I’ve picked on the Puritans before here and here. But I thought it might be helpful to take a look at a Puritan poem and see how it applies to what I think was the Puritans’ defective view of the New Covenant.
Here’s the poem:
O Lord of grace,
All Your lovingkindness is in Your Son,
I bring Him to You in the arms of faith,
I urge His saving name as the One who died for me.
I plead His blood to pay my debts of wrong.
Accept His worthiness for my unworthiness,
His sinlessness for my transgressions,
His purity for my uncleanness,
His sincerity for my guile,
His truth for my deceits,
His meekness for my pride,
His constancy for my backslidings,
His love for my enmity,
His fullness for my emptiness,
His faithfulness for my treachery,
His obedience for my lawlessness,
His glory for my shame,
His devotedness for my waywardness,
His holy life for my unchaste ways,
His righteousness for my dead works,
His death for my life.
This is a perfect example of why I no longer recommend the Puritans except to the most discerning who already have a strong grasp on the radical nature of Grace and the New Covenant.
The Puritans were often confused on “it is finished” (tetelestai), and tended toward an odd form of legalism, wherein their “holiness” and “humility” were their “works” which mingled with grace (making it not grace at all, Rom. 11:6).
We’re not to “plead His blood to pay my debts” — it is paid already on the cross. Tetelestai.
We’re not called to beg the Father to “accept His worthiness” — He has already done so. Tetelestai.
So what’s important about these distinctions?
Simply that the Puritans did not understand the New Covenant, nor the obsolescence of the Old.
And the promotion of their pseudo-humility clouds and confuses the glorious New Covenant for those who already may have a hard time grasping the difference between the Old and New.
I say “pseudo-humility” because it’s really the “earning” of God’s favor by self-abasement disguised as humility.
It’s not humble to deny the “done” of the New Covenant by pleading for God to do what He has already declared that He’s done. It’s a twisted self-righteousness disguised as real righteousness.
The often-lauded “Valley of Vision” is full of this kind of stuff, which should frustrate the New Covenant grace-oriented believer, because it sounds so holy, but isn’t.
Humility is not “I’m nothing, I’m nothing”. It’s closer to “I am in Christ, a new creation, with all the wonderful things that entails — BUT, ‘what do you have O man, that you did not receive?'” — and so all glory goes to Him who did it — and who continues to sustain us and renew our minds until death, or until His return.
“Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement…” — Col. 2:18
“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement…, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” — Col. 2:23