Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 04/22/2011 by John Bird.
Recommended. The riches of the pen of Thomas Brooks, mediated to a new audience through the selections of Charles Spurgeon.
Students of Charles Spurgeon know that he loved the Puritans. He poured over volumes of their books until their words poured out of him. One of his favorite Puritan authors was the 17th century Independent pastor Thomas Brooks. "Had Brooks been a worldly man," writes Spurgeon, "his writings would have been most valuable; but since he was an eminent Christian, they are doubly so."
Smooth Stones is Spurgeon's collection of "sentences, illustrations, and quaint sayings" gleaned from Brooks' six-volume Works. It was first published in 1855, but is now Banner of Truth Trust's latest in their Puritan Paperbacks series.
Like the author of the book of Proverbs, Brooks repeats the same themes in a variety of ways, and always with a different twist. "He saw similes, metaphors, and allegories everywhere; but they were all consecrated to his Master’s service."
Readers will find plenty in Brooks' writings to convict, humble, and warn them: "But as for such as cannot spare time to seek God in secret, they sufficiently manifest that they have little friendship or fellowship with Him to whom they so seldom come." Or, "Open profaneness is the broad road that leads to hell, but closet duties rested in, is a sure though cleaner path."
But Brooks doesn't just shoot his arrows and leave readers in despair; there is something comforting or encouraging on every page. And whether convicting or comforting, Christ is always foremost: "Christ is the sun, and all the watches of our lives should be set by the dial of his motion."
This excellent edition could be improved with more careful editing. I noted significant errors on pages 14 and 36. Such are the fruits of relying on technology such as Spellchecker. These errors don't abound, but they do detract from the overall quality.
There is a disadvantage to reading quotes that are removed from the larger context. Readers may, in places, perceive some contraction, at least on the surface. But Smooth Stones is excellent for devotional reading, and is also a good introduction to the vast writings of Thomas Brooks. Over the last several mornings it has moved me to pray, increased my appetite for the Scriptures, and given me something to think about throughout the day.