Sunday, January 27, 2008

Those Emotional Puritans

If you are like me, you've always had this idea in the back of your mind that the Puritans were stiff and formal and unemotional, but in reading some of the stuff they've written, well ... I dunno. In one sense what I've read does seem very methodical and scholastic at times (not that I object to that, but it can be dry), but then in the midst of a scholarly essay (in this case dealing with the role of memory in heaven - O brother! Does that sound dull, or what?) you may get something simply overflowing with passion, such as this (which I've edited into more-or-less modern English):
From the height of heaven the saint can look back and compare the past with the present. And what an inconceivable appreciation that soul must have. To stand on that mountain, where we can see both the Wilderness and Canaan at once; to stand in heaven and look back on earth, and weigh them side-by-side, how it must transport the soul, and make it cry out, "Is this what the blood of Christ has bought? No wonder it cost so much. O blessed purchase and blessed love! Is this the result of believing? Is this the result of the Spirit's workings? Have the winds of grace blown me into such a harbor? Is it to this place that Christ has allured my soul? O blessed path and blessed destination! Is this the glory of which the Scriptures spoke and ministers preached about so often? I see the Gospel is indeed good news, news of peace and good things, news of great joy to all nations! Did my mourning, my fasting, the sad times I was humbled, my difficult path, come to this? Did my praying, watching, and fearing to offend, come to this? Did all my afflictions, Satan's temptations, the world's scorn and jeers, come to this? O my vile nature, that resisted such a blessing so much and so long! Unworthy soul! is this the place you came to so unwillingly? Was duty tiresome? Was the world too good to lose? Could you not leave all, deny all, and suffer anything for this? Were you afraid to die, to come to this? O false heart, you almost betrayed me to eternal flames and would have lost me this glory! Are you not ashamed, my soul, that you ever questioned the love that brought you here? that you were jealous of the faithfulness of your Lord? that you doubted his love when you should only have doubted yourself? that you always quenched any working of his Spirit? and that you misinterpreted his actions and were unhappy at what he did to bring you to this end? Now you are convinced that your blessed Redeemer was saving you just as much when he denied your desires as when he granted them; when he broke your heart as when he healed. No thanks to you, unworthy self, for this crown; but thanks rather to Jehovah and the Lamb to whom be glory for ever."
Kind of takes my breath away. That's from The Saints' Everlasting Rest, by Richard Baxter, if you're interested.