Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's In A Nickname?

The Puritans had a thing or two to say about nicknames, Robert Bolton in particular. He spoke of 'Puritan' as "the honourable nickname of the best and holiest men" (Mr. Bolton's Last and Learned Worke of the Foure Last Things (1635), p. 12).

Robert Bolton, A Discourse About the True State of Happinesse (1631), p. 163:

I am persuaded there was never poor persecuted word, since malice against God first seized on the damned angels, and the graces of heaven dwelt in the heart of man, that passed through the mouths of all sorts of unregenerate men, with more distastefulness and gnashing of teeth, than the name of puritan doth at this day; which notwithstanding as it is now commonly meant, and ordinarily proceeds from the spleen and spirit of profaneness and good fellowship, as an honourable nickname, that I may so speak, of christianity and grace.

Elsewhere he is reported to have said:

All those nick-names of Puritan, Precisian, Hypocrite, &c. with which lewd tongues are wont to load the saints of God, are so many honourable badges of their worthy deportment in the holy path, and resolute standing on the Lord's side.

Samuel Rutherford, Letters (1894 ed.), p. 512:

I assure you, howbeit we be nicknamed Puritans, that all the powers of the world shall not prevail against us.

George Gillespie, English Popish Ceremonies (1846 ed.), Vol. 1., p. 39:

...they make godly and zealous Christians to be mocked and nicknamed Puritans, except they can swallow the camel of conformity....We know the old Waldenses before us were also named by their adversaries, Cathares or Puritans; and that, without cause, hath this name been given both to them and us.

In the tradition of David, the "sweet Psalmist of Israel," many individual Reformers, Puritans and Reformed have been known to contemporaries and to posterity by nicknames dubbed and bequeathed by both admirers and opponents. Here are a handful to consider.

Thomas Adams, English Puritan (1583-1652) -- "prose Shakespeare of the Puritan theologians"
William Ames, English Puritan (1576-1633) -- "Learned Doctor Ames"
William Bates, English Puritan (1625-1699) -- "Silver-Tongued"
Richard Baxter, English Puritan (1615-1691) -- "Chief of English Protestant Schoolmen"
Wilhelmus à Brakel, Dutch Puritan (1635-1711) -- "Father Brakel"
John Bunyan, English Puritan (1628-1688) -- "Immortal Tinker" and "Immortal Dreamer"
Jeremiah Burroughs, English Puritan (1600-1646) -- "Prince of Preachers"
Richard Cameron, Scottish Covenanter (1648-1680) -- "Lion of the Covenant"
Thomas Cartwright, English Puritan (1535-1603) -- "Father of English Presbyterianism"
John Cotton, English-American Puritan (1585-1652) -- "Patriarch of New England"
Samuel Davies, American Presbyterian (1723-1761) -- "Apostle of Virginia"
David Dickson, Scottish Covenanter (1583-1662) -- "Apostle of the Covenant"
John Duncan, Scottish Presbyterian (1796-1870) -- "Rabbi Duncan"
Jonathan Edwards, American Puritan (1703-1758) -- "America's Greatest Theologian" and "Last Puritan"
Hans Egede, Danish-Norwegian Lutheran (1686-1758) -- "Apostle of Greenland"
John Eliot, English-American Puritan (1604-1690) -- "Apostle to the Indians"
Bernard Gilpin, English Reformer (1517-1583) -- "Apostle of the North" and "Northern Apostle"
William Gouge, English Puritan (1575-1653) -- "Father of the London Divines" and "Arch-Puritan"
John Howe, English Puritan (1630-1705) -- "Platonic Puritan" and "Puritan Plato"
John Kennedy of Dingwall, Scottish Presbyterian (1819-1884) -- "Prince of Highland Preachers"
John MacDonald, Scottish Presbyterian (1779-1849) -- "Apostle of the North"
Thomas Manton, English Puritan (1620-1677) -- "King of Preachers"
Stephen Marshall, English Puritan (1594-1655) -- "Geneva Bull"
Joshua Moody, English-American Puritan (1633-1697) -- "Angelical Doctor"
James Nalton, English Puritan (1600-1662) -- "Weeping Prophet"
John Owen, English Puritan (1616-1683) -- "Prince of the Puritans"
William Perkins, English Puritan (1558-1602) -- "The Calvin of England"
John Robinson, English Separatist (1575-1625) -- "Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers"
Richard Rogers, English Puritan (1550-1618) -- "Enoch in His Age"
Thomas Shepard, English-American Puritan (1605-1649) -- "Soul-Melting Preacher"
Richard Sibbes, English Puritan (1577-1635) -- "Heavenly Doctor Sibbes"
Henry Smith, English Puritan (1560-1591) -- "Silver-Tongued Smith"
Charles Spurgeon, English Baptist (1834-1892) -- "Prince of Preachers"
Solomon Stoddard, American Puritan (1643-1729) -- "Northampton Pope" and "Pope of Connecticut Valley"
Willem Teellinck, Dutch Puritan (1579-1629) -- "Father of the Dutch Further Reformation"
Pierre Viret, Swiss Reformer (1511-1571) -- "Angel of the Reformation" and "Smile of the Reformation"
John White, English Puritan (1575-1648) -- "Patriarch of Dorchester" and "Founder of Massachusetts"
John Wycliffe, English Reformer (1385-1384) -- "Morning Star of the Reformation"

1 comment:

  1. R. Andrew Myers, Reformed Presbyterian (1968-) -- "Virginia Huguenot"