“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin? Job 31:1
We need to labour to bring our imagination unto the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). The imagination, if ungoverned, is a wild and raging thing. Even when we are devising good things, there is still some sickness of fancy remaining in the best of us. Those guided by fancies live more like beasts than men. Fancy will take fire before we are aware. Job knew this, and therefore made a ‘covenant with his eyes’. We should make imagination serviceable to us in spiritual things. We should think within ourselves – ‘What is this to true honour, and enduring pleasures?’ God has represented to us heavenly things in earthly terms, so we should follow God’s lead in this. God represents heaven in the terms of a banquet, and our union with him in the terms of a marriage, yes, and Christ himself, under the names of whatever is lovely or comfortable in heaven or earth. The Lord sets out hell to us by whatever is terrible or tormenting. Here is a large field for our imagination to walk in, not only without hurt, but with a great deal of spiritual gain. If fire is so terrible, what is hell fire? If a dark dungeon is loathsome, what is eternal darkness? If the meeting of friends is so wonderful, what will our meeting together in heaven be? The Scripture by such terms will help our faith and fancy both at once. A sanctified imagination makes all creation a ladder to heaven. Since childhood is the age of fancy, it is a good way to instill the loving of good and the shunning of evil. Using their young fancies, children learn to hate hell under the representation of fire and darkness. It is important to cultivate a holy use of the imagination. Does not the Lord’s table help our souls by our senses, and our faith by imagination? The soul can receive great hurt from the imagination, so it may also gain much through it.
This encyclopedic 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. Beeke and Pederson leave no Puritan untouched; they include famous, less famous, and not famous at all in their comprehensive overview of Puritan authors. After each biography is a guide to modern reprints of that author’s works, which makes finding Puritan books much easier than scouring the internet or GoogleBooks. Especially helpful is the preface written by the authors and the seven-page introduction, “A Brief History of English Puritanism.”
While ignorance of the Puritans is at an all-time high in the modern church, a resurgence in interest has been taking place over the last several years. Books like Meet the Puritans make rediscovering the wisdom of the past easier and less daunting. 19th century theologian, J.C. Ryle, had this to say about the legacy of the English Puritans and why they must never be forgotten:
“The Puritans were not unlearned and ignorant men. The great majority of them were Oxford and Cambridge graduates many of them fellows of colleges, and some of them heads or principals of the best colleges in the two Universities. In knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, in power as preachers, expositors, writers, and critics, the Puritans in their day were second to none. Their works still speak for them on the shelves of every well-furnished theological library. Their commentaries, their expositions, their treatises on practical, casuistical, and experimental divinity, are immeasurably superior to those of their adversaries in the seventeenth century. In short, those who hold up the Puritans to scorn as shallow, illiterate men, are only exposing their own lamentable shallowness, their own ignorance of historical facts, and the extremely superficial character of their own reading.
The Puritans, as a body, have done more to elevate the national character than any class of Englishmen that ever lived. Ardent lovers of civil liberty, and ready to die in its defence mighty at the council board, and no less mighty in the battlefield feared abroad throughout Europe, and invincible at home while united, great with their pens, and no less great with their swords fearing God very much, and fearing man very little, they were a generation of men who have never received from their country the honour that they deserve.”
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.
DR. LIGON DUNCAN, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, and President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
Meet the Puritans is a cornucopia of good things: a remarkable portrait gallery, a wonderful library of biographies, a readers guide to great Christian literature, a record of an international movement of the Spirit, a personal tutorial in Puritan history and theology and much more. The student of Puritanism will often reach for it, and yet the bedtime reader will be enthralled by it. It will persuade you that giants for Christ did once exist. Here are their stories. They will make you want to grow tall spiritually, too.
DR. SINCLAIR B. FERGUSON, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina
Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson have given us a priceless treasure in this introduction to the Puritans and Puritan literature. I have often wished for just such a resource. An encyclopedic wealth of biographical and bibliographical information has been distilled here in a simple, readable, understandable, and wonderfully useful compendium. For the novice lay person who wants a reliable introduction to the Puritans, this is the perfect handbook. And for the seasoned scholar seeking a catalogue of the best available Puritan literature, this is also an indispensable tool. My prayer is that it will help spark a new wave of interest in the Puritans, a new appreciation for their theology, and especially a revival of their passion for careful biblical exposition.
DR. JOHN MACARTHUR
Finally, the resource we’ve always needed! Meet the Puritans is one of those books that raises the question: Why has this not been done before now? We are in Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson’s debt for giving us the best introductory book on the Puritans ever made available. Meet the Puritans is nothing less than a who’s-who of the Puritan tradition.
DR. R. ALBERT MOHLER, JR., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
The Puritans English, Scottish, American, and Dutch are being read again! In an era of superficial discipleship and erratic, impotent, ailing, and dying churches, this is indeed a hopeful sign. And this wide-ranging handbook of backup information about the writers themselves, their special strengths, and modern reprints of their books, is another hopeful sign. Meet the Puritans is a fascinating compendium, scholarly yet popular and accessible, that Puritan-lovers will value very highly and justly so.
DR. JAMES I. PACKER, author of Knowing God and A Quest for Godliness
As furnaces burn with ancient coal and not with the leaves that fall from today’s trees, so my heart is kindled with the fiery substance I find in the old Scripture-steeped sermons of Puritan pastors. A warm thanks to the authors of Meet the Puritans, for all the labor to make them known.
DR. JOHN PIPER, Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The recent revival in interest in and commitment to the truths of Reformed theology is due in large measure to the rediscovery of Puritan literature. The Puritans of old have become the prophets for our time. This volume is a treasure for the church.
DR. R. C. SPROUL, President of Ligonier Ministries