Whenever you read a book by a Puritan, they always keep worrying a topic until they’ve extracted every bit of helpfulness they can from the Scriptures on that topic—and made every related exhortation and application too! Puritans leave you no place to carve out exceptions for yourself where you get to indulge in bitterness and self-pity. They’re gloriously unashamed of proclaiming God’s truths, and calling men to love and faithfulness to those truths. For example, here is one of my favorite parts of Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment:
Submitting to God’s disposal—What is that? The word submit signifies nothing else but ‘to send under’. Thus in one who is discontented the heart will be unruly, and would even get above God so far as discontent prevails. But now comes the grace of contentment and sends it under, for to submit is to send under a thing.
Now when the soul comes to see its own unruliness—Is the hand of God bringing an affliction and yet my heart is troubled and discontented—What, it says, will you be above God? Is this not God’s hand and must your will be regarded more than God’s? O under, under! get you under, O soul! Keep under! keep low! keep under God’s feet! You are under God’s feet, and keep under his feet! Keep under the authority of God, the majesty of God, the sovereignty of God, the power that God has over you! To keep under, that is to submit. The soul can submit to God at the time when it can send itself under the power and authority and sovereignty and dominion that God has over it.
That is the sixth point, but even that is not enough. You have not attained this grace of contentment unless the next point is true of you…
Puritans are linear, and thorough, and helpful. Engineerish minds are naturally linear and thorough, but are not naturally helpful, since their tendency is to focus on the least important details and miss the main point.
The postulation: God, for reasons known only to Himself, has raised up many engineerish minded men in His church recently. Properly discipled, this linearness and thoroughness can be a help to the church.
The question: What should be done with engineerish minded men in the church today to make them helpful like the Puritans?
I’ll start by saying, load them up with work. This gets them out of the too-often-unhelpful world of abstractions they tend to live in and makes them make decisions that actually help the body.
But this stops short of the help we get from the Puritans, much of which comes to us through them having distilled their thoroughness in writing. I think very few of our engineerish men are in any position to be writing books that would be helpful. Why is that? I think it has something to do with spiritual immaturity. How were the Puritans spiritually mature and thus helpful in their writings, and how do we get our engineerish men there?
Or is the major needed application of that linearness and thoroughness for the church something different than books today? And if so, how do we equip our engineerish men to be helpful in that new application?