There has been a renewed interest in the lives and writings of the Puritans in recent years. But, for most Christians, actually diving into their literature is an overwhelming task due to archaic language and intensity of their theology and writing style. For those who nevertheless would like to dip their toes into Puritan waters this little volume is an excellent start.
In the Introduction the authors give a brief history of the Puritans, show why they are still important today and outline their distinctions. Allen and Chester aim to allow the reader to hear the Puritans in their own words. They have also modernized some of the language to make it easier for the 21st century reader to comprehend.
In doing so the authors have chosen 11 Puritans to showcase: Richard Sibbes, Thomas Goodwin, Samuel Rutherford, William Bridge, Jeremiah Burroughs, Anne Bradstreet, John Owen, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, John Flavel and Thomas Boston. For each a brief biography is supplied followed by excerpts selected from a principle book by each Puritan (an exception would be the poems by Anne Bradstreet). The result is a good sampling of how Puritans wrote, their concerns, and their emphasis which rested on God. The reader will be encouraged by the Christ-centered focus and the practical application. They will also note that the Puritans were topical, not exegetical, in their approach. Four key distinctions of the Puritans in general are identified: a sincere love for God as expressed in the Sunday worship of the local church, concern for the purity and well-being of the church of Christ, personal commitment to growing in godliness through the Word and prayer, and involvement in society to promote the welfare of the nation and the local community (p. viii).
The Glory of Grace is an excellent selection of a few of the Puritans and their literary contributions. It is a helpful introduction for the modern reader of these 16th and 17th century believers and their understanding of the Christian faith. The reader need not agree with everything the Puritans wrote or believed to benefit from their writings and lives.
The Glory of Grace, an Introduction to the Puritans in Their Own Words by Lewis Allen and Tim Chester (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2018) 167 pp. + xvii, paperback $14.00
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher at Southern View Chapel