Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications
(1990 reprint of 1648 edition)
398 pages, hardback, $19.95
Don Kistler is doing a great service for the contemporary church, and for coming generations as well, by reprinting a significant number of Puritan titles. In recent years he has begun to modernize and republish some volumes that have never been issued in modern English. This present volume is one such effort. And it is magnificent!
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) was a member of the Westminster Assembly, and a noted Puritan preacher at Stepney and later Cripplegate, London. Of him the better known Richard Baxter said, "If all the Episcopalians had been like Archbishop Ussher, all the Presbyterians like Mr. Burroughs, the breaches of the church would soon have been healed." Indeed, the last subject Burroughs preached, which was later published as Irenicum, was an attempt to heal divisions. such a spirit of gospel irenicism is often missing in contemporary efforts toward reformation and should be recovered. Puritans like Burroughs will aid that effort!
Burroughs, better known for his work, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (1650), published this particular book in the same year. It consists of 14 sermons, following a fairly typical Puritan style. The first sermon is based on Leviticus 10:3, which says, "then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord spoke of when He said, "Among those who approach Me I will show Myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored."' Aaron remained silent." Burroughs draws some profound and plain observations which should be heeded by modern worship leaders concerned with reformation in their local churches. He makes several notes in his applications, such as:
1. That in God's worship, there must be nothing tendered up to God but what He has commanded. Whatsoever we meddle with in the worship of God must be what we have a warrant for out of the Word of God.
2. In the matters of worship God stands upon little things.[By this Burroughs refers to things we count small but which are not small to God at all!]
Later Burroughs notes:
5. That the beginnings of things of high concern sometime meet with great difficulties and interruptions.
6. That those who enter into public places, and especially such places as concern the worship of god, need to have the fear of God much upon them when they first enter into those places.
10. That the holiness of a duty will never bear a man out in the miscarriages of a duty.
Burroughs concludes this message with a warning that strange fire offered in God's service will never be accepted! Would to God that modern worship leaders would even consider this kind of warning.
Each of the following chapters unfolds aspects of worship that make it acceptable to God. A whole section deals, for example, with sanctifying the name of God properly. This concern in itself would revolutionize the trivial practices of our contemporary services. Communion is addressed and how to hear and heed the Word of God. As with Puritans the book addresses the heart profoundly, yet never lacks serious rational thought based upon the Word of God.
Several years ago I heard a member of the ministerial staff of one of the fastest growing megachurches in the United States answer questions regarding the use of drama in his church. (He was, in fact, the Minister of Drama!) He said, "Don't ask me for a biblical basis for what we do in our church. It works, that is all the basis we need. We are reaching multitudes of people with it!" Burroughs will smash such pagan pragmatism to a million pieces. May such a book be read and pondered by multitudes of pastors and worship leaders.
Dr. John H. Armstrong
Carol Stream, Illinois
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