The Puritans on a Gospel-centered Life

Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 in Puritans

I recently began a study on the Puritans and am reading again J.I. Packer’s classic A Quest for Godliness. The first of the things that Packer says we can learn from the Puritans is how they integrated the gospel into their daily lives. He writes:

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 honouring God by appreciating all his gifts and making everything ‘holiness unto the Lord’. There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, an 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, labour with rest, love of God with love of neighbour 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 bust 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. [pp. 23-24]

There are no wasted words in the above paragraph. May we be ever-examining our use of time and plan our days religiously – for the glory of God who gave us this day!

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