So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
Does not our fear of death make our lives a continual torment? Erasmus said, ‘The fear of death causes more sorrow than death itself.’ Our lives might be full of joy in daily contemplation of the sweet thoughts of heavenly joy, but we fill them with terrors and fears. We consume our own comforts. He that fears death must be always afraid because he always expects it. How can life be comfortable when you continually fear losing your comforts? These are self-created sufferings, and we become the executioners of our own calamities. As if God had not inflicted enough upon us, we must inflict more upon ourselves. Death is bitter enough to the flesh, but must we multiply its bitterness? Do we complain about the burden of our troubles, and yet daily add to their weight? The state of poor mortals is sufficiently calamitous without making it worse. These are useless and unprofitable fears. Our fear cannot prevent our sufferings or delay our time to die one hour. Willing or unwilling, we fly away. Our fear can ensnare our souls to many temptations. If we are called to die for Christ, may not fear draw us away to forsake the Lord himself? When you see the gibbet or hear the sentence, will you say ‘I do not know the man?’ He that is afraid to die will not fight valiantly. Let us be content with our allotted portion. We should not murmur about our degree of wealth or honour, or about our allowed proportion of time. O my soul, depart in peace. Have you not enjoyed a sufficient share? Much time has much duty. Beg for grace to improve your time, and be content with your share. Life that lacks in length may be made up in breadth, weight, and sweetness. Christ went this way and sanctified the grave. You are not entering an untrodden path.
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.