Testamentary Priorities

In the seventeenth century, when people prepared their wills they normally paid someone to write them down, normally a scrivener or notary public. Once written, the testator would sign their name (or make their mark) and add their wax seal. Scriveners often used the same template for the wills they composed, which means that most wills have very similar and generic beginnings. The following will, however, stands out among the many hundreds I have read. And for that reason I commend it to you.

“First, principally, and above all considerations I commend and yield my precious and immortal soul into the hands of almighty God my most merciful Creator that gave it and my body unto the earth from whence it was taken in assured hope and confidence that both body and soul shall be reunited and raised again to life immortal in the world to come for I steadfastly believe that as assuredly as Christ Jesus assumed man’s nature and therein fulfilled all righteousness by his most perfect obedience and being with all spot of sin or iniquity yet was accounted and reputed amongst sinners and had the guilt of all the sins of mankind imputed to him for all which he gave full satisfaction unto the divine justice by his most cruel and bitter death so certainly will God impute unto me (vile dust and ashes) the righteousness of Jesus Christ my Savior and the all-sufficient merits of his obedience whereby that in my self am nothing but sin shall be reputed and accounted righteous in his sight seeing that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I account my self the chiefest.”

What is your last will and testament, and what does it reveal about your priorities?

 

Sleep in Jesus

I came across a beautiful hymn/poem today. You will enjoy it.

Sleep in Jesus

Attributed to JC In Anon, A Collection of Divine Hymns, 1694
Also attributed to John Mason (who was an editor of the above work, I believe) here: https://archive.org/stream/lyracons00bona#page/88/mode/2up/search/unawares

Death steals upon us unawares,
And digs our graves unseen,
Whilst we dispute, are full of cares,
What may be, what hath been.

Shall I be bent on vanity?
And rottenness to trust?
Till death shall lay his hand on me,
And crumble me to dust.

What if my sun should set at noon,
If death should call today?
Can’st thou my soul, go off so soon,
Hast thou no scores to pay?

Behold my sands how quick they fall,
How near I am my goal,
Let not my body be undrest,
Till thou hast cloath’d my soul.

That at the Trumpet’s sound I may
Spring from my dusty bed,
Rejoicing at the voice that calls.
“Arise, come forth, ye dead.”

O give me faith and patience, Lord,
Upon a dying bed,
And let my Savior then afford
Supports to heart and head.

Support my weak and tott’ring faith,
If dismal fears annoy:
My Jesus be my strong defence,
My Jesus be my joy.

O Holy Ghost do thou not fail,
At this time to appear,
O let thy Spir’t and faith prevail,
My evidence to clear.

My soul in they sweet hands I trust,
Now can I sweetly sleep,
My body falling to the dust,
I leave with thee to keep.

Updated Resources Page

Updated Resources Page

On this page I keep a collection of all known copies of Particular Baptist literature that are publicly available. These are few in number. Most of the Particular Baptists’ books are available through Early English Books Online, but this requires access to an institution with a paid subscription to the EEBO database. One might think that EEBO has the rights to all these books. In fact, they only have rights to the digital scans in their database. Thus, the only way to get literature like this into the hand of the public is for libraries to scan their own copies of these books and make them available. It would seem that the British Library is in the process of doing so, because I have recently found (through their online library catalog) that they have made several of their own books available to the public. Some of these copies have been rebound, and perhaps they were digitized at that time, given that photography is easier when there is less pressure to preserve the original binding.

Whatever the reason, we can all benefit from their work now. I have made an initial search of their Particular Baptist literature and added links to the page linked above, marking out the copies from the British Library, which are in color! The copies marked “Google Books” are the same books as the British Library scans, but in black and white. The British Library has many more Particular Baptist books than what they have digitized thus far, but it seems that over time more and more should be added to the corpus of public access material.

The crown jewel of these scans, in my opinion, is the 1695 Baptist Catechism, though readers may enjoy Nehemiah Coxe’s Vindiciae Veritatis or Hercules Collins’ The Temple Repair’d. Another special addition is Benjamin Keach’s The Child’s Delight which is the book he was famously put in the stocks for. This book was hard to get a hold of for a long time, partly because it was ordered to be destroyed. Now anyone can read it. Note also two works by Keach on the covenants, digitized and made available from J.I. Packer’s library. Their quality is exceptional.

If you find any more resources like these, or if you have any trouble with the links, please let me know.

Enjoy!