Samuel Willard's Big Book

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, kids, since tomorrow is May 1, I'll start reading this:

A Complete Body of Divinity in Two Hundred and Fifty Expository Discourses on the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Unfolded, their Truth Confirmed, their Excellence Displayed, their Usefulness Improved, Contrary Errors and Vices Refuted and Exposed, Objections Answered, Controversies Settled, Cases of Conscience Resolved, and a Great Light Thereby Reflected on the Present Age by Samuel Willard; 2 volumes (Boston: B. Green and S. Kneeland, 1726).

Volume 1: Sermons 1 - 137 (preached January 31, 1687 - September 26, 1699)

Volume 2: Sermons 138 - 220 (preached October 24, 1699 - April 1, 1707)

Sermons 221 - 246 are undated. Despite the title, there are not literally 250 sermons in the book. The last of the dated sermons is from about 5 months before his death.

Total pages for both volumes: 983, two columns per page.

As you know, Williard (1640-1707) was Pastor of South Church (also known as Third Church, now known as Old South Meeting House), a Congregational Church in Boston, Massachusetts from 1678 until his death.

These volumes have been sitting in my bookcase for almost 20 years, so I guess it's about time I got around to them!
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Sounds like a good endeavour; I also have made a point of reading books that have been sitting on my shelves unread for years and even decades.
 

Pilgrim72

Puritan Board Junior
I once asked Rev. Malcolm Watts, of all books what would he like to see republished the most... His answer was Samuel Willard's Complete Body of Divinity.

 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Does anyone know of an electronic edition that looks better than this (in terms of being easier to read)?
1651434568690.png
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I read the first two sermons today. I'll try to read two sermons per day so as to be able to finish it in my lifetime. Heh.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
I read the first two sermons today. I'll try to read two sermons per day so as to be able to finish it in my lifetime. Heh.
Surely your book doesn’t look like the picture I posted above, does it? If so, I don’t see how you read it.
 

Shanny01

Puritan Board Freshman
Surely your book doesn’t look like the picture I posted above, does it? If so, I don’t see how you read it.
I believe all physical copies would follow the 18th Century format. Here's my physical copy (a 1969 facsimile reprint). 16514965002721279346633416616612.jpg
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Here's a couple of short tastes of the book:

Willard on the salvation of elect infants:

The salvation of Elect Infants, without the written word, is not to be doubted of. No doubt but there are Infants that dy in their Infancy, who are chosen Vessels, and pass into glory. That these have not the use of the Scriptures is evident, they being altogether uncapable hereof. God therefore hath a secret and unaccountable way of applying the New Covenant-condition to them, making them fit for glory. And though' we know not how it is done, yet we need not suspect but that it is done. (p. 22)

And Willard on the Christian and his Bible:

Let it then put us upon it to prize our Bibles, to bless God for his written word, to be much and frequent in making use of it and acquainting ourselves with it, acknowledging it as God's singular mercy to us, that he hath given to us such a Rule, without which we had been left in the dark, and could never have groped out our way to Eternal Life. (p. 23)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Here's a little more:

Beware of diving too deep into the Mysteries of the Divinity. Quaint curiosity here is but distraction: faithful ignorance is better than temerarious knowledge. Know for certain, that when your Understanding hath fluttered as high as the wings of Reason can carry it, you will find such riddles in the Deity, as you will never be able to unfold. (page 43)
 

Pilgrim72

Puritan Board Junior
Here's a quote I like:

'How happy then must the soul needs be, in the possession of this benefit? When it is thus prepared to be filled with all the glories of heaven, all of which are full of holiness, and can make us happy no farther than we are holy? Then also shall we be enabled to glorify God forever, to the utmost capacity of our nature, most extensively and unweariedly. Where the loud sound of hallelujahs, eternally, shall not tire our spirits, or make us weary. Let this then sweeten the thoughts of death to believers. If a little holiness in exercise be now so sweet to you, how precious will the completeness of it be? Let then, the assured expectation of this, make you reckon the day of your death, far better than that when you were born. And let such thoughts as these, "I am hastening to the time and state wherein I shall sin no more, never be troubled with one temptation more, when I shall be complete in Christ, and filled with His fullness, and enabled to love, admire, praise and delight in Him forever, without interruption or weariness," make you cheerfully look out for the approach of that change which will introduce you into this so longed for felicity.' - Samuel Willard, on considering the happiness of believers at their death.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
On physical representations of God:

Hence how very unsuitable it is to represent the Divine Nature by any Corporeal similitude: I mean Pictures or Images, of any visible and bodily substance, and that whether it be for civility or devotion, i.e., either meerly as Ornamental, or as some pretend, to encrease devout Affections in any; how is it possible rightly to shadow a Spirit? Who ever was able rightly to decypher the form or shape of a being which is invisible! It is folly to pretend to afford us the Portraiture of an Angel, but it is a madness and wickedness to offer at any Image or Representation of God: How many solemn cautions did God give his people against this by Moses, besides the express forbidding of it in the second Command; and God declares it to be thing Idolatrous. For any to entertain or fancy any other Image of God, but those reverend impressions of his glorious Perfections that are engraven upon his heart, is highly to dishonor him, and provoke him to Jealousy. (page 54)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
On God, sins, and sinners:

Learn, hence, how vain a thing it is for any to go about to resist God. There is no opposing of Omnipotency, no striving against Him who is Almighty, though every sinner doth so in every sin (Job 15.25-26). Know it: every time you dare to commit any sin, you bid a challenge to God to come and fight against you, if He dare. And do you know whom it is you set yourselves in battle array against? Shall briars and thorns arm themselves against a consuming fire? Shall a worm rouse itself up against a lion? Every time you are tempted to sin, ask yourselves that question (1 Corinthians 10.22; Job 9.4). Ask the damned in hell, who once were rebels, as you are, that they are ruined and damned, heaps upon heaps, to be eternal witnesses that there is no withstanding Him. (page 70)

. . .God designs the declaration of His power in the destruction of impenitent sinners (Romans 9.22). He will, therefore, powerfully destroy them, and then their misery cannot be small. He will not strike the sinner as a man, but He will do it like a God. He will hold him up by one hand of His power and strike him down with the other. And will it not be an intolerable stroke that Almightiness shall inflict (Ezekiel 22.14)? And what a powerful argument doth this afford to persuade sinners to make their peace with God, considering Hebrews 10.31). (page 71)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Sermon #27, preached on January 28, 1690, is terrific. His subject is common grace. At one point, Willard describes God as being "heroically liberal" in the generosity with which He dispenses his common grace to all mankind. (All these sermons are terrific, by the way.)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, tomorrow being May 30, I will have, at 2 sermons per day, finished the first 60 sermons. It's terrific. I look forward to reading it each day.

It takes me about 20 minutes to read each sermon, so I figure it took Willard about 30 minutes to preach them.

Re-setting it in modern type would be a tremendously expensive undertaking (if done right), and the book would probably have to be published in several volumes. But it would be a wonderful gift to the church.
 
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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, as of today (6/4), I've finished reading the first 70 sermons. Included among them are the 8 consecutive sermons he preached in late 1693 on the reality and sufferings of hell. Willard is quite thorough in his presentation of this subject.

When was the last time you heard several consecutive sermons on hell? Does that even happen anymore?
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
A couple of notes: (1) Willard believes that the image of God in man was completely destroyed at the Fall. (2) He believes that there will be far, far more people in Hell than in Heaven in the eternal state. He believes that there will be millions and millions of people in Heaven, but that Hell will have billions and billions of people in it. (He doesn't use the word "billions," of course. I'm paraphrasing.)

As for #1, well, that's a $10 fine.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Still chugging away, at two sermons per day. Almost have the first 100 finished. This is a huge book.

It's interesting that he started preaching from the SC in 1688, barely 40 years after the Westminster Standards were published. If he had been in England, he might have been able to interview some of the surviving participants, if such there were.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Finished the first 100 sermons today.

Sermon #99, on Jesus' earthly ministry, was fascinating. Sermon #100, on Jesus' Transfiguration and on the institution of the Lord's Supper, was also very well done.

120 numbered sermons to go!
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
As of yesterday (7/2), I've finished the first 126 sermons and am getting to the end of Volume 1 (506 pages).

Still very interesting and informative. He likes Psalm 85:10 quite a bit (it must be one of his favorite verses). He's cited it more than a few times, so far.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Sermon 140 (discussing SC 37) is an excellent discourse on the heavenly state. Here's just a taste:

These visions of glory cannot be clothed with human language or made intelligible to us while we dwell in houses of clay. To see God in the full display of all His communicable glory, to see Christ sitting on His exalted throne invested with His mediatorial honor and dignity, to dwell in God's light and, in it, to be irradiated with all the radiant beams of desirable knowledge, to discern the wonderful love of God to us from eternity, to read the mysteries of providence and all the passages of infinite wisdom in that wonderful way in which He conducted us, and contemplate all the excellencies of the heavenly kingdom will, certainly, satisfy the soul and fill it with overrunning glory.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Per Willard, in heaven, there will be no children, dwarfs, marriage (and, hence, no sex), or food. And, we'll all be naked.

Hmmm.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I've now finished through sermon #168 - his first two sermons on the Fourth Commandment. He believes that the Lord's Day begins in the evening, that is, on Saturday night at sundown.

There will, I think, be many sermons on this Commandment.
 
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