The Devoted Life is a compilation of essays by various authors introducing a selection of Puritan classics. The book opens with a helpful chapter entitled “Who Were the Puritans?,” including a definition of the term itself, and a short history. The editors list seven characteristics that are foundational to the range of Puritan thinking, and conclude with a discussion of what makes a Puritan classic.
Several of the Puritan authors included in the book will be familiar to many: John Bunyan, John Milton, Jonathan Edwards and Anne Bradstreet. Indeed, many of the contributing contemporaries are also well known: J.I. Packer, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Leland and Philip G. Rykin, and Michael S. Horton. Even as I read the opening acknowledgements (yes, some people read those!), I was thrilled by the insight that the Puritans were helpful in “informing our worship.” It often seems that one of the greatest needs of today’s church is informed, content-rich worship. The editors did not say “stirring,” “exciting,” “reforming,” or “inciting,” but “informing our worship.” The right choice of a word is a wonderful thing.
There is so much here, all of it profitable and interesting. The examples of thoughtful, sober writing and preaching would be a timely remedy for anyone in ministry today, as well as the layperson in the pew. From Perkins’ emphasis on preaching and the use of Scripture alone in it, to Ames’ discussion of the place of works in faith, and from Cotton’s treatment of 1 John 5:12 and what it means to have the Son and eternal life, to John Owen’s description of communion with the Father, all that is presented will invite deeper thought into areas that I believe are murky for many. It will not a fast read, but well worth your time. My hope is that it sparks an interest in the original works, and not be used as a “Cliff’s Notes” to the Puritans. – Pam Glass, Christian Book Previews.com
The Puritans are frequently maligned but seldom understood. Far from the dour malcontents they are often portrayed to be, most Puritans were wholesomely engaged in life. This book is designed to introduce you to a wide range of influential Puritan writers and a representative work for each that pushes through stereotypes to the heart and soul of these Christian pastors and theologians. With a clear grasp of the historical contexts in which these Puritan works were written, these twenty essays presented by editors Kelly M. Kapic and Randall C. Gleason illuminate the vibrant spirituality of the Puritans that transcend their sometimes surprising political, ecclesiastical and religious differences.
In these pages notable scholars, such as J. I. Packer, John Coffey, Mark Noll, Leland Ryken, Richard Lovelace and Sinclair Ferguson, invite you to sit at the feet of Puritan writers, ranging from William Ames, William Perkins and Richard Sibbes to Thomas Goodwin, John Milton, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards. What comes through is a living, three-dimensional portrait of the devoted life that emphasizes the Christian experience of communion with God, corporate revival, biblical preaching and the sanctifying working of God's Holy Spirit.