Saturday, December 5, 2009

Preparing The Heart For The Lord's Day

Preparing the heart is the most important matter of all, for the Lord's Day is pre-eminently 'a day for heart-work'22 From this point of view, the battle for our Sundays is usually won or lost on the foregoing Saturday night, when time should be set aside for self-examination, confession and prayer for the coming day. Richard Baxter's young people's fellowship used to spend each Saturday evening preparing together for the Sabbath in this way. `If thou wouldst thus leave thy heart with God on the Saturday night,' Swinnock assures us, `thou shouldest find it with him in the Lord's-day morning.'23 The last rule for preparation comes from the supremely practical mind of Richard Baxter: Go seasonably to bed, that you may not be sleepy on the Lord's Day.'24(b) Public worship must be central on the Lord's Day. The day must be built round public worship, morning and afternoon or evening (the publike exercises are twice at the least to be used every Sabbath'25). Private devotions must take second place to this, if one or the other for any reason has to go. But we must get up on Sunday mornings in time to prepare our hearts afresh to praise and pray and hear God's word preached, for `if we come rudely into the Lord's House from brawling or chiding at home or so soone as he is out of his bed … the Word shall be but a tediousness and serve to the further hardening of his heart.'26Puritan services might last anything up to three hours; but the Puritans had little sympathy with those who complained at their length. Baxter's comment is simply that those who found a church service tedious, and yet could spend a far longer time in a public house, or at a public entertainment, without boredom, must have very bad hearts; though he then takes occasion to speak a word in season to preachers and suggest to them an honester way to cure people's weariness. Preach with such life and awakening seriousness … and with such easy method and with such variety of wholesome matter that the people may never be weary of you. Pour out the rehearsal of the love and benefits of God; open so to them the privileges of faith, the joys of hope, that they may never be angry. How oft have I heard the people say of such as these, I could hear him all day and never be weary! They are troubled with the shortness of such sermons, and wish they had been longer.…

22.Baxter, Works, I:470.23 23.Swinnock, Works, I:230.24 24.Baxter, Works, I:472.25 25.Richard Greenham, Works, (1611 edition), p 208.26 26.Dod and Cleaver, op cit, p 145.27 27.Baxter, Works, III:905.Packer, J. I.: A Quest for Godliness : The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 1994, S. 241

~ From The Puritan At Heart's Blog

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"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1