John Brown on the Puritans

Last year I read the Christian Focus reprint of John Brown’s (1830-1922) The English Puritans: The Rise and Fall of the Puritan Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910). It was originally written at the end of the nineteenth century and comes from a strongly Congregationalist perspective as Brown was one of the leading Congregationalists of his day. The Monergism website has recently made available the CUP edition here. While this is definitely a worthy read – and I recommend anyone studying the Puritans to give it a gander – I do have certain reservations about some of his views. For instance, I don’t agree with his understanding of the limits of Puritanism. He sees Puritan beginnings in 1558 with the ascendency of Elizabeth I to the throne of England and its ending in 1658 with the death of Oliver Cromwell. While I can agree generally with his first date, I would place the latter quite a bit later. I agree with J.I. Packer who places the closing of the Puritan period with the death of John Howe in 1705. As well, as I noted, I believe his Congregationalist concerns colour his writing as well as some of his political views – which I have sympathies with on both fronts!

That said, give Brown a read – although I would also suggest reading more contemporary works like those of Packer, John Spurr, Geoffrey Nuttall, Peter Lake, John Coffey and others of that ilk.



Filed under books, church history, churches, puritans

5 responses to “John Brown on the Puritans

  1. Thanks for the post and for helping with your comments on the free work; I had not heard of it and your comments on his view of the limits was helpful.

  2. Mark Jones

    Puritanism ended 1660-2, not 58. My two cents.

  3. Mark Jones

    Yes, I think so. Once you move from 1660 it becomes increasingly difficult to define Puritanism. I would speak simply of Protestant nonconformity because, as history would show, the Puritans ultimately lost the battle for reforming the CoE. This is why Edwards and Spurgeon are not Puritans. Goodwin was one of the last of the Puritans and one of the first Congregationalists.

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