Review of Trading and Thriving in Godliness:Posted: October 9, 2008
Book Review: J. Stephen Yuille, Trading and Thriving in Godliness: The Piety of George Swinnock, (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books 2008).
Summary of the Piety of George Swinnock:
The 5th volume of the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series is like a book that is found in the back of a library – hidden with an inch of dust on it, yet is an absolute treasure just waiting to be picked up. George Swinnock – although perhaps not well known – was a great English Puritan of his day, and after reading just the short 17-page biography of him, it is easy to see the passion for godliness in his life. According to Edmund Calamy, Swinnock was a serious, warm, practical, and useful preacher. The passion of piety was unmistakably evident in the characteristics that made up Swinnock’s personality, and was distinctively presented in his pastoring. Dr. Yuille gives a clear overview of Swinnock’s piety in several areas of his life. He starts by showing where Swinnock’s piety began – being greatly influenced by Robert Swinnock (his uncle), Thomas Wilson, and Emanuel College. From there we are told of the foundation on which Swinnock’s piety was set: the covenant promise, the fear of God in the mind, and the fear of God in the will. Lastly, we are given an expression of Swinnock’s piety in several different areas of godliness, and shown how his foresight of godliness was rooted in who God was and how God used man to glorify Himself.
Summary of the selected works of George Swinnock:
Dr. Yuille has picked 50 selections of Swinnock’s writings and thoughtfully categorized them into seven sections. Separating them into different sections under topical headings makes it easy and clear for the reader to see the specific areas in which Swinnock found much importance as he lived out his godliness. The seven sections examine the foundation of godliness, the door to godliness, the value of godliness, the pursuit of godliness, the nature of godliness, the means to godliness, and the motives to godliness. In the first, Dr. Yuille outlines several attributes of the character of God, which show Him to be incomparable. The second section goes over specific pieces of Swinnock’s writings that express the need, nature, effect, and marks of regeneration. Section three deals with the value of godliness – emphasizing how it, in itself, is man’s great reward in living a life of piety and faithfulness. Section four explains how the believer should have a pursuit of godliness in precedency, industry and constancy. Dr. Yuille then gives a number of selected writings in dealing with the nature of godliness, using examples that show and relate to areas in every day life such as relationships with one another, work, parenting, being a child, being a spouse – in good times and bad, among other people or alone, throughout the week until death. The following section then focuses on Swinnock’s means to godliness. In this, Dr. Yuille has chosen selections on how to have a good foundation in your spirituality, how to live by faith, how to set your eyes upon God, and how to watch against sin. Throughout each of the seven sections, it is evident that Dr. Yuille has searched carefully through the writings of Swinnock to find the precise portions that not only deal with every day life, but also deal with doctrine and devotion for the believer’s spirituality, as well as encourage the reader to walk in the fear of the Lord throughout his or her life.
Recommendation: 8 out of 10
This 5th volume of the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series is put together amazingly! There is no other volume in the series so far that is as carefully laid out, easy to read, and well written as this. The godly motives behind Dr. Yuille’s Trading and Thriving in Godliness are evident and are outlined in a way that the reader can easily see the piety in Swinnock’s own life throughout his writings on topics of the Christian walk. For those believers who want to grow deeper and stronger in their relationship with God than ever before and want a book that will present and lead them in that direction of godliness, this is the book to get.