In the last blog post I gave a short bio of John Brown of Haddington. Once again, he lived in and ministered in Haddington, Scotland. He was born in 1722 and went into the glorious presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in 1787. Following are two more quotes from his writings that I believe will be an inspiration for those who desire to understand truth a little more clearly and appreciate the contribution that our brothers and sisters from former times in church history have made. John Brown has a lot to offer today’s truth-starved church in the West. The first quote is on sanctification, and the second is from an address to students of divinity.
Excerpt from pages 427-428: Taken from the chapter on sanctification, this excerpt covers the important connection between justification and our growth in godliness.
“There can be no proper study of true holiness, without being first in order, furnished with an inward inclination to it, — a real persuasion of our reconciliation with God through the imputed righteousness of Christ, — a well-grounded hope of eternal life — through his obedience and death, — and a cordial belief that God, by his grace, will enable us to perform our duty in an acceptable manner.
I. We must have a fixed and abiding inclination towards holiness of heart and life implanted in us: For, 1. The duties of the law, such as delighting to do God’s will, — loving him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, — loving our neighbor as ourselves, etc. cannot be performed without such an inclination (Ps. 40:8; Matt. 22:37,39; 1 Tim. 1:5; Luke 8:15; Gal. 5:16,17,24; Job 23:12; Ps. 19:10, 42:1,2, 63:1,2, 84:2). 2. Both Adam and Christ were formed with such an inclination to qualify them for their study of holiness (Ecc. 7:29; Gen. 1:27; Luke 1:35; Heb. 7:26). 3. By nature we have no such inclination, but the contrary in us (Matt. 12:33, 15:19; Rom. 8:7-8; Jer. 17:9). 4. All believers find the receipt of this inclination absolutely necessary to their studying holiness (Ps. 51:10; 119:36,37). 5. God not only requires it, but hath promised to bestow it, in order to our practicing holiness (Eze. 36:26, 11:19,20).
II. We must be persuaded, on God’s own testimony, of our new covenant reconciliation with him as our friend: 1. Adam was created in high favor with God, that he might exercise himself in the study of holiness (Gen. 1:26,27, 2:16-17) and Christ was God’s beloved Son, high in his favor (Matt. 3:17, 17:5; Isa. 42:1; Col. 1:13). 2. Our conscience, when thoroughly convinced, dictates, that we can do nothing that is spiritually good, unless God, in his free favor, enable us (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 2:12,13; 1 Thes. 5:23) which he can only do, in consequence of removing his curse, which condemns us to lie under his displeasure and wrath (Gal. 3:13; Rom 6:14, 8:2; 7:4,6). 3. The duties required by the law, cannot be performed without persuasion of our reconciliation to God (Matt. 22:37,39; John 4:16-19). 4. Our conscience must be purged from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:12,15; 10:1,2,4,14,17,22; 1 Tim. 1:5). For, if sin lie on our conscience, it will dispose us to curse God rather than to serve him (Job 1:5). 5. By manifesting himself as reconciled, God ordinarily encourages and excites to holiness (Jer. 3:14,22; Hos. 14:1-8; Isa. 44:22; Eze. 16:62,63; 36:25-31). His sacraments of initiation into his service import reconciliation (Gen. 17:7-14; Acts 2:38,39). God began the publication of his law at Sinai with declarations of his being a reconciled God (Ex. 20:2,5,7,8,12, 19:5,6, 24:1-8). All the Jewish priests and Levites were admitted into their holy service by sacrifices and washings, which imported reconciliation (Ex. 29; Lev. Ch. 8,9; Num. 8). Every Jewish day, month, and year began with one or more sacred festivals of reconciliation with God (Num. ch. 28,29; Lev 23). Our Christian week begins with a sacred festival, and a sacramental feast of reconciliation (Acts 20:7; John 20:20,26; 1 Cor. 11:23-26, 10:16. 6. Reconciliation with God is represented as the source of all genuine study of gospel-holiness (Eph. 4:31,32, 5:1,2; 1 John 2:12,15; Heb. 12:28; Ps. 119:32, 116:16; Luke 1:74,75; 2 Cor. 5:14,15,19; 2 Cor. 6:18, 7:1; Titus 2:11,12).
III. We must have a well-grounded hope of everlasting happiness in the full enjoyment of God, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, as its proper condition and price. 1. The nature of our duty, particularly our love and gratitude to God, require this (1 John 3:1-3, 4:9,10,19). 2. Since the fall, God hath always proposed this hope as men’s encouragement to holiness (Heb. 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Heb. 10:34,35; 11:26; 1 Cor. 15:58; Ps. 119:166; Tit. 2:12,13; 2 Pet. 3:11,14,18). 3. This the more effectually induces to holiness, as our eternal happiness has perfect holiness as its principal ingredient (1 John 3:2-3; Ps. 119:166; Hos. 11:4).
IV. We must have a well-grounded persuasion of God’s making us able and willing to serve him acceptably. 1. We have no natural ability or willingness to serve him in this manner (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 5:6; 8:7-8; Jer. 17:9; 2 Cor. 3:5; John 15:5). 2. The study of true holiness is very difficult, and there are many adversaries (Gal. 5:17,24; Eph. 6:10-20; Rom. 7:14-24; 8:13; Col. ch. 3,5; Matt. 15:23-28, 16:24, 19:29). 3. God never sent any a warfare on their own charges; neither Adam (Gen. 1:27; Ecc. 7:29); nor Moses (Ex. ch. 3-4); nor Joshua (Josh. 1; 5:13,14); nor the apostles (Matt. 28:20; John 20:21-22; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:17,18); nor Christ (Isa. 42:1, 49:1,2; 50:7,9; Isa. 61:1; 11:2). 4. He hath secured ability for, and willingness in the study of holiness for his people (Rom. 6:13,14; Eph. 6:10,11; 1 John 2:13,14; Phil. 2:12,13, 4:13).”
Excerpt from the Preface on pages viii-xi: This comes from a humbling and useful Address to Students of Divinity.
“See that your minds be deeply impressed with the nature, extent, and importance of your ministerial work, — that therein it is required of you, as ambassadors for Christ, as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, — to be faithful; — to serve the Lord with your spirit, and with much humility in the gospel of his Son: — to testify repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, not keeping back or shunning to declare every part of the counsel of God, or any profitable instruction, reproof, or encouragement; and not moved with any reproach, persecution, hunger, or nakedness, — to be ready not only to be bound, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus, in order to finish your course with joy. Bearing with the infirmities of the weak, and striving together in prayer, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, and your message provided by God, and made acceptable to your hearers, you must labor with much fear and trembling, determined to know, to glory in, and to make known, nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, — preaching the gospel, not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, as men-pleasers, but with great plainness of speech, in demonstration of the Spirit and with power, — speaking the things which are freely given you by God, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but in words which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, — as having the mind of Christ, always triumphing in Him, — and making manifest the savor of the knowledge of him in every place, that you may be a sweet savor of Christ in them who are saved, and in them who perish; — as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God, speaking in Christ, and through the mercy of God, not fainting, but renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty; — not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, or corrupting the truth, but manifesting the truth to every man’s conscience, as in the sight of God; — not preaching yourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and yourselves servants to the church for his sake, always bearing about his dying, that his life may be manifested in you; — and knowing the terror of the Lord, and deeply impressed with the account which you and your hearers must give to him of your whole conduct in the day of judgment, — awed by his infinite authority, constrained and inflamed by his love, you must persuade men, beseeching them to be reconciled unto God, and making yourselves manifest to God and to their conscience, — and, as their edification requires, changing your voice, and turning yourselves every way, and becoming all things to all men, in order to gain them to Christ, — jealous over them with a godly jealousy, in order to espouse them to him as chaste virgins, — travailing in birth, till he be formed in their hearts. You must take heed to your ministry which you have received in the Lord, what you may fulfill it; — stir up the gifts which were given you, — give yourselves wholly to reading, exhortation, and doctrine; — and perseveringly take heed to yourselves and to the doctrine which you preach, that you may save yourselves and them that hear you; — watching for their souls, as they who do, and must give an account for them to God, — rightly dividing the word of truth, and giving every man his portion in due season, faithfully warning every man with tears night and day, teaching every man, particularly young ones, and laboring to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, — and warring, not after the flesh, nor with carnal weapons, but with such as are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds and casting down imaginations, and subduing every thought and affection to the obedience of Christ. Having him for the end of your conversation, and holding fast the form of sound words in faith in, and love to him, — not entangling yourselves with the affairs of this life, nor ashamed of the Lord, or of his cause or prisoners, but ready to endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and to endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain salvation with eternal glory; — ye must go forth without the camp, bearing his reproach, and, exposed as spectacles of suffering to angels and men, must not faint under your tribulations, but feed the flock of God which he has purchased with his own blood, and over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, — preaching the word in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all long-suffering and doctrine, — taking the oversight of your people, not by restraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre of worldly gain, or larger stipends, but of a ready mind, — neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock, — exercising yourselves to have a conscience void of offense towards God and towards man, — having a good conscience, willing in all things to live honestly, — exercised to godliness, — kindly affectioned, disinterested, holy, just, and unblamable, — prudent examples of the believers in conversations [daily life], in charity, in faith and purity, — fleeing youthful lusts, and following after righteousness, peace, faith, charity, — not striving, but being gentle to all men, — in meekness, instructing them who oppose themselves, avoiding foolish and unlearned questions, and old wives’ fables, — fleeing from perverse disputings and worldly mindedness, as most dangerous snares; and following after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness; — fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold on eternal life, — keeping your trust of gospel truth and ministerial office, and, without partiality or precipitancy, committing the same to faithful men, who may be able to teach others; — and, in fine, faithfully laboring, in the Lord, to try, and confute, and censure false teachers, restore such as have been overtaken in a fault in the spirit of meekness, — and having compassion on them, to pull them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, and never conniving at, or partaking with an in their sins. Who is sufficient for these things? May your sufficiency be of God; and as your days are, so may your strength be. (Ezek. 2:7, 3:9, 17-21, 33:7-9; Isa. 58:1; Jer. 1:17-18, 15:19-20; Mic. 3:8; Mal. 2:6-7; Matt. 10:16-39, 19:28-29, 20:25-28, 23:3-12, 24:42-51, 28:18-20; Acts 18:24-28, 20:18-35, 24:16, 26:16-23; 1 Cor. 2:1-5,9,12-13, ch. 1-5, 9, 12-14; 2 Cor. ch. 2-6, 10-13; Rom. 1:9,16, 9:1-2, 10:1, ch. 12 and 15; Gal. 1:8-16, 4:19; Eph. 3:7-9, 4:11-15, 6:19-20; Col. 4:7,17, 1:23-29, 2:1-2; 1 Thes. ch. 2, 3, 5:12; 1 Tim. ch. 3-4; 2 Tim. ch. 1-3; Heb. 13:7,17-18; 1 Pet. 4:10-11, 5:1-4; Jude 22, 23; Rev. ch. 2, 3, 11:3-7, 14:6-11).”