WILLIAM BURKITT: EXPOSITORY NOTES WITH PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
WILLIAM BURKITT (1650-1703) with New Foreword by Rob Ventura
HOPEFUL PUBLICATION DATE IS MID-JULY 2023.
Although William Burkitt is not well-known in our day he was the man chosen to preach the funeral sermon for the great Puritan WILLIAM GURNALL, best known for his massive volume "The Christian in Complete Armor". MATTHEW HENRY stated that it was the New Testament Commentary of William Burkitt that inspired him to write his massive Commentary on the Old Testament Scriptures.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD, the renowned evangelist, claimed that it was while reading the Commentaries of William Burkitt and Matthew Henry that he came to understand the glorious doctrine of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE. He went on to say in his diary that his preparation for his preaching in America was reading Burkitt and Henry on his knees.
CHARLES H. SPURGEON wrote that this was 'a goodly volume' and recommended 'attentive perusal' of it to his ministerial students.
"William Burkitt’s Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament were reprinted often in the eighteenth century and have long begged reprinting today. As a peace-loving Reformed Anglican, Burkitt was puritan-minded in thought and practice, and thus these notes are full of experiential, and especially practical thoughts. They reveal Burkitt’s pastoral heart for the unsaved, the beginner in grace, and the mature Christian. These enlightening notes contain the astute expository observations of Matthew Poole’s renowned 3-volume Commentary as well as the practical and homiletical flavor of Matthew Henry’s even more famous 6-volume Commentary. In some ways, they are a mixture of both, and worthy to be read by preachers and Christians alike as a reliable and practical guide to understanding the New Testament Scriptures. I highly recommend these useful volumes and am so grateful to Solid Ground Christian Books for reprinting them." —Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"Most of us have profited greatly from Matthew Henry’s or Matthew Poole’s commentaries on the Scriptures, and not Burkitt since his work was until now only available online. To think he was a friend of William Gurnall (and preached at his funeral) is quite extraordinary. Kudos, then, to Rob Ventura and Solid Ground Christian Books for making this volume available again. Generations to come will now profit from his exceptionally good comments." —Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, Chancellor’s Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries
"Numerous Evangelicals from Matthew Henry to John Wesley, from George Whitefield to Jupiter Hammon deeply appreciated the works of William Burkitt, whose literary corpus was regularly being published into the nineteenth century. Like other Christian authors in the Puritan and Evangelical orbits, however, in the twentieth century his name and his books fell into almost-complete obscurity. This new printing of his New Testament reflections is thus most welcome, for it enables us to once again appreciate an author who was a force for good in his day, one whom Charles Haddon Spurgeon called “Old Master Burkitt.” —Michael A G Haykin, Chair and professor of church history, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"To an earlier generation, William Burkitt’s name was well known. C.H. Spurgeon regarded Burkitt's expository commentary as a "goodly volume," and recommended "attentive perusal" of it. This republication of Burkitt’s ‘Expository Notes’ (perhaps J. C. Ryle intentionally echoed Burkitt) should bring this readable and practical author to modern readers. Pastor Ventura and Solid Ground Christian Books has done the church a good service in reacquainting us with this forgotten treasure. Read and be greatly edified." —Ian Hamilton, Principal, Westminster Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Newcastle
"Burkitt's commentary is not as well known in our day as it has been in times past, and as it deserves to be still. Busy pastors may not feel the need for yet another commentary to consult in sermon preparation, but this is not just another commentary. In short order, Burkitt handles texts in such a way as to give helpful outlines, concise exposition, thought provoking observations and a variety of rich applications. His commentary is also useful as a heart-warming aid in private devotions. I am glad to see it back in print." —Lee McKinnon Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV
"The resurrection from obscurity of William Burkitt's New Testament commentary with this republication will breathe new life into the devotional reading of Scripture, especially in private and family use. This work possesses a beautiful spirituality wedded to orthodox doctrine in the Reformed tradition. It abounds with words fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Burkitt’s commentary is not only faithful to biblical truth; it expresses that truth with literary grace. This two-volume set may well become your favorite first reference for general edification from New Testament passages. I warmly commend it to all." —D. Scott Meadows, Pastor Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed) Exeter, New Hampshire
VOLUME ONE: Matthew - Romans is 540 pages
VOLUME TWO: 1 Corinthians - Revelation is 460 pages
**MATTHEW 1:21 "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin."
"Observe here, 1. A prediction of our Savior's birth; the virgin shall bring forth a son.
2. A precept for the imposition of his name; Thou shalt call his name Jesus, that is, a Savior.
3. The reason why that name was given him; because he should save his people, not temporarily, as Joshua did the Israelites from their enemies, but spiritually and externally from their sins; not in their sins but from them; that is, from the guilt and punishment, from the power and dominion, of them.
Observe, 4. The peculiar subjects of this privilege; his people: He shall save his people from their sins.
Learn, 1. That sin is the evil of evils; or that sin considered in itself, is comparatively the greatest and worst of evils.
2. That the great end of Christ's coming into the world, was to be a Savior from this evil.
3. That Christ's own people do want and stand in need of a Savior as well as others; if he does not save them from their sins, they must die in and for their sins, as well as others.
Therefore he saves them from sin in three ways;
1. By obtaining pardon for sin, and in reconciling us to God. 2. By weakening the reigning power of sin, and implanting a new principle of holiness in the heart. 3. By perfecting and accomplishing all these happy beginnings at the end of this life in heaven."
v. 28- "Here we have a sweet invitation, backed with a gracious encouragement: Christ invites such as are weary of the burden of sin, of the slavery of Satan, of the yoke of the ceremonial law, to come unto him for rest and ease; and as an encouragement assures them, that upon their coming to him they shall find rest.
Learn, 1. That sin is the soul's laborious burden; Come unto me, all ye that labour. Labouring supposes a burden to be laboured under; this burden is sin's guilt.
2. That such as come to Christ for rest must be laden sinners.
3. That laden sinners not only may but ought to come to Christ for rest; they may come, because invited; they ought to come, because commanded.
4. That the laden sinner, upon his coming, shall find rest. Come, &c.
Note here, That to come unto Christ in the phrase of the New Testament is to believe in him, and to become one of his disciples. He that cometh unto me shall not hunger, he that believeth on me shall not thirst. John 6:35.
v. 29- Here note, That the phrase of take the yoke is judaical; the Jewish doctors spake frequently of the yoke of the law; the yoke of the commandments: and the ceremonies imposed upon the Jews are called a yoke, Acts 15:10.
Now as Moses had a yoke, so had Christ.
Accordingly, observe, 1. Christ's disciples must wear Christ's yoke. This yoke is twofold; a yoke of instruction; and a yoke of affliction; Christ's law is a yoke of instruction; it instructs; it restrains our natural inclinations, it curbs our sensual appetites; it is a yoke to corrupt nature; this yoke Christ calls his yoke, Take my yoke upon you: 1. Because he, as a Lord, lays it upon our necks.
2. Because he, as a servant, bore it upon his own neck first, before he laid it upon ours.
Observe, 2. That the way and manner how to bear Christ's yoke must be learnt of Christ himself. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; that is, learn of me, both what to bear, and how to bear.
Observe, 3. That Christ's humility and lowly-mindedness, is a great encouragement to Christians to come unto him, and learn of him, both how to obey his commands, and how to suffer his will and pleasure. Learn of me, for I am meek.
v. 30-Observe here, 1. Christ's authority and greatness; he has power to impose a yoke, and inflict a burden. My yoke; my burden.
2. His clemency and goodness, is imposing an easy yoke, and a light burden. My yoke is easy, my burden is light: that is, my service is good and gainful, profitable and useful; not only tolerable but delightful; and as is my yoke such is my burden: The burden of my cross, both light, not absolutely, but comparatively; the weight of my cross is not comparable with the glory of my crown.
Learn, That the service of Christ, though hard and intolerable to corrupt nature, yet is a most desirable and delightful service to grace, or renewed nature; Christ's service is easy to a spiritual mind.
1. It is easy, as it is a rational service; consonant to right reason, though contradictory to depraved nature.
2. Easy as it is a spiritual service; delightful to a spiritual mind.
3. Easy, as it is an assisted service; considering that we work not in our own strength, but in God's.
4. Easy, when once it is an accustomed service; though hard to beginners, it is easy to progressors; the further we walk, the sweeter is our way.
5. Easy, as it is the most gainful service; having the assurance of an eternal weight of glory, as the reward of our obedience.
Well therefore might our holy Lord say to his followers; My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
"The evangelist having asserted the divinity of Christ in the foregoing verses, comes now to speak of his humanity and manifestation in our nature: The word was made flesh.
Where note, 1. Our Savior's incarnation for us.
2. His life and conversation here among us. He dwelt or tabernacled for a season with us. In the incarnation or assumption of our nature,
Observe, 1. The person assuming, The Word, that is, the second person subsisting in the glorious Godhead.
Observe, 2. The nature assumed, flesh; that is, the human nature, consisting of soul and body.
But why is it not said, The Word was made man? but, The Word was made flesh.
Ans. To denote and set forth the wonderful abasement and condescension of Christ; there being more of vileness and weakness, and opposition to spirit, in the word flesh, than in the word man.
Christ's taking flesh implies, that he did not only take upon him the human nature, but all the weaknesses and infirmities of that nature also, (sinful infirmities and personal infirmities excepted,) he had nothing to do with our sinful flesh. Though Christ loved souls with an infinite and insuperable love, yet he would not sin to save a soul. And he took no personal infirmities upon him, but such as are common to the whole nature, as hunger, thirst, weariness.
Observe, 3. The assumption itself, He was made flesh; that is, he assumed the human nature into an union with his Godhead, and so became a true and real man by that assumption.
Learn hence, That Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man, into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God, and true Man, in one person, for ever.
O blessed union! O thrice happy conjunction! As Man, Christ had an experimental sense of our infirmities and wants; as God, he can support and supply them all.
Note farther, 2. As our Savior's incarnation for us, so his life and conversation among us; He dwelt, or tabernacled amongst us. The tabernacle was a type of Christ's human nature.
1. As the outside of the tabernacle was mean, made of ordinary materials, but its inside glorious; so was the Son of God.
2. God's special presence was in the tabernacle; there he dwelt, for he had a delight therein. In like manner dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily in Christ; and the glory of his divinity shined forth to the eye and view of his disciples; for they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; that is, whilst Christ appeared as a man amongst us, he gave great and glorious testimonies of his being the Son of God.
Learn hence, That in the day of our Savior's incarnation, the divinity of his person did shine forth through the veil of his flesh, and was seen by all them that had spiritual eye to behold it, and a mind disposed to consider it. We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father."
Observe here, 1. Our Lord's last words, It is finished.
2. His last act, He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
As to the former, his last words, It is finished, this might be the probable intendment of it:
1. It is finished; that is, now is my Father's eternal counsel concerning me accomplished, and now is the promise that he made of my becoming a sacrifice for sin fulfilled; both my Father's purpose and my Father's promise are now receiving their final accomplishment.
2. It is finished; that is, the scriptures are now fulfilled; all the types that did prefigure me, all the prophetical predictions that were made of me, all the Jewish sacrifices that pointed at me, have now received their final accomplishment in me, and are abolished in my death.
3. It is finished; that is, my sufferings are now ended, my race is run, my work is done, I am now putting my last hand to it, my death is before me, I have finished the work, the whole work, which I came into the world for, doing as well as dying; all is upon the matter completed, it is just finishing, it will be instantly finished.
Again, 4. It is finished: that is, the fury and malice, the rage and revenge of my enemies, is now ended, they have done their worst; the chief priests an soldiers, the judges and witnesses, the executioners and tormentors, have all tired out themselves with the exercise of their own malice; but now their spite and spleen, their envy and enmity, is ended, and the Son of God is at rest.
5. It is finished: that is, the glorious work of man's redemption and salvation is perfected and performed, consummated and completed, the price is paid, satisfaction is given, redemption is purchased, and salvation insured to a miserable world.
Woe unto us, if Christ had left but one farthing of our debt to the justice of God unpaid; we must have lain in hell to all eternity, as being insolvent; but Chrst has by one offering for ever perfected them that are sanctified.
Learn hence, that Jesus Christ hath perfected and completely finished, the great work of redemption, committed to him by God the Father.
Observe, 2. Our Saviour's last act: He bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
Whence learn, the spontaneity and voluntariness of Christ's sufferings, how freely he surrendered to death; his soul was not rent from him, but yielded up to God by him; Christ was a volunteer in dying; though his death was a violent death; yet it was a voluntary sacrifice; He bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
**ACTS 12:5,6-"So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison."
v. 5- "That is, fervent and importunate prayer was put up to God by the church on Peter's behalf: With the united strength of their whole souls they stormed heaven, and took him by force out of Herod's hand.
Learn, 1. That when the church is plunged into deep perplexities, the only help she can hope for must come unto her in the way of prayer.
Learn, 2. That when God suffers any of the ministers of the church to fall under the rage of persecutors, it is the church's duty to wrestle with God by prayer in an extraordinary manner on their behalf; "prayer was made without ceasing of the church."
Learn 3. That when God intends to bestow any extraordinary mercy upon his church, he stirs up the hearts of his people to pray for it in a very extraordinary manner.
v. 6- Observe, Peter continued in prison till the very night before Herod intended to bring him out to the people: And if they desired it, it is probable he intended to put him to death the next day.
Learn thence, That God oft-times suffers his children to come to the pit's brink, and then delivers them, that they may be the more sensible of his mercy, and have the greater cause to magnify his power. Peter was now come to his last night; the tyrant Herod probably intended his execution next morning. Now was the time for God to step in: Our extremity is his opportunity.
Observe farther, That notwithstanding Peter's imminent and impending danger, he sleeps very soundly, resigning up himself into the hands of Christ, and resolving, if he may no longer live Christ's servant, that he will die his sacrifice. I question whether Herod that imprisoned him slept half so soundly.
Lord! how soft and secure a pillow is a good conscience, even in the confines of death, and in the very jaws of danger!
Observe lastly, That God takes most care of Peter, when he was able to take least care of himself: When he was asleep, and altogether insensible of his danger, God was awake, and acting effectually in order to his deliverance.
Happy prisoners! who have God with them in prison; such are prisoners of hope indeed, and shall certainly experience divine help."
**1 CORINTHIANS 1:30,31-
"Our apostle had in the foregoing verses acquainted the Corinthians how low and despicable their outward condition was in this world; he tells them the world looked upon them as weak and foolish, and, as such, despised and disdained them, but as a superabundant recompense for the despicable meanness of their outward condition, he tells them what they are in Christ Jesus, how rich they are as Christians; that Christ is made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Observe here 1. An enumeration of the believing Christian's privileges, received by virtue of his interest in Christ, and union with him; and they are wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; to relieve us against our ignorance and blindness, he is our wisdom, the fountain of divine illumination, enabling us to see both our sin and danger; to discharge us from the burden of our guilt and obnoxiousness to divine wrath, he is our righteousness, the author of justification, procuring for us remission of sin, and acceptance with God; to free us from the pollution and power of sin, he is our sanctification; purging us by his Spirit, as well as pardoning by his blood, coming both by water and blood into our souls: and to set us at liberty from captivity and thralldom to sin and Satan, and the law, he is made our redemption, that is, the blessed author of a beloved redemption, not from Egyptian bondage or Babylonish captivity, but from the dominion of sin and servitude to Satan, from the wrath of God, from the curse of the law, from the danger and dread of death.
Learn hence, That God hath stored up in Christ all that we want, a suitable and full supply for every need, and made it communicable to us: he is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and redemption, our all in all, our all in the want of all.
Observe, 2. The method, way, and manner, by and after which believers come to be invested with, and made partakers of, these glorious privileges: Christ of God is made unto us; this denotes,
(1.) That Christ with all his benefits becomes ours by a special and effectual application: he is made unto us.
(2.) That this application of Christ is the work of God, and not of man; of God he is made unto us.
Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ, with all the precious fruits and invaluable benefits of his death, became ours by God's special and effectual application.
Observe, 3. The reason here assigned why the whole economy of grace is put into the hand of Christ, why all is communicated by him, and derived from him, namely, that all the saints' glorying may be in him, and not in themselves: That no flesh should glory in his presence, but as it is written, Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord, ver. 29, 31.
Infinite wisdom and sovereign pleasure has centered all grace in Christ; it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and the fullness that is in him is a ministerial fullness, it dwells in him on purpose to dispense to us, according as our exigencies do require, and our faith deserve; for of him are we in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, 'He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.'"
**2 TIMOTHY 3:16-
Our apostle closes this chapter with an exhortation to Timothy to persevere in his study of the Holy Scriptures, by an argument drawn,
1. From the dignity and authority of the scriptures; 2. From their utility; 3. From their perfection.
1. From their dignity and authority, They are given by the inspiration of God: that is, they are not the contrivance of any man's wit and fancy, but a revelation of the mind and will of God; and those that wrote them were excited to it, and assisted in it, by the Spirit of God; no part of scripture had either angels or men for its author, but every part of scripture is divinely inspired or breathed by God, both for matter and order, style and words.
A second argument is drawn from the utility and sufficiency of the holy scriptures; they are profitable for doctrine and instruction, teaching us what to know and believe in order to salvation, concerning God, and Christ, and ourselves, &c. for reproof of error, and confutation of false doctrines, for correction of sin and evil manners, for instruction in righteousness, directing us how to lead a holy and righteous life, according to the will of God.
A third argument is taken from the perfection of them; they are able to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works; that is, to make the ministers of Christ complete in knowledge, faith, and holiness, every way fitted for their work and duty, as Christians, and as ministers.
Observe here, 1. That the scriptures of the Old Testament, and not of the New, must be the scriptures here intended, they being the only scriptures which Timothy had known from a child; that was before the scriptures of the new Testament were written.
Observe, 2. That the apostle doth not say that these scriptures were of themselves sufficient to make Timothy wise unto salvation, but only that with faith in Christ Jesus they were sufficient for that end; much more then must the scriptures both of the Old and New Testament together, when accompanied with faith in Jesus Christ, be sufficient for that end.
Observe, 3. That the scriptures are a perfect, plain, and sufficient rule, in all things necessary to salvation.
1. They are a perfect rule; because the writers of them were inspired, and consequently their writings are infallible.
2. They are a plain rule; otherwise they would be no rule at all, of no more use to direct our faith and practice than a sun-dial in a dark room is to tell us the hour of the day. A rule that is not plain, whatever it may be in itself, is of no use to us till it is made plain.
3. They are a sufficient rule; they are able to make the man of God perfect, and wise to salvation. Here the church of Rome distinguishes, and says, the scriptures are sufficient to salvation, but not to instruction, to whom one of the martyrs replied, "If so, God send me the salvation and you the instruction."
It is conceived by some that this was the last epistle that ever St. Paul wrote; if so, this is the last charge that ever he gave, and concerns us the more to attend to the solemnity of it. The chapter before us is St. Paul's Cygnea Cantio, his last and sweetest song; by a spiritual sagacity he saw his end approaching, and the time of his martyrdom to be at hand; he therefore, like a dying man, adjures Timothy in a most awful and tremendous manner, to preach the word with all diligence and care, which he had so highly extolled in the foregoing chapter, as being able to make all persons wise unto salvation."
**JAMES 1:18-"Of his own will he has brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures."
These words are very expressive of four things, namely, of the efficient cause, the impulsive cause, the instrumental and the final cause for our regeneration.
Observe, 1. The author and efficient cause of regeneration; he that is the Father of lights, mentioned in the foregoing verse, begat us.
Note, that God, and God alone, is the prime efficient cause of regeneration; it is subjectively in the creature, it is efficiently from God: Christ appropriates this work to God, Matthew 11:23. The Scriptures appropriates it to God, Psalms 34:9, called his saints, and God himself appropriates it to himself, I will put my spirit within them, &c. Ezekiel 36:27
Observe, 2. The impelling, impulsive, and moving cause of regeneration, his own will: Of his own will begat he us; by his mere motion, induced by no cause, but the goodness of his own breast, of his own will, and not naturally, as he begat the Son from eternity; of his own will, and not necessarily, by a necessity of nature, as the sun enlightens and enlivens, but by an arbitrariness of grace; of his own will, and not by any obligation from the creature; by the will of God, and not for the merit and desert of man.
Observe, 3. The instrumental cause of our regeneration, the word of truth, that is, the gospel, which is the great instrument in God's hand for producing the new birth in the souls of his people.
Here note, the gospel is called truth by way of excellency, the word of truth, that is, the true word; and also by way of eminency, as containing a higher and more excellent truth than any other divine truth; the gospel declares the truth of all the Old Testament types.
Observe, 4. The final cause of our new birth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures, that is, of his new creatures, the chief among his creatures; the first-fruits were the best of every kind to be offered to God, and were given as God's peculiar right and portion; thus the new creature is God's peculiar portion taken out of mankind, which being consecrated to God by a new begetting, they ought to serve him with a new spirit, new thankfulness, as lying under the highest obligations unto new obedience.
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