PATIENCE AND ITS PERFECT WORK

Written by Thomas Goodwin,
Edited for thought and sense.

got-patience-680x510“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you luck wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not , and it shall be given him.” – James I. 1 – 5.

CHRISTIAN patience is my subject, and the perfect work of patience, ver. 4; but as an introduction thereunto, I must first open some things of the words in ver. 1, 2. As to the persons he writes to, they were ‘the twelve tribes scattered,’ that had been and were bereft of their inheritance in their native country, and quitting that, had betaken themselves to banishment. 

The other Apostle who wrote to the same persons, comforts them with this – that they were begotten again to a better inheritance than that of Canaan, which now they were deprived of.

I observe that though these had been made thus sufficiently destitute and desolate already, and driven from house and home to seek their livelihoods, with their families, in foreign countries, that yet still great and pressing troubles and miseries did follow them, as one wave doth after another they were continually falling into divers and sundry temptations of all sorts. God ‘tries us every moment,’ as in Job vii. 18 ; we are chastened every morning, Ps. xxxvii. 13; and ‘killed’ – that is, in danger of death – ‘all day long,’ as Rom. viii. God had not yet done with these.

To these Christians he utters the strangest paradox upon this occasion that ever was or can be uttered;

and begins with it ver. 2, ‘My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.’ Thus bluntly and abruptly, without any mollifying preface or sweetening introduction, ‘count it all joy,’ seems to carry a moral contradiction in the face of unto the latter part, ‘when ye fall into divers temptations ‘ and this latter seems to put an impossibility upon the former, which is the duty exhorted unto, that is – All joy; the highest joy, for so ‘all joy’ must needs be supposed to be; as if they were possessed of what God promises shall be the assured and ‘expected end,’ Jer. xxix. 11; and to be beforehand as sure of it as if they had it already.

And, it is not only when they are assaulted with troubles, but when temptations are actually broken in upon them, and they lie under them.  So when you fall into them, as into a pit and snare, and so they falling round about you; so as you have nothing to stand or lean upon, but all about you fails with you and under you, so as in all outward appearance ye are sunk and overwhelmed with the ruins. In this case to ‘count it all joy,’ to shout as men in harvest, or that have gotten great spoils; when their miseries are so great that they cannot be endured, that yet their joy must be so great as more cannot be expressed; this is the hardest duty that ever was required of the distressed hearts of men. And yet God would not require it if it were not attainable; and it is attainable by no other principles but of Christianity.

But they might say, You have propounded this hard and strange duty to us;

What ground is there that may rationally and effectually persuade and bring our hearts to it? What considerations that may procure us this joy, and how may we be wrought up to it? For God never gave any commandment but there was a full and sufficient ground and reason to enforce it.

He gives them two grounds:

One at the 3d and 4th verses, ‘Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’ This is a ground from what follows in this life.

The other is at the 12th verse, ‘Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.’ This is the reward that follows in the life to come, in the hope and expectation of which you may count it all joy that now you are tried; for the end and issue of them is a crown of glory, which these do work, as 2 Cor. iv. 17, ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’

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Taken from, Patience and its Perfect Work, which was published anonymously in a small volume, and is one of the rarest of all Goodwin’s pieces.
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NOTE:  Patience and its Perfect Work – was written by Thomas Goodwin just after he had lost most of his library in a fire!
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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Goodwin (Rollesby, Norfolk, 5 October 1600 – 23 February 1680), known as ‘the Elder’, was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. Christopher Hill places Goodwin in the ‘main stream of Puritan thought’.

In 1625 he was licensed a preacher of the university; and three years afterwards he became lecturer of Trinity Church, successor to John Preston, to the vicarage of which he was presented by the king in 1632.

In 1639 he fled to Holland to escape persecution. For some time was pastor of a small congregation of English merchants and refugees at Arnheim. He returned shortly after the inception of the Long Parliament.

In 1643 he was chosen a member of the Westminster Assembly, and at once identified himself with the Independent party, generally referred to in contemporary documents as the “dissenting brethren” and was one of the authors of An Apologetical Narration. He frequently preached by appointment before the Commons, and in January 1650 his talents and learning were rewarded by the House with the presidency of Magdalen College, Oxford, a post which he held until the Restoration of 1660. An amusing sketch, from Joseph Addison‘s point of view, of the austere and somewhat fanatical president of Magdalen, is preserved in No. 494 of The Spectator.

He was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell from 1656. He rose into high favour with the Protector, and was one of his intimate advisers, attending him on his death-bed.

He was also a commissioner for the inventory of the Westminster Assembly, 1650, and for the approbation of preachers, 1653, and together with John Owen drew up an amended Westminster Confession in 1658.

From 1660 until his death, he lived in London, and devoted himself exclusively to theological study and to the pastoral charge of the Fetter Lane Independent Church.

 

If thou art in Christ, FEAR NOT SIN!

Written by, Thomas Goodwin
Materials from, The Protestant Pulpit
Foreword by, Michael Pursley

[May I say just a few words, I believe that this may be an important post for some of us; especially for those of us who have a hard time liking ourselves or finding acceptance in God.  And these two things are related; for as adults, we treat God as we treat ourselves, and when we were young, we saw God as we saw our parents… and we bring that baggage forward with us.

For those of us who have had great difficulty when we were young in finding acceptance, especially in finding a sense of integral formative acceptance from our parents, and/or later, a confirmative acceptance from our siblings or peers, there may very well be a broad chasm in our understanding of God’s acceptance.  Don’t be alarmed about your difficulty in feeling or understanding that God has accepted you; or even, that he wants to accept you.  Your natural feelings may be very stunted by your past.  You may even wonder “why would God or anybody else, see anything good in me.”  If this is you, my dear friend, God’s message of acceptance is especially for you. 

If you are that person, that person who may not have been good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough to please your parents, or failed somehow in the eyes of the people most important to you, then there may be a tendency that every time you sin, that you might feel like, “There I go again, messing up again, how can God like me?” “How can I be saved… I always keep messing up.”  “Maybe God doesn’t really like me…”  “Maybe, I am not saved.…”  “Maybe, I am only fooling myself, maybe I have already committed the unpardonable sin.”   If your thinking tends to goes around like this… this is  very understandable, but disregard these thoughts, completely!

You will need to learn the concept of acceptance, and that will take time.  Just remember, that you did not come to this unhappy conclusion overnight, and you will need to unlearn it, and that will be a journey.   But, by God’s grace, you can do it, and you can do it with your eyes of faith wide open; not a blind leap of faith! Now, take a few minutes and read the message below, slowly begin opening your eyes of faith.  Grace and peace to you!  –MWP]

If thou art in Christ, fear not sin; for God from everlasting saw all thy sins, and yet, for all that, he continued to accept thee in his beloved,

brideofchrist-249x300It altered his mind not a whit. He was so much pleased with his beloved, that though in his own prescience he foresaw what we would be, yet, having chosen us in his Son, he accepteth us in him; and so, now that we actually exist and sin against him, he, notwithstanding, finds so much contentment at home in his Son, having him by him, that he can patiently bear with us, and please himself in Christ. And so, though he see thee sinful for the present, and foresaw thee sinful from everlasting, yet he still accepts thee in his Beloved. And the reason is, because Jesus Christ is more beloved of him than sin is or can be hated by him. If ever sin should come to have more interest for hatred in the heart of God than Christ hath for love, thou mightest well fear: but he hath accepted thee in his beloved, therefore be not thou afraid.

Hath God accepted thee, and rendered thee thus dear unto him­self in his beloved ? No matter though the world hate thee. The world shall hate you, says Christ, John xvi 33: ‘In the world you shall have tribulation;’ but it is no matter, ‘ in me you shall have peace,’  God accepts thee in Christ; he renders thee dear unto himself in his beloved.

Go therefore unto God, to be accepted only in and through his beloved. Here is the greatest and strongest argument for it that can be. It is said before, in ver. 4, that God chose us unto perfect holiness, and ordained us to perfect glory, and to be sons to him, ver. 5, and both of these as we shall one day be, in heaven. And yet, after both of these, the acceptation of our persons in the beloved comes in as a third and distinct benefit; so that all this would not have pleased him so much as one look upon us in his beloved.  Is this not the perfect holiness, and that complete glory which we shall be in Christ?

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Goodwin (Rollesby, Norfolk, 5 October 1600 – 23 February 1680), known as ‘the Elder’, was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. Christopher Hill places Goodwin in the ‘main stream of Puritan thought’.

In 1625 he was licensed a preacher of the university; and three years afterwards he became lecturer of Trinity Church, successor to John Preston, to the vicarage of which he was presented by the king in 1632.

In 1639 he fled to Holland to escape persecution. For some time was pastor of a small congregation of English merchants and refugees at Arnheim. He returned shortly after the inception of the Long Parliament.

In 1643 he was chosen a member of the Westminster Assembly, and at once identified himself with the Independent party, generally referred to in contemporary documents as the “dissenting brethren” and was one of the authors of An Apologetical Narration. He frequently preached by appointment before the Commons, and in January 1650 his talents and learning were rewarded by the House with the presidency of Magdalen College, Oxford, a post which he held until the Restoration of 1660. An amusing sketch, from Joseph Addison‘s point of view, of the austere and somewhat fanatical president of Magdalen, is preserved in No. 494 of The Spectator.

He was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell from 1656. He rose into high favour with the Protector, and was one of his intimate advisers, attending him on his death-bed.

He was also a commissioner for the inventory of the Westminster Assembly, 1650, and for the approbation of preachers, 1653, and together with John Owen drew up an amended Westminster Confession in 1658.

From 1660 until his death, he lived in London, and devoted himself exclusively to theological study and to the pastoral charge of the Fetter Lane Independent Church.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Goodwin (Rollesby, Norfolk, 5 October 1600 – 23 February 1680), known as ‘the Elder’, was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. Christopher Hill places Goodwin in the ‘main stream of Puritan thought’.

In 1625 he was licensed a preacher of the university; and three years afterwards he became lecturer of Trinity Church, successor to John Preston, to the vicarage of which he was presented by the king in 1632.

In 1639 he fled to Holland to escape persecution. For some time was pastor of a small congregation of English merchants and refugees at Arnheim. He returned shortly after the inception of the Long Parliament.

In 1643 he was chosen a member of the Westminster Assembly, and at once identified himself with the Independent party, generally referred to in contemporary documents as the “dissenting brethren” and was one of the authors of An Apologetical Narration. He frequently preached by appointment before the Commons, and in January 1650 his talents and learning were rewarded by the House with the presidency of Magdalen College, Oxford, a post which he held until the Restoration of 1660. An amusing sketch, from Joseph Addison‘s point of view, of the austere and somewhat fanatical president of Magdalen, is preserved in No. 494 of The Spectator.

He was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell from 1656. He rose into high favour with the Protector, and was one of his intimate advisers, attending him on his death-bed.

He was also a commissioner for the inventory of the Westminster Assembly, 1650, and for the approbation of preachers, 1653, and together with John Owen drew up an amended Westminster Confession in 1658.

From 1660 until his death, he lived in London, and devoted himself exclusively to theological study and to the pastoral charge of the Fetter Lane Independent Church.

The Distance Between the Creature and the Creator

by Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), edited for thought and sense by Michael W. Pursley

Steve-JobsThe devil of this opinion, that the creature IS God, or at least a piece of him,

…[This opinion] hath haunted the world in former ages as well as it walks now, philosophers [believed it, as well as] the poets amongst the heathen, and heretics among the Christians, downwards in all ages.

My brethren, consider what Paul hath uttered, Rom. 1: 25 ; speaking of the heathen, he saith, ‘They changed the truth of God into a lie’ (that is, the essence and being of God), ‘and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.’ In which speech at once he puts a bar and wall of separation between God’s being and that of the creatures, and also adores the infinite blessedness of that his being entire within itself, as is not communicable to the creature; and also speaks in opposition to the worshipping of creatures as God upon any account, much less as if they were essentially God. The Jews indeed, they would narrow God, by confining him to their temple; and therefore God vindicates himself against that restraint by this, Isaiah. 56:1, ‘I made all things: and where will you find me an house?’

But the heathen, they fancied God was like the creatures, and under that notion worshipped him in the creatures; and in opposition thereunto said Isaiah also, ‘To whom will ye liken me?’ speaking of heathenish idolatry. And Paul had an eye to both : Acts 17:24,’ God, that made the world, and all things therein, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;’ and again, verse 29, ‘We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.’ The idolatry of the heathen did rise no higher (whatever the opinion of some of them was) than this, that ‘,’they changed the truth’ (or essence) ‘of God into this lie,’ by worshipping the creature as like unto God; and yet thereby (whilst they knew it not) * they worshipped the creature more than God.’ If God found fault with these, how must his jealousy rise up in fury against those that not only make the creature like to God, but make every creature to be God himself ! To these he might not only say, as to them, ‘To whom will ye liken me?’ But who, more impiously, do make the creature the same that I am. This is an idolatry which the generality of the heathen practised not. 

Are not we, as was said, the clay, and he the potter? And are not those two distant enough, if we take but the distance between a man that is the potter and his clay, when yet the man himself, who is that potter, is made, as well as his pots are by him ? You find the comparison, Jer. 18:6, and Rom. ix. 21. But, to make God the potter, to turn himself to clay, and then to make vessels out of himself, and then for him to say again unto his pots as made out of himself, ‘Return, ye sons of men, into God again’ (as their fancies are), is not this a goodly religion ?

A goodly religion indeed !

‘Ye potsherds of the earth,’ know your distance from your Creator; you are of a differing metal!

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Taken from, OF THE CREATURES. AND THE CONDITION OF THEIR STATE BY CREATION., Book 1, Chapter 1. Published posthumously in 1682 in, “The Works of Thomas Goodwin.”

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Goodwin (Rollesby, Norfolk, 5 October 1600 – 23 February 1680), known as ‘the Elder’, was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. Christopher Hill places Goodwin in the ‘main stream of Puritan thought’.

In 1625 he was licensed a preacher of the university; and three years afterwards he became lecturer of Trinity Church, successor to John Preston, to the vicarage of which he was presented by the king in 1632.

In 1639 he fled to Holland to escape persecution. For some time was pastor of a small congregation of English merchants and refugees at Arnheim. He returned shortly after the inception of the Long Parliament.

In 1643 he was chosen a member of the Westminster Assembly, and at once identified himself with the Independent party, generally referred to in contemporary documents as the “dissenting brethren” and was one of the authors of An Apologetical Narration. He frequently preached by appointment before the Commons, and in January 1650 his talents and learning were rewarded by the House with the presidency of Magdalen College, Oxford, a post which he held until the Restoration of 1660. An amusing sketch, from Joseph Addison‘s point of view, of the austere and somewhat fanatical president of Magdalen, is preserved in No. 494 of The Spectator.

He was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell from 1656. He rose into high favour with the Protector, and was one of his intimate advisers, attending him on his death-bed.

He was also a commissioner for the inventory of the Westminster Assembly, 1650, and for the approbation of preachers, 1653, and together with John Owen drew up an amended Westminster Confession in 1658.

From 1660 until his death, he lived in London, and devoted himself exclusively to theological study and to the pastoral charge of the Fetter Lane Independent Church.