The Puritans have a bad rap.
People think they’re cold, joyless prudes — like icy, spiritual robots. They don’t have fun. They never smile.
But that’s far from true. The Puritans spoke and wrote about joy and delight as much as anybody. But a part of the reason they got this reputation is because they didn’t sugarcoat or soften truth.
The Puritans didn’t coddle. They were fierce truth-tellers and defenders.
And they weren’t afraid to make people uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel.
For Christmas, my parents got me a book of daily readings from the Puritans, edited by Randall J. Pederson. These readings are convicting, encouraging, and sometimes uncomfortable — which is exactly what the modern Christian needs.
Today I want to share with you a reading from Richard Baxter on the wicked and the converted.
“A wicked man is one that makes it the principal business of his life to prosper in the world, and attain his fleshly ends.
“And though he may read and hear, and do much in the outward duties of religion, and forebear disgraceful sins, yet this is all but the by, and he never makes it the principal business of his life to please God, and attain everlasting glory, and puts off God with the leavings of the world, and gives Him no more service than the flesh can spare; for he will not part with all for heaven.
“On the contrary, a converted man is one that makes it the principal care and business of his life to please God, and to be saved, and takes all the blessings of this life but as accommodations in his journey towards another life, and uses the creature in subordination to God: he loves a holy life, and longs to be more holy: he has no sin but what he hates, and longs, and prays, and strives to be rid of.
“The drift and bent of his life is for God; and, if he sin, it is contrary to the very bent of his heart and life, and therefore he rises again and laments it, and dares not willfully live in any known sin.
“There is nothing in this world so dear to him but he can give it up to God, and forsake it for Him, and the hopes of glory.”