The Puritans have become recently introduced to a whole host of people through the publishing of much of their literature which was originally written in the 16th and 17th centuries. In large measure it was Pastor Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 – 1981) who helped to create a demand for books by the Puritans. One way he did so was through an annual Puritan Conference which created a demand for Puritan literature. Puritan reprints began to be republished by the publishing company Banner of Truth Trust in the 1950’s.
As one author on the Puritans comments, “A new generation of Christians began to relish the written legacy of the Puritans in their quest for guidance and understanding. Demand began to grow for new editions of ‘the good old puritanical writings’.”
Dr. Joel Beeke, who along with Randall Pederson co-authored the book Meet the Puritans, gives nine reasons how one may profit from reading the writings of the Puritans. Those reasons are as follows.
One, Puritan writings help shape life by Scripture. The Puritans loved, lived, and breathed Holy Scripture. They relished the power of the Spirit that accompanied the Word. Their books are all Word-centered; more than 90 percent of their writings are repackaged sermons that are rich with scriptural exposition. The Puritan writers truly believed in the sufficiency of Scripture for life and godliness.
Two, Puritan writings show how to integrate biblical doctrine into daily life. The Puritan writings do this in three ways: To begin with, they address your mind. In keeping with the Reformed tradition, the Puritans refused to set mind and heart against each other, but viewed the mind as the palace of faith. The Puritans understood that a mindless Christianity fosters a spineless Christianity. An anti-intellectual gospel quickly becomes an empty, formless gospel that never gets beyond “felt needs,” which is something that is happening in many churches today.
Additionally, Puritan writings confront your conscience. The Puritans are masters at convicting us about the heinous nature of our sin against an infinite God. They excel at exposing specific sins, then asking questions to press home conviction of those sins. As one Puritan wrote, “We must go with the stick of divine truth and beat every bush behind which a sinner hides, until like Adam who hid, he stands before God in his nakedness.”
Also, the Puritan writers engage your heart. They excel in feeding the mind with solid biblical substance and they move the heart with affectionate warmth. They write out of love for God’s Word, love for the glory of God, and love for the soul of readers. Read Vincent Alsop’s, Practical Godliness.
Third, Puritan writings show how to exalt Christ and see His beauty. The Puritans loved Christ and exalted in His beauty. Puritan Samuel Rutherford wrote: “Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, and all sweetness in one. O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and foundations of ten thousand earths.”
If you would desire to know Christ better and love Him more completely, engage yourself in Puritan literature. Read Robert Asty’s, Rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.
Next time, we will continue to examine reasons for reading the literature by the Puritans.
Soli deo Gloria!