“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. Job 38:4
God is an eternal God, and he knows all things as present. In God’s mind, all things are one point, not a succession of things. God’s knowledge does not depend upon the revolutions of time. His knowledge is outside of years and days. He comprehends the past and the future as one. He considers all things of eternity as one simple knowledge. God’s knowledge is co-eternal with him. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the ending. Compared to God, all creation is reduced to nothing. The variety and changes in the world make no new objects in the mind of God. He does not know one thing now and another later. Though there is a succession of events as they are brought to pass, there is no succession in the mind of God. God knows what shall happen and the order that it will be brought upon the stage of the world. If God is eternal, how bold and foolish it is for a mortal to question his counsels and actions. How can we who are so weak creatures that we cannot understand yesterday, presume to measure the motions of eternity by our scanty intellects? We are not able to foresee an unexpected accident that falls to blast a well-laid plan. If we cannot understand the motions of the sea or the nature of light, how shall we dare to censure the actions of an eternal God that is so infinitely beyond our reach? The counsels of a boundless being are not to be scanned by the brain of a silly worm that breathes but a few minutes in the world. How can eternity be judged by a creature of time? Whenever, therefore, any unworthy notion of the counsels and works of God is suggested to us by Satan or our own corrupt hearts, let us look backward to God’s eternal existence and our own short duration, and silence ourselves as did Job.
Dr. Ryken’s presentation of the Puritan view and style of life is perceptive and accurate. He allows the Puritans to speak for themselves on topics ranging from “Church and Worship” to “Money” and “Marriage and Sex.” Worldly Saints offers a fine introduction to seventeenth-century Puritanism in its English and American contexts. The work is rich in quotations from Puritan worthies and is ideally suited to general readers who have not delved widely into Puritan literature.
“Ryken’s Worldly Saints offers a fine introduction to seventeenth-century Puritanism in its English and American contexts. The work is rich in quotations from Puritan worthies and is ideally suited to general readers who have not delved widely into Puritan literature. It will also be a source of information and inspiration to those who seek a clearer understanding of the Puritan roots of American Christianity.” —Harry Stout (Yale University)
“…the typical Puritans were not wild men, fierce and freaky, religious fanatics and social extremists, but sober, conscientious, and cultured citizens, persons of principle, determined and disciplined, excelling in the domestic virtues, and with no obvious shortcomings save a tendency to run to words when saying anything important, whether to God or to man. At last the record has been put straight.” —J.I. Packer (Regent College)
“Worldly Saints provides a revealing treasury of primary and secondary evidence for understanding the Puritans, who they are, what they believed, and how they acted. This is a book of value and interest for scholars and students, clergy and laity alike.” —Roland Mushat Frye (University of Pennsylvania)