Good Thoughts in Bad Times

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Thomas Fuller was a seventeenth-century pastor and, in the judgment of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the “most sensible … great man of an age that boasted a galaxy of great men.” Fuller took the royalist side in England’s civil war and yet maintained wide popularity. His witty preaching in London on the Strand at the Chapel of Saint Mary drew overflow audiences. A selection of Fuller’s writings are included in Sherwood Wirt’s Spiritual Disciplines (Crossway, 1983). Most of the following are taken from Fuller’s Good Thoughts in Bad Times, published during England’s “bloodiest era.” (Archaisms have been altered or deleted.)

A Harsh Voice

Lord, my voice by nature is harsh and out of tune, and it is hopeless to lavish any art on it to make it better. Can my singing of psalms be pleasing to your ears when it is so unpleasant to my own? Yet though I cannot sing with the nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I would rather chatter with the swallow—even croak with the raven—than be altogether silent. Had you given me a better voice, I would have praised you with a better voice. Now what my music lacks in sweetness, let it have in sense, singing praises with understanding. Create in me a new heart in which to make melody, and I will be contented with my old voice, until in due time, being admitted into the choir of heaven, I have another more harmonious voice given to me.

Good Divinity

Lord, I confess that when in my writing I have occasion to insert the phrase “God willing,” I can barely prevent myself from putting it in a parenthesis, as if it may as well be left out as put in. But indeed, without these words all the rest is nothing. From now on, then, I will write those words fully and fairly, without any parenthesis. Let critics censure ...

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