Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fullness beyond measure

The Apostle John writes of Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word: "For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." (John 1:16)

John Preston (1587 - 1628) exegetes this text with the passion, thoroughness and depth characteristic of his generation of English Puritans in The Fullness of Christ, recently published in an updated e-version by New Puritan Press. This is a short book, so makes a great entry point to the writings of the Puritans. Maybe these quotes will whet your appetite.

Both a little bowl and the ocean can be said to be full. Yet each is filled according to the limits of its present capacity. Christ was full according to all dimensions. He is the length, depth, breadth, and height of fullness.

. . . there was in Stephen and the saints the fullness of a container, but in Christ, there is the fullness of a spring. Their fullness was given to them by someone else and so is derivative. In Christ, there is the fullness of a fountain, which proceeds from himself and depends on no one else. The medieval scholastic theologians expressed this well when they said that Christ's and the saints' fullness differ as fire and things set on fire. The fullness of the ocean is too small to express this. The removal of even a drop or two diminishes it to some degree, but you can light a thousand torches from the fullness of fire and it is not diminished at all.

All excellence in creatures when compared to Christ is but a drop in the ocean, as a spark is to a roaring fire. If therefore we proportion our affections to the object, which ought to be the rule that governs them, we must not bestow upon the creature any more than a drop of love and delight. However, the full stream of our affections should run after Christ, in whom is all the fullness of perfection.

All quotes from The Fullness of Christ, edited and translated by James T. O'Brien (New Puritan Press, 2012)

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