“The Puritans were burning and shining lights. When cast out by the black Bartholomew Act, and driven from their respective charges to preach in barns and fields, in the highways and hedges, they in a special manner wrote and preached as men having authority. Though dead, by their writings they yet speak: a peculiar unction attends them to this very hour; and for these thirty years past I have remarked, that the more true and vital religion hath revived either at home or abroad, the more the good old puritanical writings, or the authors a of like stamp who lived and died in communion of the Church of England, have been called for… Their works still praise them in the gates; and without pretending to a spirit of prophecy, we may venture to affirm that they will live and flourish, when more modern performances of a contrary cast, notwithstanding their gaudy and tinseled trappings, will languish and die in the esteem of those whose understandings are opened to discern what comes nearest to the Scripture standard.” (George Whitfield)
Why spend each Tuesday for the foreseeable future covering the Puritans? Many reasons:
First, it was under the ministry of Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones that a resurgence in Puritan writings and doctrine came back into influence. This was due to Lloyd-Jones numerous quotes throughout his sermons (which were very popular) from the Puritans. Naturally, those who were eager to learn from Lloyd-Jones went to the Evangelical Library and dug up the Puritans Lloyd-Jones quoted. Books were sold, read, and embraced. Puritanism, which was ignored for so long, was finally gaining momentum and beginning to get back in the view of the Church. Then in the late 1950’s Banner of Truth Trust began reprinting Puritans works of old and a new generation of Christians, already beginning to look more deeply into the truths of Scripture and the teaching of the Reformed Confessions, now began to delve deeply into the written legacy of the Puritans. Since this time, Puritan literature has grown enormously. So much that now there are more Puritan writings available than there is money to buy them, at least for most of us. This resurgence alone in the writings, life, and doctrine of the Puritans is worth a look.
Second, Puritanism was not only a movement stressing covenant theology, predestination, and reformed church ecclesiology, it was known for emphasizing a high piety, stress on conversion, and existential heartfelt religion.
Third, being confessional and theological the Puritans searched the Scriptures, collected their findings, and sought to apply their findings to all areas of life.
Fourth, Puritanism was committed to Trinitarian theology, making much of the electing grace of God, the dying love of Jesus Christ, and the applicatory ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of sinners.
Fifth, Puritans believed in the significance of worship in the Church. Specifically, the Puritans were committed to a worship that didn’t find its foundation in our creative imagination, but in the principles laid out for us in the Word of God. Right preaching, liturgical reform in praise, prayer, and polity.
Lastly, Puritans focused on personal and comprehensive conversion. Thus preaching the gospel became (as it should be!) central. Their sermons were filled with pleading that probed the conscience; exposition aiming at awakening sinners by calling them to repentance and faith. This led to a pervasive importance of the internal life of God in the soul of man that should pervade into all of life: church, home, work, society; public, and private.
Shaping life by Scripture, marrying doctrine and practice, confronting the conscience, engaging the heart, focusing on Christ, enduring through trials, and revealing true spirituality – this is the Puritans. Why not spend time with them???
I have a deep affection for the Puritans, and it is my prayer that on these Tuesdays God would draw you closer to Himself by opening your eyes to the writings and the life of the Puritans. My musings on these things are all going to be coming from the book Meet the Puritans, by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson.