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In Christ’s Prayer before His Passion, a major work consisting of 145 sermons, Anthony Burgess expounds such topics as God the Father and God the Son, the love of God, providence over death, election, the deity of Christ, the Mediator as teacher and priest and king, union with Christ, the knowledge of God, eternal life, justification, sanctification, obedience, separation from the world, faith, prayer, perseverance, worship, Christian unity, gospel ministry, and the glory of heaven. All these truths are discussed by this judicious Puritan divine according to the order of the text in John 17.
Burgess rightly regarded John 17 as a mountaintop of divine revelation, “a pearl in the gold” of the Bible. He asserts that the Lord offers this prayer in the presence of His disciples so that those who hear it (and later, those who read it) might be filled with joy. This prayer is especially significant because Jesus utters it the night before His crucifixion, which is the climax of His earthly work. Burgess thus asks his readers, “If the words of a dying man are much to be regarded, how much more of a dying Christ?” In this light, Anthony Burgess expounds John 17 as the prayer of Christ, both as our Mediator—if we are believers—and as the model of a godly man.
Originally published as CXLV Expository Sermons upon the Whole 17th Chapter of the Gospel according to John: or, Christ’s Prayer before His Passion Explicated, and both Practically and Polemically Improved (London: Abraham Miller for Thomas Underhill, 1656).
Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) was a member of the Westminster Assembly and pastor of the church of Sutton Coldfield in Warwickshire.
“Many people likely are familiar with Anthony Burgess, Westminster divine, contributor to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms, but few know Burgess the preacher. In this massive collection of sermons on Christ’s High Priestly Prayer, we have, as C. S. Lewis once remarked, the fresh breeze of centuries past blow through our minds to remind us of truths once known but now forgotten. Burgess’s sermons are a clarion to prayer and greater love for our triune God, all founded on the work of Christ, our Great High Priest. Burgess’s sermons are rich, edifying, and Christ-focused.” — J. V. Fesko, professor of systematic and historical theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
“Christ’s prayer before His passion in John 17 is a near experience to entering into heaven while we are still here on earth. Christ’s sublime prayer reflects the most spiritual and heavenly doctrines that our feeble minds can begin to grasp. He, as God-man, hours before He lays down His life for His elect people, opens His heart to show us how sublime is His ministry and how sanctifying are the thoughts of His heart as the God-man Redeemer. I highly recommend this book, which opens a window into the holy of holies of God’s covenant of grace and points us to the eternal glory that is soon to come for all believers.” — Maurice Roberts, emeritus minister, Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
“Among Anthony Burgess’s writings, none equal the doctrinal and ecclesiastical scope of his series of expository sermons on John 17. Long commended as ‘full of sound doctrine, methodically arranged and closely applied in very plain language,’ Christ’s Prayer before His Passion unfolds the breadth of the believer’s union with Christ as mediator, particularly the ‘one faith’ uniting each saint to Christ and to one another. With this new edition, augmented by a valuable introductory guide, Burgess’s vital and complementary messages of faith and visible unity can once again equip believers and advance the church.” — John R. Bower, research fellow, Craig Center for the Study of the Westminster Standards, Westminster Theological Seminary