What Is THE Puritan Magnum Opus?

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Rutherglen1794, Apr 17, 2019.

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  1. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    What do you consider to be the book(s) that is THE Puritan magnum opus?

    Especially if we are talking about that one essential Puritan work that must be on every shelf.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    English language only? By Puritan do we mean English Puritanism from Ames to post-Owen? In that case, the most important all around work would be Ames' Marrow.
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Depends on definitions and then you could divide subjects and does Puritan mean English only or do Scots Presbyterians count? If we make historical importance key, i.e., it actually affected history and events in the UK, Gillespie, Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, Bownd's True Doctrine of the Sabbath ("which greatly influenced later Puritanism and the Westminster Assembly, and by extension, Western Christendom for centuries"), or if group efforts count, nothing tops The Westminster Standards of the Westminster Assembly for its lasting effects. So my vote would be for the last to be on every shelf.
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  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    If Westminster doesn't count (and I don't really think of the standards as a "book"), by sheer mass of readership and familiarity throughout the world nothing can match The Pilgrim's Progress. It wouldn't be my top choice to place on everyone's shelf, but it would be the only Puritan work actually found on many, many shelves.
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    William Perkins' Collected Works (Perkins was crucial to Puritanism. It is amazing how long these were neglected until recent history)
    William Ames - Marrow of Theology (I couldn't possibly do justice to the importance of this work.)
    Nicholas Bownd - True Doctrine of the Sabbath (This was THE Puritan work on the Sabbath.)
    Lewis Bayly - The Practice of Piety (This went through 34 editions in roughly 30 years. It is one of, if not, the most important Puritan devotional works published)
    Richard Sibbes' Collected Works. Sibbes' ministry made a large impact on many other important Puritans.
    The Westminster Standards (Enough said.)
    I am so tempted to say À Brakel's Christian's Reasonable Service. He lived from 1635-1711 but isn't technically a Puritan. Although, his masterful work on experiential theology was the Magnum Opus of the Nadere Reformatie.
    If I can get away with one more figure of the Nadere Reformatie, Herman Witsius' Economy of the Covenants is such an important treatise. Please get it if you don't yet own it.
    John Owen's works didn't have quite the impact of some other Puritans in his lifetime. That doesn't negate that his collected works should be on every Christian's bookshelf. They shouldn't just sit on the shelf collecting dust because he is infamously hard to read. Christian's should wrestle with Owen. You will love our Triune God all the more for it.
    William Gurnall - The Christian in Complete Armour (Again, this work didn't have a far-reaching impact right away. It is still one of my favorite Puritan tomes.)
    Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole's commentaries. I don't think I need to say too much about these.
    Bishop Hall's Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments. This is pretty neglected today but should be dearly loved and treasured.
    Anthony Burgess - Spiritual Refining. Buy this while you still can.
    Anthony Burgess - The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted and Vindicated.
    I should probably stop now. This could go on a while.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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  6. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    The OP said “the”.
  7. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    They also said "book(s)." I exercised a bit of liberty in my exegesis there. Either way, how can one possibly boil the literature of that era down to just one Magnum Opus? I certainly can't.
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  8. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Matthew Henry's commentary seems to be a staple.
  9. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    Thomas Boston - Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. Best book I've ever read.
  10. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    What about The Marrow of Modern Divinity? I know the author isn't who would first come to mind when we start thinking about the Puritans. But I'm not sure you can find a better work that so clearly sets forth so many of the most important doctrines and distinctions in Scripture. It was written before 1650.
  11. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    John Newton says it is Gurnall.

    ‘If I might read only one book beside the Bible, I would choose The Christian in Complete Armour.’ — JOHN NEWTON
  12. psycheives

    psycheives Puritan Board Freshman

    1) Of course The Westminster Standards.
    2) But then gotta go with Matthew Henry's Commentary. I use it all the time to correct MacArthur. :p

    Also love Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock.

    I didn't see Pilgrim's Progress from Bunyan. Maybe some would choose it.
  13. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Most of his works, especially those written after 1660, are easier to read than many people think. It is probably best not to begin with reading The Death of Death, wherein John Owen goes so far as to invent his own words. At times, I have read as much as 300 pages of Owen in a single day.
  14. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    I can't believe I left off Charnock! That would be an injustice if he were left off this thread.
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I think that this book ought to be my next big reading project. I have only ever dipped into it on occasion, but given how much heterodoxy is doing the rounds on theology proper these days we can scarcely afford to neglect it.
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  16. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    I debated on including that Marrow as well. I ultimately think the Marow of Theology is a better and clearer exposition of doctrines. If the Marrow of Modern Divinity were lucid to all readers, there would not have been the Marrow Controversy and Boston would not have needed to annotate it. Thank God he did because those notes are fantastic. With that being said, Ames is much clearer in his setting forth of doctrines. That is just my opinion. I do love the Marrow of Modern Divinity though.
  17. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I'm reading through it now a little bit of time on the Lord's Day, a chapter or two. It is awesome and there are not too many of its kind. For me personally, devotionally speaking, I consider Owen's volume six and volume seven as my all-time favorites. Especially the exposition of Psalm 130, and The Grace and Duty of being Spiritually Minded.
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  18. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Religious Affections - Johnathan Edwards
    The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    William Ames's method was the theological method, especially in New England. It had the most formative influence.
  20. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Side question (because I do not want to make a new thread):

    Systemtaic Theology:

    I own Gruedem (from my baptist days). 1 volume ( # 4) of Bavinck, and the Institutes (Battles edition).

    I would like to save up for a full set of a reformed Systematic. In my research I am trying to decide between Bavinck (the other 3 volumes) or A Brakel. Any help?

    I am a laymen, and I am leaning Brakel for his rich practical applications.
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If we go by number of editions, Ames would rank high, and some of the others mentioned, but I suspect no puritan work has been reprinted more than the Westminster Standards, and if we look at the shorter catechism itself, it might be number one as far as printings of puritan works. I agree the works of the Assembly are a different category being essentially official statements that have constantly been maintained and printed. But to repeat, I think the question doesn't have one answer because we can look at the question from the perspective of most historical influence, theological influence, cultural influence, most printed, etc.
  22. Relztrah

    Relztrah Puritan Board Freshman

    That's more Owen than I can digest in a whole month.
  23. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    The American public school system would have us believe Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” is representative of all Puritan literature.
  24. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    A'Brakel or Vos, for a layman. The new Beeke/Smalley volume is outstanding as well, and will be four volumes eventually.
  25. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks. I have wondered if I should just wait for Beeke, as you can still find Brakel online for free.
  26. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    Brakel! Do it! I promise you won't regret that decision.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    If I were to want one Puritan Work it would be Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs.
  28. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed. The new edition by Banner of Truth includes both parts 1 and 2. It is also worthwhile reading Bunyan's Holy war, and his work on prayer.
    Yes. Sibbes was known as the Heavenly Doctor of the Puritans, so his works are a tremendous spiritual blessing as well as a good introduction to the Puritans.
    Glad someone mentioned this; I found this a real blessing myself. Apparently this work had a big influence on Scottish Christians during the 17 century.
    Yes wonderful!
    Yes, one of my favourite books on Puritan meditation. Banner of Truth has it reprinted in their Puritan Paperback series.
    Strictly peaking Edwards was not a Puritan but he certainly loved their writings. Yes Religious Affections has been a wonderful blessing to me.
    Best Puritan book on worship.
  29. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    As you can see from the many and varied responses it is practically impossible to narrow this down to one work.
  30. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    Lane, I have to confess I'm not very familiar with A'Brakel. How does he compare to others such as Bavinck or Vos? Appreciate your input.
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