Saturday, August 4, 2007

An early Puritan catechism, on prayer

dward Dering (c.1540-1576) was an important Elizabethan Puritan who published in a number of literary genres: treatises, prayer books, catechisms and sermons as well. In 1569 he preached a sermon before the queen and actually chided her for a lack of supervision over the ministers in the official church, who Dering insisted were incompetent and derelict:
"And yet you in the meane while that all these whordoms are committed, you at whose hands God will require it, you sit still and are carelesse, let men doe as they list. It toucheth not belike your common wealth, and therfore you are so well contented to let all alone."
Needless to say, the queen was not charmed by the rebuke. Allegedly, she never warmed to Dering again after the incident.

The following is a brief excerpt from the catechism Dering wrote and published in 1572. Its full name was A briefe & necessary instruction verye needefull to bee knowen of all housholders, whereby they maye the better teach and instruct their families in such points of Christian religion as is most meete. Not onely of them throughly to be vnderstood, but also requisite to be learned by hart of all suche as shall bee admitted vnto the Lordes Supper. It pertains to prayer:

Question: Because that prayer is the especiall meanes which God wyl haue us use to encrease in faith, tel me what belongeth to true prayer?

Aunswer: It is requisite in true praier fyrst that we pray onely to God (Psa. 50.15).

Secondly, that we be inwardlye touched with the nede of the thing we aske.

Thirdlye, that we grounde our prayer uppon Gods promise (2 Cor. 1.20).

Fourthly, that we continue, though straight we obtaine not (Luk. 18.2).

Lastly, that we aske not what we wyll, but suche thinges as we are sure God hath commaunded us to aske (James 4.3), lyke as we have example in the Lordes prayer.

Rehearse the Lordes prayer.

Our father which art in heaven, &c.

What desirest thou in this praier?

Aunswer: I desire of my heavenly Father, that his holy name may be glorified among us, both in his excellent works, & in our lives: That he onely may be had in honour, & all other set asyde.

Secondly, I desire that his kingdome may florish, that is, that his holy spirit may beare rule within us, to all heavenly delights, and that his woord may have the preeminence, to be our onely law of righteousnes, which we may all obey.

Thirdly, that we may willingly resigne our selves to him, wythout all murmuring whatsoeuer he shal do.

Fourthly, that he wyll minister of his great ritches, althings necessarye for our vocation.

Fiftly, that our consciences maye be quiet, and we have hope, that our synnes ar pardoned and blotted out of memory, even as we pardon all whosoever have offended us.

Lastlye, that God would strengthen us with his holye spirite, and encrease our faith, that we maye overcome the world, and quench the firye dartes of Satan, and so at the last be partakers of his glory.

[NB: The font on the title page above is called blackletter. Today we call it (inaccurately) Old English. Believe it or not, use of this type-face was associated with a wider, less-educated reading audience in the sixteenth century. Roman type-faces like the one you're reading now were reserved for more scholarly works. In other words (pardon the pun), sixteenth-century English readers found "Old" English more legible than the Roman fonts we use so often today!]

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lectures on Owen's Pastoral Theology

John Tweedale made reference to these excellent lectures in an earlier post here. I believe it might have been missed by many since it was mentioned among other things. So here they are again.

Check out these 8 lectures on the pastoral theology of John Owen by Dr. Derek Thomas delivered at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary this past Spring. With the kind permission of Dr. Thomas and the President of PRTS, Dr. Joel Beeke, these valuable lectures have now been made available to the public.


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