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Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints Hardcover – February 1, 2007
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The resurgent appetite for Puritan literature has produced long book lists and heavy bookshelves. Intimidated students and busy pastors ask, Where do I start? Regular readers of the Puritans ask, Where do I go from here? The obvious answer to both questions now is, Meet the Puritans. I am confident that God will mightily use this mind-enriching, heart-warming, and soul-satisfying publication to arouse new interest in the Puritans, to stimulate demand for their books, and so to multiply among us the Christ-centered lives they so passionately promoted. --Dr. David Murray
As furnaces burn with ancient coal and not with the leaves that fall from today s trees, so my heart is kindled with the fiery substance I find in the old Scripture-steeped sermons of Puritan pastors. A warm thanks to the authors of Meet the Puritans for all the labor to make them known. --DR. JOHN PIPER, Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Puritans English, Scottish, American, and Dutch are being read again! In an era of superficial discipleship and erratic, impotent, ailing, and dying churches, this is indeed a hopeful sign. And this wide-ranging handbook of backup information about the writers themselves, their special strengths, and modern reprints of their books, is another hopeful sign. Meet the Puritans is a fascinating compendium, scholarly yet popular and accessible, that Puritan-lovers will value very highly and justly so. --DR. JAMES I. PACKER, author of Knowing God and A Quest for Godliness
About the Author
Joel R. Beeke (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, and author of numerous books.
Randall J. Pederson (M.T.S. Calvin Theological Seminary) is a member of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the author of several publications relating to Puritanism.
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Top Customer Reviews
Meet the Puritans is a resource designed to guide people through the reprints of Puritan writings that have been produced since 1956. The book provides "a brief biography of each Puritan author whose works have been reprinted since 1956 and a short review of those books. We hope this will help purchasers of Puritan books, interest other readers in the Puritans, and guide those already immersed in Puritan literature to further depths of study." It is more a reference book than one you would be likely to read from cover-to-cover, though if you wanted to, you certainly could.
The format of the book is simple. After a Preface explaining how to profit from reading the Puritans, a brief word about where to begin and a brief history of English Puritanism, there comes a long list of authors. Each author has his own chapter containing a short biography and a list of his books that have been reprinted. There is a review of each book along with publishing information and the number of pages. And that is the heart of the book and continues for some 800 pages. Five appendices deal with collections of Puritan writings, Scottish divines, Dutch further Reformation divines, secondary sources on the Puritans and a final word on Puritanism courtesy of J.I. Packer. In short, this is a one-stop-shop for all you could want to know as a beginner to the Puritans. And if you are already a fan of their writing, this book will lead you further and deeper, guiding you to the best books available.
One thing I would like to see in future editions of this book is a more thorough list of the best place to begin in reading the Puritans. The authors do offer a few suggestions, but they are only basic ones. I'd like to see a list of the top ten or twenty books they would recommend. Additionally, it might be nice to have a topical index of sorts, pointing to the best works on a variety of subjects so that a person looking for a Puritan work on worship or sin or other important topics could quickly and easily find the best resources.
Quite simply, if you are interesting in reading the Puritans, this is a guide you won't want to be without! It is endorsed by a who's who of Reformed leaders and authors (the back cover alone has endorsements by Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, Packer and Mohler and there are many more inside!) and deservedly so. Best of all, it promises to be a book that will be updated as time goes on and as these great writings continue to be released.
First, it gives a more detailed history of Puritanism, how it was born, the account of persecution they went through, including the Presbyterians in Scotland and the Dutch Further Reformation fueled by the Synod of Dort in 1618. Second, it contains a brief, but not too brief, biography of over 120 British, Scottish and Dutch Puritans; their education, family, ministry, controversy and persecution, and death; followed by their printed works, which ones are available to the readers today, their synopsis and publisher so that interested readers know where to get a hold of them. The list has led me to a greater happiness in enjoying Puritan literature through its recommendation to read at least two books; Richard Sibbes' "The Bruised Reed" and Thomas Manton's "The Temptation of Christ." But more are coming that are in my wish list from John Flavel, Richard Baxter, Richard Gilpin, and others.
Here are my general observations in addition to what the authors analyzed in the first section of the book before they begin with the biography of their ministers, theologians and laymen. First, it seems, though not strictly true, that they all held a doctorate in theology by looking at the humongous amount of publications of the study they produced. Most of them studied at either Oxford or Cambridge graduating with at least an equivalent of Master of Divinity today, which means they were experts in exegesis, having studied Hebrew and Greek intensively at school. Second, they were church leaders; not only pastors, but also vicars, lecturers, deans, tutors at colleges, chaplains to prominent governmental leaders and agencies, and members of Westminster Assemblies. Third, they wrote at least hundreds of pages, sometimes thousands of pages of books consisting of either commentary or sermon collections on the books of the Bible or topical theology; the popular themes I notice are spiritual warfare, conversion, self-examination, Christology, and heaven. The two volumes of Jonathan Edwards, for example, have over 4,000 pages. John Owen has even more. Fourth, in terms of their family, there is a broad range of spectrum where some of them, though a minority, were singles and never married, and others who had a handful of children; some over ten. Fifth, these men were eminent in piety and experimental Christianity. They not only preached powerful sermons and wrote excellent books, but they also lived their sermons and books. This last point here from a practical point of view is perhaps the most important. Though we may not have a doctorate or master's degree in divinity, this last point is applicable to everyone. Ray Ortlund Jr wrote aptly, "I like Reformed theology. I believe it's what the Bible teaches. But I don't like Reformed culture. I don't believe it's what the Bible teaches." When the head is bloated with knowledge that stays there without flowing to the heart that results in doxology and gracious lifestyle and treatment toward people, the heart remains small and the result is a nasty spiritual arrogance. As Jonathan Edwards puts it that "true spiritual life was a matter not only of intellectual assent, but also of the affections." (p.200).
If there is one criticism, it would be that this book, while enormous in breadth, yet it is lacking in depth in comparison with Packer's book, which seems to be the opposite; having great depth, yet covering only certain eminent Puritan profiles. But I guess one has to choose either or, and not both since if it were both, this book would have easily grown into a ten-thousand-page monster.
After going through the Puritan profiles, I cannot but be happily intimidated in a good way and humbled as I look at the dwarfishness of my spirituality, discipline, earnestness and service in comparison to these giant, standing-tall redwoods, as J I Packers puts it. Those who believe there is a crisis of the lack of role models today for young people to follow, look no further than the list in this book. My own words are too weak to commend the Puritans. So the best way to describe the kind of impact the Puritans have that Christians today may benefit from, I should quote George Whitefield and JC Ryle who wrote,
"The Puritans [were] burning and shining lights. 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 Whitefield).
"Their works still speak for them on the shelves of every well-furnished theological library. Their commentaries, their expositions, their treatise on practical, casuistical, and experimental divinity, are immeasurably superior to those of their adversaries in the seventeenth century. The Puritans as a body, have done more to elevate the national character than any class of Englishmen that ever lived (here I should add, not only Englishmen, but also every affected reader). Ardent lovers of civil liberty, and ready to die in its defense, mighty at the council board, and no less mighty in the battlefield, feared abroad throughout Europe, and invincible at home while united, great with their pens, and no less great with their swords (by which Ryle meant the Bible and their intellectual power), fearing God very much and fearing men very little, they were a generation of men who have never received from their country the honor that they deserve" (JC Ryle).
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This is a collection of biographies of the 17th century Reformed Theologians.Read more