Who were the Puritans? What did they seek to achieve? The Puritans were British preachers living in the second part of the sixteenth century and in the seventeenth century whose desire was to promote a God glorifying piety; a piety of the heart that sets us in flame for God and his glory; a practical piety that penetrates all eras of our life.
J.I. Packer called them spiritual giants. We need the help of these giants to learn the majesty of God, the loveliness of Christ, and the renewing and consoling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. This makes them relevant, also for Christians living in the 21th century.
Their convictions resulted in a brave and joyful faith. We can still meet the Puritans through their writings. Many of them has been republished by the Banner of Truth and so made available for a new generation. Lewis Allen and Tim Chester, two English pastors living and working in Yorkshire, selected and edited excerpts from key Puritan works together with suggestions for further reading. Each chapter of the excerpts from the writing of eleven Puritans contains a concise introduction to the writer and his book
One of the selected writers is Anne Bradstreet. She sailed with her husband and parents to the New World. A period of sickness was used by God to give her new life in Christ. She started to write poems which testified of her new identity in Christ. Other writers that are included by Allen and Chester are Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan and John Owen. We can learn from what Sibbes wrote on assurance, from Bunyan on the strength of faith and from Owen on communion with God.
I heartily recommend this introduction to the Puritans by Allen and Chester; first for readers who are not familiar with their readings but also for them who know them already. I myself fond it a handy little book to read in the train after having given lectures at the theological seminary in Amsterdam of the denomination I belong to.
Lewis Allen and Tim Chester, The Glory of Grace: An Introduction to the Puritans in their own words (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2018), paperback 184 pp. ₤7,– (ISBN 9781848718340)