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An Introduction to Puritan Thought (for those of you who are newbies)

My life has been shaped over the past few years by writings from a particular arc of historical Christianity. First called the Reformers in the 1500s; later on they were cast as Calvinists, because of the superb teaching and pastoral ministry of John Calvin. By the time they reached America, the most prominent Calvinists were known as the Puritans, who have inherited something of a bad name by being attached to the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s. But aside from that unfortunate bit of history, the Puritans were wonderfully thoughtful and earnest Christians, and they were prolific writers as well. I have been very much blessed by beginning to read some of these old saints, and I find myself more and more identifying as a Puritan in thought and intent.

I'll drop occasional examples of Puritan thoughts and prayers here at A Voice Cries from time to time, so you can see the foundation for some of the things I will present and assert here. Of course, my founding documents are composed of the Scriptures themselves. It is from them that any smattering of authority I might claim to wield sprouts, but the other writers and thinkers that have influenced me through these long years deserve a voice as well.

Here's an example, from William Gurnall (1616-1679), whose most influential work was called The Christian in Compleat Armour. I really like this little portion of a paragraph, which admonishes us Christians not to lose faith in God when times are difficult, and not to view with envy others whose lives appear to be more temporally blessed than ours.

I do not wonder that the wicked think they have God's blessing, because they are in the warm sun. Alas! they are strangers to God's counsels, void of His Spirit, and sensual, judging of God and His providence by the report their present feeling makes of them, like little children who think every one loves them that gives them plums. But it is strange that a saint should be at a loss for his afflicted state, when he has a key to decipher God's character. Christian, has not God secretly instructed you by His Spirit from the Word, how to read the shorthand of His providence? Do you not know that the saint's afflictions stand for blessings?
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