A Guide to the Puritans: A Topical and Textual Index to the Writings of the Puritans and Some of Their Successors Recently in Print, by Robert P. Martin


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*Martin, Robert P., A Guide to the Puritans: A Topical and Textual Index to the Writings of the Puritans and Some of Their Successors Recently in Print (Banner of Truth, 1997), 546 pages, ISBN: 0851517137 9780851517131.
"I owe an enormous debt to the Puritans, the most prolific and accurate expounders of the biblical principles upon which the Reformation was built. Their concern for vital godliness in every area of the Christian's experience has rightly earned for them the title 'theologians of the Christian life.' Their writings are a rich banquet table loaded with solid nourishment for God's people. . . .
"There are many more qualified to index the Puritans than I. Had someone more acquainted with the Puritans' works and more schooled in their history and theology undertaken this project, the end product would have been vastly superior. My primary qualification is that I have been willing to undertake the task. I will not be surprised if those who use this volume find many things which could be done better, especially in the topical index. My hope, however, is that those who find flaws will favor me with their suggestions for improvement, so that if future editions come from the press, the people of God will be served better than at present.
"In determining which writers and works to index, I have been guided and restrained by several principles. First, I have deliberately chosen a broad definition of the term Puritan. Instead of the narrow ecclesiastical sense, i.e., of referring only to those in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who desired reformation in the national church of England, I am using the term Puritan in the broader religious sense of those advocating the experimental, Calvinistic religion which the Puritans exemplified. Moreover, I have cast my net even farther to take in those who have looked to the Puritans as their nearest theological kin; thus including such men as Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, W. G. T Shedd, John Murray, and many other modern Puritans.
"Second, with reference to older writers, I have limited my efforts to recently republished works. Many valuable works, of course, have not reappeared in our day, but are available only in libraries and private collections. I have not tried to include any such items. A comprehensive index of the entire body of Puritan writings would be a wonderful resource, but it is quite beyond my ability to undertake such a project.
"Third, though I have tried to include all the older works currently available, I have indexed only a sampling of works from living writers. Some may question my choices or judge that I have overlooked important new works and authors in the Puritan mold. I sincerely regret overlooking any volume worthy of notice. My only defense is that my knowledge of living authors is much less than my awareness of the proven guides of the past. For the most part I have limited new works to those published by the Banner of Truth Trust, confident that these works have passed through a fine grid of review, and would not bear the Banner label if they were not clearly in the Puritan tradition.
"Fourth, doubtless some users of this index will be disappointed that several important precursors to the Puritans are missing. For example, except for the notice of a few well-known works, Calvin and Luther are not indexed. The same is true of Augustine. The contribution of these men to reformed and Puritan thinking cannot be overestimated. Including their works, however, was not possible, given my present constraints. I regret this greatly.
"Among nineteenth-century figures, the most prominent absence is that of C. H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon certainly is worthy of a place in this work; however, since a textual and topical index of his sermons already exists, I chose not to duplicate that work here.
"In our own century, the ministry of D. M. Lloyd-Jones has produced a large body of useful material in the Puritan tradition; however, unlike his contemporary, John Murray, no collection of Dr. Lloyd-Jones's writings is yet available. Much that Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached is now published in commentary form (e.g., his expositions of the Sermon on the Mount, Romans, Ephesians, etc.) and is not included in this index because of my decision not to index commentaries. I have indexed the Doctor's topical works that were available to me. Those wanting more information on Dr. Lloyd-Jones's writings should consult the bibliography found at the end of volume two of Iain Murray's biography [LLOYD-JONES, D. MARTYN: THE FIGHT OF FAITH, 1939-1981 -- sk].
"The Scripture Index was easy to produce. Where a specific text (or texts) of scripture served as the basis for a sermon or treatise, it is included in the Scripture Index at the appropriate place. This does not mean, however, that every work listed in the Scripture Index contains a detailed exegesis of the text to which it is attached. Often the Puritans used texts as the starting points for topical sermons or series. What follows is not so much an exposition of the text but an exposition of a theme which the text epitomizes. Such sermons do not always answer to the needs of the technical exegete, but they often serve as catalysts for doctrinal and practical observations on the text.
"A few whole commentaries are found in the Scripture Index. These are present only because they are included in an author's collected writings. Many more commentaries could have been included; however, those appearing before 1870 are catalogued already in Spurgeon's COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES. Many fine commentaries in the Puritan tradition also have appeared since 1870; but I have made no effort to produce what would in fact have been an update of Spurgeon's work.
"The Topical Index was extremely difficult to construct. Two problems constantly intruded themselves into the process. First, when I began, no list of topics was ready at hand. My method therefore was to compile the list of topics as I went along. The end product doubtless is less accurate than if the topics had been set from the beginning. Second, Puritan sermons are not always capable of being reduced to one or two key ideas. Frequently the Puritans ranged across a wide field of related themes in a single sermon. Where this occurred, properly placing the sermon in the Topical Index was difficult. In most cases I was guided by either the author's title or his doctrine summary, i.e., a statement expressing the theme of the sermon. I have tried to exercise as much care as possible in indexing topically; however, those more familiar with individual sermons or treatises perhaps will question my decisions. Again, I hope that observations which may improve this work will be communicated to me. . . . I have included comments with some entries. It was not possible to do this for every entry. For the most part, I did this where I felt that a word was needed to clarify the emphasis of a given work. . . ." -- Robert P. Martin in the Preface, August 1996, Seattle, Washington



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