God’s Puritan

January 31, 2011

‘Gods Puritan’, claimed Ussher, ‘is hee, that Purifies himself as God is Pure’. This is the only positive use of the term that I can find in the surviving sermons, the word usually being placed in the mouth of the detractor or in the apprehensive thoughts of the double-minded who fear that zeal for good works will attract nicknames. In context, Ussher was speaking of the spotless purity of Christ in his active obedience on our behalf. No charge of sin could be made against him, neither sins of omission nor commission. Christ’s perfect righteousness is that with which one must be clothed to stand before God’s judgement. This is one of many reminders in Ussher’s sermons that one must not rely on one’s own good works for acceptance with God but keep looking to Christ. It is also possible, perhaps, to hear faint reverberations of taunts about Puritan self-righteousness behind this subversion of that odious name.

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