Tag Archives: The Banner of Truth Trust

Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1

Works of Sibbes 1Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 550 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 1 at The Banner of Truth for $24.30. You can purchase the complete set of 7 volumes for $162.00 at Westminster Books or for a mere $10.00 on Kindle.

Introduction

Richard Sibbes was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577. He was converted around 1602-3 through the powerful ministry of Paul Bayne, the successor of William Perkins in the pulpit of Great St Andrew’s Church.

After earning his B.D. in 1610, Sibbes was appointed a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. Later, through the influence of friends, he was chosen to be the preacher at Gray’s Inn, London, and he remained there until 1626. In that year he returned to Cambridge as Master of St Catherine’s Hall, and later returned to Holy Trinity, this time as its vicar. He was granted a Doctorate in Divinity in 1627, and was thereafter frequently referred to as ‘the heavenly Doctor Sibbes’. He continued to exercise his ministry at Gray’s Inn, London, and Holy Trinity, Cambridge, until his death on 6 July 1635 at the age of 58.

You can read more of my reviews of Richard Sibbes’ writings here.

Summary

Volume one consists of A Memoir of Sibbes by A. B. Grosart, A Description of Christ, The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, The Soul’s Conflict with Itself and Victory over Itself by Faith, and Safety in Evil Times. Along with several other sermons and a brief series on 1 Peter 4.

These works were edited by Alexander B. Grosart from when the first complete set of Sibbes works appeared back in 1862-1864.

Review

One of the most notable features to this first volume is the memoir of Sibbes authored by Grosart himself which is an excellent introduction the pastoral nature of Richard Sibbes. Much like the modern day JI Packer, Sibbes was very involved in writing and preaching as well as endorsing a number of other works and books for his fellow divines.

Personally, I was most struck by the words I found on one website as I was doing some research on this series that this first volume contains “all the works published during Sibbes’ lifetime.” I literally sat stunned after reading this. The Banner of Truth Trust has published 5 Puritan Paperbacks and one Pocket Puritan by Richard Sibbes. Upon comparing those titles with what is found in this first volume, only The Bruised Reed has been republished as a stand alone book. Every other book is based on Sibbes’ exposition of passages.

This makes this first edition invaluable as we can read today what Sibbes thought most crucial for publication in his day. Even these books that he published in his lifetime are expositions of passages. The difference is they seem to deal with extremely urgent issues of the day and a theme of perseverance seems to arise from the pages. The Bruised Reed and The Saint’s Safety in Evil Times certainly point to this need.

The Soul’s Conflict with Itself points also to the inner turmoil it seems every Christian faces regardless of the era. All of this helps us to understand why Richard Sibbes was known as the Heavenly Doctor. His messages are timeless and perhaps more needed today than ever.

Recommendation

Of the seven volumes in this series, if you are going to purchase only one, this is it. The Bruised Reed is worth the price of the volume, but to be able to set it in the context of the other published works during his lifetime is open your eyes to the need of the gospel every day. If you have never read Richard Sibbes, you are missing out. This volume will show you why.

A Heavenly Conference by Richard Sibbes

A Heavenly ConferenceSibbes, Richard. A Heavenly Conference Between Christ and Mary. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 184 pp. $8.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Richard Sibbes (1577-1636) was a Puritan preacher at Cambridge.  I have reviewed other works of Sibbes’ which can be found here. His most instrumental work in my personal walk was The Bruised Reed.

Summary

This 184 page book is an exposition from John 20:16-17:

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

In this book, Sibbes looks at the believer’s union with Christ and meant to help believers understand the benefits of being in Christ.

Review

As with any work by Richard Sibbes, you will quickly understand his pastoral care and wisdom as he unpacks the importance of this brief conversation that resulted in Mary’s running back to the disciples and letting them know Christ was alive.

In true puritanical fashion, Sibbes begins with the passage and then parses it out to the greater truths of Scripture while all the while applying the doctrinal truths to the life of the believer. In this case, it is the importance of the union with Christ and the hope we have because of the historical Jesus we worship.

Though this is not as dense (theologically thick) as most other puritanical works, it most certainly delves into the heart of the importance of  understanding the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection and what it means to have faith in Christ. In other words, this book is sorely needed in the church today.

Recommendation

This excellent little book is great to read at any time. I think, however, that it may be even more appropriate to read during the Lenten season. Understanding these truths will help many Christians to lean not on their own understanding and instead lean on Christ alone. I highly recommend this book.

The Works of John Newton Volume 4

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 3. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 709 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 1 here. You can read the review of Volume 2 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

As we have seen from the first two volumes of the works of John Newton, he was an extensive letter writer. This fourth volume continues to show us just how extensive his letter writing ministry was. The first 275 pages of this volume comprises his letters to his wife.

The next 300 pages consist of some 133 additional letters to various men and women. The final 150 pages contain miscellaneous papers he published in a number of periodicals. Subjects of these periodicals include reading the Bible, female dress, covetousness, his thoughts on the African slave trade, and even a letter on political debate.

The very end of this book includes an index to all four volumes.

Review

The personal behind the scenes look at the life of John Newton, specifically in his correspondence with his wife, is pure gold. We don’t see a perfect marriage let alone a perfect husband. What we do see is a humble man striving to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  They are copious in collection and leave one to ponder just how much time was spent writing all of these letters (over 400 by my estimation) with a quill and ink in so many locations from on the sea to his desk in Olney.

Couple all of these letters with the call to the ministry and the weekly preparation of sermons and lessons and one stands in awe of the ministry the Lord allotted this man.  The inclusion of his writings for periodicals shows yet another area of influence this man had on the culture at large.

Reading all four volumes, or even a quick perusal of these four volumes will quickly show us a man who was more involved in ministry and Kingdom proclamation than a simple song.

Review

The draw of this fourth volume is the letters he wrote to his wife. What an example preserved here of a marriage in the late 18th century. I have thoroughly enjoyed this 4-volume set of the works of John Newton. I know you will as well. I recommend this to all Christians who love the hymn Amazing Grace…you will be astounded at what this man accomplished by that amazing grace of God.

The Works of John Newton Volume 3

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 3. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 679 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 1 here. You can read the review of Volume 2 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

This volume consists of Newton’s history of Christianity which was published in two books. Also included in this volume is the Olney Hymns. The first book of ecclesiastical history looks at the birth of Christ to His ascension. The second book looks at the time of the church from Christ’s Ascension to the end of the life of the apostle John.

The final book, which comprises the hymns sung by Newton’s congregation in Olney.

Review

The history is fascinating as it looks only at a 100-year history of the early church. His source material is primarily Scripture though he draws from historians of his day as well as those of the Patristics (just after the end of the Apostolic Age). Newton’s perspective is fascinating as he offers a similar testimony to that of Paul insofar as a his radical salvation. Just as Paul went from a persecutor of the church to its greatest apologist, so, too, Newton went from a legalistic hell raiser to a man known for teaching and living the amazing grace God offers through Jesus Christ to wretched sinners.

The hymns of Olney go to show how far we have fallen in terms of the content of our worship hymns. Fortunately, this is being rectified by the likes of Stuart Townend and Matt Redman and the Getty’s as well as others. Regardless, Newton’s hymns are a gold mine for the church to sift through today. Lord willing, we may begin to find more of these being sung on Sunday mornings.

Recommendation

This volume may be viewed by many as the weakest of the four volumes given its particular content. That is until you realize that a solid grasp on the history of the church and solid foundation of singing hymns helps to not only inform a pastor and congregation, but also helps to reinforce a proper understanding of the Christian faith. Do not allow the historical aspect of this third volume deter you from reading it. It remains an excellent addition to your library and will prove to be a wonderful resource that leads you to worship the sovereign God of history (and the present and the future). I recommend this to all Christians although those who are interested in history will probably enjoy it more than those who are not as interested.

Ichthus by Sinclair Ferguson and Derek Thomas

IchthusFerguson, Sinclair B. & Derek W.H. Thomas. Icthus: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Saviour. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 184 pp. $15.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

While I have read a number of books by Derek Thomas, I have not reviewed any of them to my knowledge. I have, however, reviewed a number by Sinclair Ferguson. You can read those here. Derek Thomas serves as Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC as well as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.

On the back of the book, it states that it is “written by two friends who, between them, have been following Christ for almost 100 years.” What a testimony.

Summary

Divided into nine chapters over 180 pages or so of text, the book is arranged to follow Christ’s earthly ministry from cradle to grave and then from the resurrection to His Second Coming.

The book is saturated with Scripture and offers a condensed and concise summary of what Christ accomplished during His time on earth and what He will accomplish when He returns.

Review

Reading Ichthus is akin to sitting in a seminary class looking solely at the person of Jesus through the lens of both Scripture (most important) and two men who have served the Lord for nearly a century. In other words, for the cost of a book, you could legitimately have a seminary class on the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Written with knowledge and experience that escapes most, Ferguson and Thomas offers the Christian church a wonderfully well-researched yet accessible book. Many books like this offer a section for application or questions for further study. Ichthus does not.

One may think this to be a negative, but as you read the book you realize that the entire book is one of application and one designed for deeper study simply by the questions you will want to answer. All this to say, that this book is one of those resources you will read and reread for years to come because of its meditative nature.

Recommendation

The Banner of Truth Trust has offered to monumental (not due to size, but subject) resources in the last few months. I have reviewed Knowing Christ and found it to be one of the best books on Christ I have read in recent memory. I can safely add Ichthus to this list of books I will return to through the years. I believe you will, too. I highly recommend this book to all Christians.

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

Knowing ChristJones, Mark. Knowing Christ. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 256 pp. $16.00. Purchase at Amazon or Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Mark Jones has been the minister at Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA), Canada since 2007. He is also Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) and Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at John Wycliffe Theological College, in association with North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa.

Mark is a lover of the Puritans, and has written or co-authored a number of books on the Puritans.

Watch this 16 minute conversation between Mark Jones and JI Packer (author of Knowing God).

Summary

Divided into 27 chapters, Mark looks at differing aspects of who Christ is. Among the obvious of Christ’s divinity, Incarnation, and resurrection, the reader will also look at Christ’s faith, His emotions, His reading, and His prayers.

Following is a complete list of the chapters (all preceded by “Christ’s”:

  • Declaration
  • Dignity
  • Covenant
  • Incarnation
  • Divinity
  • Humanity
  • Companion
  • Faith
  • Emotions
  • Growth
  • Reading
  • Prayers
  • Sinlessness
  • Temptations
  • Humiliation
  • Transfiguration
  • Miracles
  • Sayings
  • Death
  • Resurrection
  • Exaltation
  • Intercession
  • People
  • Wrath
  • Face
  • Names
  • Offices

Review

This is as close to an exhaustive treatise on the doctrine of Jesus Christ, or Christology if you prefer, as I have read. I genuinely had to read it one chapter a day for fear of being overwhelmed by the information. The chapters are not very long, but will have you meditating and thinking on Christ all day long.

The end notes will point the reader where they can read more in depth on each one of the twenty-seven aspects of Christ discussed in the book. Let’s be honest, we will never exhaust our understanding of Christ or God or the Holy Spirit for all eternity. We can, however, get a good running start!

Mark’s ability to weave history and Scripture together to show the importance of a right understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished. I found myself feeling like a first grader reading some of these chapters. I could not believe I had either missed so much of who Christ was or had so many misunderstandings myself. Keep in mind, none of them were heretical, but they were all less than what the Bible teaches.

You can take this quiz that was posted by Challies a while back to see how much you know (or do not know about Christ).

This is a well-researched and well-written book that, in my opinion, is already a classic. It will become one of those indispensable resources that every serious believer will want to have for their own library as well as to be able to give away copies.

Recommendation

I have read/skimmed over a 1,000 books for this website. I have offered a qualified positive recommendation for most of them (a conscious choice I made years ago). There are many I have declared to be “must reads” for various reasons or another. I have only read two other books (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Knowing God), save the Bible, that became foundational to my understanding of theology and the Christian life. Knowing Christ is now the third. This book will challenge what you think you know about your Savior and Lord and will lead you to worship your Lord and Savior.

The Works of John Newton Volume 2

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 2. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 766 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 1 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

Volume 2 continues where volume 1 left off with more letters followed by an appendix for all the letters.

Next, in this volume is six sermons Newton intended for the pulpit. These include a look at the deceitfulness of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10) and all things being given to us with Christ (Romans 8:32). The third section is comprised of twenty sermons delivered at his church in Olney. Part of the allure here is also the addition of the hymns sung at Olney that conclude this particular volume.

Also included is a two-part “review of ecclesiastical history” that is more than 200 of the over 750 pages of the book.

Review

This particular volume introduces the reader to the Pastor Newton who preached in the pulpit. With over 26 sermons, you will be able to see what made John Newton tick. His proclamation of the gospel as a pastor is, in my estimation, one of the most lacking areas of information the church has today on this giant of the faith. He is known primarily as a hymn-writer with a wonderful gospel testimony.

While his letters are of inestimable value, I have found his sermons to be of even greater value. This may be due to my being a pastor, but it helps to explain a lot of the theology behind the hymns and such. Also, it shows that a pastor who loves his congregation (and Newton certainly did if the letters are any indication) is able to speak with great boldness in the pulpit. This is to be emulated today though it is too much work for too many pastors…unfortunately.

Recommendation

As the larger portrait of John Newton unfolds in these 4 volumes of works, I am finding each particular volume is excellent in its own right. Yet, when you bring them all together, you have one excellent picture of a godly man who loved His Lord more than anything else. I highly recommend this 4-volume set to all Christians.

The Works of John Newton Volume 1

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 636 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 2 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

This first volume is comprised of some 165 letters written by John Newton. These letters are grouped according to subject matter. The first 14 letters are more biographical in nature while the next 41 all deal with various subjects that are religious in nature.  While the final 110 letters are simply correspondence with a number of different people that offers a look at the thinking of John Newton in various circumstances.

Many of the letters have a short introduction in order to help the reader understand the greater context of the letter.

Review

We have lost the art of writing a letter. That is what I learned from reading through this volume of Newton’s Works. Many biographies abound concerning John Newton which are drawn from many of these letters, I am sure. To read his own writings, however, elevates the biographical information to whole new level.

Through these letters, we see the heart of a pastor to be sure. More importantly, we catch a glimpse of just how amazing the grace was that saved a wretch like John. To read these letters is to be taken to a depth of pastoral concern and care that is sadly missing in today’s age of text messages and blogs. There is depth to theology and an obvious care for the love of those who are pilgrims in this life.

These letters would serve as a phenomenal daily read which would most certainly aid today’s Christian to navigate the stormy sea that never seems to abate.

Recommendation

While I cannot find the individual volumes on sale at this time, nor can I find these works available on Kindle, I can say that this first volume is so rich with pastoral care and biblical theology that every Christian would do well to read it. I highly recommend this particular volume to all and look forward to reviewing the next three.

Preparation for Ministry by Allan Harman

Preparation for MinistryHarman, Allan. Preparation for Ministry. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 124 pp. $9.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Allan Macdonald Harman is Research Professor of Old Testament, Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, Australia. Born in Lismore, New South Wales in 1936, he attended Taree High School and the University of Sydney (BA, 1957), before studying overseas at the Free Church College, Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh (BD, 1960; MLitt, 1974) and at Westminster Theological Seminary (ThM, 1961; ThD 1968).

After his initial theological training, he returned to Australia to pastor Geelong Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, to which he was ordained and inducted in March 1962.

After doctoral studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (1964-66), Allan began his long career as a Professor of Old Testament, first at the Free Church of Scotland College in Edinburgh (1966-74), and then back in his native Australia at the Reformed Theological College, Geelong (1974-77). While at the RTC he taught part-time in the newly re-started theological education programme of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, following the departure of all of the previous faculty when the Uniting Church came into existence in 1977. This led to his appointment as a professor at the Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, serving there from 1978 until his retirement in 2001. He was the Principal at PTC from 1982 until 2001, and maintains the connection with it as a Research Professor. His work in theological education was recognised by the award of an honorary doctorate (ThD) from the Australian College of Theology in 2003.

You can purchase a number of his books and commentaries here.

Summary

An extremely short work, this introduction to the subject of the calling to pastoral ministry is concise. Beginning with the necessity of coming to faith in Christ, Allan next looks at the call to the ministry and the importance of theological and pre-theological study.

He concludes the body of the book with commentary on early ministry expectations and how to stay fresh in ministry. Finally, he offers a small bibliography of recommended reading as well as four appendices meant to help the aspiring pastor to consider further the calling he believes God has on his life.

Review

I have read many of these types of books and yet I wish I had read this one over and above the rest. Harmon is not too wordy and he is does not sugar coat the importance of the calling or the lifestyle demanded by the calling. Furthermore, he writes with great understanding and experience after having trained numerous men in various academic settings since 1966.

You can easily read this book in less than an hour if you read only the body of the book. I would highly recommend, however, that these be read along with the contents of the book.

Recommendation

If you are considering the ministry, this book is a must read. Its size is such that it will be a resource you will refer to over and over again early in your ministry and one you will want to have on hand to give to other aspiring young ministers.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 6

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here, and Volume 2 here, Volume 3 here, Volume 4 here, and Volume 6 here.

You can read all my reviews on books by John Flavel.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

Volume 6 is the final volume in the Works of John Flavel. There are twelve different writings included in this volume. The most recognizable may be the Preparation for Suffering. Other notable writings are his Balm of the Covenant Applied to the Bleeding Wounds of Afflicted Saints and The Reasonableness of Personal Reformation and the Necessity of Conversion.

Included in this volume is a complete index of both texts and subjects for the entire collection.

Review

While this may be one of the least recognizable volumes in the entire set, there is complete gold to be found in these pages. His writing entitled Twelve Meditations helps the reader to understand the importance of the Lord’s Supper. All of these meditations are rooted in Scripture and are meant to draw the reader closer to the Lord through intentional communion with Him before partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

For my friends who hold to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Flavel’s commentary can be found here. Again, pure gold even if you simply read through his writings on this time honored catechism.

As a pastor, I appreciated his Character of an Evangelical Pastor Drawn by Christ as there is much food for thought to be found. Further, in this day and age of social media coupled with our increasing lack of transparency, Flavel will open the pastor’s eyes to the need of holiness.

Recommendation

In its own right, this volume is worth reading for it’s meditative qualities and pure devotion to Christ. Though it may be one of the least recognizable of the six volumes, it does contain much to consider for today’s Christian. I recommend it to all. At the very least, you can purchase it on Kindle (as many have already) and peruse it at your convenience.