To his most dear and precious ones, the sons and daughters of the Most High God, over whom the Holy Spirit has made him a Watchman. Beloved in our dearest Lord, Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched.
Epistle dedicatory explained
It’s really not that difficult to understand. Let’s look at each word individually.
Epistle: A letter written to an intended audience. Think of “Paul’s Epistle to the Church in Rome.” That’s the long way we refer to the book of Romans in the Bible. We call it an epistle because it was a letter Paul wrote to the Roman church.
So, this part of the book is a personal letter Brooks is writing.
Dedicatory: Something dedicated; for the purpose of being devoted to someone or something.
In modern terms, then, we can compare the epistle dedicatory to the dedication page at the beginning of a novel. Brooks’ letter is devoted to someone. He explains whom in the very first line.
“To his most dear and precious ones, the sons and daughters of the Most High God, over whom the Holy Spirit has made him a Watchman.”
Precious Remedies is dedicated to you, “dear reader.” He dedicates this book to all believers, everywhere who read it and take it to heart.
The dedication of ‘Precious Remedies’
“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10–11 NASB)
I provided the context here, because Brooks uses two clauses out of a longer thought as the guiding principle of this book.
The full title of this work is Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. That word, devices, appears in the King James Bible. In the New American Standard, Holman Christian Standard, and NIV it is schemes. The ESV has it as designs.
Behind the word lies the concepts of Satan’s thoughts, his purposes toward us. You can see how that could be taken in any number of ways. But the context of Paul’s use of the word implies evil intent. And it is that evil intent that drives the entire thrust of this book.
Brooks writes to Christians (“the sons and daughters of the Most High God”). So we must conclude He is not so concerned with those Satan can drag off to hell with His temptations. The concern here regards the schemes the devil uses to drag believers away from their full devotion to Christ.
Whatever is the best and most effective weapon Satan can use against an individual Christian, he will use it. He has spent enough years in his state of defeat, waiting for Christ to return and dispose of him once and for all, that he is an expert in exploiting human weakness.
This book, then, is for any Christian who longs to know how to defeat Satan’s temptations and recognize his schemes for what they are.
The decision to write this book
“There was never more writing and yet never less practicing.” How even more true is that statement today, when we have access to more written information than we could have imagined?
Brooks lists seven reasons for his decision to write Precious Remedies. We summarize them here.
- Understanding the enemy’s advantage is the pathway to overcoming him.
- The many requests Brooks received to write on this subject apparently changed his mind about it.
- In preparing to write the book, Brooks experienced unusual opposition. Rather than discourage him, this must have steeled his resolution to complete the project even more.
- He recognized how useful such a book would be to so many people.
- Brooks was obviously disappointed in the lack of resources on the subject of avoiding Satan’s temptations. So he wrote one himself. This is an incredible lesson on the value of creating what is lacking in the world.
- He wanted to reach dear friends who were far from him. And he thought this book might be the right vehicle to do that.
- Brooks understood that the legacy he would leave after he was gone would best be expressed through his writings. He estimated the worth of such a legacy as far greater than any sum of money endowed in a will.
Brooks’ desires for his readers
Brooks quotes five different New Testament passages from apostolic writers. These words virtually drip with the writers’ hopes for their readers’ spiritual growth and maturity, their prosperity in kingdom work, and their increasing love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
A book about defeating the works of Satan will obviously touch on trials and difficulties. Note that Brooks desire is that his readers will remain “fresh,” will “shine,” will be preserved through them. He doesn’t provide false hopes that things will always get better. There’s no talk of happiness and ease always being the outcome of faith in Christ.
Instead, we read that we will be delivered to our Lord in the end having endured Satan’s devices and united with Him forever.
Brooks’ desires for his readers are only what the dearest and most loving pastor could want for his flock. And he has the humility to ask them for their prayers in return.
So many years removed from these writings, we can no longer pray for Thomas Brooks in the way he asked. But we can honor his legacy by reading his magnificent works and heeding his call to fight Satan’s schemes with all the biblical and spiritual weaponry at our disposal.