The Balance of the Puritans

Why do modern Christians need the Puritans? J. I. Packer answers that question in the second chapter of his book, A Quest for Godliness. Here’s his first reason, one of my favorite, and the one that has most captured my heart:

“First, there are lessons for us in the integration of their daily lives. As their Christianity was all-embracing, so their living was all of a piece. Nowadays we would call their lifestyle holistic: all awareness, activity, and enjoyment, all ‘use of the creatures’ and development of personal powers and creativity, was integrated in the single purpose of honoring God by appreciating all his gifts and making everything ‘holiness to the Lord.’ There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, as far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God. So, in their heavenly-minded ardour, the Puritans became men and women of order, matter-of-fact and down-to-earth, prayerful, purposeful, practical. Seeing life whole, they integrated contemplation with action, worship with work, labor with rest, love of God with love of neighbor and of self, personal with social identity, and the wide spectrum of relational responsibilities with each other, in a thoroughly conscientious and thought-out way. In this thoroughness they were extreme, that is to say  far more thorough than we are, but in their blending of the whole wide range of Christian duties set forth in Scripture they were eminently balanced. They lived by ‘method’ (we would say, by a rule of life), planning and proportioning their time with care, not so much to keep bad things out as to make sure that they got all good and important things in – necessary wisdom, then as now, for busy people! We today, who tend to live unplanned lives at random in a series of non-communicating compartments and who hence feel swamped and distracted most of the time, could learn much from the Puritans at this point.”

Amen. Lord, help me to be a Puritan. Help me to be balanced as the Bible is balanced.

SDG,
Ezra

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