With the recent controversy fueled by Propoganda’s new song “Precious Puritans” (see this, this, this and this), I thought I’d take the extremely unpopular and countercultural route of seizing the opportunity to promote a welcomed new resource in Puritan publishing. Jim O’Brien has recently launched New Puritan Press, an ebook publishing house devoted to modernizing and making affordable republications of rare, lesser-known, as well as much beloved works by such English Puritans as John Owen, Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Manton, Thomas Watson, David Clarkson, John Preston, etc. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, October 9 through Thursday, October 11), New Puritan Press is giving away a free download of John Preston’s The Fullness of Christ, an exposition of John 1:14.
There have been many occasions in which I have wanted to recommend a Christocentric and theologically rich work of a particular English Puritan to a congregant, only to refrain from doing so because of the unfamiliarity of the antiquated language and vocabulary. While many Puritan lovers cringe at the thought of modernizations and abridgment, I believe it is pastorally wise to put their spiritual riches in the vernacular. It is with this commitment that New Puritan Press is embarking on a intensive process of careful modernization of works they believe will be a benefit to 21st Century Christians. A while back we interviewed Jim on Christ the Center regarding the benefits of reading the Puritans. You can listen to the interview here.
Here is a more extensive description of New Puritan Press which Jim has drawn up:
New Puritan Press is the publishing ministry of James T. O’Brien, a PCA minister in the Upstate of S.C. My wife, Pam, and I have been married for 36 years and share responsibilities for NPPress. Our daughter, Heather is in college. My love for the Puritans began back in 1972 when I read John Owen on Mortification. Like others before me, I found that Owen knew me intimately. I’ve continued to love a wide range of Puritans. Aside from the Bible, they help me more than any other authors. They teach me who God is, and just as importantly, who is not God! (A person may know he is not an infinite, eternal, omnipotent spirit, but he might still think the whole world revolves around him.)
Throughout my ministry, I have found that these treasures of our Reformed tradition have been locked away from most believers because they are too difficult to read. In order to overcome that obstacle, I go through each book line-by-line changing obsolete words, re-organizing convoluted sentence structure, breaking up long sentences, and adding the Biblical text whenever the Bible is cited (so you don’t have to go somewhere else to read the verse.) There is some editing of the text as well. While I seek to make these versions very accessible to 21st century Christians, I also try to maintain the integrity of the author’s own style. Our name reflects our goal: to make Puritans new again for 21st century believers.
Other authors I will be modernizing include: John Owen, Jeremiah Burroughs, Nathaniel Vincent, Stephen Marshall, Archbishop James Ussher, Thomas Manton, Thomas Goodwin, William Bates, Richard Alleine, William Bridge, and Thomas Brooks.
The following recommendations capture the essence and value of the work of this publishing endeavor:
GEORGE GRANT says, “The works of the Puritans are more relevant today than they have ever been. Now, thanks to the good work of James O’Brien and New Puritan Press, they are also more accessible than they have ever been. With carefully updated language, clarifying end-notes, insightful prefaces, and elegant formatting, these editions of classic works of practical spiritual wisdom should find their way into the studies, onto the iPads, and into the hearts of a whole new generation of faithful disciples.”
FRED ZASPEL comments, “Well known as “physicians of the soul” the Puritans’ application of God’s Word remains as helpful, relevant, and up to date today as when their famous works first hit the presses four centuries ago. Perhaps the primary obstacle to their popularity today is just their older style English, and now thanks to New Puritan Press that obstacle is being removed.”
Since Preston is not as well known as some of the other English Puritans, New Puritan Press gives a brief bio:
John Preston (1587-1628) while a student of philosophy at Cambridge University considered godliness something to be mocked until God awakened him to his need of Christ through the preaching of John Cotton (later of New England fame.) He was mentored by the great and devout minister, Richard Sibbes. He was one of the most influential preachers of his time, holding a number of important pulpits, including an appointment as chaplain to both King James I and his son, Charles I. So powerful was his preaching that a bishop who was not sympathetic to Preston’s theology said of him, “He talked like on that was familiar with God.” The last few years of his life were filled service to his heavenly Master, fulfilling his own belief that you “should spend yourself for God and man, wearing out, not rusting out, flaming out, not smoking out, burning out not being blown out.” He is widely regarded as the most influential of the godly ministers of the 1620s. After his death his numerous writings were published, including The Fullness of Christ.
NPP (not to be confused with the New Perspective on Paul!) explains the value of Preston’s The Fullness of Christ:
The glory of Christianity is Jesus Christ. He is the One in whom we have come to delight. He has been appointed by God to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Everything we need for this life and the life to come is found in him. In this book, The Fullness of Christ, John Preston teaches us to see Christ as all-sufficient. He opens up three great truths: (1) there is a fullness given to Christ; (2) this fullness is not locked away for his use alone, but runs over for our benefit and use; and (3) the benefits we receive are many, which is implied in the phrase: “grace for grace.” In typical Puritan fashion, Preston’s work is full of truth made practical for daily living. It is an excellent book, sure to strengthen the faith and confidence of God’s people in their Savior.