The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth was first published in 1651, and 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 he 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 assurances given by Christ to his disciples, taking as an example of that love Christ's washing of his disciples' feet (John 13). The heart of his argument, however lies in his exposition of Hebrews 4:15, in which 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 such a knowledge of Christ.
About the Author
Then in 1620 having just been appointed a fellow of Katharine Hall he heard a funeral sermon that actually moved him, making him deeply concerned for his spiritual state. It started seven grim years of moody introspection as he grubbed around inside himself for signs of grace. Only when he was told to look outwards not to trust to anything in himself, but to rest on Christ alone only then was he free.
The last twenty years of his life he spent pastoring, writing treatises, and studying in London (the study sadly interrupted in 1666 when the Great Fire burned more than half of his voluminous library). Then, at eighty years of age, he was gripped by a fatal fever. With his dying words he captured what had always been his chief concerns: 'I am going', he said,
to the three Persons, with whom I have had communion . . . My bow abides in strength. Is Christ divided? No, I have the whole of his righteousness; I am found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Christ cannot love me better than he doth. I think I cannot love Christ better than I do; I am swallowed up in God . . . Now I shall be ever with the Lord.'