Born in 1676, Thomas Boston would become a faithful puritan pastor in Scotland. He would live only 56 years – but those years were filled with fruitful ministry to our Lord. Though his education was limited in a traditional sense, he became a recognized Hebrew scholar. Most notably, he was a faithful shepherd preaching and ministering with the Word in people’s homes. We may think that biblical counseling is something new on the scene – Thomas Boston proves otherwise as he, along with many other puritans brought practical application of the Word to the trials the flock faced in their day. He also wrote several works that profoundly impacted the common people among whom he ministered.
One of those books is, The Crook in the Lot. This book posthumously published, was a shorter work that was an exposition and practical application of Ecclesiastes 7:13:
Consider the work of God; for who can make that straight which he has made crooked?
The purpose of the book is to help you face affliction with faith (“not by sense”) and to properly interpret suffering and trials through the lens of Scripture and the redeeming work of Christ. To attempt to straighten what God has made crooked is not only a fool’s errand but it is impossible. Attempts to straighten your lot (the circumstances of life) will not only fail but will lead you away from the beautiful purposes of God in your life.
Boston takes the time to look at the “crook in the lot” from many angles. This at times may seem laborious (so persevere!) but it is helpful and important as he describes the possible ways we can think about our trials and works to correct what might be wrong in our thinking. He rightly makes an emphasis of the necessity of humility (3 of the 9 chapters) to face our afflictions in faith.
This small work has many strengths. I want to point out three. The first notable strength is Boston’s commitment to Sola Scriptura. Each page is jam packed with scriptural support that is sound in exegesis (not mere proof texting). The second strength is the practical application given in a very organized and direct manner – you can’t miss it. His pastoral care for the reader becomes palpable with each application. Finally, as ought to be the case, he points the reader to Christ – who too suffered and humbled himself under the mighty hand of His Father to purchase us for God.
This small work is an incredible blessing to all who will take the time to read it. Typically in a book review we talk about the strengths and the weaknesses. In the case of this book instead of weaknesses I want to give some preparatory caution regarding how to prepare your mind to read this work. The language may at times seem foreign to you. Have a dictionary at hand as you read (or dictionary.com!). In addition to new words you will find that he is not committed to short sentences so be patient and willing to read slowly, carefully, and re-read as necessary.
As a part of this book review it would be appropriate to broaden our consideration to other puritan and older works. In an article by Joel Beeke at Ligonier Ministries, “Why You Should Read the Puritans,” he gives 9 good reasons to do just that:
Puritan writings …
help shape life by Scripture.
show how to integrate biblical doctrine into daily life.
show how to exalt Christ and see his beauty.
reveal the Trinitarian character of Theology.
show you how to handle trials.
explain true spirituality.
show how to live by holistic faith.
teach the importance and primacy of preaching.
show how to live in two worlds.
You can read the full article by following this link: Why You Should Read the Puritans.
You will do well to read the puritans along with the many new modern books to great benefit.
Grace and Peace – Jim Koerber