Posted by: chuckbumgardner | August 18, 2010

Puritans on Meditation

From Joel Beeke’s worthy article,  “The Puritan Practice of Meditation,” in Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2004), 73-100.

“The Puritans never tired of saying that biblical meditation involves thinking upon the Triune God and His Word.  By anchoring meditation in the living Word, Jesus Christ, and God’s written Word, the Bible, the Puritans distanced themselves from the kind of bogus spirituality or mysticism that stresses contemplation at the expense of action, and flights of the imagination at the expense of biblical content.” (74)

Thomas Watson defined meditation as “a holy exercise of the mind whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.” (74)

Edmund Calamy wrote, “A true meditation is when a man doth so meditate of Christ as to get his heart inflamed with the love of Christ; so meditate of the Truths of God, as to be transformed into them; and so meditate of sin as to get his heart to hate sin.” (74-75)

As Thomas Watson wrote, “study is the finding out of a truth, meditation is the spiritual improvement of a truth; the one searcheth for the vein of gold, the other digs out the gold.  Study is like a winter sun that hath little warmth and influence: meditation . . . melts the heart when it is frozen, and makes it drop into tears of love.” (78)

Manton wrote, “Meditation is a middle sort of duty between the word and prayer, and hath respect to both.  The word feedeth meditation, and meditation feedeth prayer; we must hear that we be not erroneous, and meditate that we be not barren.  These duties must always go hand in hand; meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer.” (79)

John Lightfoot: “Singing God’s praise is a work of the most meditation of any we perform in public.  It keeps the heart longest upon the thing spoken.  Prayer and hearing pass quick from one sentence to another; this sticks long upon it.” (87)

Good sermons not only inform the mind with sound doctrine but also stir up the affections.  They turn the will away from sin and toward loving God and one’s neighbor.  Meditation enlarges and directs the affections through the reception of the Word of God in the heart from the mind.  When people stop meditating on sermons, they stop benefiting from them. (91)

Watson called meditation “the bellows of the affections.”  He said, . . . “we light affection at this fire of meditation.” (92)


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