The Heart Healed and Changed by Mercy

John Newton in Worthy is the Lamb

Sin enslaved me many years,

And led me bound and blind;

Till at length a thousand fears

Came swarming o’er my mind.

Where, I said in deep distress,

Will these sinful pleasures end?

How shall I secure my peace,

And make the Lord my friend?


Friends and ministers said much

The gospel to enforce;

But my blindness still was such,

I chose a legal course.

Much I fasted, watched, and strove,

Scare would show my face abroad;

Feared, almost, to speak or move,

A stranger still to God.


Thus, afraid to trust His grace,

Long time did I rebel;

Till, despairing of my case,

Down at His feet I fell.

Then my stubborn heart He broke,

And subdued me to His sway,

By a simple word he spoke,

“Thy sins are done away.”

Puritan Profile

Jeremiah Burroughs (c. 1600-1646)

Jeremiah Burroughs (or Burroughes) was baptized in 1601 and admitted as a pensioner at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1617. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1621 and a Master of Arts degree in 1624. His tutor was Thomas Hooker.

BURROUGHS-Jeremiah_1_detailBurroughs’s ministry falls into four periods, all of which reveal him as a zealous and faithful pastor. First, from about 1627 until 1631, he was assistant to Edmund Calamy at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Both men became members of the Westminster Assembly. Both men strongly opposed King James’s Book of Sports. Both refused to read the king’s proclamation in church that dancing, archery, vaulting, and other games were lawful recreations on the Lord’s Day.

Second, from 1631 to 1636, Burroughs was rector of Tivetshall, Norfolk, a church that still stands today. Despite the best efforts of his patron, Burroughs was suspended in 1636 and deprived in 1637 for refusing to obey the injunctions of Bishop Matthew Wren, especially regarding the reading of the Book of Sports, and the requirements to bow at the name of Jesus and to read prayers rather than speak them extemporaneously.

Third, from 1638 to 1640, Burroughs lived in the Netherlands, where he was teacher of a congregation of English Independents at Rotterdam, formerly ministered by William Ames. William Bridge was the pastor and Sidrach Simpson had established a second like-minded church in the city. Thus, three future dissenting brethren were brought together, all of whom would serve as propagandists for congregationalism later in the 1640s.

In the final period from 1640 to his death in 1646, Bur- roughs achieved great recognition as a popular preacher and a leading Puritan in London. He returned to England during the Commonwealth period and became pastor of two of the largest congregations in London: Stepney and St. Giles, Cripplegate. At Stepney, he preached early in the morning and became known as “the morning star of Stepney.” He was invited to preach be- fore the House of Commons and the House of Lords several times. Thomas Brooks called him “a prince of preachers.”

As a member of the Westminster Assembly, Burroughs sided with the Independents, but he remained moderate in tone, acting in accord with the motto on his study door: Opinionum varietas et opinantium unitas non sunt hasustata (“variety of opinion and unity of opinion are not incompatible”). Richard Baxter said, “If all the Episcopalians had been like Archbishop Ussher, all the Presbyterians like Stephen Marshall, and all the Independents like Jeremiah Burroughs, the breaches of the church would soon have been healed.”

In 1644, Burroughs and several colleagues presented to Parliament their Apologetical Narration, which defended Independency. It attempted to steer a middle course between Presbyterianism, which they regarded as too authoritarian, and Brownism, which they regarded as too democratic. This led to division between the Presbyterians and Independents. Burroughs served on the committee of accommodation, which tried to reconcile the differences, but on March 9, 1646, he declared on behalf of the Independents that presbyteries were “coercive institutions.” Burroughs said he would rather suffer or emigrate than submit to presbyteries. Ultimately, the division between Presbyterians and Independents helped promote the cause of prelacy after the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Burroughs pursued peace to the end. He died in 1646, two weeks after a fall from his horse. The last subject on which he preached became his Irenicum to the Lovers of Truth and Peace, an attempt to heal divisions between believers. Many of his friends believed that church troubles hastened his death.

Burroughs was a prolific writer, highly esteemed by Puritan leaders of his day, some of whom published his writings after his death. Nearly all of his books are compilations of sermons.


Books written by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory

Gospel Conversation

An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea

More –>

Discount on Commentary Series

GenBiblia Americana, 3 Vols.

Cotton Mathes

Retail Price: $299.99/ Our Price: $120.00

These works will be treasured by students of American church history, colonial-era Puritanism, Christian responses to the Enlightenment, American intellectual development, and the history of biblical interpretation. It is a must-have acquisition for research libraries covering these disciplines.


Volume 1: Genesis

Hardcover, 1360 pages

Retail Price: $99.00/ Our Price: $50.00

Cotton Mather, one of the leading intellectuals of colonial America, has often been overshadowed by his younger Puritan contemporary, Jonathan Edwards. Now, however, the publication of this first edition of Mather’s magnum opus in the area of biblical knowledge focuses fresh attention on early New England’s second most prodigious intellect. Mather’s commentary takes the form of questions and answers on the whole biblical canon. The edition was prepared by an international team of experts in early American studies. This first volume introduces the project and offers Mather’s comments on Genesis.


joshVolume 3: Joshua – 2 Chronicles

Hardcover, 912 pages

Retail Price: $99.00/ Our Price: $50.00

This installment treats Mather’s engagement with the Historical Books. In just over 500 manuscript folio pages, Mather amassed some 1,250 entries on Joshua through Chronicles. Drawing on a dizzying array of classical, medieval, Reformation, post-Reformation, and contemporary sources from virtually every discipline, Mather explores, via the sacred historical texts, a host of issues, including idols and idolatry; parallels with “pagan antiquity”; the people of Israel’s rise, decline, and fall; and modern forms of infidelity. How can we explain Joshua’s making the sun stand still? What was the height of Goliath? Where were the Ten Tribes dispersed? How can we discriminate between prophets, seers, and discerners? How wealthy were David and Solomon? Mather provides a wealth of information about details in the biblical narrative and about the assumptions and state of scholarship in his own day that is illuminating and instructive.


ezraVolume 4: Ezra–Psalms

Hardcover, 896 pages

Retail Price: $99.00/ Our Price: $50.00

This volume offers Mather’s comments on Ezra-Psalms and includes extensive annotations and critical notes. Mather’s commentary takes the form of questions and answers on the biblical canon. Mather links biblical history to secular history, analyzes the problem of suffering and evil in creation, and considers the Psalms both as Hebrew poetry and as Christian prophecy. In his annotations on Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, he explores topics that range from the philosophical underpinnings of international law to court customs in the Persian Empire to the uneven progress of the reformations attempted by Ezra and Nehemiah. In Job, Mather turns to questions of theodicy and natural philosophy. The Psalms commentary shows his linguistic acumen and his formidable skill as a Christian Hebraist as well as his sensitivity to difficult matters of hermeneutics. Throughout, he displays the lively wit, curious intellect, and compassionate nature that made him one of the most popular ministers of the colonial period.

Author   Cotton Mather (1663-1728), trained at Harvard and ordained in 1685, was a Puritan pastor and scholar in Boston.

Endorsements  “The appearance of Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana is a major publishing event. For the first time, the tremendous scope and knowledge of this significant American figure will become evident through this massive work of biblical and philosophical interpretation of Scripture. Mather’s unique approach displays his familiarity with contemporary hermeneutical debates and reactions to emerging critical methods and discoveries. Now more than ever, the magnificence of Mather’s learning will be displayed. This project makes accessible a major work in American colonial hermeneutics that will be read with great appreciation by many scholars and by all interested in the history of biblical interpretation.”–Donald K. McKim, editor, Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith

“The publication of the Biblia Americana will vault Cotton Mather into a new frame of intellectual reference, placing him firmly within the Atlantic commentarial tradition and positioning him alongside such celebrated synoptic commentators on Scripture as Matthew Poole and Matthew Henry. The range and erudition evident in Mather’s exegesis of the Bible promise to undermine stereotypes that fixate on his reflections triggered by the witchcraft trials and to demonstrate the astonishing breadth of his knowledge documented in the commentary. The exegetical dimension of Mather’s professional life has been overlooked for too long. This edition will correct that oversight and open a new chapter in Mather studies.”–Stephen J. Stein, Chancellor’s Professor, emeritus, department of religious studies, Indiana University


Review of Sam R. Williams in The Journal of Biblical Counseling

developmentCameron Fraser’s book offers a brief history of biblical counseling, but it is more than that. It is also a personal account of his journey to reconcile the seminal insights of Jay Adams with his own experience as a counselor, and with his understanding of the Puritans’ approach to personal ministry. He writes comfortably, bringing the clarity and descriptive skill of a good journalist to bear in this short book.

Developments in Biblical Counseling serves the counseling community well as a kind-hearted editorial on the contours and tensions in the contemporary biblical counseling movement. Its concise history of biblical counseling fairly describes the seminal distinctives formulated by Jay Adams, and then advanced by the 2.0 generation. It grapples straightforwardly with the perennial epistemological and anthropological challenges that all counselors must sort out: Are people and their problems simple or complex? Can we learn from psychology? How does the sufficiency of Scripture work out in our counseling model and it practice?

Who should read this book? Anyone who is interested in seeing biblical counseling continue to develop can benefit by listening to a thoughtful assessment from a sympathetic observer/participant. Biblical counseling is not a finished product. It is an unfolding project, because practical theological wisdom needs to develop.

Friday Devotional

I will…bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortable unto her. ­– Hosea 2:14

Most of us would prefer being taken to a palace with all its comforts rather than a wilderness with all its dangers. But here God promises His people a wilderness which is full of comforts – comforts that cannot be enjoyed in any place.

God was promising Israel that they would be conquered and taken captive by foreign powers as a punishment for sin. This was to be a wilderness experience with many dangers and sufferings. The people would be hungry, harmed, far away from home, and especially far away from God and His Temple. Surely nothing good could come out of this! But wait; God says He “will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably to her.” He will combine the uncomfortable wilderness with comfortable words.

This was Israel’s experience in the wilderness of foreign exile. There, in the midst of their sin-caused sorrow, God spoke words of promise and hope to the repentant. How often this is the Christian’s experience. When we are in comfortable situations, we become increasingly deaf to God’s voice. We do not need to hear it, we think. So God brings us into the most uncomfortable situations in order to speak to us in a way we will hear.

You are told you have cancer. As you leave the clinic, you feel like you are in a waste-howling wilderness. You sense great danger. Fear of pain and death overwhelm you. A lonely path of surgery and chemotherapy stretches ahead of you. The world feels so bitterly cold and hostile. You get home and fall on your knees as you sob and cry out, “Lord! Lord! Help, help, help!” And there, in the midst of that wilderness moment, God begins to draw near. Comforting verses of Scripture begin to circulate in your mind and filter down to your troubled heart. As He soothes and reassures, you sense the intimate love of your heavenly Father. And, for moments, you think that this feels more like a palace than a wilderness.

If only it wasn’t always so necessary for us to be brought into the uncomfortable wilderness to desire and delight in God’s comfortable words!

Puritan Profiles

Robert Traill (1642-1716)

lord'sRobert Traill was born in 1642 in Elie, Fifeshire. His father, Robert, carefully supervised his son’s early education. The elder Traill served first as minister of Elie, then went to Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh, pastoring there with fidelity and zeal. During the Civil War, he enlisted as chaplain with the Scottish army in England. He was later imprisoned for seven months, then exiled for reminding Charles II at the Restoration of his obligation to keep the Covenant. In 1662, Traill fled to the Netherlands, leaving behind his God-fearing wife, Jean Annan, and six children. Three years later, Jean was imprisoned for corresponding with her exiled husband.

Meanwhile, young Robert Traill studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he was a good scholar. William Guthrie of Fenwick, author of The Christian’s Great Interest, became his mentor and close friend. At age nineteen, Traill was attendant to James Guthrie of Stirling, his father’s friend and Cromwell’s “short man who could not bow,” when Guthrie went to the scaffold. Traill served briefly as chaplain to the Scotstarvet family and spent some time with John Welsh, minister of Irongray, who was first to hold “armed conventicles,” i.e., spiritual fellowships where several attendees would bear arms to defend the group from arrest.

In 1666, agents of the prelatical party in Scotland discovered copies of the forbidden book An Apologetic Relation (1660) in the Traill home. The entire family was forced to become cautious. The crisis culminated during the Pentland Rising that same year, when young Traill was denounced as a “Pentland rebel.” Anticipating arrest, he fled to the Netherlands, where his father and other British divines were taking refuge from Stuart absolutism. Young Traill continued his theological studies there, assisting Matthias Nethenus, professor of divinity at Utrecht, and helping to prepare Samuel Ruther- ford’s Examination of Arminianism for print.

In 1669, young Traill returned to Britain and settled in London. The following year he was installed in a Presbyterian congregation in Cranbrook, Kent. In 1677, Traill was again arrested in Edinburgh, this time for preaching in private homes and assisting in conventicles. While imprisoned on the Bass Rock in Firth, he met James Fraser of Brea and Alexander Peden. He was released from prison a few months later and returned to his flock at Cranbrook. After a few years, he moved to a Scottish congregation in London, where he ministered for the remainder of his life. His Christ-centered approach to prayer and ministry is evident from his confession:

I have no name to come to God but in Christ. My own name is abominable to myself. No other name is given under heaven, but that of Jesus Christ, in which a sinner may safely approach unto God. Since the Father is well pleased with this name, and the Son commands me to ask in it, and the Holy Ghost hath brought this name to me, and made it as ointment poured forth (Song of Sol. 1:3), and since its savor hath reached my soul, I will try to lift it up as incense to perfume the altar enthroned above; since all that ever come in this name are made welcome, I will come also, having no plea but Christ’s name, no covering but His borrowed and gifted robe of righteousness. I need nothing, I will ask nothing, but what His blood hath bought (and all that I will ask); I will expect answers of peace and acceptance only in that blessed Beloved—beloved of the Father, both as His Son and our Savior, and beloved of all that ever saw but a little of His grace and glory.

In 1682, Traill published a powerful sermon, “By what means can ministers best win souls?” (on 1 Tim. 4:16), which is still a “must read for soul-winners” today. Later, he published Justification Vindicated (see below), Thirteen Sermons on the Throne of Grace (on Heb. 4:16) and Sixteen Sermons on the Prayer of Our Saviour (on John 17:24). These books went through numerous printings, becoming very popular among the evangelicals of succeeding generations.

Traill died in 1716, at age seventy-four. He was a great contributor to the Puritan age; his name is linked to the best in Scotch, Dutch, and English Puritan traditions. – Meet the Puritans


Books by Robert Traill

Justification Vindicated – Puritan Paperbacks

Works of Robert Trail, 4 Vols.

The Lord’s Prayer for His People

Book Review

supperRyan M. Mcgraw reviews The Lord’s Supper and the ‘Popish Mass’.

Cornelis Venema’s book is well informed historically. He introduces the context of the Heidelberg Catechism generally and of question 80 on the Lord’s Supper versus the ‘Popish mass’ in particular. Historical context often serves as a two-edged sword. Without it we are liable to misunderstand historic creeds, such as the Heidelberg Catechism. However, some appeal to historical context to make sharp statements like this one appear outdated or irrelevant. Anyone studying a historic confession must ask at least two questions of any of its teachings: What does it mean, and, Is it biblical? Venema provides us with a good model by answering these two questions distinctly and clearly.

Reformed confessions such as the Heidelberg Catechism continue to be relevant to the church today. Times have changed but people have not and truth has not. Just as we still draw the Nicene Creed to help us understand the Trinity so we can draw from the Heidelberg Catechism to understand the Lord’s Supper. While historic creeds are not the last word on our understanding of Scripture, they should at least remain the first word in modern discussions. Venema shows us how to do this well. – Banner of Truth Reviews

God’s Call to Turn

Taken from the first chapter of Turn and Live by Nathaniel Vincent.

Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? – Ezekiel 33:11

Vincent_cover__04413.1448638386.1280.1280It is not easy to discern whether man displayed greater foolishness in departing from God at first, or whether his folly is now more inexcusable in refusing to return to Him. At first, Adam knew by blessed experience how good it was to be near his Maker, to enjoy the light of His countenance in the state of innocence; and yet Adam turned his back on God and decided to depart from his Creator. As a result, mankind now feels the effects of this apostasy, for he experiences various miseries, calamities, and vexations; and yet how difficult it is to persuade him to come back again to God! How easily are people induced to yield to Satan, desiring, as it were, to give themselves into the hands of a murderer. But when the Lord, besides whom there is no Savior, repeatedly and earnestly calls, He often calls in vain. People’s hearts are dull, their ears deaf, and they refuse to acknowledge Him.

We can never sufficiently lament that sin has made many madmen in the world. Life and death, blessing and curse are set before them, but men choose death before life. The most astonishing and intolerable curses are embraced, while permanent blessings of the highest nature are rejected. Thus, the Lord reasons not only in reference to sin, but in reference to punishment. In His appeal to the “house of Israel,” He not only asks why they dare to transgress His law but also asks why they are so ready to die.

At the beginning of Ezekiel 33, the Lord appoints Ezekiel as a watchman over the house of Israel. He is commanded to lift up his voice when he sees the revenging sword drawn and ready to cut off the ungodly. Unless the watchman calls to the wicked to turn and live, he is an accessory to their death. If he does not warn, their blood will be required at his hand. Commissioned by God, the watchman is commanded to stop the mouths of evildoers who cavil against their Maker and, in effect, foolishly charge God.

It is apparent that there was disagreement about who should be blamed for the destruction of sinners. The house of Israel very emphatically and boldly placed the blame on God, saying that the way of the Lord is not equal. But the God of mercy and truth vindicates Himself from their unjust charge and declares that if sinners were not perversely bent on their own ruin, they could escape any impending destruction. God swears upon His own life that the death of the wicked does not please Him. So, in this text, His voice is loud and repeated: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” In this passage the “saddle is set upon the right horse”; men’s own wills are the cause of their woe.

The words in this passage express a very emotional and serious call. Several particulars may be observed:

  • The persons called are the house of Israel.
  • They are called to turn.
  • The call is urgent, evident from the repeated phrase: “Turn ye, turn ye.”
  • The call requires a turning from their evil ways.
  • God’s call to turn is persuasive. An abundance of holy rhetoric is included in the argument, “Why will ye die?”

Without turning, death is certain. Although Satan may claim—as he did once to our first parents—“Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4), this will be found true: those “shall be turned into hell” who will not turn to God (Ps. 9:17). Every evil way will end in death. While there are several paths that comprise the broad way, they all conclude and meet in death, namely, the second death. In His grace, the Lord pities sinners and pleads with them, “Why will you die?” He asks, as it were, “Will you die because I am so quick to revenge? You know that I am slow to anger, and you know it by experience—if it were not so, I would have poured out My wrath on you long ago. Or will you die because I am relentless, not to be entreated when once provoked? I have often proclaimed Myself ready to forgive and full of mercy unto everyone who calls upon Me. Will you die because no one has ever told you the way to recover life, or because you do not know how to fly from the punishment you deserve? How often have I sent My prophets that you might believe, repent, and obey? But still you seek death; you are resolved to rush on in sin. If you perish, you may thank yourselves. If you are destroyed, it is because you chose destruction.”

Puritan Profile

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson was probably born in Yorkshire. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1639 and a Master of Arts degree in 1642. During his time at Cambridge, Watson was a dedicated scholar. After completing his studies, Watson 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, filling the place of Ralph Robinson.

220px-Thomas_Watson_(Puritan)In about 1647, Watson married Abigail Beadle, daughter of John Beadle, an Essex minister of Puritan convictions. They had at least seven children in the next thirteen years; four of them died young.

During the Civil War, Watson began expressing his strong Presbyterian views. He had sympathy for the king, however. 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. Although 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, which belonged to Sir John Langham, a patron of nonconformists. Watson preached there 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. He is buried in the same grave as his father-in-law who served as a minister at Barnston.

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. – Take from Meet the Puritans


Books by Thomas Watson

The Duty of Self-Denial and Ten Other Sermons

Heaven Taken By Storm

The Godly Man’s Picture

The Art of Divine Contentment – Audio Book

Los Diez Mandamientos

More –>

Book Review

questThis review of The Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics, and Human Origins was written Paul Wells in the Banner of Truth.

William VanDoodewaard has written a find book defending the literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. It is well documented, balanced, reader-friendly, and the presentation of the main actors and issues is both irenic and objective. It is a book that should be widely read by evangelicals, whether they agree a priori with this position or not. It will heartily confirm those who already hold to the classic literal interpretation of the creation accounts, and maybe even serve to show those who think that it is old hat that the classic position is not necessarily for ostriches. Vandoodewaard may well convince some of those who are tempted by the latest publications on Adam and evolution that from a Christian perspective the difficulties of this position become insuperable at some points. Evolutionism as a hypothesis fits well with pantheistic monism or with dualism but it is a strange bedfellow for Christian theism.

VanDoodewaard ask the inevitable question as to where the frontiers of orthodoxy lie and, quoting Geerhardus Vos, he counsels caution: “Those committed to the literal tradition must realize that the views of proponents of alternative hermeneutical approaches on Genesis 1-2 only rise to the level of heresy, ‘when on principle they raise the so called results of science to grant precedence to them over the Word of God,’ encroaching on human origins and history.” We may well wonder whether this is not the case when the historic Adam of Scripture disappears into a fog of mythology.

The great advantage of this book is that it provides the information necessary to do some stocktaking, to evaluate how we got here, where things are headed, and what the consequences are, or might be, for evangelicals who claim that Scripture is the inerrant or infallible word of God. On another level it raises the question fo the responsibilities of theological institutes to the churches for whom they form candidates for the ministry.