Sunday, September 7, 2008

Preparing Our Hearts - a life-encompassing task

I ask your pardon for breaking away from my practice and purpose hitherto of only posting unreprinted works, but as I was reading this today I felt a strong urge to post it despite the fact that I’m reading the (modern) Soli Deo Gloria edition, thus implying that it's been reprinted. I highly recommend this sermon.

[Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship. First published 1648, published by Soli Deo Gloria in 1990. pages 80-81, 86-87]

Gospel Worship
The Right Manner of Sanctifying the Name of God in General
And Particularly in these 3 Great Ordinances
1. Hearing the Word
2. Receiving the Lord’s Supper
3. Prayer

These portions are taken from Sermon III, on Leviticus 10:3, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me.”

The fourth thing for preparation is to watch and to pray.

We should watch over our hearts lest they be made unfit for duties. So we should prepare for prayer all day long in this sense. That is, we should watch over our hearts that they are not let out so far as will hinder us in prayer when we come to do it. I remember Tertullian said that the Christians supped as if they were about to pray. So when you are with company, you should watch unto prayer. Oh, that you did so. You cannot but be conscious of the fact that oftentimes when you have been with company your hearts have been out of tune and frame, that you have been in no way fit for prayer. When you come home, your house and family finds it so. You that take such delight in company and sitting up late, I appeal to your consciences whether you can come home and find yourselves fit either in your family or closet to go and open your hearts to God.

This is one note, by the way, whereby you may come to know whether you have been immoderate in company at any time. God does not give men liberty to be busy in any outward occasions in the world so as to make them unfit for His service. Preparation consists in that, in watching over your hearts that you may not be unfitted for any holy duty when God calls you to it, but that you may be ready even to every good work.


...We should always be prepared either for prayer, hearing the Word, or receiving the Sacraments. Now because Sacraments are so rare [at the time in England, Burroughs likely would have held communion at most twice a year – SML], those that have any enlightened consciences think that they dare not but prepare for Sacraments, but you should always be in preparation for the receiving of the Sacraments as the primitive Christians were. And those that have been acquainted with this point of preparing for duties have come to such a frame of spirit that there is not as much time required of them as others, for they are in a constant fitness so that there is not an instant of time in the whole day but, if God calls them to prayer, they could immediately fall down upon their knees and pray so as to sanctify God’s name in prayer.

That would be an excellent temper, indeed, if you could find it so that you walk so spiritually and holily before God that there could never be a quarter of an hour from morning to night, nor from the beginning of the week to the end, but if you were called to pray, or to receive the Sacrament, you had your heart fitted so that you could come into God’s presence with a prepared heart and would be able to sanctify God’s name in that duty. Acquaint yourselves with this work of preparation, and so you may have hearts fitted to come into God’s presence at any time.