Making Religion One’s Business by Herbert Palmer (1601-1647)
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Herbert Palmer (1601-1647) was an important Westminster divine, powerful preacher, studious Christian and a pastor’s theologian. He was such an intense Christian that some said he was sanctified from the womb, like that eminent and faithful servant of the Lord, Jeremiah. Even at a young age, when Palmer was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he constantly replied that he would be a minister of Jesus Christ.
There is a great gulf fixed between being religious and being a Christian. Are you a Christian? Or, are you just religious in some way, even with great intensity? What if true religion became intertwined with real Christian piety? The outcome would be a real passion for the things of God and the glory of Jesus Christ. In essence, Palmer shows that true religion and Christian piety are one and the same for the believer.
Palmer’s desire in this written work (quite popular in his day), is that Christians would be glad to see written down a pattern for their hearts and lives before Christ, and also strive to make it their own in Christian practice. He penned this list of remembrance to quicken and push to action, what he called, “…his own frequent dullness.” He desired, “to have his affection all molded by religion, and towards it,” and that we in turn, in following his directions, would remember that, “religion is the end of our creation, and of all the benefits, not only spiritual, but temporal, which God bestows on us.” If this aim is met, then religion would be our, “intense happiness, even for the present, though derived from eternal happiness, which is now laid up for us, and to be hereafter possessed by us in heaven.” To harness Palmer’s work is to make religion our business. It is not simply to be a religious zealot, but a true Christian.