The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett
As the title states, The Valley of Vision is a collection of some 200 short Puritan prayers and devotions, each about one page in length. Together they offer a good representation of how the Puritans viewed God, themselves and life. The entries range from the depressing (i.e. pp 72-74, 101), to the sublime (i.e. pp 3, 10, 12, 26, 35 46, 55, 76, 92, 101, 115, 135, 158, 171, 190, 196, 211, 216, 219) and everything in between. Reading one or two of these each day provides a happy supplement to daily time in the Word. They might be viewed as vitamins taken after a meal. They are not the main course but they are useful.
The Puritans selected were exclusively English with the exception of David Brainerd. However, this leads to an interesting assumption by Bennett that the Puritan Era was extended to the end of the 19th Century with Charles Spurgeon being the last of the “Great Puritans” (1892). Church historians would see the Puritan movement ending by the early 1700s. Some have claimed that Jonathan Edwards was the last of the Puritans (1703-1758), but even He lives outside the scope of Puritan history. To recognize that Edwards and Spurgeon maintained much of the theology and piety of the Puritans would not be argued, but so do many modern day Christians. This observation does not deter from the value of the book, but it does distinguish between those who would be officially considered Puritans from those who would exhibit commonality with Puritanism.
One flaw in the volume, in my opinion, is that there is no indication which of the Puritans were responsible for the various selections, nor to what degree the editor altered the prayers/devotions. I would have appreciate knowing the answer to both.
The Valley of Vision is well worth reading for its spiritual value and as a model for God-honoring prayer.
The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Editor Arthur Bennett (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 223 pp & xix, paper $14.49
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel