Thomas Watson (1620–1686) was probably born in Yorkshire. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, earning a B.A. in 1639 and a M.A. in 1642. Then he lived for a time with the Puritan family of Lady Mary Vere, the widow of Sir Horace Vere, Baron of Tilbury. In 1646, Watson went to St. Stephen’s, Walbrook, London, where he served as lecturer for about ten years, and as rector for another six years.
During the Civil War, Watson began expressing his strong Presbyterian views while he had sympathy for the king. He was one of the Presbyterian ministers who went to Oliver Cromwell to protest the execution of Charles I. Along with Christopher Love, William Jenkyn, and others, he was imprisoned in 1651 for his part in a plot to restore the monarchy. While Love was beheaded, Watson and the others were released after petitioning for mercy. Watson was formally reinstated to his pastorate in Walbrook in 1652.
When the Act of Uniformity passed in 1662, Watson was ejected from his pastorate. He continued to preach in private—in barns, homes, and woods—whenever he had the opportunity. In 1666, after the Great Fire of London, Watson prepared a large room for public worship, welcoming anyone who wished to attend. After the Declaration of Indulgence took effect in 1672, Watson obtained a license for Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate, where he preached for three years before Stephen Charnock joined him. They ministered together until Charnock’s death in 1680. Watson kept working until his health failed. He then retired to Barnston, in Essex, where he died suddenly in 1686 while engaged in private prayer.
Watson’s depth of doctrine, clarity of expression, warmth of spirituality, love of application, and gift of illustration enhanced his reputation as a preacher and writer. His books are still widely read today. 
Works (Select)
A Body of Divinity. First published after Watson’s death in 1692, this was his magnum opus. Following the question-and-answer format of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it offers 176 sermons on the essential teachings of Christianity. It shows the author’s deep understanding of spiritual truths and his ability to make them clear to anyone. Unlike most other systematic theologies, it weds knowledge and piety together, and can be used effectively in daily devotions. It is perhaps the most experiential systematic theology ever written, with the exception of Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service. This book has been divided into three in modern reprints:
All Things for Good. Watson once said he faced two great difficulties in his ministry: to make the unbeliever sad without grace and to make the believer glad with grace. In this study of Romans 8:28, formerly titled A Divine Cordial, Watson encourages God’s people to rejoice. He explains how the best and worst experiences work for good. He writes, “To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.” If someone asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or “How can I know if I am called by God?,” offer them this book. Its chapters on the love of God, effectual calling, and the purpose of God are especially helpful in understanding Romans 8:28. Chapter five, on the “tests of love to God,” is particularly searching. 
The Art of Divine Contentment. Based on Philippians 4:11, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content,” Watson writes, “For my part, I know not any ornament in religion that doth more bespangle a Christian, or glitter in the eye of God and man, than this of contentment. Nor certainly is there any thing wherein all the Christian virtues do work more harmoniously, or shine more transparently, than in this orb. If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life.”
Heaven Taken by Storm. This is an excellent handbook—perhaps the best ever written—on how to use the various means of grace. Based on Matthew 11:12, Watson describes how the Christian is to take the kingdom of heaven by holy violence through the reading and exposition of Scripture, prayer, meditation, self-examination, conversation, and keeping the Lord’s Day. He explains how the believer is to battle against self, Satan, and the world, and counters objections and hindrances to offering such violence. An appendix to the book includes two additional sermons: “The Happiness of Drawing Near to God” and “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit.”
Who were the Puritans? Since you are "meeting" them it would be remiss if someone did not at least give a definition of who the Puritans were.
Now, one of the problems in defining a "Puritan" has to do with the "canon" that the Banner of Truth Trust set up—a canon that included the solidly Reformed men and a few others like Richard Baxter (but, note, they only published Baxter's "practical works"). Of course, has anyone ever raised the question as to whether Baxter's neonomianism may have (negatively?) impacted his practical stuff? So, was Jonathan Edwards a Puritan? Was Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones? I don't think so; in fact, once we open the canon up to these men we run the risk of making the term meaningless.
I think Carl Trueman is right to suggest that to use the term “Puritan” to describe one’s theology is as problematic as it is helpful. Puritan theology was far from monolithic, especially when scholars of Puritanism suggest that even though radical Puritans—but Puritans nonetheless—rejected orthodox Reformed ideas about the moral law or predestination or infant baptism they still defined themselves in relation to the Reformed tradition. In other words, we simply cannot make “Puritanism” synonymous with Reformed theology. Puritanism was far too diverse to be of any strict theological use. Certainly the majority were Reformed or Calvinistic, but when Richard Baxter (who defies classification), John Goodwin (an Arminian), John Milton (a possible Arian), John Bunyan (a Baptist), and John Eaton (an Antinomian), are included, there is good reason to be cautious when using the term to describe a theological tradition.
Moreover, the transition from Puritanism to Dissent typically comes around 1689 with the Act of Toleration. That is to say, Puritanism has special reference to religio-political issues in the seventeenth century, and all that that entails (Charles I's’ death, the 1662 Act of Uniformity, etc.). After 1689 we normally talk about Protestant Nonconformity. Many scholars argue that “Puritans” are those who attempted to reform the Church of England along godly lines. Some were Presbyterians; others were Congregationalists. Some were Reformed; others were Arminian (there are many more examples than John Goodwin). Many were Antinomians, but they were vigorously opposed at the Westminster Assembly. In fact, the threat of Antinomianism may have been the single largest concern of the Westminster divines, more so than Popery! The Antinomians were no more welcome at the Assembly than the papists; yet, the Antinomians were self-designated “Puritans”; they just had different ideas about what the Church of England should look like in its theological make-up. And, of course, there were varieties of Antinomianism. As John Coffey has argued: Baxter was very much a moderate Puritan though he was theologically innovative; other moderate Puritan divines were often deeply committed to conserving strict Reformed orthodoxy. Cromwell and Milton had much stronger radical sympathies.
When people say that they “love the Puritans”, one always has to ask “which Puritans”? The point is that different sections of the contemporary church scene can lay claim to competing strands within Puritanism (though in practice conservative Reformed Christians are almost alone in showing much interest in the Puritans). Furthermore, I find it interesting that the Quakers arose from within Puritanism, as did the Levellers. So, was Spurgeon a Puritan? No, I don’t think so. It’s not that I dislike Spurgeon; rather, he simply cannot be a Puritan. He lived in the wrong century. I would also suggest, perhaps to the ire of some, that Jonathan Edwards was not a Puritan for largely the same reasons that Spurgeon was not. Edwards may have loved many of the Puritans, as I do. But that does not make him one, just as it does not make me one or my wife one. Thomas Goodwin, however, was a Puritan. He sought to reform the Church of England from the corruptions of popery and Arminianism. Goodwin ended up losing the battle, of course. 1662 was a massive psychological blow to him and his fellow Puritans. The millennial glory that Goodwin had hoped for in the 1630s was looking decidedly different post 1660!
If we do not restrict Puritanism to the 17th century, then I’m afraid the term loses its meaning. Of course, we're sympathetic to Puritanism because we, like our 17th century forefathers, feel that the church needs further reform.


In our continuing series on the Puritan vision for Christian zeal (part 1, part 2, part 3), we now take up its means.
When you look around and see few people who are zealous for the Lord, you may be tempted to dismiss the call to be zealous. Such a response would be grievous because the church is already filled with countless saints who are crawling when they could be flying and because lukewarmness (Gal. 2:11–13) is as contagious as sacred zeal (2 Cor. 9:2). Real zeal, though, is not beyond the reach of any saint who sincerely asks the Lord for it and diligently gives himself to the faithful use of the means appointed by God to sustain it. It is our calling and the reason why Christ redeemed us, and it alone holds forth hope for the future of Christ’s church (Rev. 2:4–5; 3:2–3, 15–20).
When we speak of the "means" of Christian zeal, we mean those things we must do so that, by God’s blessing, all our affections may be set ablaze against all things sinful and toward all things holy. However, we can do none of this in our natural self, for the flesh strives against the Spirit. True Christian zeal is opposed by the flesh, sin, and the Devil. As we consider what means we may use to stir up this grace of zeal, we must be aware of our enemies, but also what zeal does to them: "You are now demolishing the strongholds of Satan, to enlarge the kingdom of Christ. And therefore you can expect no other but the gates of Hell will exert the utmost of their power, and employ all the agents they can get upon earth, to obstruct and hinder it. But that should not slacken your zeal, but make it rather the more flagrant” (John Reynolds, Zeal a Virtue: Or, a Discourse Concerning Sacred Zeal, London, 1716, p. 459). 
The first means to attain Christian zeal is prayer. As a grace of God, zeal cannot be earned; it must be given (James 1:17). As a grace of God, it must be asked for by prayer humbly offered in the name of Christ (John 16:23). Jesus promises that the Father will give the Holy Spirit, and therefore all His graces, to those who ask (Luke 11:13). John Preston (1587–1628) wrote, “The love of God is peculiarly the work of the Holy Ghost…. Therefore the way to get it is earnestly to pray…. We are no more able to love the Lord than cold water is able to heat itself… so the Holy Ghost must breed that fire of love in us, it must be kindled from heaven, or else we shall never have it” (Preston, The Breastplate of Faith and Love, Banner of Truth Trust, 2:50).
The only thing that stands in the way of our receiving this grace is our failure to ask (Jas. 4:2). And what stands in the way of our asking is unbelief, the great enemy of zeal. If we sincerely wish to be inflamed with zeal for God, we must humble ourselves before Him, believe His Word to be truth, acknowledge our need and His bounty, confess our sin and His mercy and our unworthiness and His grace, and ask Him, for the sake of the Lord Jesus, to give us this grace to enliven us and inflame all our affections by His Holy Spirit who indwells us, that we might pursue His glory all our life. 
The Word
The second means by which we maintain zeal is the Word of God. Preaching the Word is a powerful means to blow on the coals of zeal and keep them aflame because God Himself speaks in preaching. Likewise, the faithful reading of Scripture feeds our zeal by pouring fuel on the holy fire in our bosom. The hearing and reading of the Word must be applied through “frequent meditation” in order to arouse zeal for it is while we muse that the fire is kindled within us (Ps. 39:3). Meditate especially on the gospel to fuel the burning of your zeal for God. Sibbes said, “Whence comes a zeal to good works, but when we look to the grace that hath brought salvation and redemption from our sins, and to the glorious coming of Christ?” (“Salvation Applied,” Works, 5:398)
The third means to maintain our zeal for God is faithful attendance and fellowship in God’s house (Heb. 10:24–25). William Fenner wrote, “The coals that lie together in the hearth, you see how they glow and are fired, while the little coals that are fallen off, and lie by, separate from their company, are black without fire. If ever thou desirest to be zealous, make much of the fellowship of the saints.” (A Treatise of the Affections, London, 1650, p. 162) Richard Baxter advised, “Live among warm and serious Christians; especially as to your intimate familiarity. There is a very great power in the zeal of one to kindle zeal in others; as there is in fire to kindle fire. Serious, hearty, diligent Christians, are excellent helps to make us serious and diligent. He that travelleth with speedy travelers, will be willing to keep pace with them.” (“A Christian Directory,” Works, 1:386) How detrimental, then, it is to neglect these means of grace!
Fighting Against Sin
The fourth means to stir up our zeal for God is repentance and resistance against sin: “Be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Our zeal for God is dampened if we refuse to let go of some cherished sin despite the Spirit speaking to our conscience. A hardened heart is a heart cold toward God. If you find yourself growing cold to God, His Word, and His people, then ask yourself whether there is some disobedience in your life that you are tolerating despite the warnings of your conscience. Paul spoke of the renewal of zeal by repentance when he wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation...What carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal" (2 Cor. 7:10–11). Fenner said that in order to inflame and maintain our zeal we must “shun the occasions of sin” and “eschew [flee] the beginnings of sin.” (A Treatise of the Affections, 162–63)
Both the means to attain Christian zeal and keep it aflame in the soul may seem impossible when considered from our perspective. Indeed, the promise that such means will give way to so great a grace and so glorifying a life seems to be nothing more than an idle tale. Such thinking is familiar in the story of Naaman the leper (2 Kings 5). When Naaman came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy, he expected the prophet to call upon the name of the Lord with some great incantation (v. 11). When Elisha’s response was to send a messenger to Naaman telling him he would be cured if he washed in the Jordan River seven times, Naaman went away in a rage. What was the Jordan River compared to the Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus! (v. 12) Naaman’s faith for a cure was not in the prophet or in his God; it was wrongly placed in the means he expected the prophet to use. Once his servant pointed out the foolishness of his unwillingness to follow the prophet’s simple instructions, Naaman came to himself (v. 14). Thomas Manton (1620–1677) wisely said, “Though the means seem to have no connection with the end [or goal], yet, if God hath enjoined them for that end, we must use them. As in the instance of Naaman; God was resolved to cure him, but Naaman must take his [God’s] prescribed way, though against his own fancy and conceit.” (“Eighteen Sermons on the Second Chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians,” Works, 3:124)
The application is that if we consider the means to Christian zeal in light of our own wisdom and judge them by our own standards, we will respond no less foolishly than Naaman. But if we consider them in the light of God’s wisdom, everything changes. To Him, a stone is not too small to slay a giant (1 Sam. 17:40), a few loaves and fish not too few to feed thousands (Mark 6:38), and an army of three hundred not too small to slay an army of tens of thousands (Judg. 8:10). We must remember that seemingly insignificant means are at times God’s appointed means and not the ideas and notions of men. And as God’s ways and thoughts are far above ours (Isa. 55:8–9), so God’s means to Christian zeal will in the end prove to be far above ours, both in simplicity and efficacy.
While denying the Roman Catholic doctrine that love is the life and soul of justifying faith, John Ball (1585-1640) strenuously affirmed that justifying faith cannot be without love. Faith and love are distinct graces which are “infused together” by the Holy Spirt at regeneration and “the exercise of faith and love be inseparably conjoined (Treatise of Faith, 45-46).” Where there is justifying faith there is love: “As light and heat in the Sun be inseparable, so is faith and love, being knit together in a sure bond by the Holy Ghost (pg. 38).
If faith and love are distinct yet inseparable, so it is sometimes argued, “then Faith alone doth not justify (pg. 56).” The presence of love at the moment of justification implies that it is along with faith a co-instrument of justification. Ball responded to this objection by appealing to a common turn of phrase regarding the role of faith in justification: faith alone justifies but the faith which justifies is not alone. Or as it stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith: “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”
Ball observed that while faith is utterly alone in terms of the instrument of justification, it is not alone in terms of the presence of love or other virtues for that matter. Justifying faith is “ever accompanied with all other saving graces" (WCF 11.2). Thus love is present in the person at the moment of justification, but love is not the instrument or co-instrument of justification. Faith and faith only is that instrument. The “alone” of faith alone refers not to the absence of other saving graces or virtues but to its role in justification. Employing a standard illustration of the time, Ball said that faith is like an eye in the body. Only the eye sees but in order for the eye to see it must in a body that is alive and so with other working parts:
“The eye alone sees, the ear alone hears: but it must be a living eye, and hearing ear, not separated from the head, or broken off from the rest of the body.  Faith alone justifies without other graces, not in regard of their presence, but in regard of their co-working with faith to this effect of our justification. It is one thing to say, the eye is in the head without other senses, and another thing to say, the eye doth see alone, no other sense seeing with it…So faith cannot be without love, and yet we apprehend not the promises of eternal life by works, but by Faith alone; although truly they cannot be apprehended by parties destitute of works, at least of sincere resolution to walk in obedience" (pg. 57).
This relationship between faith and love helps to identity the role of repentance in justification. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, repentance is not a cause of pardon, “yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it" (WCF 15.3). Since justification includes pardon (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 70), and repentance is necessary for pardon, it follows that repentance is necessary for justification. But it is not necessary in the same way faith is. As Ball explained elsewhere, even though repentance is necessary to see our sinfulness and to turn away from it to Christ, it is “no healing of our wound, or cause of our acquittance" (The Covenant of Grace, 18). Repentance must accompany faith and is a sine qua non of justification but it does not unite one to Christ. That role belongs exclusively to faith and therefore faith is the alone instrument of justification. In other words, faith, unlike repentance, is not “a cause without which the thing is not done [causa sine qua non], but a cause whereby it is done" (The Covenant of Grace, 19). The presence of love or hope or repentance along with faith at the moment of justification, therefore, does not compromise sola fide. Faith alone is the instrument of justification, yet it is not alone in the person justified. The eye alone sees, yet the eye is not alone in the head.  The faith that justifies is not a naked, dead faith, but a living faith that is “ever accompanied with all other saving graces.”
There once was a popular song in my college years with a blasphemous chorus that went like this: “Tell me all your thoughts on God. Cause I’d really like to meet her; and ask her why we're who we are? Tell me all your thoughts on God. Cause I’m on my way to see her; so tell me am I very far.” The culture around us rambles on with its incoherent babble about the God who made them in his image; about the God whom they suppress (Rom. 1:18). It is incoherent because it is not based on reality and truth, but upon mere opinions and speculations. The God who is, though, has revealed himself and given us his own “thoughts on God” so that we are able to give an answer for our hope (1 Peter 3:15) to our neighbors when they ask us, “What is God?” An outline of that revelation is found in one of the classic answers of the Westminster Larger Catechism:
What is God?
God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. (Q&A 7)
He is Self-Existing
What is God? We believe he is self-existing. That’s the meaning of confessing, “God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection.” We see a visual illustration of the self-existence of God signified by the burning bush in Exodus 3. Here is a revelation of the angel of the Lord—the Son of God before his incarnation—who appeared “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” and although “the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2). Meditate for a moment on why the Son of God would appear in such a way. What is the significance of “this great sight?” (Ex. 3:3) In other words, why did the Son not just appear as a flame of fire, why include the bush? Of course the covenantal purpose of this revelation is made clear towards the end of this event (Ex. 3:13–17), but we cannot miss the theological truth illustrated in the burning-yet-unconsumed bush. Our theologians have pointed out that the fire was a self-sufficient fire because it had no fuel, and this illustrates the self-sufficiency of God as the eternal “I am.” The word for this is aseity. From two Latin words meaning “from self,” aseity means that God exists from himself and that he derives what he is from himself. He is “in and of himself” all that he is, “infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection,” as the Catechism says.
Another biblical illustration of this is in God’s attitude to Israel’s myriad sacrifices in Psalm 50. In a poetic way the Lord taught his people that, “every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10). What was his point in saying this in song? It was to remind his beloved children that he did not need their sacrifices like the gods of all the other nations did. Their gods literally were fed by their people’s sacrifices. The Lord, though, says, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? (Ps. 50:12–13)” God needs nothing beyond himself. He is self-existing.
Let me suggest two areas in which this is so practical for us to know. First, God’s self-existence should cause us to be humble. As we seek to give an answer to what are our thoughts on God, we need to impress upon our neighbors the humility of knowing that God does not need us, or them. Second, this should also cause in us awe and wonder. The God who is infinite in being (his being is without finitude, it is unquantifiable), infinite in glory (his glory is without limit), infinite in blessedness (his blessedness is without end), and who is infinite in perfection (he is all that he needs) actually shares himself with us. He doesn’t need us; we need him. And that’s the wonder of the Gospel, as God comes to us in Christ and brings us back to him by the work of the Spirit. And this leads to my second point.
He is Self-Revealing
What is God? We also believe he is self-revealing. The Catechism gives a stirring list of what we call God’s attributes, both incommunicable and communicable. His incommunicable attributes—those that cannot be communicated to us—are that he is “all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things.” His communicable attributes—those that he does communicate to us, at least in a creaturely way—are that he is “most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” So how do we know this about God? He reveals himself to us in his Word. For example, God proclaimed his name and attributes to Moses in Exodus 34.
Moses wanted to see the glory of God as a tangible expression that the Lord would go with Israel to the Promised Land (Ex. 33:12–16). He insisted with his now famous words, “Show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). What did the Lord say he would do in response? The Lord would “make all [his] goodness pass before” Moses. But there was a problem: “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Ex. 33:20). The Lord solved the problem by hiding Moses in a cleft of a rock and covering his eyes with the Lord’s “hand” (Ex. 33:22). This really is such an amazing scene. In order for the Lord to reveal himself to Moses he had to hide Moses and cover his eyes!
Why? So that Moses would know the Lord through the words of the Lord. The Lord would reveal his glory in words; he would preach a sermon to Moses: “I…will proclaim before you my name” (Ex. 33:19). He protected Moses so that he could proclaim to Moses; he hid Moses so that he could reveal himself to Moses; he covered Moses’ eyes so that he could open Moses’ ears. The Lord then proclaimed what Moses needed to hear. Notice that. He didn’t give Moses what he wanted to see—glory. Moses merely saw the Lord’s “back” (Ex. 33:23). Instead, the proclaimed to Moses what he needed to hear—the truth of who the Lord is:
The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation (Ex. 34:6–7).
So what does this mean for us as we live in a time of so many opinions, ideas, and speculations about God? We have to recognize that all the confusion about God is an opportunity to speak for God in our time, to the minds and hearts of our neighbors. So when they ask us, “What is God?” we can say that God is self-existing. As the Creator, then, we and our neighbors are merely contingent creatures, merely sinners. Yet this same God is self-revealing. As a Father he desires to show us what his love is so that we will love him in response. And he has revealed himself ultimately in these last days in his Son (John 1:14, 18; Heb. 1:1–3). This is our amazing God. This is our unique God. He is who he is in himself. Yet he makes himself known to us sinners. Now we as his people get to go out and make him known to others.
As the star pupil of William Perkins at Christ’s College Cambridge, William Ames (1576–1633), followed his mentor’s preaching pattern of explaining, teaching, and applying the text. It may seem strange that in his systematic-theological Marrow of TheologyAmes devoteed a whole chapter to preaching (ch. 35). Yet, since he understood theology as the doctrine of living to God, this comes as no surprise. In line with Perkins, preaching was the means for propagating such a life. 
Proclaiming the Word
With preaching being of such importance, the minister must proclaim the Word “for the edification of the hearers.” Connected to this goal, he must practice what he preaches and be mighty in the Scriptures beyond the ordinary believer. As such, he “must not put his trust in notes and commentaries.” In other words, do not turn too quickly to the tools available for preaching beyond the Bible.
Edification by Doctrine and Application
To edify hearers the preacher must first explain the text and then apply it to hearts as required. This involves first setting forth doctrine (theological principles) and proofs (from other Scriptural testimony) and then illustrating what has been proven. Uses or applications “sharpen” the truth and make it relevant as it pierces “the minds of those present with the stirring up of godly affections.” Preaching, then, must not “be dead, but alive and effective,” so that even an unbeliever may be seized by the preaching. Application consoles the oppressed and exhorts or admonishes the failing. Consolation either takes away or lessens grief and fear to encourage the hearer that he or she shares in the benefits that comfort the consciences of believers. In the “pious and troubled mind,” contrary thoughts are thus “dispelled and refuted.” Exhortation “excites some inward virtue or furthers the exercise of it,” while admonition seeks to “correct some viciousness” with remedies found from the most effective passages. “They sin, therefore,” said Ames, “who stick to the naked finding and explanation of the truth” by neglecting application. Such preachers “edify the conscience little or not at all.” They also sin who “care little about what they say” apart from the fact that they have thought and spoken about many things as they squeeze “many things out of the text” making it say what they want. Preaching must also not involve a “show of human wisdom” but “the demonstration of the Spirit” for the purpose of “building up” faith in God. Otherwise, “it is as useless as hay and stubble.” Simply put, preaching without application is not preaching. The church today needs to pay close attention to this. Human testimonies should be at a minimum and  used only “on the rare occasions” when it seems most beneficial and “much less should words or sentences in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew be used which the people do not understand.” In general, anything that smacks of human wisdom must be avoided. Simply put, the pulpit is no place to show people how clever you are.
Concerning delivery, Ames advises that speech and gestures should be “completely spiritual, flowing from the very heart” and with “zeal, charity, mildness, freedom, and humility mixed with solemn authority.” Pronunciation should be “natural, familiar, clear, and distinct so that it can be easily understood” and without dramatic pauses and accelerations of speech. “The power of the Holy Spirit more clearly appears in the naked simplicity of words, than in elegance and luster.” Still, if anyone possesses “forcefulness in speaking he ought to use it with genuine directness.”
So, preachers, listen well to what Ames has to say: Preach the Word in “naked simplicity” not “naked finding,” teach it, and apply it, naturally not mechanically and all in the power of the Spirit for the good of your hearers.
Lewis Bayly (1575-1631) was born around 1575 at Carmarthen, Wales, where Thomas Bayly, who probably was his father, was serving as curate at that time. Bayly secured the living of Shipston-on-Stour, in Worcestershire, in 1597, and three years later was presented to the crown living of Evesham in the same county, where he served as headmaster of the grammar school. Bayly soon became known for his preaching and so was appointed a chaplain to Prince Henry within a few years of the accession of King James. In 1606, he was presented to the rectory of Llanedi, Carmarthenshire, but remained largely at Evesham. Though he was a conformed Calvinist who respected the authority of the church, Bayly had emphases in common with the Puritans. Shortly after his wife passed away in 1608, in addition to his royal duties, he began to work on turning some of his sermons into what would become a Protestant classic, The Practice of Piety (see below).
In 1611, Bayly became treasurer of St. Paul’s Cathedral. In that same year, he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oxford and a doctorate in divinity in 1613. About that time, he succeeded Henry Mason at St. Matthew’s Friday Street in London. He was made prebendary of Lichfield in 1614 and, two years later, chaplain to the king. In December 1616, he was consecrated as bishop of Bangor, a position he held until his death. 
Bayly’s Puritan convictions occasioned frequent conflict both at court and in his remote diocese of North Wales. In 1621, he was imprisoned for several months for his opposition to the Book of Sports. Fresh charges, endorsed by Archbishop William Laud, were brought against him in 1626 but resulted in nothing more than continued harassment. In 1630, Bayly was accused of ordaining clergy who had not fully accepted the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. He successfully defended himself. He died in October 1631, survived by his wife and four sons.
The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian Walk, that He May Please God. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this classic Protestant work was one of the most universally read English devotional books after John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan himself traced the beginning of his spiritual convictions to the reading of Bayly’s handbook. One Puritan pastor even complained that his flock regarded the devotional as equally authoritative as the Bible. 
First published in the early 1600s (probably 1611), The Practice of Piety was reprinted in 1612 in an amplified form. By 1643 it had reached its thirty-fourth English edition; by 1714, its fifty-first English edition; by 1792, its seventy-first English edition. In 1842, Grace Webster produced an edition with biographical notes. Throughout these centuries, The Practice of Piety has been translated in most European languages, including Dutch (1620), French (1625), Welsh (1629), German (1629), Polish (1647), and Romansch (1668). New England Puritans even translated it into the language used by Native Americans in Massachusetts (1665).
The Practice of Piety is filled with scriptural and practical guidelines on the pursuit of holy living. The author begins his work with “a plain description of God [in] his essence, person, and attributes.” This doctrine is the basis for piety; every grace that sinners need springs from the gracious character of God. Bayly arranges his work around the two destinies of mankind. We are either traveling the broad way to destruction or by divine grace are on the narrow way leading to life eternal. The unrepentant sinner has misery as his constant companion in infancy, in youth, and especially in adulthood and the later years of life. From the tragic scene of hell as a bottomless lake reserved for those who die unregenerate, Bayly turns to the unspeakable glories of heaven. Stressing the necessity of true faith and holy living, he concludes: “Get forthwith the oil of piety in the lamp of thy conversation, that thou mayest be in continual readiness to meet the bridegroom.” The rest of the book explains how to attain and maintain readiness for Christ’s second advent. Bayly shows how to overcome seven obstacles: wrong teaching, the bad example of prominent persons, God’s patience in delaying a sinner’s punishment, presuming upon God’s mercy, ungodly company, the fear of piety (as if it made its possessors depressed), and the illusion of a long life. Bayly then stresses how piety is to be cultivated, offering wise advice on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible-reading, meditation, psalm-singing, Sabbath-keeping, stewardship, the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper, and walking daily with God. He shows how to guide our thoughts, words, and actions in times of health as well as times of sickness and affliction. He provides directives to protect us from despair and the fear of death. In short, this is a book about how to live godly and die well.
Bayly’s book, which has been credited as a fundamental influence in the rise of pietism, is not without shortcomings. It lacks a strong evangelical emphasis, and consequently says little on how one becomes a Christian. At places, it tends to foster the type of introspective meditation that leads to the very melancholy he sought to avoid.

The word "Anglicanism" is a slippery one. In the nineteenth century, the “high church” Oxford Movement tried to invent this idea that the Church of England was a nice middle way (a via media) between Rome and Geneva. Not Catholicism, not Calvinism, but Anglicanism. A nice, moderate, compromise sort of church in continuity with the Catholic Church but reformed (small "r") of a few Medieval abuses and Roman silliness. This is a nineteenth century fabrication of course, reliant on some strange historical reconstructions and bizarre readings of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, invented by people like John Henry Newman (1801-1890)—who, you may recall, clearly loved Anglicanism so much he became a Roman Catholic and was made a Cardinal!

I heard a Cambridge history professor recently (lamenting the recent death of the great Patrick Collinson) say that we really need to move beyond the strange idea that Puritans were not part of the Church of England, but some kind of external, foreign-inspired invaders. They were not; many of the great names we celebrate and “meet” on this blog were in fact ordained Anglican ministers. (I’m sorry if that upsets, shocks, or offends anyone...!) I am of the view that the Church of England is, historically-speaking, not some special “third way” between Protestants and Catholics, but another branch of the international Protestant Reformed church. That’s how most people saw it in the 16th and 17th centuries (and beyond). Historians like Patrick Collinson, Nicholas Tyacke, and Anthony Milton have established this “Calvinist Consensus” view carefully and solidly. The C of E is Reformed—not Catholic. It is Reformed—not Lutheran. It is Reformed—not Arminian. I think that’s pretty clear from reading the Thirty-Nine Articles in their historical context, and from reading the (perhaps surprisingly) Reformed writings of early modern Church of England theologians and bishops.

Ah yes, we have bishops. That’s a difference of course, from most Continental Reformed churches. But other Reformed communities had bishops too, so we’re not unique. And others who didn’t have them, but some kind of Presbyterianism instead, sometimes wished they did. (And if I may be permitted a little contemporary observation—some Presbyterians and Baptists who claim they don’t have bishops, really do, don’t they? In all but name).

So if you hear or read someone say ”Anglicanism” was invented in the nineteenth century by the Oxford Movement, or by the bitter bishops who swept back into power in 1660 with Charles II, blow a raspberry at them. It goes back further than that! The word "Anglican" was in use from at least the end of the 16th century precisely to describe the English manifestation of the international Reformed movement. Our beloved Puritans were a part of that wider current. There is even a reference in a 1616 book called Tessaradelphus by Thomas Harrab to “Anglianism”—which antedates the usual references to “Anglicanism” by a few centuries, well before Cardinal Newman was even a twinkle in his father’s eye. Harrab says, “I call the religion of England Anglianisme, because it among the rest hath no one especial author, but is set forth by the Prince and Parliament.” In other words, it is the Reformed Church of the English nation, not just of one man (Calvin, Luther, or Cranmer).

All the current Oxford English Dictionaries references to "Anglicanism" start in the nineteenth century, so this takes it back more than 200 years (though yes, I have noticed there’s a "c" missing—but is that a problem?). It also contradicts the usual line trotted out in the Anglican literature I've read, that this term is a 19th century invention. Anglican and Anglical were both used in the early days of the Reformation to describe religion here in this green and pleasant land, so why not Anglianism too? Of course nowadays there are some who say Anglicanism is a glorious mixture of Catholic, Evangelical, and Liberal. Embrace the width! Love the balance! Celebrate the tension! It’s quite obvious that that is just a tendentious reconstruction based on current ecclesiastical politics though, and nothing to do with our historical foundations (or historic faith) at all. It’s abundantly clear which cuckoos in the nest benefit from this fictitious creation of “open, tolerant Anglicanism.”

But that’s another story.

We are at the second of our reading the Puritan Paperback, Sermons of the Great Ejection. This title is a collection of nine sermons recalls one of the great turning points in English Christianity—when two thousand ministers were deposed from the established Church in what was called “The Great Ejection.” The were unable for the sake of their conscience to conform to a series of Restoration Parliament laws of the Clarendon Code.
The second sermon in the collection is one preached by Thomas Brooks. In sharp contrast to last time’s Edmund Calmy, little is known of Brooks’ life except what he mentions in his writings. Brooks was ordained in 1640 serving for some years as a chaplain in the English Navy. He was made the rector of St. Margaret’s New Fish Street Hill near old London Bridge in 1652, serving there until the Ejection. He continued to preach in London, for some reason not suffering persecution like his colleagues. He remained in London during the Great Plague to minister to his parish even as other conforming ministers fled the City. Sadly, his old parish church was the first destroyed in the Great Fire the following year. It is thought Wren deliberately omitted St. Margaret’s from his rebuild of the City churches so that Brook’s pastoral base would be purged. Of all the Anglican Puritan divines republished by the Victorians in the 1840-60’s, Brooks was the most popular. He communicates profound truths in a simple manner and can be easily read by young and old. If limited to the purchase of a few Anglican Puritan works, be sure to buy and read Brooks. Nothing is known of the external circumstances of his last sermon at St. Margaret’s except that Brooks and his parish knew that he would not be allowed to preach to them again. The sermon is organized in two parts.
Part 1
The first part answers the question of the day: Why would men be in such opposition to the plain, consciencious preaching of the gospel? Brooks sets out the biblical position concerning man’s rebellion and his hatred of God. The second and third questions ask what are the personal and national consequences when the proclamation of the gospel is removed? Brooks does not pull any punches here and is worth a careful meditative study by today’s reader in light current events. Be encouraged by Brooks’ conclusion to this section: “When it is the nearest day, then it is the darkest. There may be an hour of darkness that may be upon the gospel, as to its liberty, purity, and glory; and yet there may be a sunshining day ready to tread on the heels of it” (p. 43).
Part 2
Brook’s second part is his “legacies” or parting thoughts for his congregation when he was no longer at liberty to teach them. I have spent the longest with the tenth:
Labour mightily for a healing spirit. Away with all discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm to heal your wounds. Labour for a healing spirit. Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous. God has made His wrath to smoke against us for the divisions and heart-burnings that have been amongst us. Labour for oneness in love and affection with every one that is one with Christ. Let their forms be what they will, that which wins most upon Christ’s heart should win most upon ours, and that is His own grace and holiness. The question should be, What of the Father, what of the Son, what of the Spirit shines in this or that person? And accordingly let your love and affections run out (p. 46).
Clearly the caricature of Anglican Puritans as divisive is just that, a caricature. Rather they longed for the day when gathered into our heavenly Father’s bosom there will no longer be need of ordinances, of preaching or of prayer. They longed for that everlasting rest in sweet union with their Savior that shaped their days and their actions, as we read here in Thomas Brooks.
We began last time looking at James Durham’s essay, "Concerning Ministerial Qualifications." The post ended with the thought that “it is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus.” Nevertheless gifts are necessary, and Durham in his essay outlined three things that are prerequisites “for the complete qualifying of a Minster”, namely, “Gifts, Learning and Grace”. He pithily noted that learning enables a man to manage his gifts and grace sanctifies both gifts and learning.
However, while talents are necessary Durham wisely noted again that faithful ministers have differing degrees of gifts, learning and grace and so he “intends not to [specify] any rigid measure or degree in any of them.” With this noted we move to the first qualification Durham considers: “gifts.”
The Source of Ministerial Gifts
Durham stated that the gifts necessary for the ministry are “a fitness given by God, whereby one is capacitated for such a calling.” This means that man cannot make a minster. Yes the extent of gifts can be “improved” and “increased” but these gifts cannot be attained by “pains, skill or art” in themselves. The source of ministerial gifts is God, and in particular the risen and ascended Christ. Durham cited as proof Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12 & 14, 1 Timothy 4:14, and 2 Timothy 1:6.
The Gift of Aptness to Teach
The gift that Durham focused on was “aptness to teach” (διδακτικός; 1 Tim. 3:2). This ability to teach could be subdivided into two distinct gifts: 1) the gift of knowledge and 2) the gift of utterance. The gift of knowledge meant the “capacity to discern and conceive the things of God with some distinctness.” This is what Paul prayed for Timothy to have in 2 Timothy 2:7, “not as to a Christian simply, but at to a Minister.” But an understanding of the truths of scripture itself would be useless to a minister, unless they also possessed the ability to communicate those truths. Thus there had to be giftedness to “express and bring forth, for the edification of others, what they had conceived themselves.”
Not the Enticing Words of Man’s Wisdom
Durham was keen to ensure that this later gift of “utterance” was not confused with “the Rhetoric and eloquence of men.” True gospel preaching consisted in a “gift, and energy, or efficacy” which was distinct from mere oratory. To drive home this point Durham turned to 1 Corinthians 4:19 and its distinction between “word” and “power.” The “corrupt teachers at Corinth … abounded in human eloquence” and yet were “far from that power and life which a native ministerial gift hath with it.”
Now Durham was far from depreciating what he had already designated a key ministerial gift, the ability to communicate well. But he was keen to emphasise that communicating the gospel required a spiritual power. The gospel was to be communicated with “plain simplicity” rather than trusting in “human eloquence.” It was the simple truth of the word of God that would leave a mark on hearers if that truth was preached in “the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and Power” (1 Cor. 2:4). This gift of “simple” preaching in reliance on God alone would make hearers say “doubtless God is here” (1 Cor. 14:25). It was this spiritual gift, above all others, that qualified the minister as one gifted in gospel teaching.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that Durham cites John Calvin, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Robert Boyd in the course of his discussion that there is a “power” in preaching beyond rhetoric. Durham didn’t just cite his own particular brand of Scottish Presbyterians but looked to the wider Reformed tradition. If we are spiritual disciples of the Puritans (and I hope we are!) then we should, like them, read widely in the Reformed tradition.
All Things to All Men
A further element of “aptness in teaching” lay in a message which was tailored to speak to various kinds of individuals. The minister had to avoid “strengthening the wicked” and also avoid “making the righteous sad.” As such the message preached had to aim on the one had at humbling proud impenitent sinners but also to comfort God’s people and bring encouragement to them. The ability to do this demonstrated, for Durham, “true learning.”
The final element Durham mentions relating to the gift of teaching is that ability to preach with “authority.” He noted that the “Chief Pastor” of the church preached with great power and authority (Matt. 7:29). And so as ambassadors of the risen Christ, gospel ministers had to be able also to preach in such a way that the truth proclaimed was evidently the truth of God. This was a gift “given of God” where the Spirit accompanied preaching and brought it home to hearts and consciences.
Who is sufficient for these things? Thanks be to God that “our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).  Pray for your ministers that trusting in God’s sufficiency they will continue to exhibit the “aptness to teach” Durham speaks of.