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. Fifth, Puritan writings show you how to handle trials. Sixth, Puritan writings explain true spirituality.
Seventh, Puritan writings show how to live by wholistic faith. Dr. Beeke explains that, “The Puritans apply every subject they write about to practical “uses”—as they term it. These “uses” will propel you into passionate, effective action for Christ’s kingdom. Their own daily lives integrated Christian truth with covenant vision; they knew no dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. Their writings can assist you immeasurably in living a life that centers on God in every area, appreciating His gifts, and declaring everything “holiness to the Lord.”
I encourage you to read the compilation of The Puritans on Prayer, Richard Steele’s The Character of an Upright Man, George Hamond’s Case for Family Worship, Cotton Mather’s Help for Distressed Parents, and Arthur Hildersham’s Dealing with Sin in Our Children.
Eighth, Puritan writings teach the importance and primacy of preaching. For the Puritans, preaching was the high point of public worship. Preaching must be expository, instructive and edifying. It must also be evangelistic and convicting, experiential and applicatory, powerful and “plain” in its presentation, ever respecting the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. Read William Perkins’s The Art of Prophesying and Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.
Finally, Puritan writings show how to live in two worlds. Dr. Beeke explains that, “The Puritans said we should have heaven “in our eye” throughout our earthly pilgrimage. They took seriously the New Testament passages that say we must keep the “hope of glory” before our minds to guide and shape our lives here on earth. They viewed this life as “the gymnasium and dressing room where we are prepared for heaven,” teaching us that preparation for death is the first step in learning to truly live.”. Richard Baxter’s The Saint’s Everlasting Life and Richard Alleine’s Heaven Opened.
You may be asking yourself, where do I begin to introduce myself to the Puritans and their writings? I would encourage you to purchase Meet the Puritans. The authors compile brief biographies of 621 Puritan pastors/authors. They also provide a guide to modern reprints of Puritan literature.
I would also encourage you to access the website www.monergism.com. Not only does this website contain a host of sound biblical articles, books, and free e-books on many biblical topics, it also provides a whole host of material on the Puritans.
When next we meet, we’ll begin to explore the political and religious culture which existed in 16th century England which led to the origination of a loose group of Christians and pastors known as the Puritans.
Soli deo Gloria!