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The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
The editors of The Devoted Life have put together a masterful introduction to some of the most important literature ever penned in the English language. It is not so much an introduction to the lives of the Puritans as it is an introduction to some of their key writings. However, readers will be delighted to know that the first chapter goes along way to answer the question: Who were the Puritans? (pp.15-37) and the last chapter on Puritan and Spiritual Renewal is worth the price of he book. The Puritans were chiefly responsible for shaping social and religious thought in the post-Reformation era. They are greatly misunderstood and often falsely caricatured. This introduction will be a great encouragement to the believer who wants to get beyond the typical fluff of modern writing and dig in to Christian literature that lives and breathes. The authors will take the reader on a grand tour of writings like Pilgrim's Progress and Paradise Lost and Puritan writers like Matthew Henry, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards will come alive. This book will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in Puritan studies, especially their writings. If one is looking for an accessible introduction to the lives of the Puritans, this reviewer would recommend, Leland Ryken's Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Zondervan, 1986).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is a great place to start if you want to know more about the Puritans. Each piece has a very clear and concise introduction to the specific Puritan author they are featuring. Each selection (of the Puritan authors) is appropriate, informative, and in my opinion transformative. Kapic and Gleason make the Puritan fathers quite approachable, giving you a taste and encouraging you to then go and get the rest of a meal. Kapic and Gleason's introductions are extraordinarily well written setting up each piece perfectly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Puritans excellent work in defining theology continues to master the modern way and instruct a doubting generation, and was and will continue to be the foundation of Reformed theological thinking and believing, long outliving the life-span of today's popular literature.

After a brief overview of their impact on societal England and neighboring countries like France and Holland etc, the esteemed contributors bring us to a healthy and respectful understanding of these great works, in their historical and post-biblical context, as their unique individual contributions inspire us afresh.

THE ART OF PROPHESYNG by William Perkins:

Paul R Schaeffer introduces this volume with the timeless classic on preaching and hermeneutics as the cornerstone of Puritan theology. Denying the modern rendition of prophecy as being a new word from God, he describes Perkins' definition thereof:

'Prophesying was the Elizabethan term for penetrating preaching' (p 39) which had fallen on hard times due to antagonism from the hierarchy of the Church of England, and the royal house of England. Nevertheless, God uses preaching, Perkins claimed, as the means 'instrumental in gathering the church' and 'driving away the wolves from the folds of the Lord.' Not only so, but 'prophesying...a solemn public utterance, relates to the worship of God and the salvation of our neighbors'. As such weighty importance attended this primary means of grace, Perkins believed that of all the gifts given to the church by the Spirit, 'prophesying stood as the most excellent'. p 41 The fourfold hermeneutical approach of the Scholastics, or, as Perkins called it, their 'stylized apocalyptic speculations', were too speculative for determining the intent of Scripture, 'for Satan raises old heresies from the dead in order to retard the restoration of the church which has begun in our time'. Such prophesying for Perkins was not receiving a new word from the Lord but rather correctly handling what God has given in the Scriptures. At the heart of this hermeneutical method stands Christ, and Perkins laid an immense burden on preparatory interpretation for preaching to be Christ-centered, as prescribed in Luke 24:44-47, 'Then Jesus said to them, "These are My words that I spoke to you...".

THE OBJECT AND ACTS OF JUSTIFYING FAITH by Thomas Goodwin:

Michael Scott Horton sees it necessary to recall to our view the position of faith and assurance that Goodwin defined in a time 'of the famous moralizing preachers of the day whom he identified as Arminian.' p 108 These leanings brought about exemplaristic preaching wherein 'these troubled souls were more concentrated upon 'searching into the gracious dispositions of their own hearts, so to bring down, or raise up...these people seemed more interested in graces within their own hearts than with the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and therefore rested in the former, rather than in the latter'. p 109

Horton brushes off such vain perfectionism with an imploring 'Every generation faces its own challenges with respect to preserving the clarity of the gospel, and Goodwin's approach exhibits the Puritans at their best.' p 109 Professor Horton creates an enduring appeal from Goodwin's labors in seeking not only justification, but sanctification as well, in a gospel centered in Christ alone - of no less importance to Goodwin's generation than our own.

Thomas Halliburton's despair was evident when he resignedly admitted: 'I doubted of myself, but not of the way.' His complaint was, in fact, one of lack of assurance, for a believer may experience the assurance of the authority of God's Word, the assurance of the way of salvation, but not the assurance that I personally am saved. Thomas Goodwin navigated through the coral mass with exceptional skill, 'There are two things in justification: I. The righteousness imputed; and that is Christ's, and to Him we go for it. II. The act of imputation, the accounting it mine or thine; and that is the act of God primarily...God pardons not the debt by halves, nor bestows Christ's righteousness by parcels, but entitles us to the whole in every of those moments of justification.' 8:134

Goodwin held that Christ's merits have their efficacy to justify us ex compacto, from a prior agreement between the Father and Son - the counsel of peace (Isa 53).

THE MARROW OF THEOLOGY by William Ames:

Ames saw 'the means through which the covenant of redemption between God and Christ comes to fruition is the covenant of grace, what the Scriptures call the "new covenant". In other words, the application of Christ is administered covenantally.' p 59

Perkins' successor promoted Puritan piety with considerable success once in Holland, in an effort to 'make Dutchmen into Puritans'. p 62 Dr Joel Beeke and Jan van Vliet interact to recall how Ames placed an emphasis on the will being indispensable to an active faith: 'Faith divorced from practice leads to 'cold orthodoxy', while an isolated emphasis on the will and on good works, leads to Arminianism.' p 63

These timeless words should exhort Christians to caution and make them wary of deception through the wrong use of settled Scripture, which seems to have become the staple diet of speculative TV preachers, the sensationalism of dispensationalism, and the moralism of Arminianism. All one needs to confirm this is to look at the apex of the past two centuries of theatrical church history. The sad conclusion is we no longer share the virtue of the historical church. No longer are we willing to seek counsel from the proven wisdom of the divines, saying that we need no other judgment than our own, thereby forfeiting the treasury of the trials that forged their piety.

In this volume dedicated to Puritan classic literature, Philip G Ryken looks at Human Nature In Its Fourfold State by Thomas Boston; his father, Leland Ryken looks at Paradise Lost by John Milton; senior Reformed theologian JI Packer studies the fruit of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; Sinclair B Ferguson divulges the Mystery Of Providence by John Flavel; Ronald N Frost studies The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes; Paul Chang-la Lim tells of his love for Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor; and Ligon Duncan appraises Matthew Henry's A Method For Prayer - amongst many other historical essays. They offer an intellectual and worthy recollection of the theological heights attained by the Puritans, those worthy men and women whose lives revolved around their singular devotion to a defense of free grace, and who went on to found an America which would permit the proclamation of exactly such a freedom.
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on December 14, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book does a good job of concisely teaching about significant people in the Puritan history of the church. I highly recommend it to every Christian who wants to know how God worked in and used the lives of our Christian forefathers to further the gospel and preserve sound doctrine for future generations.
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I suppose this book is good for what it is, but I expected something a bit different from the summaries and the reviews I read about it. I think a more appropriate name for the book would be "A Reflection of the Puritan Classics" instead of "An invitation to..."
I say this because If i wanted someone to read the bible, I wouldnt hand them a Mathew Henry or J. Vernon Mcgee commentary and consider that an invitation to reading the bible. That is what this book is though. It is, basically, a commentary and review on some of the Puritan writings. I only recommend this book to people, contrary to the title of the book, who are very very familiar with the writings that the author(s) review on, otherwise it is very dull, dry and hard to understand. For instance, go read "The Reformed Pastor" by Baxter (and the other writings featured in this book) before purchasing this (text) book.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was looking for a book with sample texts by Puritan authors, but this book is all commentary on those texts, with no real texts available in it. The essays written are wonderful, but not what I was looking for.
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