Category Archives: Puritan CD-Rom
Today’s post is for communicators who know the clarity a John Owen quote brings to a complex biblical topic or the punch a C.H. Spurgeon quote adds to application points. My goal today is to encourage evangelists, authors, bloggers, preachers in their work of reaching lost souls and edifying redeemed souls.
I will address various related questions: Are electronic books and printed books friends or enemies? How can I find the best electronic books? How do I search those works effectively? How do I find quotes on my topic? How do I best handle the quote in hand?
I regularly express my appreciation for paper books AND electronic books when it comes to sermon preparation. A useful library balances both. Electronic books provide a technological enhancement to printed books. Sometimes I want to search the Works of John Owen in a jiff (electronic), and sometimes I want to chain off several weeks to ice pick my way through an entire volume (printed). The electronic text enhances the printed copies by making them easier to navigate, but reading the full text of Communion with God on a computer screen would surely lead to a hyper-extended retina.
Book of the Year, 2006: Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson (9781601780003, 1601780001)
Book of the Year, 2006
Meet the Puritans
by Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson
This was a great year for Christian publishing. We saw the first installment of Justin Taylor’s edited version of John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation. John Piper’s What Jesus Demands from the World was also excellent. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by Piper and Taylor and Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? by Wayne Grudem were also very good. We saw the release of the The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament: English Standard Version. [Can someone at Crossway please give Justin Taylor a vacation already?] John Calvin’s excellent Sermons on the Beatitudes was released by Banner of Truth. Steven Lawson released the first volume of A Long Line of Godly Men, titled Foundations of Grace, which covers the history of the doctrines of grace in what is certain to become his greatest accomplishment. Reformation Heritage Books released the Works of Thomas Goodwin (12 volumes) in paperback form, containing much rich teaching on the beauty of Christ. No doubt, the second best book published this year was Mark Dever’s incredible, The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made. Perhaps no book has better opened up the Old Testament storyline.
Each of these books are tremendous accomplishments in themselves. I thank the publishers and their devoted writers, editors, administrators and warehouse managers who seek to magnify Christ in their publishing endevors. Thank you!
With all respect for these books released in 2006, none topped Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson. We had the honor of announcing this book to the public a few months ago. By any standard, this volume is a monumental accomplishment.
It’s endorsed by Packer, Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Duncan, Mohler, Ferguson… and the recommendations go on and on. It’s packed with terse information, illustrations, great biographies on more than 140 individual Puritan authors, overviews of over 700 individual Puritan volumes, a list of all the known reprints published beween 1956 and 2005, excellent articles ,and a glossary of terms used. At 900 pages, its a deep well of information. As clothbound, it’s made to endure years of use.
Important helps include chapters on who the Puritans are, why we should read them, and short histories of the English, Scottish and Dutch Puritans. I found the short history of the resurgence of Puritan literature in the 20th century especially interesting.
Here is just one quote, taken from the section explaining why we should read the Puritans today:
“With the Spirit’s blessing, Puritan writings can enrich your life as a Christian in many ways as they open the Scriptures and apply them practically, probing your conscience, indicting your sins, leading you to repentance, shaping your faith, guiding your conduct, comforting you in Christ and conforming you to Him, and bringing you into full assurance of salvation and a lifestyle of gratitude to the triune God for His great salvation” (xix).
Perfect for the beginner and the more advanced reader, Meet the Puritans will help guide and direct your way through the forest of Puritan authors.
In summary, I cannot say it better than our friend, Dr. Ligon Duncan:
“Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson have produced a tremendous gift to and resource for all who want an entryway into the study of the Puritans. They not only provide accurate biographical and theological introduction to every Puritan whose works have been reprinted in the last fifty years, but also combine with their helpful summaries an insightful analysis. If this were not enough, they’ve added major appendices that include the so-called ‘Scottish Puritans’ (that is, the great Scottish theologians who were contemporaries of and like-minded brethren in doctrine and piety with the English Puritans) as well as the Dutch Further Reformation divines. Meet the Puritans, With a Guide to Modern Reprints is a must have. I know of nothing like it. If you are looking for a reliable window into the life, theology, piety and ministry of the Puritans — this is it.”
Like I said, a monumental work!
FREE: Reformation Heritage Books graciously provided The Shepherd’s Scrapbook with a special peak into the book… Here is one of the 140+ biographies in this volume: Dutch ‘Puritan’ Willem Teellinck, pp. 782-791 [download .pdf file].
SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Purchase Meet the Puritans directly from Reformation Heritage Books for the special discounted price of $22.50 between November 21st and 30th. You need to do two things. First, call the bookstore directly (1-616-977-0599 ext. 2). Second, tell them you are “a friend of The Shepherd’s Scrapbook.” [While you are there, consider buying The Path of True Godliness, the incredible book on pursuing godliness by Teellinck you can read about in the free chapter above].
Boards: clothbound, hardcover (blue, silver gilding)
Dust jacket: yes
Binding: Smyth sewn
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Price USD: $35.00/$22.50 for a limited time (see discount above)
ISBNs: 9781601780003, 1601780001
Click on pictures for larger image.
Not pictured – Manton on CD, Bunyan 3 vol. works, Goodwin works, Reynolds works and volumes 3-12 of the Boston works. Each day the full sets are coming together.
UPDATED 10/3 … new pictures
Works of Edward Reynolds
(Soli Deo Gloria)
Works of Thomas Goodwin
(Reformation Heritage Books)
Part 11: Concluding Thoughts, part 2
Finally, the conclusion of the Puritan Study comes today. I wish I could continue on in this study but I must move on. Thank you for all the very kind emails and helpful suggestions throughout this series. Seeing others come to a deeper appreciation of the Puritan literature has been an incredible encouragement to me.
Here is a collection of final thoughts …
I think it’s worth noting again that in this series of blog posts I have emphasized the most important Puritan resources for expositional research. Other Puritans are useful on a number of issues.
I like Baxter, Burgess, Watson and other Puritans. But these and other Puritans simply have not helped me when I’m under pressure to preach and write expositionally on a certain text. Spurgeon, Bunyan, Owen, Boston, Manton and the men I have promoted, however, have proven faithful in these situations.
If you are more interested in systematic theology, or apologetics, or church history, you will find other Puritans to be of great help. Here, we were concerned with the most effective Puritans for expositional sermon preparation and ranked these authors in order of availability and usefulness.
I was hoping to use this series to begin introducing you to the Dutch ‘Puritans’ (they are not really called ‘Puritans,’ but ‘the Dutch Second Reformation Divines’). These authors ministered during the same period of time as the English Puritans we know well, but their works were originally published in Dutch. Thanks to the recent work of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society, these works are now being made available in updated English. After some time reading these Dutch works, it’s clear these authors were as mature and experiential as their English counterparts.
Among others, the Dutch ‘Puritans’ include Wilhelmus à Brakel, Willem Teellinck and Herman Witsius (whose works have been in English for a few years now). Teellinck’s book on living a holy life (The Path of True Godliness) is very valuable and will be the subject of an upcoming book review.
These Dutch authors are very powerful and, although many of them will not be indexed and easily accessed, an introduction to their works was warranted at the end of this Puritan study. More information this winter …
Tough and Tender
John Piper once said, “one of my great desires is to see Christian pastors be as strong and durable as redwood trees, and as tender and fragrant as a field of clover.” This ideal finds its origin in the words and works of Jesus Himself. He knew when to be tough and when to be tender. He was strong and resolute but loving, kind, and compassionate, too. Many Puritans remind me of men who were uncompromising and stable in their convictions. They were a forest of redwood trees. But these preachers often displayed a compassionate tenderness like a fragrant field of clovers, too. An excellent pattern for preachers today.
The Presence of God
Many things draw me to the Puritans, but one of the most important is their pursuit of God. They see the Psalms as a blueprint for the Christian life – striving and praying for the presence of God to draw near (see Pss. 16, 42, 73). You can spot authors who read much of the Puritans because they, too, have a healthy and well-developed desire to pursue the presence of God (see A.W. Tozer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, etc.).
I did not realize what was happening, but for several years as I have used the Puritan literature, I thought I was just borrowing a few quotes and thoughts along the way. Now it is obvious that over those years I was being changed.
What I love most about the Puritans is how they have been used in changing me. I treat the Word with more sobriety and seriousness now. My application of the text is much more mature. I am more articulate in pointing my hearer’s affections towards the things God sees as precious (like His Son, His holiness, His justice, love and grace).
Specifically, three areas of my life have been changed due to my Puritan Study …
(i) In catching the Puritan hermeneutic. The Puritans interpret every passage in light of the big picture of God’s glory in the Cross of Christ. Everything comes back to this. As expositors we are apt to get wrapped up in our four verses and lazily forget this big picture. The Puritans, especially in their application, make it clear that every text must be brought back to this big picture. Sadly, very few expositors today do this consistently (Piper and a few others, however, excel here). I pray that we would all catch this Puritan hermeneutic. Spurgeon reminded preachers that every sermon must find a way back to the Cross. This was the Apostle Paul’s point exactly (Gal. 6:14, 1 Cor. 1:22-25; 2:2; Phil. 3:8).
(ii) In catching the Puritan experiential style. When publishers want a good definition of ‘experiential preaching’ they turn to Puritan scholars. In the book, Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching (Soli Deo Gloria, 1573581445), Dr. Joel Beeke writes: “Experiential or experimental preaching addresses the vital matter of how a Christian experiences the truth of Christian doctrine in his life … Experimental preaching seeks to explain in terms of biblical truth how matters ought to go, how they do go, and what is the goal of the Christian life … Experimental preaching is discriminatory preaching. It clearly defines the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, opening the kingdom of heaven to one and shutting it against the other” (pp. 95-96). The Puritans understood that a sermon lacking powerful application is an incomplete sermon. The Puritans are unparalleled here.
(iii) In catching the Puritan earnestness. The Christian life is a struggle of balance. The same is true in the pulpit. It is easy to focus on strengthening marriages, helping others raise children, and overall improvements in godliness while lacking earnestness. We can get the idea that the purpose of the pulpit is only for long-term sanctified changes. We need the Puritan earnestness to remind those who have never experienced the grace of God in their own hearts (the ‘almost Christian’ sitting in the pew), that they teeter on the brink of God’s judgment. There may not be a tomorrow. Each of us will be in heaven or hell very shortly. Nothing guarantees the sinner one more day to repent. Now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. Plead with sinners. The Puritans balanced these two sides of preaching and teach us to use the same sermon to both strengthen Christian marriages (long term) and to plead with sinners earnestly (now).
In the end, the ultimate benefit of a (well-used) Puritan library is how it changes you. Because of the Puritans, I view the bible differently, more seriously. They have taught me deep thoughts so I am not easily distracted with the empty and hollow ‘Christian’ thoughts today. They have taught me to treasure Christ. They have pointed out the sin in my heart. They have encouraged me in the task of preaching. And they have been faithful friends pointing me back to the scriptures when I begin to wander around. ‘Be serious because God’s thoughts are weighty,’ is the Puritan message I hear every time I use their works.
So keep at it. Work hard. Study diligently. Learn new terms. Don’t be intimidated by 200-word sentences. Grasp the concepts. Learn from the Puritan big-picture. And one day you will realize that God’s Spirit has taken the Puritan Study from your shelves and into your heart and changed you forever. All for His eternal glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The Complete Works of Thomas Boston (12 volumes)
[note: The following review compliments The Puritan Study, a series on incorporating Puritan literature into expositional preaching.]
Thomas Boston (1676-1732) is not only one of my favorite Puritan authors, but has also proven himself to be one of the most important and useful Puritans in my expositional research.
Known for his excellent books like “The Crook in the Lot” and “The Art of Man-Fishing,” his works are both excellent examples of Boston’s deep understanding of the Christian life and his firm commitment to obedience to Scripture.
As a preacher I love Boston for both his depth and breadth. Depth, in his ability to apply texts so personally and powerfully to his hearers. Breadth, in the fact that he preached on almost every biblical theme. It seems every time I flip through Martin’s topical index (A Guide to the Puritans) I discover Boston preached a sermon on my current topic. Preachers will find Boston’s breadth and depth to be very useful for every sermon, no matter the sermon topic or text.
Incredible sensitivity towards applying the scriptures to his hearers, and tremendous balance and diversity of content make Boston an often-used resource in my expositional research. But what I also find impressive about Boston was his pastoral work in Ettrick, which, prior to his arrival, was an unstable and worldly town. As Dr. Joel Beeke writes in the introduction, “When Boston arrived in Ettrick, the town had less than 400 people. The roads were nearly impassable. The parsonage was dilapidated. Church services were irregular. When a service was held, the people often talked throughout it. Spiritual barrenness, pride, deceit, swearing, and fornication abounded” (p. I-5). What happened over the next 25 years was the result of Spirit-blessed preaching now preserved for us in these volumes.
The works of Thomas Boston (published by Tentmaker) include 7,400 pages of books, sermons and his own memoirs.
Volumes one and two comprise “An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion” organized by the Shorter Catechism. These volumes are affectionate and deeply applicable on the main subjects like the authority of scripture, the trinity, creation, Christ, sin, justification, the Ten Commandments, self-examination, prayer, an experimental knowledge of Chirst, etc. These volumes are a treat to those of us who have seen systematic theology lacking experimental warmth and deep application. Boston abhors the thought.
Volume three is a collection of 37 sermons and two books: “The Crook in the Lot” and “The Unity of the Body of Christ.” Volume four includes 40 sermons and the book “The Distinguishing Characters of Real Christians.” Volume five includes books on discerning genuine believers from the false and “The Art of Man-fishing.” Volume six includes 16 sermons and a number of Q&As on various topics. Volume seven includes nine sermons and more theology similar to volume one and two, including discourses on “The Evil and Danger of Schism” (on 1 Cor. 1:10), “The Necessity and Foundations of a Throne of Grace for the Behoof of Poor Sinners, Pointed out and Illustrated” (on Psalm 89:14). Volume eight includes “Man’s Fourfold State” on the state of innocence, the state of nature (or sinfulness), the state of grace and the eternal state. Volume nine and ten are comprised of 88 sermons. Volume eleven includes diverse material on the covenant of grace and prayer. And the final volume comprises Boston’s excellent “Memoirs” where you can read more about his 25- year pastorate at Ettrick.
One of my favorite sections of Boston is a little book titled, “A Soliloquy on the Art of Man-Fishing” in volume five. It is a great reminder of the duty and pleasures of the work of evangelism. At times through this short book I have been lost in his language. Here is one section I especially enjoyed:
“I find in my heart a flame of desires, Matt. 5:6.  After the righteousness of Christ. My soul earnestly desires to be stripped naked of my own righteousness, which is as rags, and to be clothed and adorned with the robe of his righteousness. This wedding garment my soul affects; so shall I be found without spot, when the Master of the feast comes in to see the guests. My soul is satisfied, and acquiesces in justification by an imputed righteousness, though, alas! My base heart would fain have a home-spun garment of its own sometimes.  After communion with him, Ps. 42:1. When I want it, my soul though sometimes careless, yet, at other times, cries out, O that I knew where I might find him! I have found much sweetness, in communion with God, especially at the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, in prayer and meditation, hearing the word, faithfully and seriously preached, and in preaching it myself, when the candle of the Lord shines on my tabernacle; then was it a sweet exercise to my soul. I endeavor to keep it up when I have it, by watching over my heart, and sending up prayers to God. When I want it, I cry to him for it, though, alas! I have been a long time very careless. Sometimes my soul longs for the day, when my minority [earthly life] shall be over-past, and I be entered heir to the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; to be quit of this evil world; to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is best of all; especially at three times. (1.) When I get more than ordinarily near God, when my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fat, when my heart is nobilitated, and tramples on the world. (2.) When I am wrestling and groaning under the body of sin and death, the evil heart: then fain would I be there, where Satan cannot tempt, and sin cannot enter; yea, when I have been much forsaken, at least as to comfort … (3.) When I preach, and see that the gospel hath not success, but people are unconcerned, and go on in their abominations” (5:17).
Boston opens his soul to answer the question: At what time is my heart aflame? It comes, he writes, as a result of my deep love for the imputed righteousness from Jesus. It comes when I have enjoyed the presence of God in a special season. And later, my heart is aflame for God’s presence in heaven when I am reminded of my own sin and weaknesses and long for eternity.
For Boston, knowing and preaching the truth alone are insufficient. He wants to see the effects of the Spirit at work as confirmation of his work. This expectation that the Word of God will become reality in the world is the experiential mark on all of Thomas Boston’s sermons and books.
For the expositor of God’s Word, these volumes (and especially the many sermons) make this set a priceless gem. Boston is a Puritan friend who is exegetically faithful and sensitive of the human heart. His depth and breadth make him one of the very few writers that will help you prepare any sermon on any text for any audience.
Binding: clothbound (maroon)
Dust jackets: Yes
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: oversized and heavy weight
Text: facsimile printing of 1853 version (William Tegg & Co. of London)
Topical Index: yes (end of vol. 11)
Textual index: no
Biography: yes (“Memoirs” in vol. 12)
Publisher: Tentmaker (United Kingdom)
Price USD: $325.00 at RHB; $250.00 at TPB; $250.00 at Amazon
Want more information? An excellent introduction to Thomas Boston and his writing will be found in Christian Focus’ recent re-publication of “The Art of Manfishing.” J.I. Packer’s short introduction at the beginning of this book is beneficial. An extended biography and bibliography is included in Beeke’s new book “Meet the Puritans,” available by Christmas from Reformation Heritage Books.
Part 10: Concluding Thoughts, part 1
Now on to some concluding thoughts.
… to the electronic publishers
I want to take a moment and say, ‘thank you,’ to the many individuals that are working together to produce electronic versions of the Puritan works. Throughout this study I have met several of you. What you are doing is a wonderful service!
From all of us who think “THml” is a new seminary degree — we don’t know exactly what you do or how you do it, but we are thankful you do it. Keep it up!
One of these techies, Thomas Black at stilltruth.com, sent us links to the works of John Owen and Jonathan Edwards. These files work with Logos/Libronix digital Library and are searchable (a Mac version is yet to be released). The Logos/Libronix system is a great and growing resource for searchable Puritan works and many of these resources (like Owen and Edwards) are free because of the generous work of Black and others.
For more information you can check out our friends at StillTruth. They have a large selection of other free resources, too.
For those who are interested in publishing the Puritans in this form, let me encourage you with a few content suggestions.
The most important Puritan works in print that await OCR conversion, editing and tagging into THml include the works of Thomas Boston, Thomas Manton, John Flavel, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Brooks, and Thomas Goodwin. You will serve the church well if your efforts are directed towards these much-needed authors.
… to the print publishers
To my friends who work diligently to republish the Puritans in print format: There are a number of excellent Puritan resources that I cannot recommend because they are unavailable. About half of the Puritan works I would recommend as ‘excellent’ are not even in print format. The church would greatly benefit from the complete works of Stephen Charnock (beyond Existence), William Ames, William Bates, Anthony Burgess, James Durham, William Perkins and Samuel Rutherford (beyond Letters). Maybe the programmers and publishers could work more closely together in re-typesetting these works and simultaneously release the print and THml versions of the works at the same time? At the very least, these Puritans also need to be converted into searchable text formats.
If Puritan publishers and scholars (who favor printed volumes) and the techies who are converting the Puritans into free electronic files would open up in communication, both sides would benefit greatly. Could the two sides meet in a forum to exchange ideas?
On another note, some of the Puritan complete works sets are now being published in paperback form. Is there a way to continue cutting the cost of production? I would love to have every Puritan published in clothbound covers but maybe some these other works (named above) could be more economically printed. Even printed on-demand, maybe? How can technology help publishers cut costs and print more?
… on Puritan PDFs
I want to make one other note about why I recommend people NOT buy Puritan CD-Roms and DVDs (except in rare cases). Most of these files (like the works of Thomas Manton) are simple picture files of the pages. They are usually not text-recognized or searchable and almost never tagged into THml format. These files are both inferior to printed books and inferior to text files. They are a sort of in-between compromise that are not easy to read nor easy to search. This is why they are fading in importance. Focus now on accumulating the print volumes and, in time, the electronic text files as they become more readily available.
… on the value of e-Puritans
In 2003 the World Wide Web contained 170 terabytes of information. That’s 170 million megabytes or more than 200,000 CD-Roms filled with information. In comparison, the entire Library of Congress print collection is only about 10 terabytes in size. To look at it another way, the complete works of Shakespeare comprise only 5 megabytes. So the entire content of the WWW in 2003 (not including text messaging, emails and P2P file sharing) was the size of the complete works of Shakespeare multiplied 34 million times!
The natural consequence of these vast numbers is the devaluing of information. We now look at words as cheap and common.
The danger here is that we begin looking at the men who most faithfully expounded the Word of God as likewise having words that are cheap and common. They are not.
Many of the words of Bunyan were written in a solitary prison cell separated from his family. The words of Spurgeon were forged in years of faithful prayer and amidst painful debates and trials. Men like Sibbes and Calvin ministered during political upheaval and turmoil. The most powerful preachers in Christian history were purified in the fires of struggle and pain. Their words (unlike dozens of terabytes available on the Internet) are precious gold.
Publishers who release the Puritans in beautiful clothbound covers should continue this practice. And pastors need to continue to support publishers that treat the Puritan works with such respect. Publishers like The Banner of Truth, Tentmaker and Soli Deo Gloria remind us of the value of Puritan words.
As the Internet continues to grow by the terabyte and the electronic texts of great Puritans become more plentiful, we must beware this cheapening of Puritan words. We must always remind ourselves that these words were slowly and carefully sculpted in pain, out of a fear of God, through an intense study of His Word, and from a love of His glory.
(to be continued…)
Next time … Part 11: Concluding Thoughts, part 2
Part 8: To Quote or not to Quote?
“The great Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs once said of this passage …”
If you think this is the only way (or the best way) to integrate the Puritans into your sermon, this post is for you.
That was me a few years ago. I was introduced to the Puritans and fell in love, going bonkers quoting this Puritan and that Puritan. My listeners, (unfortunate college students), were forced to endure 150-word quotes by John Owen. I’m certain as soon as I said “In the words of one Puritan…” they began thinking about their homework or dinner or (living off 3 hours of sleep each night) simply blacked out.
In this post we answer the questions regarding the best use of the Puritan quotations.
First, it must be stated that there is both a good way and a very poor way to use the Puritans.
The poor way is to force a Puritan thought or quote on a text that does not complement the clear meaning of the biblical text. The quote may be good and it may be biblical, but if it does not fit with the text it appears the preacher is forcing another authority upon the text for his own end. Your hearers know when you are not being straight with them, and they will dismiss you and your quote.
The best use of the Puritans (or any other source for that matter) is to reinforce the plain meaning of a text. We should let the text stand on its own and bring in quotations and thoughts that drive the thought home. Another way to say this: The text of scripture should authenticate the Puritan quote, not the other way around.
For example, let the biblical text teach on the importance of God’s perfect holiness. Let John Owen then come along and instruct the Christian to find their delight and affection in that perfect holiness of God.
I can say after several years of preaching experience, no source will better help you reinforce the plain meaning of scripture than the Puritans. They cherish what God cherishes, delight in what God delights, and hate what He hates. If ever there were people suited for complementing the text of scripture, the Puritans are it.
Narrow the quotes
After studying our printed Puritans, e-Puritans, and online Puritan sources, we have a mountain of material that may fit our sermon. What do we do?
It is essential (before writing your sermon notes) to carefully sift through the quotations for the most appropriate. I have found that 10 quotes per sermon is more than enough for me. And in selecting only the 10 best, there are dozens of other excellent quotations that hit the cutting-room floor. You may have a ton of great material, but the truth is that your sermon will become more powerful the more focused it becomes.
As an aside, I formerly pasted directly all interesting quotations into my Microsoft Word sermon note file and then tried to incorporate all the material into my sermon. I would discourage this practice. It’s important that preachers use a buffer between what you find in your research and your sermon notes themselves.
For me, I use a Moleskine notebook for my quotes. When I write my sermon out (usually in about one day) I consult this notebook. I am amazed how many quotes simply do not fit my sermon! Had I started typing out my sermon with 50 quotes and points from various day’s thoughts, I could never write a clear sermon. It would be confusing and broken. Use a buffer.
Let’s say we have our 10 best quotations that fit our sermon notes well. No what? We have three separate options.
(1) Directly quote. I am still committed to directly quoting the Puritans (even to college students). My series of photo cards entitled “Quotes from Dead Guys with Cool Hair” was an attempt to introduce my students to the Puritans. The cards were geared towards issues in the college life and were well received.
Here are some examples of direct quotes.
In a sermon on Galatians 6:12-15, Thomas Manton provided me an excellent quotation to explain the reciprocating crucifixion of the believer to the world and the world to the believer. It’s from my sermon delivered on 12/17/04,
Manton: “And truly to eye our pattern, Christ, hanging and dying on the cross will pierce the world to the very heart. He was contented to be the most despicable object upon earth in the eyes of men. If Christians be not ashamed of their head and glorious chief, this spectacle should kill all our worldly affections, and make us despise all the honor, and riches, and pomp, and pleasure of the world, the favor or frowns, the love or wrath, the praise or dispraise of men, so far as it is opposite to the kingdom of Christ. When it is crucified to us, we should be crucified to it.”
In a sermon to college students I wanted to convey the importance of redeeming the time. This quote is from my sermon delivered 10/21/05 on Ephesians 5:15-16,
Richard Baxter: “1. To redeem time is to see that we cast none of it away in vain; but use every minute of it as a most precious thing, and spend it wholly in the way of duty. 2. That we be not only doing good, but doing the best and greatest good which we are able and have a call to do. 3. That we do not only the best things, but do them in the best manner and in the greatest measure, and do as much good as possibly we can. 4. That we watch for special opportunities. 5. That we presently take them then they fall, and improve them when we take them. 6. That we part with all that is to be parted with, to save our time … This is the true redeeming of our time.”
These were both excellent quotations. In both cases, I took a little liberty in updating spelling for clarity.
Once I started quoting Puritans directly in sermons I began using sermon handouts. This practice has worked well for me over the years. Handouts provide great freedom by allowing you to quote lengthier Puritan quotes.
Handouts also give the preacher the freedom to skip over quotes. Let your people read them at home. I quoted eight different authors in my sermon on Ephesians 5:15-16 (download notes here), though I doubt I read more than four of them.
Be certain when you print notes that you define difficult words for your hearers in aggregations [that is ‘brackets’].
(2) Paraphrase quote. Often the Puritan quotes are excellent but could be better stated for clarity and conciseness. This is where paraphrasing comes in. Paraphrasing is simply the act of restating an idea with new words.
The best examples I can give come from my book entitled, Come Unto Me: God’s Invitation to the World, where I used hundreds of quotes and paraphrases from the Puritan sermons.
I thought this quote by Spurgeon too difficult for a non-Christian. So I paraphrased it.
Charles Spurgeon: “The gospel was brought near to us, earnest hearts were set a praying for us, the text was written which would convert us; and as I have already said, the blood was spilt which cleanses us, and the Spirit of God was given, who should renew us. All this was done while as yet we had no breathings of soul after God” (Sermons 23:216).
Paraphrase: “During the same period as the ungodly were in a state of spiritual rebellion towards God, Christ gave Himself on the Cross to die for those who were undeserving. The blood of Christ was shed, the text of the bible was written, the actions of God were moving all while the sinner was loving the sin which alienates himself from God!”
I really liked Thomas Boston’s likening a worldly man’s pursuit of wealth to a blind mole, but I didn’t like the wording.
Thomas Boston: “Hence the carnal man, I may say, never gets up his back, but on his belly doth he go, and labours, as if he were a slave condemned to the mines, to dig in the bowels of the earth; like the blind moles, his constant labor is in the earth, and he never opens his eyes till he is dying.”
Paraphrase: “The soul that pursues wealth spends its short life digging deeply into the dark mines of worldliness, like the blind mole tunneling deep into the temporal world.”
If you love the thought, but are having difficulty with the wording of a quote, paraphrase it.
(3) Create your own thought. Ironically, as I mature in preaching I find myself doing more of this. I find a great quotation by John Owen and by the time I’m getting ready to insert the thought into my sermon I find his quote has catapulted my thoughts further into the text and I cut the quote itself.
I did this in the last post with the quote from John Owen. His thought led me to my own. Frequently, the more useful the Puritans become in your life and ministry, the less you will mention them.
Psalm 73 sermon
An interesting thing happened to me recently to illustrate the point. When I was asked to preach on Psalm 73 (title: Depression, Worldliness and the Presence of God), I used more Puritan resources than on any other sermon I can recall (over 200 printed pages). However, I only quoted one Puritan, an excerpt from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God. As you will see in the sermon notes, Edwards’ thoughts are authenticated by the text.
I was amazed how many people asked me after the sermon for that title so they could read the entire sermon by Jonathan Edwards (although the church bookstore 20-feet away carries a paperback version of the sermon). This reminds us that pulpit promotion increases interest. Even if you have a bookstore full of Puritans, you still need to tell your people who they are any why they are important. Sermons are great place for this.
Now, back to the Psalm 73 sermon. I only quoted one Puritan although there were many paraphrases of the Puritans throughout the entire sermon and many thoughts catapulted from my Puritan research. All of the comments I received were encouragements for how deeply the text had taken hold of me. “You grasped the text, or rather, the text grasped you,” one said. Another said, “The sermon was text-driven.” Certainly, I let the text drive everything else but the reality is that its depth also drew from the meditations of 14 faithful Puritan preachers.
What I learned was this: The more you use Puritan literature and the less you directly quote Puritan literature the more impressed your hearers will be with God’s Word. It wasn’t that I didn’t use other sources, but that I carefully discerned the important Puritan sources from the not-so-important, let scripture authenticate the Puritan quotes, and then internalized those quotes. The final product was deeply biblical and very mature because it was deeply Puritan.
I hope my intention in this post has become clear by now. We want to use the Puritans, but not so our hearers are impressed with our scholarship. Nor should our intention be to impress people with the wisdom of the Puritans themselves. Our goal must be to use the power of the Puritan sermons to display the power of God’s Word.
When our hearers walk away from our sermons impressed with the power of God’s Word (rather than impressed with us or our Puritan library) we have used the Puritans correctly.
Would Jonathan Edwards have it any other way?
Next time … Part 9: The Strategy of Building a Puritan Study
Part 7: Using the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
I don’t like clothes. At least not for my birthday.
When it’s my birthday I hope for books: old used books, new shrink-wrapped books, leather-bound, clothbound or paperback books. It’s all the same. My family and friends, however, don’t buy me books because few people know what I need or want and I’m not about to tell them. So I get shirts and polos and (with a winter birthday) a lot of fleece and sweatshirts. These are nice and generous gifts, but they are not as delightful as free books.
If you have never walked into the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, you are in for a special treat. There they offer hundreds of free books. Good ones. Some you want, some you need (and some to leave on the shelf). The point is: these books are downloadable, searchable and delightful as they are free!
Who’s Who at the CCEL
Many of the Puritans we have talked about on the digital shelves of the CCEL include Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Thomas Boston, John Flavel and Thomas Manton.
Beyond our Puritan Study, there are several other helpful references including the works of Augustine, Alexander MacLaren, Horatius Bonar, John Calvin, Stephen Charnock, John Foxe, William Gurnall, Matthew Henry, Charles Hodge, Martin Luther, A.W. Pink, Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter and Isaac Watts.
Take time to browse around and become familiar with the depth of free books available. There is also a very helpful topical index to locate books on given topics (click “Browse” > “Browse by Topics”).
We covered a majority of the tricks to electronic searches in the last post. Use those same textual and phrase searches here.
From my own experience at the CCEL, it seems the phrase searches are most fruitful because the various authors use too many different formats for verse references (ex.: ‘Ps. xvi. 11.’ / ‘Psal. 16: 11’).
An added bonus of the CCEL (as opposed to computer files) is that searches can
be done on the entire CCEL library with one click. Search on “pleasures for ever” and you will be searching their entire database!
But you can also run specific searches. Here is one example of a search I ran specifically of author John Owen and the phrase “Psa. xvi. 11” (see screenshot to the right).
There are several types of specific searches you can perform on the CCEL and they have a helpful search guide that does not bear repeating here.
After about 5 minutes of searching, here are three examples I found on a phrase search of “presence is fulness of joy.” Also, I’ve included a little information how I would use the quotations (though the next post in this series will address this topic more fully).
(i) John Owen teaches us that true faith is revealed when we seek the presence of God, knowing (again by faith) that it’s in His presence that our greatest joy springs. By contrast a weak faith would reveal itself in the heart by a lack of anticipation of God’s eternal presence, and a greater display of worldliness. This second point is not found here in Owen, but made obvious from a moment’s meditation upon Owen’s quote. I personally would not quote this passage to my listeners.
John Owen – “When the soul hath a view by faith (which nothing else can give it) of the goodness of God as manifested in Christ — that is of the essential excellencies of his nature as exerting themselves in him — it reacheth after him with its most earnest embraces, and is restless until it comes unto perfect fruition. It sees in God the fountain of life, and would drink of the “river of his pleasures,” Ps. xxxvi. 8, 9 — that in his “presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore,” Ps. xvi. 11. It longs and pants to drink of that fountain — to bathe itself in that river of pleasures; and wherein it comes short of present enjoyment, it lives in hopes that when we “awake, it shall be satisfied with his likeness,” Ps. xvii. 15. There is nothing grievous unto a soul filled with this love, but what keeps it from the full enjoyment of these excellencies of God. What doth so naturally and necessarily, it groans under. Such is our present state in the body, wherein, in some sense, we are “absent from the Lord,” 2 Cor. v. 4, 8, 9. And what doth so morally, in the deviations of its will and affections, as sin — it hates and abhors and loathes itself for. Under the conduct of this love, the whole tendency of the soul is unto the enjoyment of God; — it would be lost in itself, and found in him, — nothing in itself, and all in him. Absolute complacency herein — that God is what he is, that he should be what he is, and nothing else, and that as such we may be united unto him, and enjoy Him according to the capacity of our natures is the life of divine love.” (from Christologia, chapter 13)
(ii) Puritan John Flavel emphasizes both the joy Christ must have experienced in the presence of God in His earthly life, and also the depth of Christ’s sacrifice through the incarnation. Maybe not points I would bring out in a sermon on Psalm 16:11, and certainly not a quotation I would read to my hearers, but it is still an interesting thought that reminds me to tie every sermon back to Christ and the Cross.
John Flavel – “(1.) We cannot but conceive it to be a state of matchless happiness, if we consider the persons enjoying and delighting in each other: he [Christ] was with God, John 1: 1. God, you know, is the fountain, ocean and centre of all delights and joys: Psal. 16: 11, “In thy presence is fulness of joy.” To be wrapt up in the soul and bosom of all delights, as Christ was, must needs be a state transcending apprehension; to have the fountain of love and delight letting out itself so immediately, and fully, and ever lastingly, upon this only begotten darling of his soul, so as it never did communicate itself to any; judge what a state of transcendent felicity this must be. Great persons have great delights.” (from Fountain of Life Opened Up, sermon 2)
(iii) Puritan Richard Baxter (whose printed works are a bit hard to find) is a highly recommended source of sermon material. Notice there is no biblical text reference in this passage (common in some Puritans). His point here is that without revelation we cannot understand that we have access to the full pleasures of God. This is an invitation from God in His own language, highlighting the importance of revelation. If the preacher were to update a few words and read the second half of this quote with increasing speed and volume it would beautifully illustrate the power of this concept – we are invited to experience the full joy of God’s presence!
Richard Baxter – “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What presumption would it have been, once, to have thought or spoken of such a thing, if God had not spoken it before us! I durst not have thought of the saints’ preferment in this life, as Scripture sets it forth, had it not been the express truth of God. How unbecoming to talk of being sons of God—speaking to him—having fellowship with him—dwelling in him and he in us—if this had not been God’s own language! How much less durst we have once thought of shining forth as the sun—of being joint heirs with Christ—of judging the world—of sitting on Christ’s throne—of being one in him and the Father—if we had not all this from the mouth, and under the hand of God! But hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?—Yes, as the Lord God is true, thus shall it be done to the man whom Christ delighteth to honor.” (from,Saints’ Everlasting Rest, chapter 1)
Some searches will produce hundreds of references. You need to scan for authors you trust and avoid trying to look at every reference. This highlights the importance of taking several hours to become familiar with the resources at the CCEL. The more you know about who is referenced there, the less likely you will be to jump at the first search result you see. Take your time. Especially become familiar with the authors I mentioned at the beginning.
So now you have 300 Puritan quotations and a sermon to preach in three days. What do you do with all the material? Paraphrase? Quote directly? Next time we will answer the question: To Quote or Not to Quote?
Next time … Part 8: To Quote or not to Quote?
Part 6: Electronic searches.
What would the Puritans think of the Internet, CD-Roms, DVDs and pdfs?
We know the Puritans were innovative. They broke new ground, always seeking to reform the church and re-think ministry. It is fitting that at least one Puritan scholar warns preachers today from lazily copying the style and language of Puritans who lived 300 years ago. “It would be very un-Puritan,” he said. To be Puritanically minded today is to re-think how we can best communicate the message of the Cross to our generation (rather than resting on the language and methods of a previous generation).
We can presume, therefore, that the Puritans would be enthusiastic in the ways their works can be condensed into digital numbers and stored in a tiny little part of a hard drive.
Without question, the digital age has made the Puritans more accessible today than during any other generation. These digital files are essential to any efficient library of Puritan literature.
Precision in Electronic searches
Electronic text searches are precise. For fun, misspell a word in a Google search (like “recieve”) and you can find everyone on the Internet who needs a dictionary. This precision also means we can find information very quickly.
This speed and precision are great, but they pose challenges when we try to search old language like the Puritans. Precision is critical.
In an earlier post, we talked briefly about the awareness required when performing a text search. The Puritans used Roman numerals for biblical chapters (ex.: “Ps./Psa. xvi. 11.”). They also used the language and spelling of the King James Version. These points are very important when running a text search of the Puritans.
Defining the search
Knowing exactly what you are looking for is the first key in conducting a text search of the Puritans. Let’s break our passage down in light of this. Here again is our text in the ESV (which I preach from) and the KJV (which they preached from):
ESV Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
KJV Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
In our printed book searches, we were concerned with finding scriptural references in sermons and then looking into topical indexes. When we search the Puritan e-books, we are also looking for scriptural references but also a new option – phrase searches.
Here are the details on the two searches most useful in e-Puritan literature:
(a) Scripture reference searches. Like I said earlier, the Puritans used Roman numerals. There are programmers who are going through these old works and tagging the files so they can be searched without needing to use the Roman numerals. But this helpful technology has not hit most Puritan works yet, so precision is the key. On our passage in Psalm 16:11 we will want to search for “Psa. (or “Ps.” depending upon the author) xvi. 11”.
(b) Phrase searches. The Puritans are filled with biblical phrases and language of the KJV. We can find these biblical phrases littered throughout their sermons. It is essential that we become familiar with the language of the KJV and pick out specific phrases we seek to research (the shorter the phrase, the easier to find).
For our purposes in this post we will search for three phrases in Psalm 16:11. These include, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life,” “fulness of joy,” and “pleasures for evermore.”
So going into our searches we have our list.
Again, technology will make all of this searching more helpful and useful in the coming years. For now, I must open up specific works on my computer. Let’s begin with a Puritan, Jonathan Edwards, whose printed works lack both a textual and topical index. To navigate these works we must search the text files (free from the CCEL here).
With our computers open, let’s conduct a text search of the 2-volume works of Jonathan Edwards. I’ve opened the files and run searches on each of our phrases.
Here are the search terms we are looking for and their frequency in the two volumes.
The results (“phrase”, vol. 1 / vol. 2):
“Psa. xvi. 11” = 0/1.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life” = 0/0
“fulness of joy” = 4/6
“pleasures for evermore” = 0/7
Notice what happens in Edwards’ works. He only mentions Psalm 16:11 by name one time in the entire 2-volumes! It would be easy to think Edwards placed little emphasis on this passage when, in fact, he did. We know this because Edwards actually references the passage 17 times!
This search illustrates beautifully the importance of phrase searches in the Puritans (and consequently why we must use electronic books). If we were simply looking in our printed indexes we would never find these references. Only e-books give us the precision and speed to search on single phrases.
For the Puritans, the biblical language permeates everything they write. Those seventeen references in Edwards to phrases of Psalm 16:11 contain some very helpful quotes like this one on the content of our pleasures forever,
Edwards, 2:893: “There they shall dwell in habitations of sweet delight and pleasure in paradise; there they shall drink of those rivers of pleasures for evermore; there they shall dwell in perfect light and perfect love; there they shall see and converse with God and Christ, and with angels and glorious spirits, and shall contemplate the wonderful love of God to men in sending his only Son; there shall they contemplate the glorious love of God to them, the love he had to them before the foundation of the world. There shall they see and know what love Christ had to them, that influenced him to lay down his life for them; and shall behold the beauty and excellency of Christ, and see face to face, and know even as they are known.”
What a beautiful quote! It takes Psalm 16:11 and focuses our attention back to the Cross.
Not only are these electronic search principles important with the files we store on our hard drive, but they are also important for searches we conduct on the Internet. One growing source of Puritan text files is providing pastors with a wealth of content to search. The website is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It’s free and next time I will show you how to maximize this Website in your Puritan research.
Next time … Part 7: Using the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.