Book Review: Turn and Live (Nathaniel Vincent)

Book review by James Jeffery


Am I truly saved? How do I share the gospel with someone knowing that God is sovereign? What are the consequences of rejecting God? What are the blessings of trusting in Him?

These are just some of the critical questions addressed by Nathaniel Vincent — a 17th century puritan —in his sermon on Ezekiel 33:11. His sermon will engage the heart, mind and soul of every listener, addressing questions that will affect our eternal destiny.

Turn and Live is one of the Puritan Treasures for Today series. The publisher — Reformation Heritage Books — seek to make the writings of puritans more accessible for contemporary Christians. They achieve this ground-breaking objective by editing and adapting their works to contemporary English, and by breaking down large volumes into easily digestible booklets.

While we are separated by space and time, the age in which the Puritans lived was not all that different from our own. Just as false teaching is ubiquitous today, so were misrepresentations and distortions of the gospel in the era of the puritans. False teaching misleads us, and ultimately destroys us, by giving us a false portrait of who God is, and thus a skewed perspective of who we are, and this is why you must read this electrifying sermon. 

All believers must ‘test our faith against the standard of God’s Word, for there is much counterfeit Christianity in the world’ (p. 61). Such a statement is as true today as it was when it was first penned in 1669. Furthermore, Vincent taps into the great danger of possessing a mere cognitive and confessional Christianity and argues that the theological camps we identify with mean nothing if we haven’t been regenerated from within.

One of the reasons this book is suitable for all Christians is because it presents a realistic portrait of the seductiveness of sin. What better way to be prepared to live a life of holiness than to prepare oneself by studying the strategies of the evil one? 

“Promised pleasure is the bait that covers sin, causing us to swallow it with eagerness. It is the fatal potion that stupefies you and makes you lie senseless while in extreme danger” (p. 12)  

Yet the book is not only beneficial in waging war against sin but is also a catalyst for evangelism. He explains the state of those who do not belong to Christ in striking analogy and thereby communicates the tragedy of dying without Christ:

“If you who are wives should wake in the night and find your husband dead by your side, would it not exceedingly grieve you? Or if you who are fathers should suddenly find your children dead before your eyes, would not your heart be extremely affected?  And surely if your husband, wife, or children are dead in sins, in danger of being damned forever, you have much more reason to be concerned for them and to endeavor by advice, prayers, and tears to see them turned and reconciled to God” (p. 66)

Regardless of who you are, Turn and Live is a critically important sermon to read. Often the most sobering and challenging sermons we hear end up leaving an indelible impact on our souls — Turn and Live is no exception.

Turn and Live

Turn and Live

(Puritan Treasures for Today)

by Nathaniel Vincent