And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
Sense is the light of beasts, reason the light of men, faith the light of saints, and vision the light of glory. The important issues of life can only be discerned by faith. In our immediate experience we cannot see beyond death. Faith must step in and believe in heaven though it is yet unseen. Graceless souls may be sharp concerning their temporal interests, but concerning things of the next world they are stark blind. The whole business of Christianity contradicts sense. We give up the visible for invisible rewards. We do not look at the things that are seen, but unseen. The practical application of our faith is great: (1.) It strengthens us against the difficulties and inconveniences of our pilgrimage. Faith provides invisible supplies to endure visible dangers. If Satan is at our left hand ready to resist us, God is at our right hand ready to strengthen us. (2.) Faith helps us to bear afflictions in the hope of a favourable outcome. Faith can prophesy glad tidings at midnight and see quietness and pleasantness out of affliction as we lie under the burden of dark strokes of God’s providence. (3.) Faith helps unfold the riddles of divine providence and mysteries. Divine providence has two faces: that which is visible and seems to be against us; aye, but there is that which is not seen, and there is love, sweetness and kindness. Sense judges only the outside of God’s dispensations, but faith looks within the veil. There are secret and invisible things that God makes known to waiting souls. True faith can pick love out of God’s angry speeches and draw gracious conclusions from the darkest events. When there is no apparent comfort, and there is not a drop of oil in the cruse, nor a dust of meal in the barrel, hope can hang upon a small thread. Wait, trust, and look for the favour from God.
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.