REFLECTIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: understanding and growing through the covid-19 challenge.
Bishop Peter Brain Reflection 54: Voices from the past.
The pandemic has brought challenges and opportunities. It has taught us to be grateful for what we have. One of the great blessings of life for us all, and certainly for those who are Christians, are godly examples and voices from the past, not least those who have lived in trying times and with far less medical knowledge and care.
The Puritans were one such group of people. Often maligned as too serious, they were in fact amongst the happiest and God focussed people to have ever lived. They lived through persecution, often at the hands of other believers. They endured plagues and opposition with exemplary grace, and were keen to bring every aspect of their lives under Christ’s Lordship, with a Godliness that adorned the gospel they faithfully proclaimed [as we are called to by our Lord Matt 5:13-16 and His apostles Titus 2:11-14, 3:8, 14; 1 Peter 2:11-12]. Here are some quotes from Puritan pastors to encourage us to be Godly, at all times, and at this time [from A Puritan Treasury Ed. IDE Thomas. Banner 1975].
LOVE: Love is the queen of the graces; it outshines all the others, as the sun the lesser planets [Thomas Watson].
Despise not thy neighbour, but think thyself as bad a sinner, and that the like defects may befall thee. If thou cannot excuse his doing, excuse his intent which may be good; or if the deed be evil, think it was done of ignorance; if thou canst no way excuse him, think some great temptation befell him, and that thou shouldst be worse if the like temptation befell thee; and give God thanks that the like as yet hath not befallen thee. Despise not a man being a sinner, for though he be evil today, he may turn tomorrow [William Perkins 1558-1602].
‘We love because He first loved us.’ Love is like an echo, it returneth what it receiveth [Thomas Manton].
CONSCIENCE: Conscience is God’s spy and man’s overseer [John Trapp 1601-1699].
Conscience, the domestic chaplain [John Trapp].
CONFESSION: Confession is verbal humiliation [Richard Sibbes 1577-1635].
Many blush to confess their faults, who will never blush to commit them [Wm Secker died 1681].
PERSECUTION: God examineth with trials, the devil examineth with temptations, the world examineth with persecutions [Henry Smith c1560-91].
Much grace exercised, brings persecution: for the sweeter and better the fruit is, the more slinging there will be at the tree [Vavasor Powell 1617-1670].
It much more concerned us, to be sure that we deserved not suffering, than that we be delivered from it [Richard Baxter 1615-91].
AFFLICATIONS: The vessels of mercy are first seasoned with afflictions, and then the wine of glory is poured in. Thus we see afflictions are not prejudicial, but beneficial, to the saints [Thomas Watson c1620-86].
A sanctified person, like a silver bell, the harder he is smitten, the better he sounds [George Swinnock 1627-73]
We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us, than under the staff that comforts us [Stephen Charnock 1628-80].
God’s house of correction is His school of instruction [Thomas Brooks 1608-80].
PRAISE: Praise is a soul in flower [Thomas Watson].
Praise shall conclude that work which prayer began [William Jenykn 1613-85].
Self-love may lead us to prayers, but love to God excites us to praises [Thomas Manton 1620-77].
PRAYER: Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan [John Bunyan].
Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer [Bunyan 1628-88].
Set no time to the Lord, the Creator of time, for His time is always best [Samuel Rutherford 1600-61].
Peter Brain 15th December, 2020