What do you think of when you hear the word “Puritan”? Straight-laced, stern, legalistic, harsh. But did you know that the Puritans were the first, and some of the best biblical counselors? They wrote lots of practical books designed to bring comfort, hope, and help to the troubled lives of fellow believers. They called what they did soul care.
People in the 1600s had just as many problems as we do now – actually, life was harder than it is today. We stress out about our credit card payment – they worried about finding enough food for even the next meal. The Puritans were experts at taking the sometimes dry theological truths of Scripture and applying them to the very heart of your deep, dark problem. Reading the Puritans, you’re going to wonder how they seemed to know 400 years ago the very things which trouble your own soul. There are no conditions – no, not even yours – which aren’t addressed in the Scriptures and which the Puritans expertly apply like a healing salve to your troubled heart.
The central theme for many of these soul care books is how God works all things in the world for His own glory and His people’s good. They liked to call it Providence. The Puritans urge us to love Providence.
Here are some titles: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (my favorite); All Things for Good by Thomas Watson (my second favorite); The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall; Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks; Personal Declension and Revival by Octavius Winslow; The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards; Heaven on Earth by Thomas Brooks; A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge; The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes; The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie.
The Puritans show us that the Scriptures give no out, they cover all the bases and leave us only one option – trust God in your very own life, dear reader, that there are no accidents, no mistakes, and everything is still on schedule.