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Meet the Puritans

By Randall J. Pederson
November 2007 | Review by Paul Cook

Synopsis

This encyclopaedic resource provides biographical sketches of all the major Puritans as well as bibliographic summaries of their writings and work. Meet the Puritans is an important addition to the library of the layman, pastor, student and scholar.

  • Publisher: English Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 978-1601780003
  • Pages: 896
  • Price: £27.99
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Book Review

Often described as ‘the last of the Puritans’, C. H. Spurgeon’s rich ministry owed much to those spiritual giants. As a boy he had read their writings avidly. But following his death in 1892 interest in the Puritans declined. By 1940 Puritan works were being thrown out and pulped for the war effort.
But Dr Lloyd-Jones’ ministry in Westminster Chapel, and the growing influence of the Puritan Conference – followed by the publications of the Banner of Truth Trust from 1958 onwards – revived interest in the Puritans. Since then hundreds of Puritan reprints have been published in the UK and USA.
The object of this magnificent volume is to provide ‘a brief biography of each Puritan author whose works have been reprinted since 1956 and a short review of those books’. So this is not a comprehensive reference book to the Puritans. No reference is found to Walter Cradock, for example, because his valuable works have not yet been reprinted.
Invited to Meet the Puritans, we are introduced to them in a brief but excellent history of Puritanism taken from The devoted life (IVP 2004), edited by Kelly Kapic and Randall Gleason. Most were Calvinistic preachers who sought a thorough Reformation of the church in Britain and strove to effect this during the reign of Elizabeth I and throughout the seventeenth century.
Some withdrew from the established church to set up churches of a biblical character. Others continued within the Church of England still hopeful of a thorough Reformation which never came. During the reign of Charles I many sought refuge in New England.
The overwhelming concern of the Puritans was to please God. In consequence their study of the Bible was not primarily an academic pursuit, but a spiritual quest seeking to conform to the mind and will of God in the whole of life.
The compilers of this volume tell us: ‘We have striven to make our guide useful both for those who are just beginning to read the Puritans and for those who are more advanced in Puritan theology and studies’. They inform us, ‘In all, it contains comments on close to 700 volumes from more than 70 publishers and nearly 150 brief biographies’. Some forty-seven portrait illustrations serve to enhance the volume.
No one interested in the Puritans should be without this volume, and I hope it will encourage others to Meet the Puritans – a handsome Christmas present.

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