originally published 1654
Read: May 11 – 25, 2014
I just might have myself a new favorite Puritan (I’m not the only one who has a list, right?). I’m kicking myself for not getting to Brooks earlier in life. What a wonderful book — I’m looking forward to getting to read more by him.
Aesthetically, this is fantastic. The language sings — the book begs to be read aloud (and I frequently did so, interrupting whatever anyone around me was doing). You can feel the passion, the fervor throughout. A few paragraphs from different chapters illustrate this:
Divine light reaches the heart as well as the head. The beams of divine light shining in upon the soul through the glorious face of Christ are very working; they warm the heart, they affect the heart, they new mold the heart. Divine knowledge masters the heart, it guides the heart, it governs the heart, it sustains the heart, it relieves the heart. Knowledge which swims in the head only, and sinks not down into the heart, does no more good than the unicorn’s horn in the unicorn’s head.
The only ground of God’s love is his grace. The ground of God’s love is only and wholly in himself. There is neither portion nor proportion in us to draw his love. There is no love nor loveliness in us that should cause a beam of his love to shine upon us. There is that enmity, that filthiness, that treacherousness, that unfaithfulness, to be found in every man’s bosom, which might justly put God upon glorifying himself in their eternal ruin, and to write their names in his black book in characters of blood and wrath. God will have all blessings and happiness to flow from free grace.
Faith is the first pin which moves the soul; it is the spring in the watch which sets all the golden wheels of love, joy, comfort, and peace a-going. Faith is a root-grace, from whence springs all the sweet flowers of joy and peace. Faith is like the bee, it will suck sweetness out of every flower; it will extract light out of darkness, comforts out of distresses, mercies out of miseries, wine out of water, honey out of the rock, and meat out of the eater, Judg 14:14.
But beyond that, the book is sound, it is orthodox, it is Biblical — throughout Brooks points the reader to The Book and The One Who inspired it. His aim is to show “that believers may in this life attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness.” He then goes on to examine the nature of that assurance, hindrances that keep believers from it, reasons to encourage believers to seek it, and how they can go about it, the difference between true and counterfeit assurance, as well as answering questions about assurance. Examining the doctrine from so many angles, you really feel (and probably do) that you come away from this book having an exhaustive look at the doctrine.
Chapter 6 — which takes more than its fair share of space, almost half of the book — is an extended detour from the point of the book, but it still serves to support the theme. He begins by saying, “In the previous chapter, you saw the seven choice things which accompany salvation. But for your further and fuller edification, satisfaction, confirmation, and consolation, it will be very necessary that I show you,” these seven choice things. Which are:
(1.) What knowledge that is, which accompanies salvation.
(2.) What faith that is, which accompanies salvation.
(3.) What repentance that is, which accompanies salvation.
(4.) What obedience that is, which accompanies salvation.
(5.) What love that is, which accompanies salvation.
(6.) What prayer that is, which accompanies salvation.
(7.) What perseverance that is, which accompanies salvation.
It is such a great chapter, and would make a remarkable little booklet unto itself that I really can’t complain too much that it’s such a departure from the rest of the book (though it did take me a little bit to get used to the notion).
Banner of Truth puts this out in paperback, monergism.com puts this out as a free e-book. Either way you go for it, this is a treasure I heartily suggest you grab.