On this latest issue of figures who influence my spiritual growth, I’d like to feature those men known as The Puritans. They were a group of English Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England from its Catholic practices.
I’ve stated before that some of my heroes are “dead men” of the Lord! Many of them have influenced me in their writing; whether prophetic and timeless, or expert analysis of biblical interpretation.
While there are certainly many to choose from, these following men have greatly influenced my spiritual life through their timeless writing and biblical wisdom.
Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a Scottish church leader, theologian and philosopher. He was spiritually awakened at age 11 in 1687 upon hearing the preaching of Henry Erskine from John 1:29 and Matthew 3:7. I point to The Crook in the Lot has been a example of a book I’ve revisited time and time again, considering the “humbling circumstances” that the Lord allows to befall us.
The Art of Manfishing
The Crook in the Lot
Human Nature in its Fourfold State
Body of Divinity
John Calvin is best known as a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism (the doctrines of grace), aspects of which include the doctrines of predestination and of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation. Calvin was a tireless polemic and apologetic writer who generated much controversy, famously stating, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” While he was perhaps positioned a little earlier than the high point in the Puritan movement, I am forever indebted first and foremost to his faithfulness to the Word of God as his supreme authority, which is clearly demonstrated in his writings.
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Treatise on Relics
The Secret Providence of God
Commentary on Romans
Commentary on Daniel
Jeremiah Burroughs , student of prominent Puritan colonial leader Thomas Hooker. His ministry reveal him as a zealous and faithful pastor. He achieved great recognition as a popular preacher and a leading Puritan in London, and sought to heal many divisions in the Church. Burroughs was a prolific writer, highly esteemed by Puritan leaders of his day, some of whom published his writings after his death.
Irenicum: Healing the Divisions Among God’s Peoples
The Evil of Evils
As a child, he loved books. In 1603, he was converted under the preaching of Paul Baynes, whom Sibbes called his “father in the gospel.” During his years as a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Sibbes helped turn Thomas Goodwin away from Arminianism and moved John Preston from “witty preaching” to plain, spiritual preaching. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones described the pastoral writing of Sibbes as, “…balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired…an unfailing remedy…quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.” I heartily agree. The Bruised Reed remains perhaps the singular book that I would recommend to any person at any time.
The Bruised Reed
Glorious Freedom: The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law
The Returning Backslider
Beames of Divine Light
John Owen has been referred to as the “prince of the English divines” and “a genius with learning second only to Calvin’s.” Through his lectures in theology, he promoted Reformed theology and Puritan piety. In 1643, Owen published A Display of Arminianism, a vigorous exposition of classic Calvinism that refuted the Arminians by examining the doctrines of predestination, original sin, irresistible grace, the extent of the atonement, and the role of the human will in salvation. Throughout his life he continued producing major works on justification, spiritual-mindedness, and the glory of Christ. The day before his death, Owen wrote to a friend, “I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love—which is the whole ground of my consolation….”
The Mortification of Sin
The Glory of Christ
Sin & Temptation: The Challenge to Personal Godliness
The Glory of Christ
Commentary on Hebrews