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Holiness and Happiness: The Piety of Isaac Watts - Profiles in Reformed Spirituality (Stokes)

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Reformation Heritage Books
December 2022

Holiness and Happiness acquaints readers to the life and writings of Isaac Watts (1674–1748). Opening the book with an informative biographical introduction, Britt Stokes reveals how Watts was more than just an accomplished hymn writer—he was a dedicated pastor-scholar pursuing sincere Christian devotion among the people of God. Stokes then presents thirty-four selections from across Watts’s writings so that readers can benefit firsthand from Watts’s teaching on holiness and happiness as the nature of piety, how he grounds this in key Christian doctrines, and the means he says are at our disposal to cultivate further love for God.


Table of Contents:

The Life and Piety of Isaac Watts (1674–1748)

Section One: The Nature of Piety

1. Aversion of Sin

2. Above this World

3. Enjoyment of God

4. Zeal for God

5. Love for the Saints

6. Happiness is Nearness to God

7. First Degree of Happiness

8. Second Degree of Happiness

9. Third Degree of Happiness

10. Fourth Degree of Happiness

11. Fifth Degree of Happiness

Section Two: The Foundation of Piety

12. The Ruin of Man

13. Hymn: Adam’s First Sin

14. Forms of Sin

15. The Law

16. The Flesh

17. The Recovery of Man

18. Christ’s Mediation

19: Hymn: Access to the Throne of Grace

20. Christ’s Atonement

21. The Use of the Atonement

22. Death the Last Enemy

23. The Intermediate State

24. Perfection of Heaven

25. Reality of Heaven

26. Preparation for Heaven

Section Three: The Cultivation of Piety

27. Holy Wonder

28. The Invaluable Regulator

29. Meditation

30. Prayer

31. Worship

32. The Lord’s Supper

33. Virtue

34. Friendship

Reading Watts



Britt Stokes received a PhD from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he researched the spirituality of Isaac Watts. He is a pastor residing in Charleston, South Carolina.



“Isaac Watts is perhaps best known for his poignant musical compositions which shaped the development of English hymnody. What many do not realize is that he was a towering pastor-theologian whose influence extended well beyond his own day. The present volume provides a valuable gateway into Watts’s writings, demonstrating his commitment to an experimental religion – namely, those “inward and spiritual” subjects that shaped his approach to the Christian life. Dr. Stokes is to be commended for mining Watts's literary corpus and providing us with this rich resource.” — J. Stephen Yuille, professor of pastoral theology and spiritual formation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX

“Isaac Watts is one of the most influential Christians of all-time because his hymns are among the most beloved songs of the church’s repertoire. In this edited volume, Holiness and Happiness, W. Britt Stokes shows us Watts beyond his hymn-writing and introduces us to an edifying approach to Christian piety.” — Donald S. Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY