Monday, August 31, 2009

Trading and Thriving in Godliness

Trading and Thriving in Godliness: The Piety of George Swinnock,
edited by J Stephen Yuille, published by Reformation Heritage Books,
in their Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series, paperback, 235
pages, £6.95 from the F P Bookroom.

George Swinnock is not a well-known Puritan; indeed little is known
about his life, but his writings speak for themselves in distilling
the essence of the Puritan concern for practical godliness. In a brief
introduction, Yuille notes Swinnock's constant emphasis that the fear
of God is central to the right understanding of godliness. Fifty
judicious selections from Swinnock's writings have been arranged under
seven sections: the foundation of godliness (the character of God),
the door to godliness (regeneration), the value of godliness, the
pursuit of godliness, the nature of godliness, the means to godliness
and the motives to godliness.

In commending the necessity, beauty and primacy of godliness, Swinnock
maintains that it is the business of life. It is the Christian's trade
and they must be as diligent in it as any tradesman. "Every moment
must be devoted to God; and as all seasons, so all actions must be
sacred". He shows how "godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Tim
4:8), that is, in all conditions, relations, duties and in both
worlds. He also shows what it means to "exercise thyself unto
godliness" (1 Tim 4:7). His application of these things to the home,
the workplace, the conditions of prosperity and adversity are very
appropriate and carry a faithful rebuke.

This Puritan has a facility for vivid illustration and is easily read.
The book makes an excellent introduction to the Puritans, and we would
commend it particularly to the young as an attractive exposition of
the truth that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim 6:6).
"This indeed is the true life, all other but the shadow of living".

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