Thomas Brooks

Thomas Brooks on the Lord’s Supper and Assurance

Brooks (Heaven on Earth)In his book, Heaven on Earth, Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) writes all about assurance of salvation – it is essentially a treatise on that great subject. There Brooks deals with such things as proving that believers may attain a well-grounded assurance, pointing out what means may be used in order to obtain assurance, giving reasons why believers may lack assurance,  and demonstrating the differences between true and counterfeit assurance. It is a very helpful and encouraging book.

There he also shows us the vital connection between the Lord’s Supper and assurance. He writes,

It was the principal end of Christ’s institution of the sacrament of the supper that he might assure them of his love, and that he might seal up to them the forgiveness of their sins, the acceptation of their persons, and the salvation of their souls, Mat. 26.27,28. The nature of a seal is to make things sure and firm among men; so the supper of the Lord is Christ’s broad seal; it is Christ’s privy-seal, whereby he seals and assures his people that they are happy here, that they shall be more happy hereafter, that they are everlastingly beloved of God, that his heart is set upon them, that their names are written in the book of life, that there is laid up for them a crown of righteousness, and that nothing shall be able to separate them from him who is their light, their life, their crown, their all in all. (p.27)

Brooks would have us to understand that the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is primarily about assurance. It is “the principal end” (or main purpose) for which the Lord Jesus Christ instituted it for His people. The Supper is meant to reassure believers of Christ’s great love for them. It is, to use Brook’s words above, to “seal up to them the forgiveness of their sins, the acceptation of their persons, and the salvation of their souls.” A “seal” is given for the express purpose of assurance. It is “to make things sure and form among men.”

The Lord’s Supper is certainly not the only means whereby believers may attain, maintain, and be strengthened in their assurance of salvation, but it is certainly one of the most important, and one which must not be neglected. The very fact that the Lord Jesus instituted this Sacrament to be perpetually celebrated by His church until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26) shows us our perpetual need for assurance. It also shows us how greatly our faithful Savior desires that His beloved people would have assurance of His great love for them.

Rugged Providences

Brooks Precious Remedies

Providence is God’s “most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). So God not only preserves all things as He sees fit, but also governs all things as well. Providence is basically God’s sovereignty in action. It is what the Apostle Paul is speaking of when he tells us that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11, ESV).

Providence is a comforting truth for believers. It assures us that, no matter what happens in our lives, God is still firmly in control. And not only is He in control of all things, but He is in control of all things for our good, even for our salvation (Romans 8:28).

But that doesn’t mean that we will always immediately perceive how God is making all things work together for our good. Sometimes His providence is not only hard to understand, but at times it can also be hard to experience and endure.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) calls this “rugged providence.” In his classic book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, he writes:

“As the waters lifted up Noah’s ark nearer heaven, and as all the stones that were about Stephen’s ears did but knock him closer to Christ, the corner-stone, so all the strange rugged providences that we meet with, they shall raise us up nearer heaven, and knock us nearer to Christ, that precious cornerstone.” (p.154)

What a wonderfully helpful and encouraging reminder! Sometimes God’s providence in our lives can indeed be strange, and even rugged, but we can be sure that it is always good. God’s providences in our lives, no matter how rugged, will never harm us, but will actually serve only to bring us closer to heaven.

Playing with Matches?

ezgif.com-resizeCommon sense tells us not to play with matches. Most of us develop a healthy respect for fire at a young age. You only need to be burned once to learn not to get too close to an open flame. As the old saying goes, if you play with fire, you are going to get burned (cf. Proverbs 6:27).

Needlessly exposing yourself to the occasion of sin (i.e. that circumstance, place, or person which is likely to tempt you to commit sin) is a lot like playing with matches or pouring gasoline on a fire.  Nothing good will come of it. Thomas Brooks offers some words of wisdom regarding such things:

“He that adventures upon the occasions of sin is as he that would quench the fire with oil, which is fuel to maintain it, and increase it.” (Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, p.68)

So if you are struggling with a particular sin, ask yourself this question: Are you unnecessarily exposing yourself to the occasion of that sin? If so, you are (to use Brooks’s words), actually giving your sins “fuel” to maintain them and increase them! It is not without good reason that Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, not only to ask for forgiveness (Matthew 6:12), but also to ask that we not be led into temptation (Matthew 6:13). That request is basically concerned with the occasion of sin.

If you are not paying attention to the occasions of sin in your life, you may very well be pouring gasoline on the fire. And if that is the case, is it really any wonder that the fire is not quenched, but rather increased?

Thomas Brooks on the Nature of True Repentance

Brooks Precious RemediesIn his book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks notes that there are three (3) essential aspects of true repentance:

First, “The formal act of repentance is a changing and converting” (p.57). In other words it involves a turning of one’s life from darkness to light; it is a conversion. It is no mere oblique change of direction in a person’s life.

Second, “The subject changed and converted is the whole man” (ibid). It involves not just a change of the outward actions, but also of the heart, the innermost part of a person. Not just the practice, but the very person is also changed.

Third, this conversion of heart and life is a change (or turning) “from sin to God” (ibid). Brooks writes, The heart must be changed from the state and power of sin, the life from the acts of sin, but both unto God; the heart to be under his power in a state of grace, the life to be under his rule in all new obedience” (ibid).

The point he makes here is to show what a difficult thing it is to truly repent. In fact, it is humanly impossible to convert one’s self. He writes, “It is not in the power of any mortal to repent at pleasure” (p.56). God Himself must grant and work repentance in the heart and life of a sinner (2 Timothy 2:25).

Satan often deceives sinners into thinking that they are more than able to repent whenever they want (as if it were within their own power and ability to do so), and so leads men and women to keep putting off repentance until a later date. But Brooks warns that “it is as hard a thing to repent as it is to make a world, or raise the dead” (p.60). In other words, it takes the power of God Himself. No wonder Hebrews 13:3 warns us about being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” It is a difficult (even impossible) thing as it is for a man to repent and turn to God, but even more difficult if one continues to put it off and so becomes even more hardened in sin and unbelief!

May God in His mercy grant repentance to many, to the praise of His glorious grace.