by Alexander Whyte
from Thirteen Appreciations
Gentlemen. I have long looked for a suitable opportunity of acknowledging an old
debt to a favourite author of mine. But when I proceed to pay a little of that
old debt today, I am not to be supposed to put any of you into that same
author's debt. All I wish to do is for once to make full and heartfelt
acknowledgement of my own deep debt to that author, and then to urge you all to
get into some such indebtedness to some great authors of past days or of the
It was in my third year at the University that I first became acquainted with
Thomas Goodwin. On opening the 'Witness' newspaper one propitious morning, my
eye fell on the announcement of a new edition of Thomas Goodwin's works. The
advertised 'Council of Publication', as I remember well, made a deep impression
upon me, and it will not be without interest to you to hear their honoured names
even on this far-distant day. They were Dr Lindsay Alexander, of this city; Dr
Begg, of this city; Dr Crawford, of the University of Edinburgh; Principal
Cunningham, of this College; Mr Drummond, of St Thomas's Episcopal Church; Dr
William Goold, of Martyr's Church. I entered my name at once as a subscriber to
the series; and not long after, the first volume of Goodwin's works came into my
hands. And I will here say with simple truth that his works have never been out
of my hands down to this day.
In those far-off years I read my Goodwin every Sabbath morning and every Sabbath
night. Goodwin was my every Sabbath-day meat and my every Sabbath-day drink. And during my succeeding years as a student, and as a young minister, I carried
about a volume of Goodwin wherever I went. I read him in railway carriages and
on steamboats. I read him at home and abroad. I read him on my holidays among
the Scottish Grampians and among the Swiss Alps. I carried his volumes about
with me till they fell out of their original cloth binding, and till I got my
book-binder to put them into his best morocco. I have read no other author so
much and so often. And I continue to read him till this day as if I had never
read him before.
Now, if I was to say such things as these about some of the Greek or Latin or
English classics you would receive it as a matter of course. But why should I
not say the simple truth about the greatest pulpit master of early this century?
Pauline exegesis and homiletic that has ever lived, and who has been far more to
me than all those recognized classics taken together?
It was a great time, gentlemen, when I was attending the University and New
College. The works of Dickens and Thackeray were then appearing in monthly
parts. The Bront family were at their best. George Eliot was writing in
Blackwood. Carlyle was at the height of his influence and renown. Ruskin,
Macaulay, Tennyson, and Browning were in everybody's hands. And I read them all
as I had time and opportunity. But I read none of them as I read Goodwin. He is
not to be named beside them as literature. No! But then they are not to be named
beside him as religion. Masters in their own departments, as they all are, yet
none of them laid out their genius upon Paul, nor upon Paul's supreme subject
Jesus Christ and his salvation! And therefore though I read them all and
enjoyed them all in their measure, yet, as Augustine says about the best
classics of Greece and Rome, since the Name of Jesus Christ was not to be found
in them, none of them took such complete possession of me as did Thomas Goodwin
the great Pauline exegete.
I frankly confess to you that I sometimes say to myself that I must surely be
all wrong in my estimate of Goodwin's worth, else someone besides myself would
sometimes be found to mention his name with some honour. But when I am led to
open Goodwin again all my old love for him returns to me, and all my old
indebtedness and devotion to him, till I give myself up again to all his
incomparable power and incomparable sweetness as an expounder of Paul and as a
preacher of Jesus Christ.
Thomas Goodwin was born October 5, 1600 at Rollesby, a little village in
Norfolk. He was brought up with great care by his Puritan parents, who had from
his birth devoted him to the Christian ministry. He was educated at Cambridge
where he attained a great proficiency in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. He kept up his
reading in those three languages to the end of his life, and to the lasting
enriching and adorning of his pulpit work. 'By an unwearied industry in his
studies', says one of his biographers, 'Goodwin so much improved those natural
abilities that God had given him, that, though so very young, he gained for
himself a great esteem at the University. But all the time', adds the
biographer, 'he walked in the vanity of his mind, and ambitious hopes and
selfish designs entirely possessing him, all his aim was to get applause and
raise his reputation, and in any manner to advance himself by preferments.
'But', adds his biographer, 'God, who had designed Goodwin to higher ends than
those he projected in his own thoughts, was graciously pleased to change his
heart and to turn the course of his life to the divine service and to the divine
glory'. After his conversion, Goodwin attached himself openly and boldly to the
Puritan party in the University, and he remained one of the great pillars of
that party as long as he lived. He was wont to say that it was his deep reading
of his own heart, taken along with his deep reading of his New Testament, that
made him and kept him an evangelical Puritan through all the intellectual and
ecclesiastical vicissitudes of his after life.
Owing to Archbishop Laud's persecution of the Evangelical party in the English
Church, Goodwin was compelled to resign all his ecclesiastical appointments and
to take refuge in Holland. By this time his scriptural and historical studies
had made him a convinced Independent, both in politics and in church government.
He was looked on and spoken of as the 'Atlas of Independency' all through the
coming years of much debate and controversy in connection with church
constitution and church government.
After Laud fell Goodwin was able to return to England. He settled in London
where his unparalleled power in the pulpit soon gathered a large and influential
congregation around him. In the porch of the City Temple there is a monumental
tablet to the memory of the first minister of that famous congregation, which
runs thus: 'The church assembling here was founded by the Reverend Thomas
Goodwin, D.D.: Preacher of the Council of State; President of Magdalene College,
Oxford; Member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines; and chaplain to Oliver
Cromwell . . . This tablet is erected by this church to perpetuate the Hallowed
Memory of her venerable and illustrious founder'. And his Latin epitaph, in
Bunhill Fields Cemetery has been translated thus: 'Here lies the body of Thomas
Goodwin, D.D. He had a large acquaintance with ancient, and above all, with
Ecclesiastical History. He was exceeded by no one in the knowledge of the Holy
Scriptures. He was at once blessed with a rich invention and a solid and exact
judgment. He carefully compared together the different parts of Holy Writ, and
with a marvellous felicity discovered the latent sense of the divine Spirit who
indited them. None ever entered deeper into the mysteries of the Gospel, or more
clearly unfolded them for the benefit of others ... In knowledge, wisdom and
eloquence he was a truly Christian pastor ... Till having finished his appointed
course, both of services and of sufferings ' in the cause of his Divine Master,
he gently fell asleep in Jesus. His writings that he has left behind him will
diffuse his name in a more fragrant odour than that of the richest perfume. His
name will flourish in far distant ages, when this marble inscribed with his just
honour, shall have dropt into dust. He died February 23rd, 1679 in the eightieth
year of his age'.
Goodwin's works, in their original editions, occupied five massive folio
volumes. 'And', says Andrew Bonar, in one of his learned notes to Rutherford's
Letters, 'they are five invaluable volumes'. In the Edinburgh edition the whole
works fill twelve closely-printed octavo volumes.
The first volume of the Edinburgh reprint is wholly occupied with thirty-six
sermons on the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. The Ephesians
was the Apostle's favourite Epistle and it was also Goodwin's favourite Epistle.
I know nothing anywhere at all to compare with this splendid exposition, unless
it is Bishop Davenant on the Epistle to the Colossians, or Archbishop Leighton
on First Peter. Goodwin cannot be said to have the classical compression, nor
has he the classical finish that so delight us in all Leighton's literature. But
there is a grappling power; there is 'a studying down' of the passage in hand;
and withal, there is a height and a depth, and a fertilizing suggestiveness in
Goodwin that neither Davenant nor Leighton possess.
For a specimen of this golden volume take the expository sermon on the words:
'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us
with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ'; or the sermon on the
words: 'Holy and without blame before him in love'; or the sermon on the words:
'Sealed with the Holy Spirit'; and in those great sermons you have noble
examples of the height to which the Puritan pulpit could rise. Then there is
Thomas Goodwin's twenty-six pages on 'The sealing of believers'. I know nothing
deeper, nothing sweeter, nothing more captivating and enthralling in the whole
range of exegetical and homiletical literature. I would almost venture to set
those divine passages as the test of a divinity student's spiritual experience,
spiritual insight and spiritual capacity for opening up to a congregation the
deep things of God. To the wonderful sermon on 'Christ dwelling in our hearts by
faith' you must bring your most disciplined theological mind, and your most
deeply exercised Christian heart. For myself, when I am again reading that
superb sermon, I always set it down in my mind beside Hooker's immortal sermon,
'Of Justification', as two of the greatest, if not the two very greatest sermons
in the English language. But how Hooker's people or how Goodwin's people could
have followed such powerful and such soaring sermons, I cannot imagine. It is
hard enough work to follow them and to master them even when they are read or
re-read in the leisure of the study.
I will leave what I have said about the specimen sermons I have selected out of
Goodwin's Ephesians with this fine saying of Hazlitt about Burke: 'The only
adequate specimen of Burke', said Hazlitt, 'is all that the greatest of English
statesmen has ever written'. And with this out of Coleridge: 'How Luther loved
Paul! And how Paul would haveloved Luther!' So will I say: How he would have
loved Goodwin! And that not without good reason. For not even Luther on the
Galatians is such an exposition of Paul's mind and heart as is Goodwin on the
Ephesians. I never open this great volume that I do not recall the words of my
dear old friend, John More of Woolwich, who said on one public occasion that he
owed all his divinity to Goodwin on the Ephesians.
Now, if only somewhat to justify Mr More's high appreciation of this volume and
my own, I will give you what some of Goodwin's most learned contemporaries said
about it. 'That person' they said, 'is the best interpreter, who (besides other
helps) hath a comment in his own heart. And he best interprets Paul's Epistles
who has Paul's spiritual sensibility, Paul's temptations, Paul's whole
experience. Goodwin has a genius to dive into the bottom of the scriptures which
he intended to treat of; he studied them down, as he was wont to express it; he
always waded out into the depths of things.' Also he had intelligent
congregations to minister to, a matter that draws out the best gifts of a
'After his return to London', his editors continue, 'he was made choice of to
preach on this Epistle, to which great work he was eminently suited, upon all
accounts, having seen into the deep mysteries of this Epistle even beyond the
insight of these times. He makes use of a great variety of learning, though in a
concealed way. Studying to bring his learning to Scripture not Scripture to
his learning. He breaketh open the mines of the glorious grace of God and the
unsearchable riches of Christ, and the further he searches into those riches,
the greater treasure he always finds: plenius responsura fodienti, as one saith
in a like case. No man's heart was more taken with the eternal designs of God's
grace than his; none more clearly resolves the plot of man's salvation into pure
grace than Goodwin. That these discourses are all his own we need say no more
than that they bear his own signature, he having in them drawn to the life the
picture of his own heart by his own hand'. So speak two of the most eminent men
of that day.
Goodwin's second volume contains his famous sermon on what he calls 'the
strangest paradox ever uttered'. That strangest of paradoxes is the passage in
which the Apostle James tells the twelve tribes to count it all joy when they
fall into divers trials or temptations. Goodwin's loss of his valuable library
in the great fire of London was the occasion of his remarkable discourse
entitled 'Patience and her Perfect Work'. In that great calamity our author lost
500 worth of selected and cherished books; a greater loss to such a student
than any number of pounds could calculate. 'I have heard my father say that God
had struck him in a very sensible place. But that since he lost his books much
too well, so God had sharply chastised him by this sore affliction'. This
recalls to my mind what Dr Duncan of this college was wont to say: 'My Semitic
books', he said, 'are my besetting sin' But, as God would have it, out of the
red-hot ashes of Goodwin's burned-up books there sprang up a sermon that has
been the calming and the consolation of multitudes amid crosses and losses such
that, but for Goodwin's teaching and example, would have completely crushed and
The third volume contains 'An Exposition of the Book of Revelation,' which is
followed by 'Three Select Cases Resolved.' And Goodwin's Three Cases are as
lastingly valuable to me as his Revelation is worthless. Goodwin warns his
readers that some of them may find his Revelation somewhat 'craggy and
tiresome.' And I am fain to confess that I am one of those readers. The true key
to the Book of Revelation had not been discovered in Goodwin's day. And,
therefore, I thankfully accept his offered permission to leave his Revelation
alone. But if his Revelation is 'craggy and tiresome' to me, his 'Select Cases
'are everything but that. The truth is, there is no part of Goodwin's twelve
volumes that has been more thumbed by me from my youth up than just his 'Three
Select Cases.' The ablest, the most scholarly, the most elaborate, and, I need.
not say, the most eloquent book of case-divinity in the English language, is
Jeremy Taylor's Ductor Dubilantium. The Ductor is a book that every divinity
student ought to read once at any rate in his lifetime, even if he finds it also
to be somewhat craggy and tiresome in some parts. But if he reads Goodwin's
'Select Cases' once, and if he needs them as much as I do, they will never be
long out of his hands. 'Likewise, at the same time,' says James Fraser of Brea,
'I received much knowledge and much comfort from Mr. Goodwin's works, especially from his Growth in Grace. For that book of his answered to the frame of my heart as face answers to face.' 'The Three Select Cases' are: 'A Child of Light
Walking in Darkness,' 'The Return of Prayers,' and 'The Trial of a Christian's
'The Heart of Christ in Heaven towards Sinners on Earth' is the gem of the
fourth volume. And it is a gem of the purest water, if I am any judge. If any
enterprising student who now hears me is interested, or ever becomes interested,
in the philosophical and theological controversy that raged round Mansel's
famous Bampton Lectures in my New College days, he will find the roots of that
whole debate dealt with, again and again, in a most masterly way in this
profound volume. It is such pages as occur, again and again, in this volume,
that have won for Goodwin the fame of being the most philosophical theologian of
all the Puritans. And every one who knows the works of the great Puritans will
recognise how high that praise of Goodwin is. Hooker, in some important
respects, comes up closer to the full truth about the Heart of Christ in Heaven
than even Goodwin does. And it does not need to be said that the greatest
theologian of the English Church clothes his great teaching here, as everywhere,
in the noblest English ever written. At the same time, Goodwin is unapproached
here, as so often elsewhere, in his combination of intellectual and theological
power with evangelical and homiletical comfort. Take them together an this
supremest of subjects, and Hooker and Goodwin will form an inexhaustible
equipment for any man whose office and calling it is to preach Jesus Christ in
His life on earth, and in His eternal priesthood in heaven.
Speaking about Hooker, the Fifth Book of the Ecclesiastical Polity contains some
of the very noblest things that have ever been written on that great mystery of
godliness, 'God manifest in the flesh'; and that in language not wholly unworthy
of that noblest of subjects. Unhappily for English Church doctrine and
discipline, Hooker's incomparable Christology always ends in pure
sacramentalism. But, on the other hand, happily for the evangelical faith,
Goodwin's fifth volume is full of the purest and strongest and sweetest New
Testament truth. Christ the Mediator is the all-comprehending title of this
massive and most scriptural book. And throughout, this grand subject is grappled
with, and is handled, as only Goodwin can grapple with and handle Paul. And then
every chapter is carried down into the hearts of his hearers and readers with
that powerful, and at the same time tender, homiletic of which Goodwin is such a
The chapters in the sixth volume to which I oftenest turn are those on True
Spirituality; on true and pure scriptural and evangelical spirituality; what it
is; and why and how it is what it is; on spiritual persons and spiritual things;
and on the supreme blessedness of the truly spiritual mind. The chapters on
conscience in the sixth volume are simply masterly, even to this day. Neither
Sanderson, nor Taylor, nor Butler, nor Chalmers, nor Maurice, nor all of them
taken together, have superseded Goodwin. I speak only of the authors I know
somewhat well when I say that none of them comes near Goodwin for powerfulness,
for subtlety, for finality, and best of all, for evangelical impressiveness and
for pulpit fruitfulness. I know what I say, and you may believe meButler on
conscience, and Chalmers on Butler, and then Goodwin after them, these three
masters will furnish out a young preacher with a doctrine and a homiletic of
conscience that will be like iron in his own blood and in the blood of all who
sit under him.
By men who know what they say on such matters, Goodwin has been appreciated and eulogised as by far the most philosophically minded of all the Puritans. Let the
great treatise in his seventh volume, 'Of the Creatures, and the condition of
their state by Nature,' be read in proof of this eulogium. Even in these
Darwinian days, when Adam has been dissolved and distributed into so many
protoplasms, and potencies, and preludes of the human being who was to come in
the far future, I am bold to recommend Goodwin's seventh volume to all
serious-minded students of Moses, and of Paul, and of themselves.
Editing the eighth volume, Goodwin's dutiful son says of it: 'In this book of my
father's you have the infinite mercy of the divine nature displayed as far as
human thought and human language can reach. And what you here possess in my poor English does not at all reach the rich eloquence of his Latin.' So far Goodwin's
grateful son. But take the eighth volume from me, and in this way. We sometimes
entertain one another by disclosing what author and what book of his we would
select to take away with us if we were banished to a desert island, and were
only allowed one author. One says that he would take Homer, another says Dante,
and another Milton. Almost every one says Shakespeare. Now to employ one of
Goodwin's own expressionswould you count me utterly 'uncouth and extravagant'
if I said that I would takeGoodwin's eighth volume with me to my island?
Whatever you count me, it is true, and I have done it, and that more than once.
'I write this book,' says its author, 'for the use of thoroughly humbled and
thoroughly broken hearts.' And you will all admit that till a man's heart is
thoroughly humbled and thoroughly broken he is not a fit judge of the books that
contrite men should select to take with them to read, whether on an island or on
a continent. The great acknowledgment I have to make concerning Goodwin's eighth
volume is this. I had often read the thirty-fourth of Exodus before ever I came
upon Goodwin's exposition of that great fountain-head of Old Testament grace and
truth. But from the day when I first read Goodwin's epoch-making discourses on
that wonderful chapter, it has been a source of daily salvation and of daily
song to me. Yes, I am quite safe to say that for fifty years I have never seen
the day that 'the Name of the Lord 'has not been a strong tower to me, and all
owing to Thomas Goodwin's exposition of that great Name. 'Thank you, sir,'
writes one of our ministers to me; 'thank you for urging us to study Goodwin.
Nowadays he is never out of my hands.'
After you have read his ninth volume, 'On Election,' you will confess that amid
much that is somewhat craggy and tiresome 'to you, at the same time you have
come upon chapters that only Goodwin could have written, notably those chapters
on the election of Christ Himself, and on your election in Him. As also the
specially Goodwinian Book iv. on 1 Peter v. 10. Indeed, I will stake all I have
ever said about Goodwin on this book: that is to say, when the book comes into
the hands of the prepared and proper reader.
His tenth volume is a comprehensive treatise on the Prophetic, Apostolic, and
Puritan anthropology. It cannot be denied that this treatise is somewhat sombre
and even solemnising and overawing reading. But it would not be true to mankind
if it were not both sombre and solemnising and overawing. The whole volume is an
exhaustive and a conclusive answer to the Catechism question: 'Wherein consists
the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?'And once mastered by the true
student this massive treatise will remain a quarry of scriptural and
experimental material both for his personal religion and for his pulpit work.
The eleventh volume contains an elaborate treatise on 'The Constitution, Right
Order, and Government of the Churches of Christ.' As to the manner in which
Goodwin's defence of Independency, and his assault on Presbytery and Episcopacy
is conducted, I will let the author's son speak: 'Here,' says young Goodwin, 'is
no pride nor arrogance. Here are no reproaches, no base and sly insinuations,
none of those invidious reflections with which controversies are usually
managed. But here are sober thoughts, calm reasonings, and the truth showing
itself in such a mild and lovely aspect as may create inclinations to it in the
souls of all persons whom passion or interest have not too much prejudiced.' So
speaks an able and a loyal son about the only polemical work of his father.
There is no doubt that this elaborate volume will greatly fortify the
Independent who reads it, and there is as little doubt that it will both open
the mind and reward the heart of the Presbyterian and the Prelatist who has the
patience and the sympathy to master it. 'A truly great and noble spirit,' is the
verdict of a Presbyterian of that day, who felt bound to attempt a reply to
Goodwin's eleventh volume. For myself, I do not think that any one but Goodwin
would have induced me to read a volume on Church government of five hundred
pages again, and again, and again. To me that endless debate has little or no
real and immediate interest, though I still believe in the apostolicity of
Presbytery, even after reading both Hooker and Goodwin again and again. But what
takes me back to both these authors is the nobleness of the thought and the
style of the one, and the extraordinary freshness and modernness of mind of the
other. But take this on this subject from Goodwin's own pen: 'As for my part,
this I say, and I say it with much integrity, I never yet took up party religion
in the lump. For I have found by a long trial of such matters that there is some
truth on all sides. I have found Gospel holiness where you would little think it
to be, and so likewise truth. And I have learned this principle, which I hope I
shall never lay down till I am swallowed up of immortality, and that is, to
acknowledge every truth and every goodness wherever I find it.'
A& I have all along laboured to show, Goodwin is always an interpreter, and one
of a thousand. So much is this the case that he is still an interpreter even
when he lays out and executes his most elaborate, most confessional and most
dogmatical works. I refer to such confessional and dogmatical works of his as
The Mediatorship of Christ, in his fifth volume; The Holy Spirit, in his sixth
volume; The Object and the Acts of Faith, in his eighth volume; and Election, in
his ninth volume. Even when he plans out a great scheme of a book on the
elaborate, constructive, and dogmatic method of his day, Goodwin no sooner
commences the execution of his plan than he falls back immediately on his own
favourite method of exegesis and exposition and homiletic. As a matter of fact,
he heads every successive chapter, even of his most formal and logical works,
with some great Scripture that he forthwith sets himself to expound and to
apply. And thus it comes about that book after book, and chapter after chapter,
is but another example and illustration of that endlessly interesting method of
his. It cannot be too much signalised, for it is his outstanding and honourable
distinction over all the great divines of his own and every other day, that
every head of doctrine, every proposition of divinity, every chapter and every
sentence and every clause of creed or catechism is taken up and is discussed
down to the bottom by Goodwin, not as so many abstract, dogmatical propositions,
but as so many fountain-head passages of Holy Scripture. All his work,
throughout all his twelve volumes, is just so much pulpit exposition and pulpit
application of the Word of God. And hence one great secret of the incomparable
vitality, freshness, succulence, richness, great home-comingness, great personal
directness, and great evangelical fruitfulness of all his work in all its parts.
Like Paul, his master in mental constitution, in literary method, and in
homiletic urgency, Goodwin will often 'go off upon a word,' as Paley says
somewhat too familiarly about the Apostle. And sometimes, like his master in
method, Goodwin does not soon return. But, like his master in this also, when he
does return he returns laden with such fresh intellectual and spiritual spoils
as make the digression almost richer than the proper text.
Long and elaborate as Goodwin's sermons undeniably were, had they been measured
by the scrimp and starved standards of our modern day, even so I feel quite sure
that his sermons were not felt to be too long by those hearers of his who had
mind enough, and imagination enough, and experience enough to enable them to
appreciate such a preacher. Indeed, his pulpit manner must have made his sermons
singularly and endlessly interesting to those who listened to him. He is so
natural in the pulpit; so homely, while so dignified; so unconventional, while
so classical; so affable, so confidential, and always on such intimate terms
with his hearers. He so takes his hearers into his confidence about his studies
and about his sermons. He so shows them all the processes and operations of his
mind in the conception and the composition of his sermons; he so leans over the
pulpit and takes his hearers by the hand; he so speaks to them as if they were
less his hearers than his fellow-students; he so introduces them to his
favourite authors; he so assumes that they are all as much interested in his
favourite authors as he is himself; he so tells them why he agrees so wholly
with this great commentator and so wholly disagrees with that other; he so
confesses to his hearers all the difficulties and all the perplexities he has
had with his text; and how, at last, he thinks he has overcome those
difficulties; and then he so puts it to them if they do not all agree with him
in the interpretation that he is now putting upon the text. Full as Goodwin
always is of the ripest scriptural and Reformation scholarship; full as he
always is of the best theological and philosophical learning of his own day and
of all foregoing days; full, also, as he always is of the deepest spiritual
experienceall the same, he is always so simple, so clear, so direct, so
untechnical, so personal, and so pastoral, in all his pulpit work, that what
Thomas Fuller says about Perkins in his pulpit may be borrowed and applied to
Goodwin. 'In a word,' says Fuller, 'Perkins' church consisting of town and gown,
the scholar could hear no learneder, the townsman no simpler or plainer sermons.
He did distil and soak so much deep scholarship into his sermons, yet so
insensibly, that nothing but the most familiar expressions did ever appear.'
And then as to his favourite authors, things like these continually occur. 'So
Socrates was the highest instance how far the light of nature could go.' 'Plato
thanked God that he was a man, an Athenian, and a philosopher. I, that I am a
Christian.' 'Aristotle, that great dictator of nature, hath a touch of this
notion in his Ethics.' 'See Athanasius on this text contra Arianos.'
'Omnipotente suavitate is Augustine's word for this text on the drawing of the
soul by Christ.' 'Suarez says this, and he is one of the acutest of our new
schoolmen.' 'Scotus, the wisest of the schoolmen, and Bonaventure, the holiest
of them, are of another mind.' 'Luther radically altered all his former
principles and practices, such was the view he got of the sinfulness of sin.'
'Calvin, that great and holy light of the Reformed Church.' 'Pollock, Principal
of Edinburgh University, in his Latin comments, and in his English sermons.'
'Worthy Mr. Dickson, also of Scotland.' 'Gerard, that most judicious divine.'
'Arminius also speaks true.' 'Zanchius, that best of our Protestant writers, and
a truly great divine.' And so on; I have a thousand such references.
Parenthetically, and as he passes on, he characterises and appreciates them all,
as if, instead of having an everyday congregation sitting before him, he had an
exegetical class hanging on his learned and eloquent lips. The Fathers, Greek
and Latin; the Schoolmen; the Reformers, the Remonstrants, the Anglicans, the
Arminians, the Antinomians, the Socinians, the Quakers, the English and American
Puritans, the Scottish Presbyterians, they are all laid under pulpit
contribution, and they all get their generous meed of praise, or their regretful
word of passing blame. Till it must have been a Biblical and a theological
education to sit under Goodwin, not only to his Bible students, but to all his
hearers. And till I can see the Bible-loving Protector and all his preaching
officers rubbing their hands with holy glee as they crowded round Goodwin's
pulpit, now in the House of Commons, and now in the camp, and congratulated
evangelical England and themselves that they had such a 'trier' as Goodwin was,
by whom to waken up the sleeping incumbents of the parish pulpits all over the
But, after all I have said, I would not feel that I had come within sight of
doing justice to the whole wealth, originality, and suggestiveness of Thomas
Goodwin's mind unless I went on to give a specimen list of the topics and the
themes he starts and treats himself, and of the topics and the themes he leaves
his ministerial readers to take up and treat for themselves. I have, therefore,
selected a short list of those topics and themes, some of which I have already
treated in the pulpit myself. And if I have not sufficient time and strength
left me to overtake them all, I shall leave them to such of you as shall succeed
me in the study and exposition of Goodwin's works. Take, then, the following
texts and topics and themes as so many illustrations of Goodwin's wealthy and
'God is glorified only by being made known.'
The Son of God might have assumed any nature, yours or mine.'
'Jesus Christ was the greatest and the best believer that ever lived.'
'The one great end of Christ's preaching was to reveal the Father.'
'Aliquid in Christo formosius Salvatore.'
'Faith answers to the whole of Christ, and Christ answers to the whole of
'Eye not the promises, but the Promiser.'
'Holy Scripture is not abhorrent of the metaphor of purchase in the work of
'Man never knows how anthropomorphic he is.'
'Some men have given over all other lives but the life of faith.'
'Regeneration is but partial in the very best saints.'
'Motus primi non cadunt sub libertatem.'
'Our greatest sins are those of the mind.'
'Their indwelling sin is by far the greatest misery of the regenerate.'
'Self is the most abominable principle that ever was.'
'Generalia non pungunt.'
'We are to seek to have affections suitable to our knowledge.'
'Aqua fortis is laid on letters of ink to eat them out, and so is the blood of
Christ laid on the handwriting that is against us.'
'Verba in res, as the philosopher said when he was converted.'
'Divinity hath a definition of man, of which definition the deepest philosophy
'The circumstances lie heavier on the conscience than the act itself.'
'Hell fire is not culinary fire.'
'Good swimmers seek out deep waters.'
'A thief that deserves hanging must not complain of being burned in the hand.'
'Judas heard all Christ's sermons.'
'Demas left his preaching, and turned to merchandising.'
'God had only one Son, and He made Him a Minister.'
And a thousand more of the same suggestive kind.
Now, I do not think that any born preacher can listen to a catalogue of texts
and topics and themes like that without his heart taking fire for the pulpit.
What think you? But with all that I have said, do not go away supposing or
saying that I am demanding that any of you shall feed your mind and feast your
heart on Thomas Goodwin as I have done. All I have said to-day but leads me up
to say this with some experience and with some authority, I hope: Find out the
food and the relish convenient for your own mind and heart, and then feed
continually upon it. Amid the immense intellectual and spiritual riches of our
Biblical and theological and experimental and autobiographical literature, find
out some first-class authors who shall be to you something of what Paul was to
Luther, and Luther to Bunyan, and Calvin to Cunningham, and Athanasius to
Newman, and William Guthrie to John Owen, and Augustine to Dean Trench, and
Thomas Shepard to Jonathan Edwards, and Butler and Edwards to Chalmers, and
Foster and Faber to Dods. And then study with all your might to put the theology
of Paul and Luther and the Puritans into the written English of Hooker and
Newman, or into the spoken English of Robertson and Spurgeon. And thus studying,
and thus preaching, and thus living, you will both save yourselves and them that