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.
First, Puritan writings help shape life by Scripture. Second, Puritan writings show how to integrate biblical doctrine into daily life. Third, Puritan writings show how to exalt Christ and see His beauty.
Fourth, Puritan writings reveal the Trinitarian character of theology. Dr. Beeke writes, “The Puritans were driven by a deep sense of the infinite glory of a Triune God. When they answered the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism that man’s chief end was to glorify God, they meant the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They took John Calvin’s glorious understanding of the unity of the Trinity in the Godhead, and showed how that worked itself out in electing, redeeming, and sanctifying love and grace in the lives of believers. John Owen wrote an entire book on the Christian believer’s communion with God as Father, Jesus as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as Comforter. The Puritans teach us how to remain God-centered while being vitally concerned about Christian experience, so that we don’t fall into the trap of glorifying experience for its own sake.” Read John Owen’s Communion with God and Jonathan Edwards on the Trinity.”
Fifth, Puritan writings show you how to handle trials. As Dr. Beeke continues, “Puritanism grew out of a great struggle between the truth of God’s Word and its enemies. Reformed Christianity was under attack in Great Britain, much like Reformed Christianity is under attack today. The Puritans were good soldiers in the conflict, enduring great hardships and suffering much. Their lives and their writings stand ready to arm us for our battles, and to encourage us in our suffering. The Puritans teach us how we need affliction to humble us (Deut. 8:2), to teach us what sin is (Zeph. 1:12), and how that brings us to God (Hos. 5:15). “
As Robert Leighton wrote, “Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with.” The Puritans show us how God’s rod of affliction is His means to write Christ’s image more fully upon us, so that we may be partakers of His righteousness and holiness (Heb. 12:10–11).” Read Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot and The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men.
Sixth, Puritan writings explain true spirituality. Dr. Beeke comments that, “The Puritans stress the spirituality of the law, spiritual warfare against indwelling sin, the childlike fear of God, the wonder of grace, the art of meditation, the dreadfulness of hell, and the glories of heaven.” If you want to live deep as a Christian, read Oliver Heywood’s Heart Treasure.
Read the Puritans devotionally, and then pray to be like them. Ask questions such as: Am I, like the Puritans, thirsting to glorify the Triune God? Am I motivated by biblical truth and biblical fire? Do I share their view of the vital necessity of conversion and of being clothed with the righteousness of Christ? Do I follow them as far as they followed Christ?”
Good questions to consider. Next time, we will continue to examine reasons for reading the literature by the Puritans.
Soli deo Gloria!