Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Thomas Brooks Farewell

The following excerpt is from the farewell sermon of Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) called A Pastor’s Legacies. [Again from Mr Brooker here]. Mr Brooker says 'He was never able to deliver it in person because of his ejection, but it was read aloud to the congregation as a parting encouragement to the people he loved. In typical Brooks fashion, it is beautiful prose with almost every line quotable on its own.'
I shall proceed, as I said, and leave some legacies with you, which may, by the finger of the Spirit, be made advantageous to you, to whom am not advantaged to speak in person.
The first legacy I would leave with you, shall be this: Secure your interest in Christ; make it your great business, your work, your heaven, to secure your interest in Christ. This is not an age, an hour, for a man to be between fears and hopes, between doubting and believing.
Make Christ and Scripture the only foundation for your souls and faith to build on: as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. 3:11, ‘Other foundations can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ.’ Isa. 28:6, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a corner stone, a precious stone, a sure foundation.’ Since it is a very dangerous thing, as much as your souls and eternity is worth, for you to build on anything beside Jesus Christ, many will say, Come, build on this authority and that, on this saying and that; but take heed.
Take more pains, and make more conscience of keeping yourselves from sin than suffering; from the pollutions and defilements of the day, than from the sufferings of the day. This legacy I would beg that you would consider; take more pains, and make more conscience of keeping yourselves from the evil of sin than the evil of punishment, from the pollutions and corruptions of the times than the sufferings of the times: Acts 2:40, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ Phil. 2:15, ‘The children of God must be harmless and blameless, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.’ If you will be tasting and sipping at Babylon’s cup, you must resolve to receive more or less of Babylon’s plagues.
I would leave this with you: Be always doing or receiving good. Our Lord and Master went up and down in this world doing good; he was still doing good to body and soul; he was motivated by an untired power. Be still doing or receiving good. This will make your lives comfortable, your deaths happy, and your account glorious, in the great day of our Lord. Oh! how useless are many men in their generation! Oh! that our lips might be as so many honey-combs, that we might scatter knowledge!
I would leave this with you: Set the highest examples and patterns before your face of grace and godliness for your imitation. In the business of faith, set an Abraham before your eyes; in the business of courage, set a Joshua; in the business of uprightness, set a Job; of meekness, a Moses &c. Christians disadvantage themselves by looking more backwards than forwards. Men look on whom they excel, not on those they fall short of. Of all examples, set them before you that are most eminent for grace and holiness, for communion with God, and acting for God. Next to Christ, set the pattern of the choicest saints before you.
Take no truths upon trust, but all upon trial, 1 Thes. 5:21, also 1 John 4:1, Acts 17:11. It was the glory of that church, that they would not trust Paul himself; Paul, that had the advantage above all for external qualifications; no, not Paul himself. Take no truth upon trust; bring them to the balance of the Scripture. If they will not hold weight there, reject them.
Look upon all the things of this world as you will look upon them when you come to die. At what a poor rate do men look on the things of this world when they come to die! What a low value do men set upon the pomp and glory of it, when there is but a step between them and eternity! Men may now put a mask upon them, but then they will appear in their own colours. Men would not venture the loss of such great things for them did they but look on them now, as they will do at the last day.
Eye more, mind more, and lay to heart more, the spiritual and eternal workings of God in your souls, than the external providences of God in the world. Beloved, God looks that we should consider the operations of his hand; and despising the works of his hands is so provoking to him that he threatens to lead them into captivity for not considering them. But above all look to the work that God is carrying on in your souls. Not a soul but he is carrying on some work or other in it, either blinding or enlightening, bettering or worsening; therefore look to what God is doing in thy soul. All the motions of God within you are steps to eternity, and every soul shall be blessed or cursed, saved or lost to all eternity, not according to outward dispensations, but according to the inward operations of God in your souls. Observe what humbling work, reforming work, sanctifying work, he is about in thy spirit; what he is doing in that little world within thee. If God should carry on never so glorious a work in the world, as a conquest of the nations to Christ, what would it advantage thee if sin, Satan, and the world should triumph in thy soul, and carry the day there?
Keep up precious thoughts of God under the sourest, sharpest, and severest dispensations of God to you: Psa. 22:1-3, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.’ There was the psalmist under smart dispensations, but what precious thoughts had he of God after all: ‘But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel: though I am thus and thus afflicted, yet thou art holy;’ Psa. 65:5, ‘By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation.’
Always make the Scripture, and not yourselves, nor your carnal reason, nor your bare opinion, the judges of your spiritual state and condition. I cannot see my condition to be good. I cannot perceive it. What! must your sense and your carnal reason be the judge of your spiritual state? Isa. 8:20, ‘To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this rule, it is because there is no light, no morning in them,’ John 12:48, ‘The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day.’ The Scripture is that which must determine the case in the great day, whether you have grace or no, or whether it be true or no.
Make much conscience of making good the terms on which you closed with Christ. Do not turn your backs on Christ; the worst of Christ is better than the best of the world. Make conscience of making good your terms, to deny yourself, your natural self, your sinful self, your religious self, to follow him; and if you do so, oh! what an honour will it be to Christ, and advantage to your souls, and a joy to the upright!
Walk by no rule but such as you dare die by and stand by in the great day of Jesus Christ. You may have many ways prescribed to worship by; but walk by none but such as you dare die by, and stand by, before Jesus Christ. Walk not by a multitude, for who dares stand by that rule when he comes to die?
And lastly, sit down and rejoice with fear: Psa. 2, ‘Let the righteous rejoice, but let them rejoice with fear.’ Rejoice, that God hath done your souls good by the everlasting gospel; that he did not leave you till he brought you to an acceptance of, to a closing with, and a resignation of, your souls to Christ, and the clearing up of your interest in him. Rejoice, that you have had the everlasting gospel! in so much light, purity, power, and glory, as you have had for many years together. Rejoice in the riches of grace that hath carried it in such a way towards you. And weep, that you have provoked God to take away the gospel, that you have no more improved it; that you have so neglected the seasons and opportunities of enriching your souls. When you should have come to church-fellowship, anything would turn you out of the way. Oh! sit down and tremble under your barrenness, under all your leanness.
Here are your legacies, and the Lord make them to work in your souls, and then they will be of singular use to you, to preserve you so that you may give up your account before the great and glorious God with joy. Labour to make conscience of putting these legacies into practice, of sucking at these breasts, which will be of use to us, till we shall be gathered up into the fruition of God, where we shall need no more ordinances, no more preaching or praying.

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