Puritans

For really solid reading that mixes doctrine and practice with a ready ease, one really cannot do better than the Puritans. Here are a few of my favorites: Thomas Brooks, who has a very refreshing, easy-to-read style that is full of great one-liners and beautiful illustrations of doctrinal truth; John Bunyan, who wrote the best work of Christian fiction ever, The Pilgrim’s Progress; Joseph Caryl, author of the best commentary on Job, a twelve volume compendium of theology on the whole of Scripture, and including massive amounts of practical help as well. Wonderful devotional reading. It is in facsimile, and somewhat difficult to read, but once you get used to it, it is marvelous; Thomas Boston, a wonderful later Puritan who has an outstanding commentary on the Shorter Catechism, as well as one of the very best ever expositions of anthropology, The Human Nature in its Four-Fold State, available separately. John Flavel is excellent as well. If you’re rarin’ for a challenge, the most difficult, and yet one of the most rewarding is Thomas Goodwin. You really have to be awake to read him, but the effort is definitely worth it. John Owen, while some describe him as difficult, is not as difficult as Thomas Goodwin, and yet probably the best of the lot in terms of depth of content. Here are his works, and here is his massive Hebrews commentary. Richard Sibbes is a lot like Thomas Brooks, and is well worth reading (one of the easier to read). George Swinnock is also worth a look. Well, that’s a lifetime of Puritan reading right there. Enjoy!

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3 Comments

  1. Lee said,

    August 1, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    I am wondering how you are defining the word ‘Puritan’. Thomas Boston is extremely late to be considered a Puritan and had some serious differences with many of the early Puritans. Also, can you consider Bunyan and Owen Puritans? I guess this depends on how you define it, which I look forward to reading.

  2. Mr. Baggins said,

    August 2, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    I define Puritan as someone who stands in the British Reformation tradition, primarily as those of non-Conformity, though a few of the Conformists might deserve good mention (Davenant, for one, and Gurnall, for another). But the Puritan style is not limited to the 17th century. Boston was definitely a Presbyterian Puritan, though he is 18th century. What differences did you have in mind? He didn’t differ with them much (if at all) on the Westminster Confession. I certainly consider Bunyan and Owen Puritans.

  3. Lee said,

    August 2, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    That is an awfully broad definition of Puritan. Some define it as those who were not Presbyterian, which would rule out Boston at least. Others define Puritans as those who wanted a Presbyterian form of Government, which would rule out John Owen. Others would forbid Baptists, which would take care of John Bunyan. I would also have to say Thomas Boston is more Scottish than English, and would think that would disqualify him as a Puritan.

    As for Rev. Boston’s differences, I refer to the Marrow Men controversy of which he was a leading member. While not knowing your take on it, many wonder whether or not Thomas Boston would hold to limited atonement, and would be a great odds with John Owen and the Westminster. Antinomianism is also a charge often laid at Boston’s feet.


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