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The Irish Puritans: The Irish Puritans (Puritan Pulpit) Hardcover – June 19, 2006
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From the Inside Flap
Ussher was a highly regarded scholar and a fearless preacher. These nineteen sermons deal with crucial issues of the soul, the devastating effects of sin, the purpose of the law, the satisfaction of Christ, the humiliation of Christ, peace with God, and the place of torment among others.
About the Author
JAMES USSHER was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1581. As a young man, he resolved to devote himself wholly to the work of the Church, and the Lord honored him in his resolve. Ussher entered Trinity College at thirteen, wrote a detailed work on Hebrew chronology in Latin at fifteen and graduated with a B.A. at sixteen. At eighteen he received his master's degree and was appointed proctor of the college. At twenty he was ordained a deacon and priest in the Anglican Church at Dublin. At twenty-six he received a Doctor of Divinity and shortly after that he became Professor of Divinity at Dublin, an honor accorded to very few who were that young. He was a professor from 1607 to 1621, and was twice appointed vice-chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin. In 1625, he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, which was the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church. An expert in Semitic languages, he argued for the reliability of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and wrote widely on Christianity in Asia, and other biblically related topics. In 1628, King James appointed him to his Privy Council in Ireland. When Ussher died, Oliver Cromwell held a magnificent state funeral for him and had him buried in Westminster Abbey. Cromwell took pains to make sure the writings and library of Ussher were preserved.
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Ussher was the Archbishop of Armagh, the leader of the Church of Ireland, the Anglican denomination for Ireland, in the first half of the 1600's. He wrote the Irish Articles, which were more consistently reformed than the 39 Articles of the Church of England. And here he certainly advocates the doctrines of grace, and warns of the dangers of popery.
However, while the general doctrines are excellent representatives of Reformed orthodoxy (and thereby profitable reading), there are some specific points of biblical interpretation where he goes off the deep end.
In chapter 14, while he explicitly denies that there are two forms of justification, he claims that our justification by faith at conversion only clears away our prior sins. New justification must be sought through confession of new sins and appeal for their forgiving through the rest of one's Christian life. Properly speaking, a PERSON is justified, such that all his sins are forgiven. If one must be forgiven for each individual sin from conversion forward, we would all be in trouble, for who is even conscious of each sin in the course of a day?
For another example, he uses the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) to demonstrate that God's forgiveness of sins can be revoked (p. 221). If God remembers my sins no more, where will they come from to be restored to my account?
While this book is a reprint of XVIIth Century sermons, it is printed in modern typeface, with mostly modern spelling and grammar. The style of the writing is a bit dry, but the way of salvation is presented in crystal clear fashion. It isn't really something you could give to an unbeliever as an evangelistic text. Rather, it is a way to better understand the Gospel, so that you can explain it in a more-Biblical fashion.