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The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit: Delivered in a Treatise on Numbers 14:24 Hardcover – September 1, 1997
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From the Inside Flap
This title is based on Numbers 14:24: "Caleb was of another spirit; he followed God fully." The first part of this book deals with what that "other spirit" is a gracious spirit, synonymous with a regenerate heart. The second part of this book explains what it means to serve God thoroughly from a spirit motivated by His grace.
About the Author
Jeremiah Burroughs (1600-1646) harmoniously combined in his own person qualities that might be considered incompatible: a fervent zeal for doctrinal purity and worship and a peaceable spirit which longed and labored for Christian unity. It is said that his heart was broken by the divisions among the Puritan reformers in the 1640s and that this contributed to his premature death at age forty-six.
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Now out of all the marks covered in the first section, an eminent evidence of a gracious spirit is explored further in the second half of the book, that is, "a gracious spirit is one that follows the Lord fully." While this does not imply a sinless perfection, it does imply a decisiveness of the gracious influence that manifests in lifestyle and worldviews, distinguishing itself clearly from the unregenerate spirits. There is plenty of rich practical theology to savor and ponder on for self-examination. I personally enjoy more of the feast here than in the first part of the book, though I have to say I enjoy it with trembling. Consider, when speaking of one way to know the earnestness in following the Lord being in the midst of adversity,
"It is nothing to follow Him when our comforts, peace, ease and honor go along together with Him. It can not then be known whether we follow Him or not, or whether it is our own ends that we follow... When God is followed in reference and subordination to any good in the creature, it is not then God but the creature that we follow... Thus it is in many men's religion: self ends are the operative ingredients in what they do. Where self-ends are the chief movers, there is no further latitude or degree of godliness minded but such as may be serviceable unto them... A self-seeking heart is always an empty heart, but a gracious heart is fruitful in all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old.
(But, speaking of a truly gracious soul) though there may be much faintness and weakness, yet the soul does not think of turning back again, but goes on still pursuing in the way it has begun... Yea, though this soul receives many repulses, still it will follow. Though Christ called the woman of Canaan dog, yet she did not leave. She acknowledged herself to be a dog, yet still she sought Him. Yea, though God seems to go in cross ways quite contrary to what the soul expected, yet still this soul will follow Him even in those ways...he was content to let go all other holds and all other hopes in all creature comforts whatever, and so to venture himself upon God as to be content to be miserable forever if he finds not enough in God to make him happy. He has so let all other things go that, if he should fail here, he has nowhere to retire. He has reserved no way, no means to help himself by if he should miscarry here. He has laid all the weight of all his comforts, of all his hopes, of all his happiness upon the Lord. He has no other prop that he does or can expect any support by. There is a blessed necessity upon him to follow the Lord forever, and this necessity the soul is glad of." (p.150, 153, 157, 163, 181).
In speaking of lukewarmness, of which I read with an even more trembling heart as if I were looking at a mirror, of which Burrough describes as those who "follow Him in a dull, heavy manner," and "there is no spirit, no heat, no life in their following Him," he writes,
"They go on in an ordinary track of performing the duties of religion without any growth or sensibleness of the want of growth. They set upon some fair way of religion, which they persuade themselves is enough and that they mean to hold to. They are content to make use of Christ and the profession of religion as far as may serve their own turns. But to entertain Christ and His truth as an absolute Lord to rule them, that their spirits can not bear.
(Speaking of the church of Laodicea) Of this church there is no good said at all. Yet none of the churches had such a high esteem of itself as this one had. None of them thought themselves to be rich and increased with goods and without the need of anything, as this church did. No people so bless themselves in their way as lukewarm people do; and yet no people are more abominable to God than they. What a dishonor the lukewarm temper is to God" (p.177-178).
The last few chapters of section 2 is somewhat redundant as Burrough seems to repeat what he already implied in the first section but under a different heading where here, he reiterates the blessedness of having a gracious spirit under the title "It is the choiceness of a man's spirit that causes him to follow God fully." But they are still valuable. Precious lessons need to be pointed out over and over again that they stick well in the head and most importantly in the heart. I take several points here more as a personal longing that the Lord would bless me and all his people with the fruits of a gracious spirit, being "capable of the presence of God, (in whom) God delights to let out Himself more...raising it to converse with high things and so carries it above the rubs, snares and hindrances that are below," whereby they validate the genuineness of our profession, where "this fullness of God in (our) spirits must carry (us) on because it so satisfies (us) that we feel no need of other things. Thunders and lightnings, tempests and storms make no alteration in the highest region. So the threats and oppositions against the ways of godliness, and all the troubles that the world causes, make no alterations in heavenly hearts that keep above" (p.215-216).
Burroughs is not only a good theologian and expositor of the Scriptures but he is an author that can bring out the practical applications of his theology. For that reason, I appreciate his writings and his conclusions. His theology is sound but his exhortations are convicting to anyone that may not be seeking after God as they should. This book is rooted firmly in Scripture and I highly recommend it to be read by all people that desire a deeper knowledge of the type of spirit that will please God.