Puritan Maturity: A Fruit of Persecution

May 31, 2016

As Evangelicals we don’t often look to the Puritans for spiritual and practical advice in the face of persecution. But, I am becoming increasingly convinced that many Puritan writers and writings are indeed a great and largely untapped resource for the Evangelical church in America. Though are number and influence appear to be diminishing, we have reason to stand firm, even when intimidated by the warning of being caught on the “wrong side of history.” I was intrigued by this quote from J.I. Packer today:

The Puritans lost, more or less, every public battle that they fought. Those who stayed in England did not change the Church of England as they hoped to do, nor did they revive more than a minority of its adherents, and eventually they were driven out of Anglicanism by calculated pressure on their consciences. Those who crossed the Atlantic failed to establish new Jerusalem in New England; for the first fifty years their little colonies barely survived. They hung on by the skin of their teeth. But the moral and spiritual victories that the Puritans won by keeping sweet, peaceful, patient, obedient, and hopeful under sustained and seemingly intolerable pressures and frustrations give them a place of high honour in the believers’ hall of fame, where Hebrews 11 is the first gallery. It was out of this constant furnace-experience that their maturity was wrought and their wisdom concerning discipleship was refined. George Whitefield, the evangelist, wrote of them as follows:

Ministers never write or preach so well as when under the cross; the Spirit of Christ and of glory then rests upon them. It was this, no doubt, that made the Puritans…such burning and shining lights. When cast out by the black Bartholomew-act [the 1662 Act of Uniformity] and driven from their respective charges to preach in barns and fields, in the highways and hedges, they in an especial manner wrote and preached as men having authority. Though dead, by their writings they yet speak; a peculiar unction attends them to this very hour…”

I believe difficult times are ahead for the true church in America. I pray we stand firm as did our faithful Brothers and Sisters who bore the pejorative term “Puritan.” Quotation from ‘A Quest for Holiness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life’. J.I. Packer. Crossway, 1990. p. 23.

As always I’d love to hear your feedback, insight and comments. Please keep it civil and let’s show the world that people can agree or disagree with grace and class. 

Ken Nichols

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