The Heart of Christ
The Heart of Christ in Heaven towards Sinners on Earth was first published in 1651. It soon became Thomas Goodwin’s (1600-1680) most popular work. It is a fine example of his Christ-centredness and his mix of theological rigour and pastoral concern. In it, Goodwin aims to show from Scripture that, in all his heavenly majesty, Christ is not now aloof from believers and unconcerned, but has the strongest affections for them.
Goodwin begins with the beautiful personal assurances Christ gave to his disciples. It begins with the example of Christ’s love, His washing the disciples’ feet (John 13). The heart of his argument, however, lies in an exposition of Hebrews 4:15. From this text Goodwin shows that in all his glorious holiness in heaven, Christ is not sour towards his people. If anything, his capacious heart beats more strongly than ever with tender love for them. And in particular, two things stir his compassion: our afflictions and—almost unbelievably—our sins.
How we need Goodwin and his message today! If we are to be drawn from jaded, anxious thoughts of God and a love of sin, we need a knowledge of Christ that imparts to us the heart of Christ.
Foreword by Michael Reeves
- Outward demonstrations of the tenderness of Christ’s heart towards sinners
- Internal demonstrations of the tenderness of Christ’s heart towards sinners
- Christ’s affectionate compassion for sinners in their infirmities
A Review from Wilfred Weale
The book is in three parts. In the first, entitled, ‘Outward demonstrations of the tenderness of Christ’s heart towards sinners’, Goodwin speaks of the encouragement and comfort Christ gave to his disciples when he was with them on earth in the upper room. He washed their feet and told them of the Comforter he was to send to them after his departure, to prepare a place for them. Goodwin then speaks of Christ’s gracious words to his disciples during his appearances after his resurrection and finally just before his ascension.
In the second and third parts, ‘Internal demonstrations of the tenderness of Christ’s heart towards sinners’ and ‘Christ’s affectionate compassion for sinners in their infirmities’, Goodwin takes us to the heart of his argument, with his exposition of Hebrews 4:15: ‘For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’. In his exposition, Goodwin shows, in a most warm and encouraging way, that, far from Christ in heaven being cold or forgetful of his people, his heart now beats even more strongly than ever with love for them, empathizing with their sufferings more fully than the most loving friend.
Christ is so far from being provoked against you, as all his anger is turned upon your sin to ruin it; yea, his pity is increased the more toward you, even as the heart of a father to a child that has some loathsome disease, or as one is to a member of his body that hath the leprosy; he hates not the member, for it is his flesh, but the disease, and that provokes him to pity the part affected the more (pp 155-6).
About the Author
Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680) was one of the foremost Puritans and needs no commendation from us. In an age of much superficiality we could do little better than acquaint ourselves with such writers. Surely those of us who seek encouragement and assurance can do no better than focus on the heart of Christ. By 1634, Goodwin forsook “high church” practices among Anglicans and resigned his post to leave Cambridge and become a Separatist preacher. By the end of the decade he was with other Nonconformist exiles in Holland. Then, in 1641, Parliament invited all such Nonconformists to return, and soon Goodwin was leading the ‘dissenting brethren’ at the Westminster Assembly.
Other writings of Goodwin in our store:
- Christ Set Forth
- La Oracion (on Prayer, in Spanish, co-authored with John Bunyan)
- A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin (biographical)