A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,”What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. Isaiah 40:6
In our prosperity we love earthly blessings and dote upon things in this world as if our happiness and comfort were bound up in them. In the day of adversity God convinces us of our mistake, and causes us to see the emptiness of this material world. It is a mere nothing: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ (Eccles. 1:2). We can see in affliction that the world is not what it seems, not what it promises, and not what we expected and flattered ourselves with. Whatever a man makes his riches, whether friend, wealth, or earthly interests, they cannot deliver out of the hands of death and judgment (Prov. 11:4). The soul finds by experience the unsuitableness and dissatisfaction in all these things. There is no comparison between an invisible soul and visible comforts; an immortal soul and perishing contentments; a spiritual being and an earthly portion. The air we breathe will as soon fill a hungry belly as creature-comforts will satisfy the spirit. In the hour of trial the soul says, ‘Miserable comforters you all are, you are physicians of no value’ (Mark 5:26). Ah, but there is infinite fullness in Jesus Christ. He is suited to all the needs of poor undone sinners. No king was anointed with such power; no prophet with such wisdom; no priest with such grace, for God gave him the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and of his fullness we receive grace for grace. If we fill ourselves with the world, the less we will delight in Christ. This is our sin and our folly. But when God spreads sackcloth on the earthly, we discover the beauty of Christ and can taste his sweetness. He infinitely transcends all the beauty and glory of the world. He is our King to govern; our Prophet to teach; our Priest to save. How precious! Give me Christ, or else I die!
Dr. Packer has had a long-standing passion for the Puritans. Their understanding of God and His ways with man has largely formed his own spirituality and theological outlook. In A Quest for Godliness, the esteemed author of Knowing God and a dozen other books shares with his readers the rich world of Puritanism that has been so influential in his own life.
Dr. Packer masterfully uncovers the hidden treasures of Puritan life and thought. With crystalline clarity he reveals the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life, contrasting it with the superficiality and deadness of modern Western Christianity.
Drawing on a lifetime of study, Dr. Packer takes the reader on a survey of the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He offers a close look at such subjects as the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. He concludes that a main difference between the Puritans and ourselves is spiritual maturity–the Puritans had it; we don’t.
In a time of failing vision and decaying values, this powerful portrait of Puritans is a beacon of hope that calls us to radical commitment and action when both are desperately needed.
A Quest for Godliness is a profoundly moving and challenging exploration of Puritan life and thought in a beautifully written book. Here is J. I. Packer at his very best.