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The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent) Paperback – February 28, 2008


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The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent) + The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (The Swans Are Not Silent) + The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (The Swans Are Not Silent)
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Product Details

  • Series: The Swans Are Not Silent (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433501899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433501890
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is teacher and founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. He served for 33 years as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don’t Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?


More About the Author

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

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Customer Reviews

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Piper reminds us that none of us know what waves will spread out from a pebble dropped into the ocean of God's will.
Tim George
Piper shows how Bunyan learned the secret to enduring suffering by "seeing God who is invisible." This sketch is a great encouragement to persevere.
Brian G Hedges
John Bunyan is most famous for his book The Pilgrim's Progress, though many are also familiar with his biographical Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.
Roger N. Overton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Tim George on April 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In our day of self-help and "feel good" religion this may seem a strange book to many. Through the looking glass of the lives of John Buyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd, John Piper reminds us of something the Purtians called "The frowning providence of God."
This is the second in a series of books called, The Swans are Not Silent. Each book in this series takes a theme and then examines that theme in the Scripture and the lives of believers of the past. The theme of this work is suffering and affliction.
As always, Piper stretches our faith well beyond the normal comfort zones of evangelical thought. One can feel hid sorrow as Buyan parted from his family to spend 12 years in prison. It was in that prison however, that Pilrgims Progress was born. Piper carries us with William Cowper into the darkness of an insane asylum where in utter despair he finally found the grace and mercy of God. From that darkness Cowper broke into glorious light, writing that great hymn, There is a Fountain Filled With Blood. We are transported back to the apparent failure of David Brainerd as he was expelled from Yale for questioning the salvation of an instructor. We walk with Brainerd through his short years as a missionary to the Indians. Piper reminds us that none of us know what waves will spread out from a pebble dropped into the ocean of God's will.
The Hidden Smile of God is the kind of book that you won't put down once you open it. This is a much needed book in our day. So-called Christian broadcasting is beaming a message around the world of feel-good easiness. It may be a hard word to embrace but it is true. God's people are not spared from affliction and trouble. They are brought through these things in the grace and mercy of God.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Brian G Hedges on April 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This second book in Piper's new series "The Swans are not Silent" is an excellent biographical account of three men: John Bunyan, William Cowper (pronounced Cooper),and David Brainerd. The common thread joining the lives of these three men is suffering. Hence the subtitle: "the fruit of affliction in the lives of ..."
Piper gives us a good introduction to Bunyan, the tinker turned Baptist preacher who spent twelve years in Bedford jail in the 1600's because he wouldn't promise to quit preaching. Bunyan was also the author of The Pilgrim's Progress - probably the most widely-read Christian book besides the Bible ever published. Piper shows how Bunyan learned the secret to enduring suffering by "seeing God who is invisible." This sketch is a great encouragement to persevere.
The second biography is of a different sort, looking at the life of the melancholy poet, William Cowper, who authored the best hymn on God's providence ever written, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." Cowper's life was checkered with depression, insanity, and multiple suicide attempts - a strange candidate for a Christian hero. Yet, Piper shows how through John Newton's tireless encouragement, Cowper managed to find windows of hope in his all but despair-filled life. It is a sad story, but an encouraging one. Those who appreciate poetry and the agony of soul that often breeds it, will appreciate this sketch of Cowper.
The third sketch covers the life of David Brainerd, the Yale student who was expelled for an untimely word, and became a missionary to the Indians. Despite tuberculosis and harsh living conditions, Brainerd pressed on in the wearisome labor of translation and preaching for the conversion of dozens of Indians.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dan Panetti VINE VOICE on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The second of Piper's The Swans are Not Silent series, this book was the most difficult to read because of the subject it dealt with - suffering. Piper selected three great men of the faith, known for their devotion to the Lord and their godly walk and let the reader peak behind the curtains of their lives - and the suffering, depression, attempted suicide and struggles of these three men was very distressing. Yet, even as Bunyan face his twelve years in prison for preaching the gospel, he saw his struggles actually ordained and orchestrated by God for His own glory; a view that both Cowper and Brainerd shared regarding their own hardships and turmoil.

In a country where suffering is avoided at all costs and seen by many as spiritual weakness, the lives of Bunyan, Cowper and Brainerd shout a different story about the sovereign hand of God in the lives of His children. 1 Peter chapter 4 tells us that we should not consider suffering strange, but rather as a sign that the Lord truly is in control and that He is working out our salvation for His own glory through our hardships. Looking back at the lives of these three saints, it is easy to see how God has been glorified in their struggles - from the writings of Bunyan to the poems and hymns of Cowper to the effectual call to ministry that the life of Brainerd has had on hundreds if not thousands who followed him. While these three struggled greatly, many have tasted the fruit of eternal peace from their hardships.

All four books of this series are outstanding - highly recommended for all Christians to read. Piper introduces us to some great men of the faith and challenges us with their lives to walk in a manner worthy of our calling as those who went before us have done.
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