Dr. Joel Beeke explains what we stand to profit when we study the Puritans.
“The Puritans show us how to marry doctrine and practice in our lives by addressing the mind, confronting the conscience, and wooing the heart.
Puritan literature addresses the mind. The Puritans loved and worshipped God with their minds. They refused to set mind and heart against each other, but taught that knowledge was the soil in which the Spirit planted the seed of regeneration. They viewed the mind as the palace of faith.
The Puritans teach us to think in order to be holy. They understood that a mindless Christianity fosters a spineless Christianity. An anti-intellectual gospel will spawn an irrelevant gospel that doesn’t get beyond ‘felt needs.’ That’s what is happening in our churches today. We have lost our intellect, and for the most part we don’t see the necessity of recovering it. We do not understand that if there is little difference between the Christian and unbelievers in what we believe, there will soon be little difference in how we live.
Puritan literature confronts the conscience. The Puritans were masters at naming specific sins, then asking questions to press home the guilt of those sins. As one Puritan wrote, ‘We must go with the stick of divine truth and beat every bush behind which a sinner hides, until like Adam who hid, he stands before God in his nakedness.’
Devotional reading should be confrontational as well as comforting. We grow little if our consciences are not pricked daily and directed to Christ. Since we are prone instead to run away, we need help in our daily devotions to be brought before the living God, naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).
Puritan literature woos the heart. It is unusual today to find books that both feed the mind with solid biblical substance and move the heart with affectionate warmth, but the Puritans do this. They reason with the mind, confront the conscience, and appeal to the heart. They write out of love for God’s Word, love for the glory of God, and love for the souls of readers. They set forth Christ in his loveliness, moving the reader to yearn to know him better and live wholly for him.”
Read the entire article here.
“The Puritans show us how to marry doctrine and practice in our lives by addressing the mind, confronting the conscience, and wooing the heart.”
Reading Doug Wilson’s biography of Anne Bradstreet sparked my interest in the Puritans. Right away I bought Beeke’s guide to the Puritans and have been working my way through the Puritan paperbacks. And my dear Beloved gave me George Swinnock’s 5 volume set in hardback for Christmas! Woohoo! 🙂
Thanks for another encouraging post, Christina! Much love to you!
Trisha, that sounds really wonderful! What a godly heritage the Puritans have left us! And what a great gift your Mountain Man has given you! Hope the Poff clan had a beautiful Christmas Day! XO
Praise God and thank you Christina for this timely reminder to help us all refocus.
Merry Christmas, Rick! And, I hope you have a beautiful and blessed New Year!
Thanks for linking to Dr. Beeke’s article. I love the Puritans. I appreciate their theology of suffering which is needed in a day of “your best life now.”
Yes; well said, Persis!
“Devotional reading should be confrontational as well as comforting. We grow little if our consciences are not pricked daily and directed to Christ.” This is such a powerful lesson learned. Thanks for sharing this Christina!
It is so true, isn’t it? Our greatest need is to be saved from sin.
Deejay O'Flaherty says
Hope it’s ok to copy and paste something so lengthy here, it is my favourite quote on the character of the puritans which is what made their writings so powerful, the hearts and lives they came from. It’s from Character of a Puritan or English Non-conformist
The Old English Puritan was such an one, that honoured God above all, and under God gave
everyone his due. His first care was to serve God, and therein he did not what was good in
his own, but in God’s sight, making the word of God the rule of his worship. He highly
esteemed order in the House of God: but would not under color of that submit to
superstitious rites, which are superfluous, and perish in their use. He reverenced
Authority keeping within its sphere: but durst not under pretence of subjection to the
higher powers, worship God after the traditions of men. He made conscience of all God’s
ordinances, though some he esteemed of more consequence. He was much in prayer; with it he
began and closed the day. It is he was much exercised in his closet, family and public
assembly. He esteemed that manner of prayer best, whereby the gift of God, expressions were
varied according to present wants and occasions; yet did he not account set forms unlawful.
Therefore in that circumstance of the church he did not wholly reject the liturgy, but the
corruption of it. He esteemed reading of the word an ordinance of God both in private and
public but did not account reading to be preaching. The word read he esteemed of more
authority, but the word preached of more efficiency. He accounted preaching as necessary
now as in the Primitive Church, God’s pleasure being still by the foolishness of preaching
to save those that believe. He esteemed the preaching best wherein was most of God, least
of man, when vain flourishes of wit and words were declined, and the demonstration of God’s
Spirit and power studied: yet could he distinguish between studied plainness and negligent
rudeness. He accounted perspicuity the best grace of a preacher: And that method best,
which was most helpful to the understanding, affection, and memory. To which ordinarily he
esteemed none so conducible as that by doctrine, reason and use. He esteemed those sermons
best that came closest to the conscience: yet would he have men’s consciences awakened, not
their persons disgraced. He was a man of good spiritual appetite, and could not be
contented with one meal a day. An afternoon sermon did relish as well to him as one in the
morning. He was not satisfied with prayers without preaching: which if it were wanting at
home, he would seek abroad: yet would he not by absence discourage his minister, if
faithful, though another might have quicker gifts. A lecture he esteemed, though not
necessary, yet a blessing, and would read such an opportunity with some pains and loss. The
Lord’s Day he esteemed a divine ordinance, and rest on it necessary, so far as it conduced
to holiness. He was very conscientious in observance of that day as the mart day of the
soul. He was careful to remember it, to get house, and heart in order for it and when it
came, he was studious to improve it. He redeems the morning from superfluous sleep, and
watches the whole day over his thoughts and words, not only to restrain them from
wickedness, but worldliness. All parts of the day were like holy to him, and his care was
continued in it in variety of holy duties: what he heard in public, he repeated in private,
to whet it upon himself and family. Lawful recreations he thought this day unseasonable,
and unlawful ones much more abominable: yet he knew the liberty God gave him for needful
refreshing, which he neither did refuse nor abuse. The sacrament of baptism he received in
infancy, which he looked back to in age to answer his engagements, and claim his
privileges. The Lord’s Supper he accounted part of his soul’s food: to which he labored to
keep an appetite. He esteemed it an ordinance of nearest communion with Christ, and so
requiring most exact preparation. His first care was in the examination of himself: yet as
an act of office or charity, he had an eye on others.
Â Â He endeavored to have the scandalous cast out of communion: but he cast not out himself,
because the scandalous were suffered by the negligence of others. He condemned that
superstition and vanity of Popish mock-fasts; yet neglected not an occasion to humble his
soul by right fasting: He abhorred the popish doctrine of opus operatum in the action. And
in practice rested in no performance, but what was done in spirit and truth. He thought God
had left a rule in his word for discipline, and that aristocratical by elders, not
monarchical by bishops, nor democratical by the people. Right discipline he judged
pertaining not to the being, but to the well-being of a church. Therefore he esteemed those
churches most pure where government is by elders, yet unchurched not those where it was
otherwise. Perfection in churches he thought a thing rather to be desired, than hoped for.
And so he expected not a church state without all defects. The corruptions that were in
churches he thought his duty to bewail, with endeavors of amendment: yet he would not
separate, where he might partake in the worship, and not in the corruption. He put not
holiness in churches, as in the temple of the Jews; but counted them convenient like their
synagogues. He would have them kept decent, not magnificent: knowing that the gospel
requires not outward pomp. His chief music was singing of psalms wherein though he
neglected not the melody of the voice, yet he chiefly looked after that of the heart. He
disliked such church music as moved sensual delight, and was as hinderance to spiritual
enlargements. He accounted subjection to the higher powers to be part of pure religion, as
well as to visit the fatherless and widows: yet did he distinguish between authority and
lusts of magistrates, to that he submitted, but in these he durst not be a servant of men,
being bought with a price. Just laws and commands he willingly obeyed not only for fear but
for conscience also; but such as were unjust he refused to observe, choosing rather to obey
God than man; yet his refusal was modest and with submission to penalties, unless he could
procure indulgence from authority. He was careful in all relations to know, and to duty,
and that with singleness of heart as unto Christ. He accounted religion an engagement to
duty, that the best Christians should be best husbands, best wives, best parents, best
children, best masters, best servants, best magistrates, best subjects, that the doctrine
of God might be adorned, not blasphemed. His family he endeavors to make a church, both in
regard of persons and exercises, admitting none into it but such as feared God; and
laboring that those that were borne in it, might be born again unto God. He blessed his
family morning and evening by the word and prayer and took care to perform those ordinances
in the best season. He brought up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
and commanded his servants to keep the way of the Lord. He set up discipline in his family,
as he desired it in the church, not only reproving but restraining vileness in his. He was
conscientious of equity as well as piety knowing that unrighteousness is abomination as
well as ungodliness. He was cautious in promising, but careful in performing, counting his
word no less engagement than his bond. He was a man of tender heart, not only in regard of
his own sin, but others misery, not counting mercy arbitrary, but a necessary duty wherein
as he prayed for wisdom to direct him, so he studied for cheerfulness and bounty to act. He
was sober in the use of things of this life, rather beating down the body, than pampering
it, yet he denied not himself the use of God’s blessing, lest he should be unthankful, but
avoid excess lest he should be forgetful of the Donor. In his habit he avoided costliness
and vanity, neither exceeding his degree in civility, nor declining what suited with
Christianity, desiring in all things to express gravity. He own life he accounted a
warfare, wherein Christ was his captain, his arms, prayers, and tears. The Cross his
banner, and his word, Vincit qui patitur.
He was immovable in all times, so that they who in the midst of many opinions have lost
the view of true religion, may return to him and find it. [John Geree The Old English Puritan or non-conformist
It is ALWAYS ok for you to post on my blog — long and short comments are welcome just the same! 🙂
Christina, great article. I enjoyed reading through it. Thanks a lot for linking to it.
In my life the Puritans have played an important role in molding my life. I love reading them.
Love you, friend!
Barbara Thayer says
Excellent article and worthy of reading. You always find such good things to contemplate Christina. Thank you for your friendship and your blog!
This is so good Christina. Yay for Trisha’s sweet Christmas present. For Christmas Robert & I bought ourselves Stephen Charnock’s 5 volume works. Yippee Skippee!
You and Steven have a wonderful New Years.
God bless you Becky, Barbara, and Diane! Thank you so much for your friendship and the encouragement in the Lrod that I have received from each of you. Wishing you, my beautiful sisters, a blessed New Year in Christ. May we draw near to Him, like never before!
@ Diane – Yippee Skippee???? LOL!
Thanks for this post, dear Sis, and especially for linking to the full article. I have posted the link to this page on FB and urged my readers to follow on to the Grace Magazine article.
Great and abundant blessings to you and yours as we prepare to enter the next calendar year.