A dwarf must realize his place among giants.1 This is true of all human achievement. When we survey church history, we discover giants of the faith, such as Aurelius Augustine (354–430), Martin Luther (1483–1546), John Calvin (1509–1564), John Owen (1616–1683), and Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Amid those giants the Puritans also rise as giants of exegetical ability, intellectual achievement, and profound piety.
Upon this mountain the Reformed 'city' is built. We are where we are because of our history, though we are dwarves on the shoulders of giants. Who would George Whitefield (1714–1770), Charles Hodge (1797–1878), Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), Herman Bavinck (1854–1921), J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937), or D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) be if not for their predecessors? Despite this, Puritan studies were sorely neglected until the resurgence of Puritan literature in the late 1950s. In many evangelical circles today, Puritan theology is still marginalized. While the Puritans built palaces, we are comfortable building shacks; where they planted fields, we plant but a few flowers; while they turned over every stone in theological reflection, we content ourselves with pebbles; where they aimed for comprehensive depth, we aim for catchy sound bites.
We are grateful for this resurgence of interest in Puritan writings. In this article I will consider some ideas on how to begin reading the Puritans, look at a reading plan for the writings of an individual Puritan, Thomas Goodwin, and consider some of my favorite Puritans.
The Puritans were people of their time, and even while much of what they wrote is timeless, we must understand them within their context. They battled the spirit of their age and waged doctrinal debates pertinent to their day and which, at times, seem quite removed from issues of today. Secondary sources help us understand their historical milieu. The goal of this section is to offer bibliographic information that can help you read the Puritans.
How to proceed next depends on your particular interest. After becoming acquainted with various styles of Puritan literature, you have a broad spectrum of possibilities to consider. What joys you might have wrestling with Owen’s weighty treatments of the glory of Christ, his soul-searching treatise on sin, and his exegetical masterpiece on Hebrews. Or how thrilling it would be to ascend the heights of the intellectual and spiritual atmosphere with Jonathan Edwards, or to plumb the depths of divine attributes with Stephen Charnock (1628–1680). You may probe the redemptive glories of the covenant with John Ball (1585–1640) and Samuel Petto (c. 1624–1711) or be allured by the redemptive doctrines of justification and sanctification with Walter Marshall (1628–1680), Peter van Mastricht (1630–1706), or Robert Traill (1642–1716). You could entrust yourself to a competent guide like Edward Fisher (d. 1655) to bring you safely through the law/gospel distinction or be impressed with the profound but simple writings of Hugh Binning (1627–1653). Prepare to be challenged by the soul-penetrating works of Thomas Shepard (1605–1649) and Matthew Mead (1629–1699) or be instructed by the plain reason of Jeremiah Burroughs (c. 1600–1646), Richard Baxter (1615–1691), and George Hammond (c. 1620–1705).
Whatever topic you select, you may be sure that the Puritans have addressed it with scriptural precision, vivid illumination, practical benefit, experiential warmth, and an eye to the glory of God. Many Puritan writings, however, are not for the faint of heart. But the reader who diligently probes Puritan writings with the willingness to gaze under every rock they overturn and prayerfully consider what they say, will be drawn ever more deeply into the revealed mysteries of God. When you follow the writings of these faithful men, you will find that it will be for the betterment of your soul.
There are no rules for reading individual Puritans, but here are some suggestions. Generally speaking, Puritans are best read slowly and meditatively. Don’t rush through their books. Look up the texts they cite to prove their points. Intersperse your reading with prayer.
Here are some guidelines for reading Thomas Goodwin, who was, for twenty years, my favorite Puritan writer. The first collection of Goodwin’s works was published in five folio volumes in London from 1681 to 1704, under the editorship of Thankful Owen, Thomas Baron, and Thomas Goodwin Jr. An abridged version of those works was later printed in four volumes (London, 1847–50). James Nichol printed a more reliable collection of Goodwin’s works in twelve volumes (Edinburgh, 1861–66) in the Nichol’s Series of Standard Divines. It is far superior to the original five folio volumes and was reprinted in 2006 by Reformation Heritage Books.
Here is a plan for reading Goodwin’s works.
1. Begin by reading some of the shorter, more practical writings of Goodwin, such as Patience and Its Perfect Work, which includes four sermons on James 1:1–5. This book was written after much of Goodwin’s personal library was destroyed by fire (Works, 2:429–67). It contains much practical instruction on the spirit of submission.
2. Read Certain Select Cases Resolved, which offers three experiential treatises that reveal Goodwin’s pastoral heart for afflicted Christians. Each deals with specific struggles in the believer’s soul: (a) 'A Child of Light Walking in Darkness' encourages the spiritually depressed based on Isaiah 50:10–11 (3:241–350). The subtitle summarises its contents: 'A Treatise Shewing The Causes by which, The Cases wherein, and the Ends for which, God Leaves His Children to Distress of Conscience, Together with Directions How to Walk so as to Come Forth of Such a Condition.' (b) 'The Return of Prayers,' based on Psalm 85:8, is a uniquely practical work. It offers help in ascertaining 'God’s answers to our prayers' (3:353–429). (c) 'The Trial of a Christian’s Growth' (3:433–506), based on John 15:1–2, centers on sanctification, specifically mortification and vivification. This is a mini-classic on spiritual growth.
You might also read The Vanity of Thoughts, based on Jeremiah 4:14 (3:509–528). This work, often republished in paperback, stresses the need to bring every thought captive to Christ. It also describes ways to foster that obedience.
3. Read some of Goodwin’s great sermons. They are strong, biblical, Christological, and experiential (2:359–425; 4:151–224; 5:439–548; 7:473–576; 9:499–514; 12:1–127).
4. Delve into Goodwin’s works that explain major doctrines, such as:
(a) An Unregenerate Man’s Guiltiness Before God in Respect of Sin and Punishment (10:1–567). This is a weighty treatise on human guilt, corruption, and the imputation and punishment of sin. In exposing the total depravity of the natural man’s heart, this book aims to produce a heartfelt need for saving faith in Christ.
(b) The Object and Acts of Justifying Faith (8:1–593). This is a frequently reprinted classic on faith. Part 1, on theobjects of faith, focuses on God’s nature, Christ, and the free grace of God revealed in His absolute promises. Part 2 deals with the acts of faith: what it means to believe in Christ, to obtain assurance, to find joy in the Holy Ghost, and to make use of God’s electing love. One section beautifully explains the 'actings of faith in prayer.' Part 3 addresses the properties of faith: their excellence in giving all honor to God and Christ, their difficulty in reaching beyond the natural abilities of man, their necessity in requiring us to believe in the strength of God. The conclusion provides 'directions to guide us in our endeavours to believe.'
(d) Gospel Holiness in Heart and Life (7:129–336) is based on Philippians 1:9–11. It explains the doctrine of sanctification in every sphere of life.
(e) The Knowledge of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ (4:347–569), combined with The Work of the Holy Spirit (6:1–522), explore the profound work in the believer’s soul of the three divine persons. The Work of the Holy Spirit is particularly helpful for understanding the doctrines of regeneration and conversion. It carefully distinguishes the work of 'the natural conscience' from the Spirit’s saving work.
(f) The Glory of the Gospel (4:227–346) consists of two sermons and a treatise based on Colossians 1:26–27. It should be read along with The Blessed State of Glory Which the Saints Possess After Death (7:339–472), based on Revelation 14:13.
(g) A Discourse of Election (9:1–498) delves into issues such as the supralapsarian-infralapsarian debate, which wrestles with the moral or rational order of God’s decrees. It also deals with the fruits of election (e.g., see Book IV on 1 Peter 5:10 and Book V on how God fulfills His covenant of grace in the generations of believers).
(h) The Creatures and the Condition of Their State by Creation (7:1–128) is Goodwin’s most philosophical work.
6. Save for last Goodwin’s exposition of Revelation (3:1–226) and his only polemical work, The Constitution, Right Order, and Government of the Churches of Christ (11:1–546). Independents would highly value this polemic, while Presbyterians probably would not, saying Goodwin is trustworthy on nearly every subject except church government. Goodwin’s work does not degrade Presbyterians, however. A contemporary who argued against Goodwin’s view on church government confessed that Goodwin conveyed 'a truly great and noble spirit' throughout the work.
Whichever Puritan you choose, familiarize yourself with his various writings. With major and voluminous works be sure to note earlier writings from later writings. This is particularly important with Puritans such as Owen. The young Owen did not agree completely with the later Owen in certain areas, such as the necessity of the atonement. Familiarity with these matters will help you grasp the particular nuances of individual Puritans.
My favorite Puritan-minded theologian from the English tradition is Anthony Burgess, from the Dutch tradition, Wilhelmus á Brakel, and from the Scottish tradition, Samuel Rutherford. Let me explain why.
In my opinion, Anthony Burgess, vicar of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire from 1635 to 1662, is the most underrated Puritan of all time. I once asked Iain Murray, co-founder of the The Banner of Truth, why Burgess was not included in the nineteenth-century sets of the works of the best Puritans. He responded that Burgess was the greatest glaring omission from those reprints.
In fifteen years (1646–1661), Burgess wrote at least a dozen books based largely on his sermons and lectures. His writings reveal a scholarly acquaintance with Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. He made judicious use of Greek and Latin quotations while reasoning in the plain style of Puritan preaching. Burgess was a cultured scholar and experimental preacher who produced astute, warm, devotional writings.
Several of Burgess’s major works are polemical. His first major treatise, Vindiciae Legis (1646), based on twenty-nine lectures given at Lawrence-Jewry, vindicated argued the Puritan view of the moral law and the covenants of works and grace in opposition to Roman Catholics, Arminians, Socinians, and Antinomians. Two years later, Burgess wrote against the same opponents, plus Baxter, in his first volume on justification. He critiqued Baxter’s work for its Arminian tendencies in arguing for a process of justification that involves the cooperation of divine grace with human works. His second volume on justification, which appeared six years later (1654), discusses the natural righteousness of God and the imputed righteousness of Christ. Those two volumes contain seventy-five sermons. His 555-page Doctrine of Original Sin (1659) drew Anabaptists into the fray.
In the first section of the first volume, Burgess refutes the antinomian error that internal marks of grace in a believer are no evidence of his justification. In my opinion, the first sixty pages of the facsimile edition include the best short treatment on assurance in all Puritan literature. Here is one choice quotation in which Burgess shows the need to give priority to Christ and His promises rather than to the marks of grace in ascertaining one’s assurance:
We must take heed that we do not so gaze upon ourselves to find graces in our own hearts as thereby we forget those Acts of Faith, whereby we close with Christ immediately, and rely upon him only for our Justification…. The fear of this hath made some cry down totally the use of signs, to evidence our Justification. And the truth is, it cannot be denied but many of the children of God, while they are studying and examining, whether grace be in their souls, that upon the discovery thereof, they may have comfortable persuasions of their Justification, are very much neglective of those choice and principal Acts of Faith, whereby we have an acquiescency or recumbency upon Christ for our Acceptation with God. This is as if old Jacob should so rejoice in the Chariot Joseph sent, whereby he knew that he was alive, that he should not desire to see Joseph himself. Thus while thou art so full of joy, to perceive grace in thee, thou forgettest to joy in Christ himself, who is more excellent than all thy graces.25
Sections two and three describe numerous signs of grace. The remaining nine sections of this volume discuss grace in terms of regeneration, the new creature, God’s workmanship, grace in the heart, washing or sanctifying grace, conversion, softening the stony heart, God’s Spirit within us, and vocation or calling. Throughout, Burgess distinguishes saving grace from its counterfeits.
In the second volume of Spiritual Refining, Burgess focuses on sin. He addresses the deceitfulness of the human heart, presumptuous and reigning sins, hypocrisy and formality in religion, a misguided conscience, and secret sins that often go unrecognized. Positively, he explains the tenderness of a gracious heart, showing 'that a strict scrutiny into a man’s heart and ways, with a holy fear of sinning, doth consist with a Gospel-life of faith and joy in the Holy Ghost.' His goal, as stated on the title page, is to 'unmask counterfeit Christians, terrify the ungodly, comfort and direct the doubting saint, humble man, [and] exalt the grace of God.'
I discovered Burgess’s Spiritual Refining a few days before completing my doctoral dissertation on assurance of faith in the mid-1980s. When I read the first sixty pages of this masterpiece, I was overwhelmed at Burgess’s scriptural clarity, insightful exegesis, balance, thoroughness, and depth. I spent two days incorporating some of Burgess’s key thoughts into my dissertation. Later, when called on to speak on Burgess’s life and his views on assurance for the Westminster Conference (1997), I acquired a nearly complete collection of his writings and immersed myself in them. That fall Burgess surpassed Goodwin as my favorite Puritan author, and has remained so ever since. One of my goals is to bring several of Burgess’s works back into print—or better yet, do a complete edition of his works.
● Recommended reading: Burgess’s Spiritual Refining.
This massive work is arranged in three parts. The first volume and most of the second consist of a traditional Reformed systematic theology that is packed with clear thinking, thorough presentation, and helpful application. The concluding applications at the end of each chapter applying the particular doctrines are the highlight of this section. I believe à Brakel’s practical casuistry in these applications supersedes any other systematic theologian in his day and ever since. They represent Reformed, Puritan, experiential theology at its best.
The second part expounds Christian ethics and Christian living. This largest section of à Brakel’s work is packed with salient applications on topics pertinent to living as a Christian in this world. In addition to a masterful treatment of the ten commandments (chaps. 45–55) and the Lord’s Prayer (chaps. 68–74), this part addresses topics such as living by faith out of God’s promises (chap. 42); how to exercise love toward God and His Son (chaps. 56–57); how to fear, obey, and hope in God (chaps. 59–61); how to profess Christ and His truth (chap. 63); and how to exercise spiritual graces, such as courage, contentment, self-denial, patience, uprightness, watchfulness, neighborly love, humility, meekness, peace, diligence, compassion, and prudence (chaps. 62, 64–67, 76, 82–88). Other topics include fasting (chap. 75), solitude (chap. 77), spiritual meditation (chap. 78), singing (chap. 79), vows (chap. 80), spiritual experience (chap. 81), spiritual growth (chap. 89), backsliding (chap. 90), spiritual desertion (chap. 91), temptations (chaps. 92–95), indwelling corruption (chap. 96), and spiritual darkness and deadness (chaps. 97–98).
The third part (4:373–538) includes a history of God’s redemptive, covenantal work in the world. It is reminiscent of Jonathan Edwards’s History of the Work of Redemption, though not as detailed as Edwards; à Brakel’s work confines itself more to Scripture and has a greater covenantal emphasis. It concludes with a detailed study of the future conversion of the Jews (4:511–38).
The Christian’s Reasonable Service is the heartbeat of the Dutch Further Reformation. Here systematic theology and vital, experiential Christianity are scripturally and practically woven within a covenantal framework. The entire work bears the mark of a pastor-theologian richly taught by the Spirit. Nearly every subject treasured by Christians is treated in a helpful way, always aiming for the promotion of godliness.
In my opinion, this pastoral set of books is an essential tool for every pastor and is also valuable for lay people. The book has been freshly translated into contemporary English. Buy and read this great classic. You won’t be sorry.
● Recommended reading: Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service.
While divided by history, nationality, and race, and to some extent, language, England’s Puritans and Scotland’s Presbyterians were united by close spiritual bonds of doctrine, worship, and church order. For this reason, I include a Scotsman on my short list of favorite Puritans.
Most of Rutherford’s letters (220 of 365) were written while he was in exile. The letters beautifully harmonize Reformed doctrine and the spiritual experiences of a believer. They basically cover six topics: (1) Rutherford’s love and desire for Christ, (2) his deep sense of the heinousness of sin, (3) his devotion for the cause of Christ, (4) his profound sympathy for burdened and troubled souls, (5) his profound love for his flock, and (6) his ardent longings for heaven.34
Although he did not write his letters for publication, the compilation of them is Rutherford’s most popular work. It has been reprinted more than eighty times in English, fifteen times in Dutch, and several times in German and French and Gaelic.
Several of Rutherford’s diversified writings have also been republished. His Communion Sermons (1870s), a compilation of fourteen sacramental sermons, was recently published by Westminster Publishing House. The Covenant of Life Opened (1655), an exegetical defense of covenant theology, was edited and republished by Puritan Publications. In this, Rutherford reveals himself as an apt apologist and polemicist in defending the bi-covenantal structure of Scripture. His work Lex Rex has become a standard in law curriculum; nearly every member of the Westminster Assembly owned a copy. This book helped instigate the Covenanters’ resistance to King Charles I and was later used to justify the French and American revolutions. History has generally regarded this work as one of the greatest contributions to political science.
In addition, Soli Deo Gloria has republished Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford (1885), composed from compiled shorthand notes taken by a listener. The warmth of Rutherford’s preaching is particularly evident in 'The Spouse’s Longing for Christ.' Like many divines in his day, Rutherford drafted his own catechism, Rutherford's Catechism: or, The Sum of Christian Religion (1886), recently reprinted by Blue Banner Publications. This was most likely written during the Westminster Assembly and is filled with many quaint sayings. The Trial and Triumph of Faith (1645) contains twenty-seven sermons on Christ’s saving work in the Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:21–28). In nearly every sermon, Rutherford shows the overflowing grace of Christ to Gentiles. He explores the nature of genuine prayer and addresses practical aspects of the trial of faith. Most recently, Banner of Truth published The Loveliness of Christ (2007), a little book that contains Christ-centered quotes from Rutherford.
Rutherford’s Letters, however, remain the author’s masterpiece. They are filled with pastoral advice, comfort, rebuke, and encouragement.
● Recommended reading: Rutherford’s Letters.
It is difficult to conclude this section, for I would love to include so many more Puritan authors. But, to keep this list concise, I will conclude with a list of fifteen favorite Puritans followed by five favorite Scottish divines, then five favorite Dutch divines, adding up to a list of twenty-five favorite Puritan writers:
1. Anthony Burgess (see above)
2. Thomas Goodwin (see above)
Doctrinal (vols. 1–5). The most noteworthy works in these volumes are: On the Person and Glory of Christ (vol. 1); Communion with God (vol. 2); Discourse on the Holy Spirit (vol. 3); and Justification by Faith (vol. 5). Mastery of these works, Spurgeon wrote, 'is to be a profound theologian.'
Practical (vols. 6–9). Especially worthy here are Mortification of Sin, Temptation, Exposition of Psalm 130 (vol. 6); and Spiritual-Mindedness (vol. 7). Volumes 8 and 9 comprise sermons. These books are suitable for the educated layperson and have immense practical applications.
Controversial (vols. 10–16). Noteworthy are The Death of Death in the Death of Christ and Divine Justice (vol. 10); The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance (vol. 11); True Nature of a Gospel Church and The Divine Original of the Scriptures (vol. 16). Several works in this section have historical significance (particularly those written against Arminianism and Socinianism) but tend to be tedious for a non-theologian.
Owen’s wide range of subjects, insightful writing, exhaustive doctrinal studies, profound theology, and warm devotional approach explain why so many people regard his work with such high esteem. Owen may be wordy on occasion, but he is never dry. His works are invaluable for all who wish to explore the rich legacy left by one who is often called 'Prince of the Puritans.'
Dozens of Owen’s works have been published individually in the past half century, but I advise serious readers of Puritan literature to purchase the sixteen-volume set of Owen’s works. For those who have difficulty reading Owen, I recommend R. J. K. Law’s abridged and simplified editions of Communion with God (1991), Apostasy from the Gospel (1992), The Glory of Christ (1994), and The Holy Spirit (1998), all published by the Banner of Truth Trust.
I was most influenced by Owen when I spent the summer of 1985 studying his views on assurance. The two books that influenced me most were Owen’s treatment of Psalm 130, particularly verse 4, and his amazing Communion with God, which focuses on experiential communion between a believer and individual persons of the Trinity.
4. Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758): A class at Westminster Theological Seminary, taught by Sam Logan, motivated me to read most of Edwards’s two-volume works in 1983.36 His sermons convicted and comforted me beyond words. What a master wordsmith Edwards was!
I was touched by Edwards’s concept of 'fittedness' throughout his writings, and have often found that concept a great tool for leadership and decision-making. Edwards grounded this concept in God; a God who is always fitting will guide His people to want to do what is fitting in each life situation to bring Him the most glory. Hence, we must ask of every decision we face: What is most fitting in God’s sight according to His Word? What will bring God the most honour?
5. William Perkins (1558–1602): Perkins’s vision of reform for the church combined with his intellect, piety, writing, spiritual counseling, and communication skills helped set the tone for the seventeenth-century Puritan accent on Reformed, experiential truth and self-examination, and Puritan arguments against Roman Catholicism and Arminianism. Perkins as rhetorician, expositor, theologian, and pastor became the principle architect of the Puritan movement. By the time of his death, Perkins’s writings in England were outselling those of John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and Henry Bullinger combined. He 'moulded the piety of a whole nation,' H.C. Porter said.40 Little wonder, then, that Perkins is often called the father of Puritanism.
9. John Bunyan (1628–1688): When I was nine years old and first experienced a period of conviction of sin, I read Bunyan’s The Life and Death of Mr. Badman. When I saw the book in my father’s bookcase, I figured that since I had such a bad heart, that book must be for me!
10. Thomas Vincent (1634–1678): When we find ourselves cold and listless, Vincent can help kindle the fire of Christian love. Just try reading The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ (1677) without having your affections raised to heavenly places and yearning to love Christ more. Let The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ be your frequent companion.
11. Matthew Henry (1662–1714), the great British commentator, has added spice to many preachers’ sermons, including my own. I am also indebted to Henry for his practical books on spiritual disciplines, particularly family worship, private prayer, and preparation for communion. For many years, I read portions of Henry’s How to Prepare for Communion during preparatory weeks.49
12. Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) was a life-long bachelor with a huge network of friends. He wrote tenderly about the heavenly Bridegroom and the Spirit’s sealing work in the soul. I became enamored with Sibbes after reading his comment that the believer ought to 'entertain' the Holy Spirit in the courtroom of his soul, much as we entertain guests in our living rooms. Later, I gave a conference address titled, 'Sibbes on the Entertainment of the Spirit.'50
13. Matthew Poole (1624‒1679) left his mark on me with his careful exegesis of Scripture. Many times I wanted to interpret a text a certain way, but Poole reigned me in. In nearly every case, those who say the Puritans were not good exegetes have not read Poole.51
14. Walter Marshall (1628–1680) helped me understand justification and sanctification from a Christ-centered perspective through his Gospel Mystery of Sanctification classic.52
15. William Spurstowe (c. 1605–1666) wrote an amazing book on gospel promises, The Wells of Salvation Opened, which served as a tonic for my ailing soul.53 James La Belle and I have summarized its contents in contemporary language in our recent book, Living by God’s Promises.54
1. Samuel Rutherford (see above)
2. Thomas Boston (see above)
3. Thomas Halyburton (see above)
1. Wilhelmus á Brakel (see above)
Their books still praise the Puritans in the gates. Reading the Puritans will keep you on the right path theologically, experientially, and practically. As Packer writes, 'The Puritans were strongest just where Protestants today are weakest, and their writings can give us more real help than those of any other body of Christian teachers, past or present, since the days of the apostles.'63 I have been reading Christian literature for nearly forty-four years and can freely say that I know of no group of writers in church history that can benefit the mind and soul more than the Puritans. God used their books for my spiritual formation and to help me grow in understanding. They are still teaching me what John the Baptist said, 'Christ must increase and I must decrease' (John 3:30)—which is, I believe, a core definition of sanctification.
In his endorsement of Meet the Puritans, R.C. Sproul wrote, 'The recent revival of interest in and commitment to the truths of Reformed theology is due in large measure to the rediscovery of Puritan literature. The Puritans of old have become the prophets for our time.' So, our prayer is that God will inspire you to read Puritan writings. With the Spirit’s blessing, they will enrich your life as they open the Scriptures to you, probe your conscience, bare yours sins, lead you to repentance, and conform your life to Christ. By the Spirit’s grace, let the Puritans bring you to full assurance of salvation and a lifestyle of gratitude to the Triune God for His great salvation.
Finally, consider giving Puritan books to your friends. There is no better gift than a good book. I sometimes wonder what would happen if Christians spent fifteen minutes a day reading Puritan writings. Over a year that would add up to about twenty books, and fifteen hundred books over a lifetime. Who knows how the Holy Spirit might use such a spiritual diet of reading! Would it usher in a worldwide revival? Would it fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord from sea to sea? That is my prayer. Tolle Lege—take up and read!
1 Cited in Hanina Ben-Menahem and Neil S. Hecht, eds., Authority, Process and Method: Studies in Jewish Law (Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic Publishers, 1998), 119. For a varied version of this article, see Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 14, 4 (Winter 2010): 20–37. Several parts of this article have been adapted from other writings by the author who wishes to thank Kyle Borg for his assistance on its first sections.
2 Cited in Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche, ed. David Wootton (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1996), 7.
3 George Whitefield, The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, M.A….: containing all his sermons and tracts which have been already published: with a select collection of letters (London: printed for Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771–72), 4:307.
4 Cited in Steven C. Kettler, Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal (Newark, Del.: Letterman Associates, 1993), 311.
5 Ligon Duncan, in Calvin for Today, ed. Joel R. Beeke (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 231.
7 Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990).
8 Peter Lewis, The Genius of Puritanism (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008); Erroll Hulse, Who Are the Puritans?(Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2000).
9 Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans, with a Guide to Modern Reprints (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006). This book also includes Scottish and Dutch divines whose mindsets are parallel with the English Puritans.
10 Benjamin Brook, The Lives of the Puritans, 3 vols. (Pittsburgh: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994).
11 William S. Barker, Puritan Profiles (Fearn: Mentor, 1999).
12 Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2006).
13 Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 2001); idem, Heaven Taken By Storm (Orlando: Northampton Press, 2008); idem, The Doctrine of Repentance (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1988).
14 John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1963).
15 George Swinnock, The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith, ed. Stephen Yuille (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009). Other easy-to-read Puritan titles in this new series include William Greenhill, Stop Loving the World (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), and John Flavel, Triumphing Over Fear (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011).
16 The Works of John Flavel, 6 vols. (repr., London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968); The Works of George Swinnock, 5 vols. (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2002).
17 Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1968).
18 The Works of John Bunyan, 3 vols. (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2004).
19 For the reprinting of the original preface, see The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 1:xxix–xxxii.
20 Edmund Calamy, The Nonconformist’s Memorial, ed. Samuel Palmer (London: Alex. Hogg, 1778), 1:186.
21 Paul Cook, 'Thomas Goodwin—Mystic?' in Diversities of Gifts (London: Westminster Confereence, 1981), 45–56.
22 Alexander Whyte, Thirteen Appreciations (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1913), 162.
23 Anthony Burgess, Second Corinthians 1, intro.
24 International Outreach has recently done two two-volume editions of Burgess’s Spiritual Refining (Ames, Iowa: International Outreach, 1986–96). Only one hundred copies were printed of the first edition, a facsimile, which contains the complete unabridged text of 1658. The second edition of Spiritual Refining, an abridged edition, is worth the investment for those who have difficulty reading facsimile print, though many sections are not included.
25 Spiritual Refining, 1:41.
26 For summaries of the Nadere Reformatie in English, see Joel R. Beeke, Assurance of Faith: Calvin, English Puritanism, and the Dutch Second Reformation (New York: Peter Lang, 1991), 383–413; Fred A. van Lieburg, 'From Pure Church to Pious Culture: The Further Reformation in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic,' in Later Calvinism: International Perspectives, ed. W. Fred Graham (Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1994), 409–30.
27 Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 4 vols., trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2001).
28 Thomas Boston, The Complete Works of the Late Rev.Thomas Boston, Ettrick, 12 vols., ed. Samuel M‘Millan (repr., Wheaton, Ill.: Richard Owen Roberts, 1980).
29 Thomas Halyburton, The Works of Thomas Halyburton, 4 vols. (Aberdeen: James Begg Society, 2000–2005).
31 Samuel Rutherford, The Letters of Samuel Rutherford (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1984), 144.
32 Ibid., 21-22
33 Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2007), 88.
34 Adapted from Beeke and Pederson, Meet the Puritans, 729–30.
35 John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1996); idem, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 7 vols. (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985); idem, Biblical Theology, trans. Stephen Westcott (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994).
36 Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974). Cf. The Works of Jonathan Edwards,26 vols. (New Haven: Yale, 1957–2008). Each volume in the Yale series has been thoroughly edited by scholars, and includes, on average, 35 to 150 pages of introduction. This series is essential for aspiring scholars of Edwards. Those interested in reading Edwards for devotional benefit could better purchase the two volume edition of his Works, since the Yale volumes are expensive. The Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary library collection contains the complete unpublished works of Jonathan Edwards in 48 volumes in addition to the 26-volume Yale set.
37 Beeke and Pederson, Meet the Puritans, 193–233.
38 Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001); idem, Justification by Faith Alone (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 2000).
39 Jonathan Edwards, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989).
40 H. C. Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (London: Cambridge University Press, 1958), 260.
41 William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying, ed. Sinclair B. Ferguson (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1996).
42 William Perkins, The Workes of that Famovs and VVorthy Minister of Christ in the Vniuersitie of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins, 3 vols. (London: John Legatt, 1612–13).
43 Seventeen of Watson’s titles have been reprinted in recent decades, though to date no complete works set has ever been printed (Beeke and Pederson, Meet the Puritans, 606–613).
44 Thomas Brooks, The Works of Thomas Brooks, 6 vols. (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001).
45 John Flavel, The Works of John Flavel, 6 vols. (repr., London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968).
46 John Bunyan, The Works of John Bunyan, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999).
47 Thomas Vincent, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994); idem, The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991); idem, The Good Work Begun: A Puritan Pastor Speaks to Teenagers(Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1999); idem, God’s Terrible Voice in the City (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997); idem, Christ’s Certain and Sudden Appearance to Judgment (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 2001); idem, Fire and Brimstone (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1999).
48 Andrew R. Holmes, The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770-1840 (England: Oxford University Press, 2006), 277.
49 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 6 vols. (repr., Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991); idem, Family Religion: Principles for Raising a Godly Family (Ross-shire, U.K.: Christian Focus, 1998); idem, A Method for Prayer (Greenville, S.C.: Reformed Academic Press, 1994); idem, How to Prepare for Communion (Lafayette, Ind.: Sovereign Grace Trust Fund, 2001).
50 Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. A. B. Grosart, 7 vols. (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973–82).
51 Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Whole Bible, 3 vols. (repr., London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1983).
52 Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 1999).
53 William Spurstowe, The Wells of Salvation Opened: Or, A Treatise Discovering the nature, preciousness, usefulness of Gospel-Promises, and Rules for the right application of them (London: T. R. & E. M. for Ralph Smith, 1655).
54 Joel R. Beeke and James A. La Belle, Living by Gospel Promises (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
55 Andrew Gray, The Works of Andrew Gray (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1992); idem, Loving Christ and Fleeing Temptation, ed. Joel R. Beeke and Kelly Van Wyck (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007).
56 Ebenezer Erskine, The Works of Ebenezer Erskine, 3 vols. (Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 2001); Ralph Erskine, The Works of Ralph Erskine, 6 vols. (Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 1991).
57 I limit myself here to selecting those who have at least one volume in English.
58 Willem Teellinck, The Path of True Godliness, trans. Annemie Godbehere, ed. Joel R. Beeke (repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008).
59 Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man, Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity, trans. William Crookshank, 2 vols. (repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010); idem, Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed, trans. Donald Fraser, 2 vols. (repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010); idem, Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer, trans. William Pringle (repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
60 Johannes VanderKemp, The Christian Entirely the Property of Christ, in Life and Death, Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. John M. Van Harlingen, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997).
61 Alexander Comrie, The ABC of Faith, trans. J. Marcus Banfield (Ossett, U.K.: Zoar Publications, 1978).
62 Ryken, Worldly Saints, xiii.
63 Cited in Hulse, Reformation & Revival, 44.
Joel R. Beeke is minister at the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, where he is also the professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics.