Category Archives: Puritan Library

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!

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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].

Meet the Puritans (details)

Boards: clothbound, hardcover (blue, silver gilding)
Pages: 900
Dust jacket: yes
Binding
: Smyth sewn
Paper: normal
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Price USD
: $35.00/$22.50 for a limited time (see discount above)
ISBNs: 9781601780003, 1601780001

Book review: The Gospel Life series by Jeremiah Burroughs

Book review

The Gospel Life Series by Jeremiah Burroughs

As we have already discovered, Jeremiah Burroughs [1599-1646] was a first-rate bible expositor. His massive commentary on the book of Hosea is wonderful proof of this (we reviewed this commentary earlier this Summer).

However, unlike most of the Puritans recommended in our Puritan Study Series, Burroughs’ collected works do not exist. His works are largely scattered around, and for the purposes of the Puritan study, we will have to piece his works together.

But one of the easiest ways to collect six of his books comes in a series published by Soli Deo Gloria titled, The Gospel Life Series.


These six volumes were not intended by Burroughs to be a set, though because the word “Gospel” occurs in all six, editor Don Kistler saw that they were all linked together in a common theme. Kistler re-typeset the volumes, updated the spelling, and edited for length. “I do not believe that any of Burroughs’ thoughts have been altered. I have tried to remain faithful to his words as well as to his intent throughout this edition” (3:v ).

The result is a series that covers the various facets of the Christian life, is easy to read, and will appeal to a larger community of readers than just Puritan nerds like me. This year, the sixth and final volume of the series was released.

Contents

Vol. 1: Gospel Worship (1648/1990). In 14 sermons on Leviticus 10:3 (“Among those who are near me I will be sanctified”) Burroughs shows that we honor God when we draw near to Him in worship, in preparing for worship, in hearing the Word preached, in receiving the sacraments, and in prayer.

Vol. 2: Gospel Fear (1647/1991). In 7 sermons on Isaiah 66:2 (“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word”) and 2 Kings 22:19, Burroughs encourages us to cultivate a tender heart by cultivating a healthy fear of God.

Vol. 3: Gospel Conversation (1648/1995). Not conversation as in speech only, but the Puritan concept of conversation – of work, family, fellowship and all-around general conduct. Here are ten sermons to help us live the Cross-centered life. Most of the sermons are based upon Philippians 1:27 (“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ”) and focus believers to be diligent in their walk. The Gospel must be the center of the Christian life, he argues.

Vol. 4: Gospel Revelation (1660/2006). In about 18 sermons, Burroughs explains the excellency of the eternal. God is excellent, Christ is excellent, and the nature of an eternal soul is excellent as well. It was here in the excellency of Jesus Christ (pages 51-182) that I came to a deep respect of Burroughs’ love for Christ. Truly, His name is called “Wonderful” (Isaiah 9:6). See “Example” below.

Vol. 5: Gospel Remission (1668 and 1674/1995). In 20 sermons Burroughs shows that the true blessedness of the human heart stems from the knowledge that God has perfectly pardoned my sin! The entire volume is built from Psalm 32:1 (“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven / whose sin is covered”). “There is nothing in all the world that so much concerns us as to know how things stand with us in relation to God and our souls, whether we are pardoned or not. A mistake in this is a wonderful mistake, and yet how many thousands are there who venture the weight of this great business upon poor, weak, and slight grounds, yea, rather, on mere suggestions of their own heart” (p. 175).

Vol. 6: Gospel Reconciliation (1657/1997). Here are 18 sermons on 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 covering the who, what, when, where and why of reconciliation of sinners to God. This volume is filled with excellent encouragement for pastors to remain earnest in their preaching of the Cross.

Each of these volumes shows Burroughs to be a man deeply concerned that Christians live diligent Cross-centered lives. But, as with the great experiential preachers, there is a parallel theme of evangelism as well.

Example

The litmus test of all preachers and writers is this: Are they passionate about the beauty of Jesus Christ? Are they overwhelmed with His preciousness? Are they distracted with duties or are they first centered around a Man?

Burroughs argues that Jesus Christ is beautiful for 13 reasons (!): He is beautiful in His natures, Person, incarnation, His earthly works, His offices, endowments, miracles, as the revelation of God’s glory, in His humiliation, His conquest, exaltation, in the wonder of the saints towards Him, and in His eternal glory (4:59). Yes, Burroughs passes the test.

But he is not content that readers just admit they understand Christ’s greatness, but that they feel Christ’s greatness. He writes,

“When you ask your children what Christ was, you teach them that He was both God and man. Aye, but I appeal to you, when were your hearts taken with this as the greatest wonder in the world…” (4:61)?

It would be inconsistent to believe and not feel the power of the incarnation. After an exposition of Ephesians 1:17-18 and 3:14-20 he writes,

“Oh, what a shame it is that those who profess themselves to be Christian should understand so little of Jesus Christ! God expects that we should study the gospel, search into the gospel, so that we may see more of Christ. And the more we see, the more still we shall wonder; for Christ is an infinite depth, and the more we search into Him, the more we shall see cause to wonder … What I would especially observe is that Christians should not content themselves with a little knowledge of Christ, but they should labor to comprehend what is the length, breadth, depth, and height; they should labor to dive into the mysteries of the gospel” (4:171,173).

It is diving into the mysteries of the Gospel that sanctifies the heart. In other words, the Gospel is central to the Christian’s life!

“We should study Christ, and praise and bless God, and have our hearts enlarged for Jesus Christ. This is the duty of believers to whom God has revealed Christ as wonderful, that in their conversations they should hold out the wonderful glory of Jesus Christ. You should so walk before men as to manifest to all the world that your Savior is a wonderful Savior” (4:177).

All of these volumes contain such God-glorifying and Cross-centered experiential exhortations for the Christian.

Indexes

On the down side, there are no indexes in this series and they are not well-indexed in Martin either. So to use these volumes effectively will require some time. Soli Deo Gloria (and any Puritan publisher that does not include indexes) should consider releasing an electronic version of this set for those who purchase the printed set. This would prove very useful to exegetes like myself who need to sift through the volumes quickly.

For now, preachers who want to use Burroughs in sermon preparations will need to become familiar with the contents of each volume. The detailed contents pages in each volume will help much here.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: The Gospel Life series is an exceptionally good resource of Puritan exposition. After 350 years, Burroughs still speaks powerfully through these volumes.

The publisher boasts that this book has a shelf life of 200-300 years. But even more important, Dr. Kistler’s editing of the text will make Burroughs accessible to readers for at least another 350. An excellent Puritan resource!

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Boards: clothbound, hardcover (grey, gilded)
Volumes: 6
Pages: 1,710
Dust jackets: yes (once again, beautiful covers from SDG)
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: acid-free; normal
Text: edited, updated, perfect type
Topical Index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Textual index: no (electronic file is much needed)
Biography: yes (very short; end of Gospel Remission)
Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria
Price USD: $140.00 / $91.00 from publisher
ISBNs: 187761131x, 1877611913, 1573580147, 1877611123, 1567690696, 1573580422

Book review: The Works of John Flavel (0851510604)

tsslogo.jpgBook review
The Works of John Flavel (6 volumes)

“Some Puritans might be more learned than he, and some more quaint, but for all-around usefulness none was his equal.” Iain Murray on John Flavel

It’s no exaggeration to say the six volume Works of John Flavel are one of the most useful of all the Puritans. Comprised of 22 books and 116 sermons covering a wide range of issues, I have found Flavel’s works to be useful on all topics in my expositional work. A simple scan through Martin’s topical index (A Guide to the Puritans) will bear this out.

John Flavel’s (1628-1691) preaching was experiential and strong. His biographer writes, “He preached what he felt, what he had handled, what he had seen and tasted of the word of life, and they [his hearers] felt it also” (1:xii). One of his hearers said, “that person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected” (1:vi).

Flavel was known for his personal godliness, commitment to prayer, faithfulness under hard trials, and generosity towards the poor. He was aware of the controversial issues but chose not to jump into the debates, instead filling the role of peacemaker. He lived through the persecution of Puritan preachers (between 1662-1687) and was given a few years of freedom in his last years. Yet during this time of turmoil, Flavel (like Owen, Goodwin, Bunyan, Manton and the other great Puritans) continued to produce the precious works we now own, collect and use.

The glory of Christ

The great litmus test of a preacher or author is this: What do they say about the preciousness of Christ? I am amazed at the number of popular books published under the category ‘Christian’ that — while talking much on theology or marriage issues or child-raising or personal fulfillment — totally neglect the beauty of Christ. Not so with Flavel. To him, the knowledge of Christ is of utmost importance for joy eternal and joy now.

At the beginning of his famous collection of sermons titled, The Fountain of Life Opened Up: A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory, Flavel writes,

“Knowledge is man’s excellency above the beasts that perish (Ps. 32:9). The knowledge of Christ is the Christian’s excellency above the Heathen (1 Cor. 1:23, 24). Practical and saving knowledge of Christ is the sincere Christian’s excellency above the self-cozening hypocrite (Heb. 6:4, 6). But methodical and well-digested knowledge of Christ is the strong Christian’s excellency above the weak (Heb. 5:12, 13, 14). A saving, though an immethodical knowledge of Christ, will bring us to heaven (John 17:2) but a regular and methodical, as well as a saving knowledge of him, will bring heaven to us (Col. 2:2, 3). For such is the excellency thereof, even above all other knowledge of Christ, that it renders the understanding judicious, the memory tenacious, and the heart highly and fixedly joyous” (1:21).

This paragraph ignites into 500 pages of sermons to build in the reader’s knowledge of Christ and bring the heart a high and fixed joy.

Content

Contrasted to men like John Owen and Thomas Goodwin, Flavel’s works are very easy to read. Like all Puritans, his content is dense, but his sermons and books flow gracefully.

The six-volume Banner of Truth edition is comprised of 22 books and 116 sermons. Volume one includes a short but helpful biography of Flavel’s life. A 500-page book, The Fountain of Life, follows and makes up most of the first volume. Spanning 42 hefty sermons, Flavel explores the beauty of Christ in His person and then in His work as the Mediator. He also explores the seven sayings of the Cross. As we saw earlier, a deep knowledge of Christ’s beauty brings heaven down to us and this he accomplishes in this first volume.

The second volume is a collection of 38 sermons. The first 35 comprise The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption, a series explaining how we are saved, why sinners should come to Christ, the benefits of Christ towards the believer, what happens to bring sinners up to the point of salvation (like conviction), distinguishing between the genuine and false believers, and the present and eternal state of the unregenerate. These sermons cover a broad landscape of evangelical themes. Three sermons in the nature of man’s soul complete volume two and continue into the first five sermons of volume three.

Volume three is given to a number of issues including the difference between sinful and non-sinful fear, God’s protection of His children in times of judgment upon the earth, the dangers of doctrinal error, and the importance of unity in the church around the Gospel.

Volume four includes 11 sermons delivered in England after the persecution of Puritans concluded in the late 1680s. In the midst of this evangelical freedom, England and its people should ever seek to repent, turn from sin and press close to Christ. “England hath now a day of special mercy: there is a wide door of opportunity opened to it; O that it might prove an effectual door! It is transporting and astonishing, that after all the high and horrid provocations, the atheism, profanes, and bitter enmity against light and reformation: the sweet voice is still heard in England, Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (4:3-4).

Following this, Divine Conduct or The Mystery of Providence highlights the many ways God has put each of us where we are from our birth, family heritage and spouse. God is in control and we should take note of His activities. How we encounter temptation is the theme of Antipharmacum Saluberrimum. Pressing close to Christ, not surprisingly, is where he begins. Two short books on the danger of “Popery” and one on letters of seamen saved from storms at sea close the volume.

Volume five includes a 200-page book, Husbandry Spiritualized: The heavenly use of earthly things based upon 1 Corinthians 3:9 (“You are God’s field”). In it Flavel takes the natural and common and teaches eternal truth. Like Divine Providence, it’s seeing God speaking in everyday life. Navigation Spiritualized: A new compass for seamen is a 100-page book spiritualizing sailing terms for the purpose of converting sailors. A Caution to Seamen follows on the prevalent sins of this profession like drunkenness and swearing. Another book for seamen and then a book on the important duty of watching over our own hearts follows. Books on discovering hypocrisy and another for those who mourn the loss of loved ones ends the volume.

The final volume includes several books. Preparations for Suffering teaches us to prepare and endure suffering and trials. Other topics include an exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, twelve sacramental sermons for the Lord’s Supper, the necessity of conversion and personal reformation, importance of pastoral ministry and indexes.

Indexes

The subject index is adequate, spanning 40 pages. However, the textual index is limited to primary sermon texts (unnecessary if you use one of the two Puritan sermon indexes). Navigation through the works will certainly be hindered by this weakness but this should not detract from the value of Flavel.

Conclusion

Warmly devotional and diverse in content, John Flavel’s works are a ‘must-have’ for a Puritan library. He is one of the most readable and helpful of the Puritans and will be a great friend to your expositional preparations. Flavel will help you to see God’s work in the world, encourage evangelism, and (most importantly) point you towards the beauty of Christ in all topics.

Boards: clothbound, hardcover (burnt orange, gilded)
Volumes: 6
Pages: 3,700
Dust jackets: yes
Binding: Smyth sewn
Paper: normal, top edge painted (red)
End papers: front of each contains outline of all six volumes
Text: facsimile of 1820 version (W. Baynes and Son)
Topical Index: yes (good; end of vol. 6)
Textual index: yes (poor; end of vol. 6)
Biography: yes (short but excellent; vol. 1)
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Price USD: $165/$123 at Monergism books
Indexed: yes, both Martin and PCA
ISBNs: 0851517234, 0851517226, 0851510604, 085151720x, 0851517196, 0851517188

The Puritan Study (picture)

 

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

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Works of Edward Reynolds

(Soli Deo Gloria)

Works of Thomas Goodwin

(Reformation Heritage Books)

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The Puritan Study (Part 11) Concluding Thoughts, part 2

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 …

Expositional Puritans

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.

Dutch ‘Puritans’

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.).

Personal change

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).

Conclusion

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 Puritan Study (Part 10) Concluding Thoughts, part 1

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…)

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Next time … Part 11: Concluding Thoughts, part 2
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The Puritan Study (Part 9) The Strategy of Building a Puritan Study

Part 9: The Strategy of Building a Puritan Library

I assume many of you are like me, lacking access to a solid library of Puritan literature. Here in my hometown we have no seminary and it is rare to find a fellow believer who has even heard of Spurgeon, not to mention Boston, Manton and Goodwin.

So building a Puritan library was my responsibility. I just started buying Puritans that I had indexes for and especially the Puritans published by The Banner of Truth. I learned from both my successes and mistakes.

The Strategy

First, I assume you already spend a fair amount of money on books right now. If you are like me, you probably look around your library with regret at some of the volumes that serve no purpose in your expositional research. For years, my library suffered from a clear game plan.

A poorly planned library will lack important reference books like commentaries and Puritan sermons. It will be heavy on contemporary controversies and issues books. Read blogs if you want to be up-to-date on the current trends in the church. Buy commentaries and Puritans if you want a solid expositional library.

A solid library that helps support the preacher or writer in their expositional work is no accident.

This post will help you define your own personal game plan.

Bottom line

The Puritan Study I have described in this series comes to a grand total of $1,500.00. That sounds like a lot but it figures out to $1.40 a day for 3 years (which is about what I spend at Starbucks). And to have this entire library in three years is pretty fast!

I’ve broken down my list of Puritans into $500 segments. Again, this list is ordered by availability and usefulness of each author. Your first $500 will be the best-spent money. The second and third $500 increments are important but not immediate.

(Note: What follows is a simple strategy for building a Puritan library. Specific reviews of each author and set will follow the Puritan Study series. Pictures of each set can be seen here. Updated (3/17/07): Note that most of these resources can be found at a more reasonable price through Monergism Books. Please check them before making any purchases.)

Here is my strategy, broken into three phases…

// THE FIRST $500

1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (63 sermon vols.; CD-Rom)

I cannot begin with any more important preacher than Charles (C.H.) Spurgeon. The Puritans thoroughly impact everything Spurgeon preached or wrote. Look at his commentary on the Psalms (The Treasury of David) and you will see why Spurgeon is a priceless Puritan resource. He is the great Puritan synthesizer. Spurgeon’s complete works total about 150 volumes and you can download them all for $15.00 or buy the CD-Rom for $20.00 from Ages software. (If you have extra money, I would recommend buying some printed volumes from Pilgrim Publications but especially his autobiography and the classic book on pastoral ministry, Lectures to My Students.) [Read Piper's biography of Spurgeon here]

2. Jonathan Edwards (2 vol. works; printed)

An extraordinarily rich resource! These two volumes of works by Jonathan Edwards are gems to the Puritan researcher. I would recommend the Banner of Truth volumes for their sturdy binding. You can buy volumes one and two here in the Banner of Truth editions or a cheaper version. The complementary text files can be found online for free. [Read Piper's biography of Edwards here]

3. John Bunyan (3 vol. works; printed)

John Bunyan is most famous for his novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress. But he was also an incredibly gifted (and imaginative) preacher. These three clothbound volumes from the Banner of Truth are well built and come with an excellent topical index. You can find them for about $89.00. All of the associated text files can be found online for free. [Read Piper's biography of Bunyan here]

4. Thomas Boston (12 vol. works; printed)

Jonathan Edwards considered Thomas Boston, “a truly great divine.” Boston is one of my personal favorites. These precious volumes have provided me many years of sermon quotes and exegetical thoughts on God’s Word. The entire 12-volume set has been recently published by Tentmaker in a beautiful cloth binding and is available in the United States for $325.00 here or $250.00 here. Worth every penny! You can buy the incredible Memoirs alone. [Read our full review of this set here]

5. Thomas Manton (22 vol. works; CD-Rom)

A set that is simply too large to make affordable in print format. The CD-Rom of Manton’s complete 22-volume set can be purchased for only $10.00. A great price for a must-have set of works! The first three volumes are avaliable in print.

// THE SECOND $500

6. John Owen (16 vol. but especially vols. 1,2 and 6; printed)

All of John Owen’s 16-volumes works are excellent. I especially have found volumes one, two, six and seven of great use. You can add other volumes in the future but these three are essential. The volumes are clothbound (as you would expect from the Banner of Truth) and run about $25.00 each or $75.00 total. The text files are available online for free but you will want to read these volumes cover-to-cover, making the printed works a must. [Read Piper's biography of Owen here]

7. John Flavel (6 vol. works; printed)

Another excellent Puritan I have used on several occasions. Your meditations and sermons will be greatly blessed by Flavel. The Banner of Truth volumes are clothbound and beautiful. They sell for $150.00.

8. Richard Sibbes (7 vol. works; printed)

The “sweet dropper,” Sibbes was an incredible Puritan preacher. The Banner of Truth volumes are clothbound and run $126.00.

9. Jeremiah Burroughs (misc. books; printed)

Burroughs is the most difficult author on the list because his works are not collected and published by various companies. Several of his works comprise the Gospel Life series ($91.00). The six titles include Gospel Worship, Gospel Fear, Gospel Conversation, Gospel Revelation, Gospel Remission, and Gospel Reconciliation. Beyond this there are other Burroughs titles in print including The Sinfulness of Sin or The Evil of Evil ($17.00), The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, Hope ($15.00), Irenicum to the Lovers of Truth and Peace ($22.00), The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment ($6.25), The Saints’ Happiness, The Saints’ Treasury and A Treatise of Earthly-Mindedness. All told, it would be easy to spend $180.00 on Burroughs alone. Still, his works are indexed and very valuable.

10. Thomas Brooks (6 vol. works; printed)

The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks in six volumes is available in cloth binding from Banner of Truth for $140.00. One Puritan scholar says of Brooks, “He had a body of divinity in his head and the power of it in his heart.” Incredible material!

// THE THIRD $500

11. Thomas Goodwin (12 vol. works; printed)

Reformation Heritage Books has recently reprinted the paperback version of Goodwin’s 12 volume works. This is a great service to the Puritan community and can be purchased for $240.00. I have yet to read a Puritan that glorifies the person and works of Christ more than Goodwin. [read our full review here]

12. John Newton (6 vol. works; printed)

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me” are the words of John Newton. An excellent preacher, his complete works are available in cloth binding for $144.00. [Read Piper's biography of Newton here]

13. David Clarkson (3 vol. works; printed)

Not as experiential as the authors above, but well indexed and valuable. The works of David Clarkson are available for $62.00.

14. Edward Reynolds (vols. 1,4,5,6 of 6 vol. works; printed)

Like Burroughs, the complete works of Reynolds are not available. Today there are five volumes in print: Commentary on Ecclesiastes, Meditations on the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Last Supper, Preaching Christ, Sinfulness Of Sin and Treatise on the Passions and Faculties of the Soul. All these valuable volumes can be purchased for about $115.00. Spurgeon wrote, “Reynolds was a man of vast learning and thoroughly evangelical spirit.” The digital files are beginning to appear on Google books for free download.

Conclusion

By this point you may feel totally overwhelmed (and broke). Remember, this is a long-term goal.

I don’t even think it would be beneficial to buy all these works at once! Slowly add works as you grow comfortable with the ones you already have.

If you follow this plan you will spend your money wisely and have a storehouse of expositional material at arm’s-reach. This is my promise to you: Even if the Lord blesses you with 30 more years of expositional ministry, you will never exhaust the Puritan Study you built in three years.

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Next time … Part 10: Concluding Thoughts, part 1
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The Puritan Study (Part 8) To Quote or not to Quote?

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.

Authority

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.

Buffer zone

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.

Now what?

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.

Print handouts

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.

Conclusion

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?

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Next time … Part 9: The Strategy of Building a Puritan Study
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The Puritan Study (Part 7) Using the Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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”).

Searches

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.

Search Examples

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)

Discriminate

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.

Quote? Paraphrase?

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?

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Next time … Part 8: To Quote or not to Quote?
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The Puritan Study (Part 6) Electronic searches.

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.

E-search awareness

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).

Jonathan Edwards

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.

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Next time … Part 7: Using the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
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