17 Means to Promote Piety

According to J. I. Packer, the Puritans “saw themselves as God’s pilgrims traveling home, God’s warriors battling against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and God’s servants under orders to do all the good they could as they went along.” This pilgrim mentality led the Puritans to not only hold on to the things of this world loosely, but to deliberately distance themselves from worldliness. In A Puritan Theology, Joel Beeke and Mark Jones call us to the same conscious, never-ending pursuit of godliness.

Today we need to sound the call that salvation by grace goes hand in hand with godly living and the pursuit of practical holiness, without falling into the trap of legalism. Likewise, when rightly understood, the doctrines of grace stand opposed to moral indifference and to a worldly style of living that makes it difficult for the church and the world to discern who is Christian and who is not. Perhaps no other other group of Christians in church history got this issue rightly balanced in a more biblical way than the Puritans.

Toward the glory of God as their end, the Puritans used a number of means to promote piety, i.e. godliness. Beeke and Jones draw our attention to seventeen of them.

  1. Encouraging Word-focused, doctrinal, experiential, and soul-saving preaching
  2. Reading and searching the Scriptures
  3. Meditating on biblical truths and duties
  4. Engaging frequently and at length in fervent prayter
  5. Communing with the saints, particularly through spiritual fellowships
  6. Emphasizing continuing repentance
  7. Cultivating an inward devotional life through daily devotions and the means of grace
  8. Singing psalms
  9. Monitoring and making diligent use of the Lord’s Supper
  10. Obeying the Decalogue out of gratitude to God
  11. Accenting the invisible church more than the visible
  12. Maintaining family worship
  13. Catechizing the laity
  14. Publishing sermons and other edifying literature
  15. Stressing theological education for clergy
  16. Keeping the Sabbath by dedicating the entire day to God
  17. Keeping journals or spiritual diaries

As we strive to obey the apostle Peter’s admonition to apply all diligence in the pursuit of godliness (2 Peter 1:5), these seventeen means will certainly be of help to us.

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