Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
We should have such a faith to substitute our hopes and to check sensuality, for we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. Though the pleasures of sin are short and inconsiderable, yet, because they are near at hand, they have more influence than they joys of heaven, which are future and absent. We wonder at the folly of Esau to sell his birthright for a morsel of meat (Heb. 12:16). When lust is up and eager for fulfillment, all considerations of eternal glory and blessedness are laid aside to give it satisfaction. Many part with the joys of Christianity for the vilest price. A little pleasure, a little gain, a little happiness in the world, will make men part with all that is honest and sacred. A man would wonder at their folly, but the great reason is, they live by sense: ‘For Demas, in love with this present world, his deserted me’ (2 Tim. 4:10). Here lies the bait, these things are present; we can taste the delights of the world, and feel the pleasures of the flesh, but the happiness of the world to come is unseen and unknown. ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Cor. 15:32). This is the language of every carnal heart. Present advantages an vanities, though they are small and but trifles, have more power to pervert us than good things at a distance, and the promises of God, even, to allure and draw our hearts to God. Here lies the root and strength of all temptations; the inconveniences of strictness in religion are present, and they may have present distaste and present trouble to the flesh, and our rewards are yet future. So, how can we check this living by sense? Why, faith, substantiating our hopes, provides remedy. Faith makes things to become as real as if they were already enjoyed. Where faith is alive and strong, and is ‘the conviction of things not seen’, it baffles and defeats all temptations.
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.