Charles Alexander: The Puritan Age

PuritanGallery aged “Contrary to popular ideas induced by modern publishing enterprise, the Puritan age was not a great theological age: it was a great preaching age. Most of its great men were parish ministers of deep piety and faithfulness, and roundly orthodox, but their works are largely books of their preaching, and not of theological erudition.

“Owen on Hebrews,” it has been said, was the only considerable contribution to Biblical science made by the Puritan age. This is not to belittle those great and good men, but to put them into the perspective to which they belong. Their books were well adapted to the needs of the common Christians then and now, but without any special theological intent. Freedom of conscience and other cognate matters of church politics were the issues then, not exegesis as such.

The present saturation of the market with so vast a range of their writings might await an assessment as to whether the effort is having a commensurate effect on the quality of the “Reformed” pulpit, and we suspect that the motives for this prolific enterprise are not unconnected with the commercial requirements of an industry hungry for pabulum.

At any rate, where others who have written on prophetical matters have been notably neglectful in the exegetical field, we would venture to make a modest attempt to repair that deficiency and at the same time raise the vision of our younger pulpit men to perceive some of the glorious dimensions of prophetic expositions and (to borrow a phrase from Paul) “to provoke to emulation” those which are of our flesh, and so improve some of them.”

(Charles Alexander, The Puritan Illusion)