Jim Davison on Jeremiah Burroughes

The following post is from a close friend, Jim Davison of Northern Ireland, who did his PhD thesis at Queens Belfast on Jeremiah Burroughes. A comment on Jeremiah Burroughes’ Gospel Worship:

Jeremiah Burroughes (c.1600-1646) has been a constant companion of mine for the past seven or eight years, through the study of his printed sermons and other works.  He more than any other puritan preacher has warmed my soul and encouraged me to seek what he sought to preach a life lived to the glory of God.  In Gospel Worship the emphasis is on the privilege and awesome responsibility of drawing near to God, for He has said: ‘I will be sanctified in them that draw nigh Me’ (Exodus 10:3).

How this is to be done is set out by Burroughes by way of three topics, each of which have many headings and sub-headings.  The subjects are Hearing the Word, Receiving the Lord’s Supper, and Sanctifying the Name of God in Prayer.  Each of these duties is unfolded for us with the aim of better equipping us to worship God in a proper manner, e.g., with reverence and awe.

In regard to hearing the Word as part of worship we are reminded by Burroughes that while it is good to hear the Word it is more important how we hear it, by which he means, not only as ‘an ordinance appointed by God,’ but in such a way that at the last day we will be able to say: ‘This is the Word that I reverenced, that I obeyed, that I loved, that I made the joy of my heart.’  Here we find Burroughes at his best as he unfolds the importance of preparation of heart to hear the Word preached.

In regard to the Lord’s Supper, Burroughes makes it clear that in keeping this ordinance ‘you will find a greater beauty … than you ever found in all your lives.’  Surely this is a message we need to get across to the many in each congregation who ignore the ordinance time after time.  Burroughes follows his exposition of the importance of this ordinance with ten mediations ‘by which we should labour to sanctify our hearts,’ as we ‘come to sanctify the name of God when we are drawing nigh to Him’ in this holy ordinance.

The third subject handled by Burroughes is prayer as a means of worshiping God.  Here Burroughes shows that prayer is ‘that which sanctifies all things to us’ - ‘Everything is sanctified by the word of God and prayer’ (1 Timothy 4:5).  Prayer is also that which ‘would help us against many temptations to evil.’  This leads Burroughes to exhort believers to ‘the preparation of heart unto prayer.’  This preparation is to be done in the course of one’s life,’ by which Burroughes means the way we live: ‘keep all things even and clean between God and your souls’ and ‘keep our hearts sensible of our continual dependence upon God.’

In many ways these fourteen sermons, now printed in a modern format by Soli Deo Gloria Publications, seek to emphasis the need for preparation of heart and soul as a prelude to participating in these three great ordinances of worship.  It is a masterful treatise on a subject that is foreign to many today; but one that is surely needed.  Burroughes is right when he says, ‘The reason why we worship God in a slight way is because we do not see God in His glory.’  But, one cannot read these sermons without appreciating that God is glorious in holiness.  It is also true that ‘If in the duties of worship we are near to God, then hence appears the great honour that God puts upon his servants that do worship him.'