Puritan Portraits [Review]

Title: Puritan Portraits
Author: J.I.Packer
ISBN: 978-1-84550-700-8
Copyright:  J.I Packer 2012 pgs.  188

Picked this little book up off of my bookshelf and decided to give it a whirl. I always appreciated the short little biographical sketches as I find these give me new ideas for larger more detailed works on the great men and yes even some great women of the faith. Besides, one of my reading goals this year is to read more biographies.

I am not a reader of Packer, he has certainly had a long ministry and is well-read, but I for some reason never got around to reading anything by him. I’m glad I did. He has a nice writing style which is easy to digest.

This gist of the book covers several notable Puritans and the legacies they all left behind, many of which I had already become acquainted with through previous studies. For those interested in learning more about the great figures in church history I would suggest reading the short bios first and then go on to read to more comprehensive works.

He did note his fondness for John Owen and apparently based on  a poll I ran many other people do as well. That drew my attention and I have begun some research into his writings. Hey isn’t that what reading and writing is all about?

I was particularly interested in Owen’s work – Mortification of Sin in the Believers.  It can be found online for free right here at – https://www.monergism.com/mortification-sin-believers-ebook-1                              While I like to have book in hand I will check this out at some point to see if I can justify buying a physical copy.

Another interesting note that Packer pointed out was the man behind Whitefield’s praise, Henry Scougal. Apparently his work and life “awakened the Awakener” George Whitefield one of the main figures during the First Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards was the other.  I figure it this way if this man had something to say that stirred the heart of Whitefield he can certainly stir others up as well.. So I’ll be checking him out in the future.

I’ll close off here with a reference to his introductory where he made an interesting observation, when he said that,  “Puritanism’s most significant contribution to the ongoing life of the church was, and is, without a doubt its literary legacy.”

One thing that is commendable and appreciated about the Puritans is their literature, which is still very much available today. There are numerous online Ebooks available for those going that route plus printing companies like Banner of Truth who republish much of the old literature. They wisely utilized and emphasized the need for capturing their sermons, books, commentaries in print form for future generations. We have the technology now to capture must more in audio and video form as well as books.

From a preacher’s perspective, I appreciate reading the old stuff. There is a depth of understanding that has not been duplicated since, and while we may not be lockstep with the Puritans their understanding of God and his holiness is unsurpassed. The theological books, commentaries, devotionals, hymns, etc. writing by them are read today by many and yes even in Baptist circles.

Well, I wanted to keep this brief, just some thoughts. Have a great day and remember to read a book!