Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Puritan Begats

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. (1 Cor. 3.5-9)

The faithful preaching of the Word of God in the Age of the Puritans resulted, by the powerful and effectual working of the Holy Spirit, in a remarkable "apostolic" succession of conversions, a genealogy of Puritan "who's who's," as it were. It is a striking illustration of how the faithfulness of one man's ministry in God's providence plays a role in the lives of so many others. Or, as Clarence the Angel said in It's a Wonderful Life:

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

Darrett Rutman, American Puritanism, p. 7:

The generation of ministers of this sort approaches something of the quality of the opening chapter of Chronicles: "Richard Rogers begat (in a spiritual sense) Paul Baynes, who begat Richard Sibbes, who begat John Cotton, who begat John Preston, who begat Thomas Shepard.

To expand on this, Paul Baynes (1560-1617) was converted under the ministry of William Perkins (1558-1602), himself convicted of his sin after a woman in the street spoke of him as "drunken Perkins," and Richard Rogers (1550?-1618). William Ames (1576-1633) and Richard Blackerby (1574-1648) were likewise converted under the preaching of William Perkins. Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was converted under the preaching of Paul Baynes. John Cotton (1595-1652) was converted under the preaching of Richard Sibbes. John Preston (1587-1628) was converted under the preaching of John Cotton. The preaching of Richard Sibbes and John Preston was influential in the spiritual awakening of Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680). Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) was converted under the preaching of John Preston. Shepard himself was known as "Pastor Evangelicus," who was "as great a converter of souls as has ordinarily been known in our days" (Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol. 1, p. 380), and Jonathan Mitchell (1624-1668) traced his spiritual awakening to the ministry of Thomas Shepard.

We see how souls were converted on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean by means of such a golden chain. The ministries of these men have led to many conversions and influenced many millions more through their literature, even to the present day. Thank the Lord for these men who have planted and watered; to God be the glory for giving the increase.

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