Monday, January 20, 2014

Isaac Ambrose Entered Glory 350 Years Ago

"Oh! how should all hearts be taken with this Christ? Christians! turn your eyes upon the Lord: 'Look, and look again unto Jesus.' Why stand ye gazing on the toys of this world, when such a Christ is offered to you in the gospel? Can the world die for you? Can the world reconcile you to the Father? Can the world advance you to the kingdom of heaven? As Christ is all in all, so let him be the full and complete subject of our desire, and hope, and faith, and love, and joy; let him be in your thoughts the first in the morning, and the last at night." -- Isaac Ambrose (Looking Unto Jesus, p. 715)

It was 350 years ago today that English Puritan (Presbyterian) Isaac Ambrose entered glory (1604 - January 20, 1664). He was a minister of the gospel, a writer, and, by the grace of God and by means of much spiritual meditation and contemplation, showed himself to be, in the words of Thomas Watson, "a true citizen of heaven; it is known what place he belongs to by his speech, habit, gesture. There is a kind of angelical brightness on him; he shines in holiness, as Moses' face shone when he had with God in the mount. He is still doing angels' work; his life is a very heaven upon earth." 

After a faithful ministry, he was ejected from his pulpit for nonconformity in 1662. "He spent his later years in meditation and quietude among his friends in Preston. A lover of nature as well as of God, like his namesake the patriarch, 'Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide.' [Gen. 24.63] He spent a great part of his time every summer in Widicre wood, where, seldom seen by any, except on the Sabbath, he communed with his own heart and his God. The last time he was seen alive was by some friends from Garstang, of whom he is said to have taken leave with unusual affection and solemnity. Immediately after they left him he retired to his place of meditation, where he was found by an attendant in the moment of death. He departed in 1664 at the age of sixty-one." (Robert Halley, Lancashire: Its Puritanism and Nonconformity, Vol. 2, p. 202) 

Of Ambrose, Dr. Edmund Calamy the Historian wrote, "He was holy in his life, happy in his death, and honoured by GOD,and all good men." 

"The writings of Isaac Ambrose breathe with the inspired pulse of a person who has experienced the love and joy of God. He urges his readers, '[l]abour so to know Christ, as to have a practical and experimental knowledge of Christ in his influences, and not meerly a notional [one]'" (Tom Schwanda, Soul-Recreation: The Contemplative-Mystical Piety of Puritanism, p. 81).

I write of him today because Ambrose taught me personally much of the nature of true Christian warfare; the beauty of the covenant of redemption; the value of meditation; the benefit of writing a spiritual diary (which he included extracts from in his devotional manual, Media, as an encouragement to others to take up this useful practice); the importance of all the means of grace, public and private; and the blessing of solitude when it is improved upon as a opportunity to communion with God, as well as the blessing of serving the Lord within the family and other spheres to which we are called. It is good to remember the godly man who points us to Christ, and Ambrose was indeed such a man. For those who are interested, I commend the following links as an introduction to his life and legacy.

1 comment:

  1. I too love the writings of Isaac Ambrose, I quote him a lot, as his work is so comforting to Believer's hearts.