It’s summertime. We are at the beach, and we have great companions along. We have some Puritan authors. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson recently introduced us to the wonderful box set of ten volumes containing fifteen classic works by the Puritans. So in the month of June, we will be selecting books from this box set and taking them to the beach with us. Dr. Ferguson writes that this little library “will no doubt be treasured for the quality of its production. Its ten volumes are built to last, but it will be even more highly prized for the wonderful selection of Puritan literature it contains.”
First, let’s think a little bit about these Puritans. They have a bad reputation for being sour and dour. Dr. Ferguson says, “The volumes in this little library tell a different story. It is one of a people committed to the knowledge, worship, and service of God, living under his loving care as their heavenly Father, according to his word, experiencing forgiveness and new life in Christ, and conscious of the communion and power of the Holy Spirit.” That is certainly true of the first Puritan we want to talk about, Thomas Watson.
We have visited with Watson before in Five Minutes in Church History. We’ve talked about his body of divinity and his book on repentance. He was an alum of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was a pastor in London. During his time as a pastor, he was arrested and jailed for two years for Nonconformity. Then in 1662, he was one of a few thousand who were kicked out of their pulpits as part of the Great Ejection. These were Puritans all. They were forced out of their pulpits of Anglican churches because of Queen Elizabeth’s Act of Uniformity. After Watson was ejected, he still managed to find churches and pulpits where he could preach. In fact, for a few years he pastored alongside Stephen Charnock, the author of The Existence and Attributes of God and a fellow Emmanuel College alum.
In this box set, Watson’s work is titled All Things for Good. The original title was A Divine Cordial, or, the Transcendent Privilege of Those That Love God and Are Sovereignly Called. A cordial is a comforting or pleasant tasting medicine. And so this is a devotional book of comfort. This new title comes from Romans 8:28: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This book is one long meditation and application of Romans 8:28.
Watson begins with those first two words: “We know.” He goes on to say that this is a “certain privilege,” this thing that we are to know. Then he divides his book into three parts. The first is “All things work together for good.” The second part is “To them that love God,” and it deals with loving God. The final part deals with the final clause of this verse: “To them who are called according to his purpose.” This concerns the doctrine of unconditional election.
There is much to talk about concerning Watson and All Things for Good. We will pick up again next time. For now, that’s Thomas Watson, our first Puritan at the beach.