I wish I could say I was such a committed reader and Christian that I read a steady diet of the Puritans, but I’m just not, on either count. But I do have a great respect for the Puritans, despite the best efforts of my sophomore English teacher, and I appreciate the fact that their voices inform most of the contemporary thinkers who have most influenced me.
For that reason, I love this daily devotional that we picked up at a conference a few years back; it’s kind of a “greatest hits” collection of great Puritan texts, each day giving me a little bite-sized reading to digest. Last week I read two days’ readings that I’m still thinking about days later, which is my main criteria for a commonplace passage.
Here is the first one: it’s by Samuel Ward, quoted in Voices from the Past, ed. Richard Rushing
“We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)
[Those who have their souls too linked to the body] hate to part with the body, which is their only blessing. But, regenerate spirits enjoy times of sublime reflections about heaven, and are willing to leave the body. John saw the saints in their safety and rest under Christ’s protection and custody, under the shadow of his wings. He presents them to his Father, shelters them from accusation and condemnation, gathers them, as the hen her chicks, and is fully able to keep them from all distress. He will defend them from external and internal annoyance, and settle them in absolute peace with him in paradise.
These meditations foster a true courageous resolution against the fear of death. We must set our mind on these heavenly realities, and often think of them. If there were an island on earth that would free our bodies and quiet our minds all our days, how would people covet to dwell in it. Christ is the believer’s strong tower, and he does not fear what death can do unto him. He looks to the exceeding eternal weight of glory.
Write, O Christ, these meditations on our hearts! Imprint them in our memories and may all our days have frequent thoughts of them. Let our Comforter bring them to mind that we might cheerfully pass through the waters of Jordan to take possession of that land of delights without end. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!