Now they have added another article on the Puritans by Erroll Hulse: "The Story of the Puritans." Here is how it begins:
We sometimes sing a hymn which includes the words, "Tell me the story simply as to a little child."
It would have helped if someone in my Christian experience had told me the story of the Puritans simply, as to a little child. I am a South African in background and upbringing. I learned history at school. Some of it was English history, but I would not have been able to give an outline of British kings and queens. Soon after coming to England in 1954, I was introduced to the Puritans and began to attend the annual two-day Puritan Conference at Westminster Chapel, near Buckingham Palace. Fascination with the Puritans, their lives and their theology, greatly increased my appreciation of the history of those times. I listened to the original papers on the Puritans by Dr. Jim Packer, which he has now brought together under the title, The Quest for Godliness—The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.
It is possible that some American readers will not be familiar with English history. The story of the Puritans is so closely connected with the political pressures bearing down upon them that it is important to know the outline. For that reason I have included a chart of the monarchs: the dates form pegs upon which we can hang the various parts of the story. If the reader is serious about the Puritans and has not already learned the dates by heart that exercise is recommended.
By way of preliminaries we will begin with an historical perspective of the sixteenth century Reformation and then briefly trace out the meaning of the word Puritan.
The story of the Puritans is told in three parts:
Part 1. The antecedents. The soil out of which Puritanism grew. Here we focus in particular upon the martyrs William Tyndale and John Bradford as well as on the martyrologist John Fox.
Part 2. The spiritual brotherhood. The theme here is the rediscovery of the Christian basics. This is the story of the Puritans under Queen Elizabeth. We will look at some leaders and through them focus on the emerging character of Puritanism.
Part 3. The flowering of Puritanism. During the first part of the seventeenth century the Puritans multiplied. From this time in particular we receive the unexcelled legacy of Puritan literature. Space will fail to do justice to all the leaders so we will look at three only: John Owen, Richard Baxter and John Bunyan.
When we have lived, albeit sketchily, through those times, and have been introduced to some of the leaders we will consider why we need the Puritans today.