Category Archives: Jeremiah Burroughs
Jeremiah Burroughs (c. 1600–1646) was an outstanding Puritan preacher and writer. He wrote the following in his book Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, a quote that made its way inside a very good new biography on the man by Phillip Simpson, A Life of Gospel Peace (RHB, 2011):
Rejoice in the good of others, though it eclipses your light, though it makes your parts, your abilities, and your excellencies dimmer in the eyes of others. Were it not for the eminence of some above you, your parts perhaps would shine more brightly and be of high esteem. Yet to rejoice in this from the heart, to bless God from the soul for His gifts and graces in others, that His name may be glorified more by others than I can glorify it myself; to be able to truly say, ‘Though I can do little, yet blessed be God there are some who can do more for God than I, and in this I do and will rejoice’—this is indeed to be able to do much more than others. This shows a great eminence of spirit.
Speaking of my appreciation for the grace-centeredness of Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), I am especially attracted to this comment he makes in his commentary on Hosea (republished last year by RHB). Take note of his biblical references (and don’t miss the final sentence):
“In one word, God is the author of all good, by his grace working it; the permitter of all evil, by his patience enduring it; the orderer and disposer of both, by his mercy rewarding the one, by his justice revenging the other, and by his wisdom directing both to the ends of his eternal glory.
This serves to discover the free and sole working of grace in our first conversion and the continued working of grace in our further sanctification. Whatsoever is good in us habitually, as grace inhering, or actually, as grace working, is from him alone as its author. For though it be certain, that when we will and do ourselves are agents, yet it is still under and from him. By grace we are what we are and do what we do in God’s service.
1. By grace our minds are enlightened to know and believe him; for spiritual things ‘are spiritually discerned’ (Jer. 31:33, Matt. 11:27, 1 Cor. 2:12-14).
2. By grace our hearts are inclined to love and obey him; for spiritual things are spiritually approved. He only, by his almighty and ineffable operation, works in us both right perceptions and good desires (Jer. 32:39, John 6:44).
3. By grace our lives are enabled to work what our hearts love; without which, though we should will, yet we cannot perform, no more than the knife which has a good edge is able actually to cut, till moved by the hand (Rom. 7:18, Phil. 2:13, Heb. 13:20-21).
4. By grace our good works are carried on to perfection. Adam, wanting [lacking] the grace of perseverance, fell from innocence itself. It is not sufficient for us that he prevent and excite us to will, that he cooperate and assist us to work, except he continually follow and supply us with a residue of spirit to perfect and finish what we set about. All our works are begun, continued, and ended in him (1 Thes. 5:23, 1 Pet. 5:10, Jude 1:24, John 17:15).
5. Lastly, by grace our perseverance is crowned; for our best works could not endure the trial of justice, if God should enter into judgment with us (Ps. 143:2, Isa. 64:6). Grace enables us to work, and grace rewards us for working. Grace begins and grace finishes both our faith and salvation (Phil. 1:6, Heb. 12:2). The work of holiness is nothing but grace, and the reward of holiness is nothing but grace for grace.”
- Jeremiah Burroughs in An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea (RHB: 2006) p. 624.
This weekend, spend some time meditating on God’s amazing grace and our freedom in Him.
A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness
by Jeremiah Burroughs
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) is one of my favorite Puritan authors and (I dare say) one of the most overlooked.
In his extensive writings, Burroughs authored a very helpful book on discerning worldliness in a book now titled A Treatise on Earthly -Mindedness. It was retypeset and edited by Don Kistler and published in 1991 by Soli Deo Gloria.
Burroughs builds his argument from Paul’s sobering ‘enemies of the Cross’ statement — “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:19-20).
Burroughs first discerns the seriousness and dangers of worldly thinking (pp. 3-92). His goal in this first section is to call this earthly-mindedness what it really is – adultery, idolatry and enmity. This earthly-mindedness suffocates the work of grace, opens the soul to further temptations (1 Tim. 6:9), stifles the hearing of preaching, breeds foolish lusts in the soul, spreads roots for future apostasy, deadens the heart for prayer, dishonors God, hinders our preparations for death, and ultimately drowns the soul into perdition.
The second section covers the implications of our citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and is filled with helpful practical advice on to living as foreigners in our sojourning through life on earth (pp. 93-178). This theme continues in the final section which helps discern what walking with God looks like in everyday life (pp. 179-259). The final chapter contains very useful wisdom on walking with God when His presence seems distant (pp. 254-259).
Throughout his works, Burroughs avoided a common Puritan pitfall. The Puritans frequently narrowed in so tightly on a particular topic that surrounding contexts and connections were forgotten. It’s not uncommon to read a Puritan on the topic of sin continue on and on without any mention of the Cross, God’s grace, and living in freedom and victory over sin. Even some of the great Puritan classics (such as the works of Richard Baxter and The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal) woefully assume the Cross.
Burroughs is quite the opposite. He’s hardly begun a lengthy diagnosis of worldliness in the heart before breaking into a short digression on the glorious work of grace in conversion (pp. 29-30)! This work of God transforms enemies of the Cross into those who now have quickened souls. Those once veiled by sin and blinded by the world now see the light of God’s glory! We are new creatures, creatures no longer content with worldliness but now transcending the circumstances of the world and clinging to eternal hope. This new life enlarges our heart and our spiritual appetite becomes so large that no earthly means could fill it. This grace severs our grip on the world, and we begin to experience God’s sanctifying grace in our souls. For Burroughs, even when discovering the depth and darkness of sinfulness in the heart, God’s grace is ever in view.
With careful pastoral balance, Burroughs encourages us to pursue excellence in our earthly calling, while exhorting us to carefully avoid the snares of worldly-mindedness.
“Considering what has been delivered, I beseech you, lay it seriously upon your heart, especially you who are young beginners in the way of religion, lest it proves to be with you as it has with many who are digging veins of gold and silver underground. While they are digging in those mines for riches, the earth, many times, falls upon them and buries them, so that they never come up out of the mine again. … Keep wide open some place to heaven, or otherwise, if you dig too deep, noxious gas vapors will come up from the earth, if it doesn’t fall on you first. There will be noxious gas vapors to choke you if there is not a wide hole to let in the air that comes from heaven to you. Those who are digging in mines are very careful to leave a place open for fresh air to come in. And so, though you may follow your calling and do the work God sets you here for as others do, be as diligent in your calling as any. But still keep a passage open to heaven so that there may be fresh gales of grace come into your soul” (p. 85).
Fitting of Burrough’s classic, Soli Deo Gloria published A Treatise on Earthly -Mindedness with an attractive dust-jacketed, durable cloth cover and Smyth-sewn binding. It’s an excellent work for those of us who sometimes find ourselves surrounded by the cares of this world, asphyxiating on temporal toxins rather than breathing fresh grace.
Title: A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness
Author: Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)
Editor: Don Kistler
Reading level: 2.0/5.0 > easy thanks to excellent editing (includes nice section and subpoint headings)
Boards: hardcover, embossed
Dust jacket: yes
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: white and clean
Topical index: no (would have been very useful)
Scriptural index: no (would have been very useful)
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Ligonier; Soli Deo Gloria
Year: original ed., 1649; edited ed., 1991
Price USD: $18.00 from Ligonier
The Gospel Life Series by Jeremiah Burroughs
As we have already discovered, Jeremiah Burroughs [1599-1646] was a first-rate bible expositor. His massive commentary on the book of Hosea is wonderful proof of this (we reviewed this commentary earlier this Summer).
However, unlike most of the Puritans recommended in our Puritan Study Series, Burroughs’ collected works do not exist. His works are largely scattered around, and for the purposes of the Puritan study, we will have to piece his works together.
But one of the easiest ways to collect six of his books comes in a series published by Soli Deo Gloria titled, The Gospel Life Series.
These six volumes were not intended by Burroughs to be a set, though because the word “Gospel” occurs in all six, editor Don Kistler saw that they were all linked together in a common theme. Kistler re-typeset the volumes, updated the spelling, and edited for length. “I do not believe that any of Burroughs’ thoughts have been altered. I have tried to remain faithful to his words as well as to his intent throughout this edition” (3:v ).
The result is a series that covers the various facets of the Christian life, is easy to read, and will appeal to a larger community of readers than just Puritan nerds like me. This year, the sixth and final volume of the series was released.
Vol. 1: Gospel Worship (1648/1990). In 14 sermons on Leviticus 10:3 (“Among those who are near me I will be sanctified”) Burroughs shows that we honor God when we draw near to Him in worship, in preparing for worship, in hearing the Word preached, in receiving the sacraments, and in prayer.
Vol. 2: Gospel Fear (1647/1991). In 7 sermons on Isaiah 66:2 (“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word”) and 2 Kings 22:19, Burroughs encourages us to cultivate a tender heart by cultivating a healthy fear of God.
Vol. 3: Gospel Conversation (1648/1995). Not conversation as in speech only, but the Puritan concept of conversation – of work, family, fellowship and all-around general conduct. Here are ten sermons to help us live the Cross-centered life. Most of the sermons are based upon Philippians 1:27 (“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ”) and focus believers to be diligent in their walk. The Gospel must be the center of the Christian life, he argues.
Vol. 4: Gospel Revelation (1660/2006). In about 18 sermons, Burroughs explains the excellency of the eternal. God is excellent, Christ is excellent, and the nature of an eternal soul is excellent as well. It was here in the excellency of Jesus Christ (pages 51-182) that I came to a deep respect of Burroughs’ love for Christ. Truly, His name is called “Wonderful” (Isaiah 9:6). See “Example” below.
Vol. 5: Gospel Remission (1668 and 1674/1995). In 20 sermons Burroughs shows that the true blessedness of the human heart stems from the knowledge that God has perfectly pardoned my sin! The entire volume is built from Psalm 32:1 (“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven / whose sin is covered”). “There is nothing in all the world that so much concerns us as to know how things stand with us in relation to God and our souls, whether we are pardoned or not. A mistake in this is a wonderful mistake, and yet how many thousands are there who venture the weight of this great business upon poor, weak, and slight grounds, yea, rather, on mere suggestions of their own heart” (p. 175).
Vol. 6: Gospel Reconciliation (1657/1997). Here are 18 sermons on 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 covering the who, what, when, where and why of reconciliation of sinners to God. This volume is filled with excellent encouragement for pastors to remain earnest in their preaching of the Cross.
Each of these volumes shows Burroughs to be a man deeply concerned that Christians live diligent Cross-centered lives. But, as with the great experiential preachers, there is a parallel theme of evangelism as well.
The litmus test of all preachers and writers is this: Are they passionate about the beauty of Jesus Christ? Are they overwhelmed with His preciousness? Are they distracted with duties or are they first centered around a Man?
Burroughs argues that Jesus Christ is beautiful for 13 reasons (!): He is beautiful in His natures, Person, incarnation, His earthly works, His offices, endowments, miracles, as the revelation of God’s glory, in His humiliation, His conquest, exaltation, in the wonder of the saints towards Him, and in His eternal glory (4:59). Yes, Burroughs passes the test.
But he is not content that readers just admit they understand Christ’s greatness, but that they feel Christ’s greatness. He writes,
“When you ask your children what Christ was, you teach them that He was both God and man. Aye, but I appeal to you, when were your hearts taken with this as the greatest wonder in the world…” (4:61)?
It would be inconsistent to believe and not feel the power of the incarnation. After an exposition of Ephesians 1:17-18 and 3:14-20 he writes,
“Oh, what a shame it is that those who profess themselves to be Christian should understand so little of Jesus Christ! God expects that we should study the gospel, search into the gospel, so that we may see more of Christ. And the more we see, the more still we shall wonder; for Christ is an infinite depth, and the more we search into Him, the more we shall see cause to wonder … What I would especially observe is that Christians should not content themselves with a little knowledge of Christ, but they should labor to comprehend what is the length, breadth, depth, and height; they should labor to dive into the mysteries of the gospel” (4:171,173).
It is diving into the mysteries of the Gospel that sanctifies the heart. In other words, the Gospel is central to the Christian’s life!
“We should study Christ, and praise and bless God, and have our hearts enlarged for Jesus Christ. This is the duty of believers to whom God has revealed Christ as wonderful, that in their conversations they should hold out the wonderful glory of Jesus Christ. You should so walk before men as to manifest to all the world that your Savior is a wonderful Savior” (4:177).
All of these volumes contain such God-glorifying and Cross-centered experiential exhortations for the Christian.
On the down side, there are no indexes in this series and they are not well-indexed in Martin either. So to use these volumes effectively will require some time. Soli Deo Gloria (and any Puritan publisher that does not include indexes) should consider releasing an electronic version of this set for those who purchase the printed set. This would prove very useful to exegetes like myself who need to sift through the volumes quickly.
For now, preachers who want to use Burroughs in sermon preparations will need to become familiar with the contents of each volume. The detailed contents pages in each volume will help much here.
The bottom line is this: The Gospel Life series is an exceptionally good resource of Puritan exposition. After 350 years, Burroughs still speaks powerfully through these volumes.
The publisher boasts that this book has a shelf life of 200-300 years. But even more important, Dr. Kistler’s editing of the text will make Burroughs accessible to readers for at least another 350. An excellent Puritan resource!
Boards: clothbound, hardcover (grey, gilded)
Dust jackets: yes (once again, beautiful covers from SDG)
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: acid-free; normal
Text: edited, updated, perfect type
Topical Index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Textual index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Biography: yes (very short; end of Gospel Remission)
Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria
Price USD: $140.00 / $91.00 from publisher
ISBNs: 187761131x, 1877611913, 1573580147, 1877611123, 1567690696, 1573580422
Click on pictures for larger image.
Not pictured – Manton on CD, Bunyan 3 vol. works, Goodwin works, Reynolds works and volumes 3-12 of the Boston works. Each day the full sets are coming together.
UPDATED 10/3 … new pictures
Works of Edward Reynolds
(Soli Deo Gloria)
Works of Thomas Goodwin
(Reformation Heritage Books)
Part 5: Print book searches
We have spoken much about the Puritan literature; today we begin looking at real research. In the next post we will specifically cover e-Puritan searches, but today we are concerned with using printed Puritans.
One of the most important resources available to the Puritan researcher are the printed indexes. This is true in both the works of a single author and in the Puritan index by Robert Martin (A Guide to the Puritans).
There are two reasons why Puritan Thomas Manton is my homeboy. First, his sermons are filled with rich exposition and pastoral warmth. When I really need a quote to convey a deeper truth, Manton is my source. And second, whoever edited his complete works did an incredible job (and an incredible service to preachers today) by including a detailed index. His 22-volume works (available on CD-Rom) conclude with over 300 pages of textual and topical indexes! A dream for the researcher.
But Manton is not alone. The Complete Works of John Bunyan, Thomas Brooks, John Flavel and Richard Sibbes all come with excellent topical indexes.
As an aside, I was speaking with a close friend recently who admitted that keeping a list of quotations was very difficult for him. One of the great difficulties to making an effective index of quotations is an inability to view an individual quote within the big framework. Some will read a quote about the power of the Cross without thinking how it would be properly indexed (ex. Christ > the Cross > effects of > power in believer).
To me, this is why the Puritans are liberating. Once you determine the general content of your sermon, you can go searching for great quotations! Surrounding yourself with quality Puritan literature will lessen the importance of a lengthy quote index.
As another example, I don’t have many quotations indexed on the sobering topic of God’s eternal judgment upon sinners. And I don’t need to. All I need to remember is that Jonathan Edwards preached a few incredible sermons (like Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) and John Bunyan preached another very quotable sermon on the same subject (A Few Sighs from Hell). Allow a little time to read and soak these sermons in and you will have all the quotes you could imagine on the subject.
This makes the topical Puritan index by Robert Martin, A Guide to the Puritans, especially important. Because while I knew that Edwards and Bunyan preached on the subject of God’s judgment, I was unaware that John Flavel (3:129-153), Thomas Boston (8:347-375) and Thomas Brooks (5:113-145) had also preached important sermons on the subject.
The wealth of Puritan sermons make personal quote indexes unnecessary.
Back to Psalm 16:11
As we began in Part 4, we are researching Psalm 16:11 as an example. And in studying our text we have three avenues of research open to us with these printed volumes.
(i) Primary text as sermon text. Of our 14 top Puritans, none preached sermons where Psalm 16:11 was their primary passage (Why not? I cannot say). If you are searching on a text and you find two or more sermons where your text is the primary text, you may have all the content necissary for your Puritan research. But our problem here is a common one. On Psalm 16:11 we will need to dig deeper.
(ii) Primary text as indexed text. I will use the scripture index from Manton as an example. If you look to the screenshot to the right you will see that Psalm 16:11 was a topic of concern for Manton throughout his ministry. We see this especially in the following works in the following places: (volume: printed page) 9:455; 12:474; 14:469; 15:400; 16:192; 19:236; 20:465; 22:19. And these references come from just one of our 14 Puritan friends.
(iii) Cross-reference text as sermon text. If you need more information from the cross-references, follow the steps for (ii) except with other texts like Ps. 36:8.
You can use these principles on any text or topic study. Just find the biblical passages and track down the references in the scripture index or look up the topic in the topic index. The printed editions of the Puritan works remain important for these indexes.
Now a few references from Manton that I found as a result of my research.
Manton, 9:455 – “What can be found in the creature is but a drop to the ocean in comparison of what a believer findeth in God himself. God is to them an overflowing fountain of all felicity … Here (in this life) it admits of increase and decrease; but there the soul is so filled that it cannot receive any more: Ps. xvii. 15, ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.’ … In heaven the soul shall be filled with unspeakable joy and delight. What delight is to the sense, that joy is to the mind. Three things are necessary to delight – a faculty, or power of the soul capable of pleasure; and then the thing itself; which being brought to the mind, doth stir up delight. As in bodily things, colors, fruits, tastes, pleasure consists in the near union and conjunction of these things. The more noble the faculty, the more excellent the object; the nearer the conjunction, the greater the delight and pleasure. Now in heaven our faculties are perfected: God is the subject, and there is a near conjunction. Oh! What embraces between him and the soul!”
Manton, 22:19 – “The tree of life is gone, when paradise was defaced by the flood; but God hath provided a better life by the death of his Son, that we should live for ever, both in body and soul, eternally in heaven. Nothing else be this deserveth to be called life. The bodily life is short; it is a dying life or a living death. It floweth from us as fast as it cometh to us; but this never fadeth, but endureth for ever. The bodily life is subject to pain and misery, but the heavenly, full of joy and endless glory. The bodily life is supported with meats and drinks, but there God is all in all. The bodily life is consistent with sin, but this life is pure and perfect” (references to 1 John 3:2, Jude 2-4 and Psalm 16:11).
The options of what we now do with the quotations will be the subject of a later post. My point here is to show that it took just five minutes to find these two references from the works of Manton. I have six others references remaining in the works of Manton and another 13 Puritans I have yet to open.
By using these printed scriptural and topical indexes, it should be obvious that Puritan sermons provide the valuable depth we need in our sermon preparation.
Next time … Part 6: Electronic searches.