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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Three Ways of Self-Entertainment by Nathanael Ranew

Nathanael Ranew (1602-1678) was admitted to Emmanuel College in 1617, graduating with a B.A. in 1621 and M.A. in 1624. He was the minister at St. Andrew Hubbard, Little Eastcheap, London from 1627 until 1647, when he was instituted under a parliamentary order to the vicarage of Felsted, Essex. Ranew took a prominent place among Essex non-conformists. He was ejected from Felsted by the Act of Conformity in 1662, and settled in Billericay, where he was buried on March 17, 1678. Edmund Calamy, in his”Non-Conformist’s Memorial,” calls him “a judicious divine, generally esteemed and valued.”

Outside of Scripture, I do not think there is a better place to have your mind stimulated, soul nourished, and life pastorally guided than by 17th century Puritans. Ranew was one of the first Puritans I was introduced as I purchased one of his books at Mt. Zion Chapel Library in Pensacola, Florida. The book I am referring to is called Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation or A Treatise proving the Duty, and Demonstrating the Necessity, Excellency, Usefulness, Natures, Kinds, and Requisites of Divine Meditation (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995). Divine meditation is a lost art today as we have become the ephemeral society that caters to drive-time devotions and minimal exposure to Scripture. Ranew’s work is a gem (Spurgeon referred to it numerous times in his Treasury of David), and I would like to recommend it to you as a potential corrective to the flighty and fickle dominance as well as a call to grope for gravitas.

In his introduction, Ranew gives three ways of “self-entertainment” which I would like to tag with this post. I found them encouraging, and I pray you do too.

Three Ways of Self-Entertainment

A pious heart hath three happy ways of self-entertainment in solitary; three ways of being least alone, when most alone.

The first way of self-entertainment, is the ordinance of reading and searching the Holy Scriptures, the pure, perfect, and infallible word and will of Christ concerning us. There Christ hath prepared his rich feast of fat things full of morrow, and his royal banquet of heavenly truths. There he sets forth the great varieties of sure directions, precious promises, high examples, rare experiences, and the help of all his holy ordinances, to feed and satiate the hungry and thirsty spirit.

The second way of self-entertainment, is divine meditation, by either pondering of spiritual things, for improving knowledge, and exciting practice; or by a weighing of all other things whatever, for reducing them to a spiritual end and use.

The third way of self-entertainment, is private praying, such as is both founded on and bounded by Christ’s will in his word; such as is both prepared and assisted, made wise and warm by serious meditation.

Meditation stands between the two ordinances of reading and praying, as the grand improver of the former, and the high quickener of the latter, to furnish the mind with choice materials for prayer, and to fill the heart with holy fervency in it.


Blogger Steve Weaver said...

Good stuff!

9/07/2006 07:27:00 AM

Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Good Morning!

I posted a quote from Solitude Improved on my blog yesterday and as it was well receieved, I decided to post up more quotations. I found your blog while googling for a biography on Ranew.

I have the "self-entertainment" section earmarked to post as well!

One of the goals I have for my blog is to introduce the Puritan writers to my readers who are generally "mommy bloggers."

: )

As I scrolled down to find this post, it appears that we have many of the same interests in Puritan and Calvinistic writings. I will be back!


9/13/2006 07:54:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...


Glad to see that you found P&P! Yes, I do love the Puritans! I too looked for info on Ranew and could not find anything. You would serve your readers well to put Ranew's words before them. Their are rich in wisdom from a man who practiced what he preached. Thanks for coming by, and I hope to see you around!

9/13/2006 01:38:00 PM

Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Thanks for the welcome; as you can see, I am back!

: D

9/13/2006 09:15:00 PM

Blogger PuritanStudent said...


I am actually writing my Master's thesis on Ranew and Solitude Improved, and found this post while doing an internet search for journal articles on St. Andrew Hubbard.

I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the introductory quote about Ranew's life.

Also--great blog in general. Fun and useful stuff. I'll be back!

9/26/2006 03:18:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...


The introductory quote comes from the flyleaf to the book Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation. Unfortunately, very little information is available on Ranew. Hopefully, your thesis could correct such a thing! Seriously, it is really good news to see that you have taken up his life to do a thesis. I have spent much of my time this past year reading John Flavel and recent wrote a paper on his view of prayer and providence in relation to contemporary positions today. Needless to say, 17th century Puritans is a gold mine. I hope that they can receive more exposure in our generation and generations to come! God bless you brother, and please let me know if I can assist you in any way.

9/26/2006 04:23:00 AM

Blogger PuritanStudent said...


I have been able to get a library copy of Solitude, but it did not have that short bio of Ranew --possibly it lost that flyleaf when it was rebound. I will have to check that out, in particular because one of the dates are different than ones I had been finding previously.

I had been meaning to purchase my own copy anyway--this may be a good reason! :)

Thanks so much for your help. If you're interested, I can email you a copy of my thesis when I finish (next March). It will have historical background on Ranew and also situate Solitude Improved within Puritan meditation as a whole. Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in.

God bless you, too, brother--but from a sister!! :)

9/26/2006 11:31:00 AM

Blogger PuritanStudent said...

Oh, yes, and I also want to say that your paper on Flavel sounds awesome! Great topic.

9/26/2006 11:36:00 AM


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