough to turn his stomach; he finds enough to provoke his loathing, but nothing to excite his love. … What but free grace could move God to love you?

The external cause is the merit and intercession of the blessed Jesus.

He has obtained gifts for the rebellious, and through him it is that God worketh in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight.

The instrument of conversion is personal and real.

The personal instrument is the ministry (of God ordained persons).

The real instrument is the Word.

You that are unconverted, read the Word with diligence; flock to where it is powerfully preached. Pray for the coming of the Spirit in the Word. Come from your knees to the sermon, and come from the sermon to your knees. The sermon does not prosper because it is not watered by prayers and tears, nor covered by meditation.

The final cause or end of conversion is man’s salvation and God’s glory.

The subject of conversion is the elect sinner

And that in all his parts and powers, members and mind. Whom God predestinates, them only he calls (Rom 8:30). None are drawn to Christ by their calling, nor come to him by believing, but his sheep, those whom the Father has given him (Joh 6:37,44). Effectual calling runs parallel with eternal election (2Pe 1:10).

The Mind

Conversion turns the balance of the judgment, so that God and his glory outweigh all carnal and worldly interests. It opens the eyes …

Conversion turns the bias of the will. The intentions of the will are altered. Now the man has new ends and designs. … He does not take holiness as the stomach does loathed medicine, which a man will take rather than die, but as a hungry man does his beloved food. No time passes so sweetly with him, when he is himself, as that which he spends in the exercises of holiness.

Conversion turns the bent of the affections. These all run in a new channel. … The first of his desires is not after gold, but grace. … His joys are changed. … His cares are quite altered.

The Members

These that before were instruments of sin, are now become the holy utensils of Christ’s living temple. He that before dishonoured his body, now possesses his vessel in sanctification …

The eye, that was once a wandering eye, a wanton eye, a haughty, a covetous eye, is now employed, as Mary’s, in weeping over its sins, in beholding God in his works, in reading his Word, or in looking for objects of mercy and opportunities for his service.

The ear …

The head, that was full of worldly designs, is now filled with other matters, and set on the study of God’s will, and the man employs his head, not so much about his gain as about his duty. The thoughts and cares that fill his head are, principally, how he may please God and flee sin.

His heart, that was a sty of filthy lusts, is now become an altar of incense, where the fire of divine love is ever kept burning, and from which the daily sacrifice of prayer and praise, and the sweet incense of holy desires, ejaculations and prayers, are continually ascending.

The mouth …

The objects from which we turn in conversion are sin, Satan, the world, and our own righteousness.

The object to which we turn in conversion is, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Every man’s vote is for salvation from suffering, but they do not desire to be saved from sinning. They would have their lives saved, but still would have their lusts. Indeed, many divide here again; they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed, but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand. O be infinitely careful here; your soul depends upon it. The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He is willing to have Christ upon any terms; he is willing to have the dominion of Christ as well as deliverance by Christ. He says with Paul, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ Anything, Lord. He sends the blank for Christ to set down His own conditions.

Source: ‘The Nature of Conversion’ in Joseph Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted. Joseph Alleine (8 April 1634 – 17 November 1668) was a nonconformist Puritan pastor.

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Richard Sibbes warns that for some Christians, due perhaps to disposition and a deep sense of sin, they can become overly depressed and weighed down by their sinfulness. He says that the remedy for this is to remember that “there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us“.

source: Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed

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The Puritans

I am so thankful for my puritan teachers from the 1600s A.D. They have pastored me in sickness and health and I trust God will continue to use them in my life as long as he gives breath to my lungs.

The Puritans believed that people were utterly dependent upon God for salvation. Like Augustine and Calvin they regarded people as sinners, unwilling and unable to come to God apart from God’s gracious initiative.

Puritan pastors in England were profoundly influenced by the writings and ministry of Calvin, and any mention of the beliefs of the Puritans must include the importance of the sovereignty of God in salvation, the ordering of one’s life by biblical precept and the need for the church to worship God only as He had commanded in Scripture. They especially emphasised the sabbath, family worship and encouraged personal acts of mercy to the sick and dying.

The Puritans advocated a "plain style" of preaching, as exemplified in the sermons of William Perkins (1558 – 1602), which was consciously designed to point out simply the broad way of destruction and the strait gate to heaven.

At the heart of Puritanism was their fountain of knowledge, the Geneva Bible, which became the Bible of the English-speaking world (until the rise of the KJV). Once it was translated into English, every family of Puritan convictions tried to obtain a copy. William Winthrop is said to have sold the old organs of the church and used the proceeds to order copies of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and a copy of Calvin’s Institutes to be kept in the church.

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There is the fullness of Christ conveyed into the soul: so that our sanctification is not only from him meritoriously, but efficiently, yea, and in a kind materially too, for he does not only merit it, and work it by his Spirit; but through our union with him there is a kind of flowing of sanctification from him into us … through our union with Christ, he having the fullness of the Godhead in him, from him as from a fountain, sanctification flows into the souls of the Saints: there sanctification comes not so much from their struggling, and endeavours, and vows, and resolutions, as it comes flowing to them from their closing with Christ and their union with him; there may be a great deal of striving and endeavouring that may be utterly ineffectual, for want of having recourse unto Christ as the spring and well head of all grace and holiness.

There is the fuhneffe of Chrift conveyed into the foul: fo that our fanctification is not only from him meritorioufly, but efficiently, yea, and in a kinde materially too, for he doth not only merit it, and work it by his fpirit; but through our union with him there is a kinde of flowing of sanctification from him into us … through our union with Christ, he having the fulneffe of the Godhead in him, from him as from a fountaine, fanctification flowes into the souls of the Saints: there fanctification comes not fo much from their ftrugling, and endeavours, and vowes, and refolutions, as it comes flowing to them from their clofing with Christ and their union with him; there may be a great deal of striving and endeavouring that may be utterly ineffectuall, for want of having recourse unto Christ as the fpring and well head of all grace and holineffe.

Source: Jeremiah Burroughs, The Saints Treasury, 1654 A.D.

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Godly sorrow is a gift from God. No hand but a divine hand can make the heart soft and tender under the sight and sense of sin.

Source: Thomas Brooks

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I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin… But it is the excellence of a holy man that he is not a peace with indwelling sin, as others are. He hates it, mourns over it, and longs to be free from its company.

source: J.C. Ryle

In December of 1662, as he lay dying, Scottish Puritan David Dickson said: “

I have taken all my good deeds and all my bad deeds, and cast them through each other in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and betaken myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace!”

source: unknown

To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.”

source: Ichabod S. Spencer

Providence has a voice, if we had an ear. Mercies should draw, afflictions drive. Now when neither fair means nor foul do us good, but we are impenitent under both; this is to wrestle against God with both hands.

source: William Gurnall

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The Family is a Church

The Puritans believed and taught that your family is your church. Every man has a responsibility to pastor his wife and his children. 

Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace.

– Jonathan Edwards

A man ought to look upon himself as obliged to act in three capacities:

  • As a prophet to instruct
  • As a priest to pray for and with
  • As a king to govern, direct, and provide for them.

– George Whitefield

Love Your Wife as Christ Loved the Church

Pastoring your family begins with loving your wife as Christ loved the church. Through our marriage, we are examples of the gospel to our children and to our church.

Family is the Seminary of the Church

Puritan Thomas Manton said:

A family is the seminary of the church.

The Puritans believed that the home was the primary place of learning the Bible and moral instruction. They also believed that it was a parent’s spiritual responsibility to disciple and teach their children about the faith.  The Bible instructs us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Regularly Practice a Family Day Off

Puritans were a great example for spiritual rest because they had a rhythm of work and rest and service and worship.

Source: http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/five-lessons-from-puritans-on-family/

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“Christians, it is but a little while, and you will be done weeping and praying—and be triumphing! You shall put off your mourning garments—and put on white robes! You shall put off your battle armour—and put on a victorious crown!”

– Thomas Watson ‘Of Perseverance’ A Body of Divinity (Puritan 1637 – 1717)

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