An awesome action pic! As I begin a mini-series on "Puritan Preaching," I want to begin with the image of the Puritan preacher from John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). This will serve as an enticing introduction to an approach that remains so relevant in the church today.
 
But first, I have a confession to make. I once said that I would never get on Facebook. I quickly realized one of the reasons Facebook is so appealing to so many is, well, the “faces.”  We love to look at pictures. I know that I enjoy seeing my friends, how the years have treated them, and how their children are growing. Hey, I like to see my new "friends" and become acquainted with them. 
 
So what does this have to do with Puritan preaching? I wonder what kind of pic you would share with other of your pastor as a preacher? I do not mean a digital image. The picture of which I speak is not a physical but a spiritual image. Such is portrayed in Bunyan’s classic allegory as he opened up the following scene in the Interpreter’s House involving the main character, Christian:
Christian saw a Picture of a very grave Person hang up against the wall, and this was the fashion of it, It had eyes lift up to Heaven, the best of Books in its hand, the Law of Truth was written upon its lips, the World was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with Men, and a crown of Gold did hang over its head.  Then said Christian, What means this?
The painting that the Interpreter as a spiritual guide showed Christian was a depiction of the pastor whose primary task was preaching. He stands before the face of God with his eyes fixed on Christ as he preaches the truth from the best (that’s no cheaply used superlative!) book there is—the Bible. The heart of the matter for him was that set forth by William Perkins in his Puritan manual on preaching, The Art of Prophesying (1592): “Preach one Christ, by Christ, to the praise of Christ.” He is the sum and substance of, energy behind, and goal for all preaching as revealed in the Word. This preacher focuses not on fads, strategies, demographics, and seeker sensitivity. This does not mean that he ignores his socio-historical context, but that his controlling aim is to preach the Word of God alone.
 
We also discover that this preacher is a heavenly man living in yet not of the world. He is looking for another abiding city to come. He is not loaded down by the cares of this life and tied up in the stuff he can get from it. He remains a man with a heavenly calling not a earthly job. Using the words of John Piper, this preacher is no “professional.” Knowing the terror of God, he cries out to men, pleading with them about unseen things of eternal importance, of life and death, of heaven and hell. He himself looks to another day and another eternal golden reward that will never fade, something this life and no paycheck can offer. 
 
As you reflect of this image, does it characterize your pastor? If not, will you not take his image to the Lord for some genuine “photo-shopping”?  How about you preacher?  Do you have an awesome pic to upload?  May the Lord in his grace provide it for you.
Thomas Adams (1583-1652)
 
Life
Thomas Adams graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1602) and from Clare College, Cambridge (M.A., 1606). Ordained deacon and priest in the Lincoln diocese in 1604, he served as curate of Northill, Bedfordshire from 1605-1611. When his new patron dismissed him, Adams’s parishioners signed a petition stating that he had “behaved himself soberly in his conversation, painfully in his calling, lovingly amongst his neighbors, conformable to the orders of the Church, and in all respects befittingly to his vocation” (J. Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, p. 78). In 1614, he became vicar of Wingrave, Buckinghamshire, and then moved to London in 1619, where he was given the rectories of St. Benet Paul’s Wharf and the small church of St. Benet Sherehog. For his first five years in London, he also held the lectureship of St. Gregory’s, a parish of 3,000. Later on, he preached occasionally at St. Paul’s Cross and Whitehall, and served as chaplain to Henry Montagu, First Earl of Manchester and Chief Justice of the king’s bench.
 
Adams was more of a Calvinist Episcopalian than a Puritan. He was not opposed to kneeling to receive communion and feared that the abolition of episcopacy advocated by some Puritans would lead to Anabaptism. Nonetheless, he is included here because, “Like Puritans he craved careful observation of the Sabbath and was deeply hostile to Rome, the Jesuits, and the papacy, as well as to idleness, over-indulgence in worldly pleasures, and conspicuous consumption in all its forms” (J. Sears McGee, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 1:261). These things, combined with his eloquent style of writing, led Robert Southey to describe him as “the prose Shakespeare of the Puritan theologians.”
 
Works
In 1629, Adams organized his sermons into a massive folio, subsequently printed as three volumes in the Nichol’s series reprint: The Complete Works of Thomas Adams. Volume 1 contains his sermons on Old Testament texts, volume 2 contains his sermons on New Testament texts, and volume 3 contains the remaining corpus of New Testament sermons as well as meditations on the Apostles’ Creed and a fifty-page memoir by Joseph Angus. Adams’s sermons have been admired since their first printing; they “placed him beyond all comparison in the van of the preachers of England, and had something to do with shaping John Bunyan…. His numerous works display great learning, classical and patristic, and are unique in their abundance of stories, anecdotes, aphorisms, and puns” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1:181). James I. Packer writes: “His fondness for evangelical allegorizing and verbal pyrotechnics, however, makes his sermons lively rather than weighty. His doctrine is unambiguously Calvinistic, but with a pastoral rather than a speculative or controversial orientation.” (The Encyclopedia of Christianity, ed. Edwin H. Palmer, 1:63).
 
In 1633, Adams published A Commentary on the Second Epistle General of St. Peter, which was never included in any edition of his works. The work is exegetically reliable and stylistically adept. Much useful theological knowledge is conveyed in striking phrases. Spurgeon commented that this book was “full of quaintness, holy wit, bright thought, and deep instruction; we know of no richer and racier reading.”
 
Excerpted from Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 11–14.
 
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Welcome to Meet the Puritans, where the dead still speak (Heb. 11:4).
 
I'd like to thank all the faithful readers of the old Meet the Puritans site and for the Alliance in having the vision to make it new and improved. We have assembled a great lineup of pastors and scholars whose passion is to bring old truths to a new generation. Let me offer a brief intro to site:
 
Our purpose is to introduce the theology and piety of the seventeenth century English Puritans in particular and of sixteenth-eighteenth century Reformed orthodoxy in general by means of sharing original research, writing theological and devotional commentary upon the writings of the 16th–18th centuries, and recommending helpful print, audio, and video materials for your study of the Puritans and Reformed theology.
 
Our audience is threefold: first, Reformed Christians who need to reconnect with their heritage; second, evangelical Christians who need to be introduced to this heritage; and third, the world that needs the answer this heritage gives.
 
Our goals in doing this are instruction concerning “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) found in the writings of the 16th–18th centuries so that a new generation would be filled with love for Christ and his historic church so that it might serve him in the world more effectively.

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Rev. Daniel R. Hyde, Editor