Saturday, May 22, 2010

There Were Giants In Those Days

As Methodist minister Samuel Dunn once wrote concerning those Puritan divines who preached the famous "Morning Exercises," "There were giants in those days." He is the author of a remarkable biographical work entitled Memoirs of seventy-five eminent Divines whose Discourses form the Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and Southwark (1844), which was recently digitized by Google Books, as Satch Chikhlia kindly brought to my attention. Besides biographical sketches which comprise a "who's who" of the London Puritans, Dunn has done a great service by providing sermon outlines from each of the contributors. Of the seventy-five ministers, thirteen signed the 1673 Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalter, nine were among the continuators of Matthew Poole's English Annotations, and one was a continuator of Matthew Henry's Commentary. The publication of this work accompanied the republication by James Nichols the same year of a "celebrated body of divinity" (James Darling) by those seventy-five divines which is, in my view, among the greatest of Puritan contributions to practical theology. Republished again in 1981 by Richard Owen Roberts under the title Puritan Sermons, 1659-1689, the six volumes comprised therein are also now at least mostly available online from both Google Books and the Internet Archive. Bill Sullivan has done an excellent job of assembling the links to access these works online. To read these sermons is to drink from a well of wisdom, and to this writer's knowledge, there is no other single volume which includes biographical information of all seventy-five Puritan ministers in one place. Truly, there were giants in those days.

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