Posted tagged ‘Reformation Heritage Books’

Who is Joseph Alleine?

December 3, 2008

[Reformation Heritage Books has graciously provided this biographical and reprint essay on the life and works of Richard Baxter. You can find this information and others in the book, Meet the Puritans.]

Joseph Alleine (1634-1668)

Born at Devizes, Wiltshire, early in 1634, Joseph Alleine loved and served the Lord from childhood. A contemporary witness identified 1645 as the year of Alleine’s “setting forth in the Christian race.” From eleven years of age onward, “the whole course of his youth was an even-spun thread of godly conversation.” When his elder brother Edward, a clergyman, died, Joseph begged that he might be educated to take Edward’s place in the ministry of the church. He entered Oxford at age sixteen and sat at the feet of such great divines as John Owen and Thomas Goodwin.

Alleine began his studies at Lincoln College in 1649. Two years later, he became a scholar of Corpus Christi College, where the faculty was, in general, more thoroughly Puritan than at Lincoln. Alleine studied long hours, often depriving himself of sleep and food. He graduated from Oxford in 1653 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and became a tutor and chaplain of Corpus Christi. He also devoted much time to preaching to prisoners in the county jail, visiting the sick, and ministering to the poor.

In 1655, Alleine accepted the invitation of George Newton, vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton, Somerset, to become Newton’s assistant. Taunton, a wool-manufacturing city of some 20,000, was a Puritan stronghold. Shortly after moving to Taunton, Alleine married his cousin, Theodosia Alleine, whose father, Richard Alleine, was minister of Batcombe, Somerset (see below). She was an active woman who feared God deeply. Early in their marriage, she ran a home school of about fifty scholars, half of them boarders. She would later serve as her husband’s biographer after his death.

Alleine rose early, devoting the time between four and eight o’clock in the morning to the exercises of private worship. His wife recalled that he “would be much troubled if he heard smiths or other craftsmen at work at their trades, before he was at communion with God: saying to me often, ‘How this noise shames me! Doth not my Master deserve more than theirs?'”

His ministry in Taunton as preacher and pastor was very fruitful. Richard Baxter recalled Alleine’s “great ministerial skillfulness in the public explication and application of the Scriptures-so melting, so convincing, so powerful.” Alleine was also an excellent teacher, devoting much time to instructing his people, using the Shorter Catechism. He was a passionate evangelist. One contemporary wrote, “He was infinitely and insatiably greedy of the conversion of souls, wherein he had no small success.”

Ejected for nonconformity in 1662, Alleine took the opportunity to increase his public  labors, believing that his remaining time was short. He preached on average one or two sermons every day for nine months until he was arrested and cast into the Ilchester prison. The night before, Alleine had preached and prayed with his people for three hours and had declared, “Glory be to God that hath accounted me worthy to suffer for His gospel!”

Alleine’s prison cell became his pulpit as he continued to preach to his people through the prison bars. He also wrote numerous pastoral letters and theological articles. Released on May 20, 1664, after about a year in prison, he resumed his forbidden ministry until arrested again on July 10, 1665 for holding a conventicle. Once more released from prison, his remaining time was “full of troubles and persecutions nobly borne.” He returned to Taunton in February, 1668, where he became very ill. Nine months later, at age thirty-four, weary from hard work and suffering, Alleine died in full assurance of faith, praising God and saying, “Christ is mine, and I am His-His by covenant.”

The Act of Conformity (RE; 47 pages; n.d.)

This small, polemical tract is bound with RE Publications’ edition of Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted. It is not included in the list of Alleine’s works compiled by Charles Stanford in 1861. No one is certain that it was written by Alleine, though its style is similar to that of his other works. The work is an in-depth examination of the Oath of Allegiance passed on August 24, 1662, and whether or not a nonconformist minister could conscientiously subscribe to it. The Act of Conformity offers an emphatic “No,” saying, “Taking this oath will encourage Parliament (when they shall see how glibly and smoothly we swallow every pill) to think themselves either infallible in imposing, or us as ductile, flexible and sequatious souls” (p. 45).

An Alarm to the Unconverted (BTT; 148 pages; 1995)

This evangelical classic was first printed in 1671 (subtitle: A Serious Treatise on Conversion), when 20,000 copies were sold, and subsequently reprinted in 1675 as A Sure Guide to Heaven, which was the title given to the latest BTT editions. It is a powerful manual on conversion and the call of the gospel, as the chapter titles reveal: Mistakes about Conversion; The Nature of Conversion; The Necessity of Conversion; The Marks of the Unconverted; The Miseries of the Unconverted; Directions to the Unconverted; The Motives to Conversion.

Alleine’s model of Puritan evangelism is well suited to correct today’s distortions of the gospel. For example, he shows us that dividing the offices and benefits of Christ is not a new idea. The true convert is willing to receive Christ, both as Savior from sin and as Lord of one’s life. He asserts:

All of Christ is accepted by the sincere convert. He loves not only the wages but the work of Christ, not only the benefits but the burden of Christ. He is willing not only to tread out the corn, but to draw under the yoke. He takes up the commands of Christ, yea, the cross of Christ. The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all for the salvation of Christ, but he is not for sanctification. He is for the privileges, but does not appropriate the person of Christ. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation. Whoever loves life, let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake, of which you have often been warned, and yet none is more common (p. 45).

This book, reprinted some five hundred times and the most famous of Alleine’s nineteen treatises, has been used for the conversion of many souls. It greatly influenced the evangelistic approach of famous preachers such as George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon. Despite a smattering of statements that may be misconstrued as promoting human ability in salvation, Alleine’s classic remains a golden example of evangelistic preaching and a spur to personal evangelism.

The Life and Letters of Joseph Alleine (RHB, 332 pages, 2003)

A definitive biography of Alleine has yet to be written. The longest sustained seventeenth century narrative was written by his wife, Theodosia, following his ejection and imprisonment after the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662. In 1672, four years after his death and a year after the first printing of Alarm to the Unconverted, Alleine’s Christian Letters, Full of Spiritual Instructions was printed in London. The following year, fragments of biographical information and personal reminiscences were brought together by his widow and Richard Baxter and were printed with his letters. That volume was reprinted with corrections in 1677 as The Life and Death of that Excellent Minister of Christ Mr. Joseph Alleine (London: Nevil Simmons).

Additional printings of the 1677 volume with minor additions or deletions took place in 1806, published by J. Gemmill; in 1829, by the American Sunday School Union; and in 1840, by Robert Carter in New York. The RHB reprint of 2003 includes the Carter edition, plus two letters from the Gemmill edition and three letters from Alleine’s Remains. Thus, for the first time, all forty-nine of Alleine’s extant letters are printed in one volume. An appendix contains George Newton’s Sermon Preached at the Funeral of Mr. Joseph Alleine (London: Nevil Simmons, 1677).

Charles Stanford’s biography, Joseph Alleine: His Companions and Times, appeared in 1861. Though Charles Spurgeon called it an “admirable biography,” it, too, is incomplete, no doubt partly due to the paucity of details of Alleine’s life. Although Alleine’s Life and Letters suffers somewhat from not being a sustained narrative, it has the advantage of having been written by Alleine’s contemporaries. Allowing for some repetition and hagiographical tendencies, these pages display the portrait of a minister who had a large heart for God and for the precious souls of those who sat under his ministry.

In this book, Richard Baxter wrote chapter 1 of Alleine’s biography. Richard Alleine, his father-in-law, wrote chapter 3. Other chapters were written by his senior colleague, George Newton (chap. 4), his widow (chap. 6), and his close friend and ministerial colleague, Richard Fairclough (chap. 9). The remaining chapters were written by several close friends who preferred to remain anonymous.

Valuable as the account of Alleine’s life by his contemporaries is, his letters which form the second half of the book are of greater worth. While the narrative of his life gives us an account of his outward circumstances, his letters reveal the secret springs of his heart, exhibiting the fervor of an evangelist, the heart of a pastor, and the patience of a sufferer for Jesus Christ. Many of these letters were written from prison to parishioners in Taunton when he was no longer able to minister the Word of God to them in person. With their emphasis on Christ and true godliness, these letters breathe the atmosphere of heaven itself. Here is a passage expressing his love for his people in Taunton:

You are a people much upon my heart, whose welfare is the matter of my continual prayers, care, and study. And oh that I knew how to do you good! How it pities me to think how so many of you should remain in your sins, after so many and so long endeavors to convert you and bring you in! Once more, oh beloved, once more hear the call of the Most High God unto you. The prison preaches to you the same doctrine that the pulpit did. Hear, O people, hear; the Lord of life and glory offers you all mercy, and peace, and blessedness. Oh, why should you die? Whosoever will, let him take of the waters of life freely. My soul yearns for you. Ah, that I did but know what arguments to use with you; who shall choose my words for me that I may prevail with sinners not to reject their own mercy? How shall I get within them? How shall I reach them? Oh, that I did but know the words that would pierce them! That I could but get between their sins and them (pp. 150-51).

Truly, as Iain Murray writes, “Never did the evangel of Jesus Christ burn more fervently in any English heart!”

When the Scottish missionary Alexander Duff (1806-78) read this book, he was deeply impressed by Alleine’s rich variety of gifts and graces, mature judgment, fervent devotion, and pervasive seriousness. Duff wrote: “What inextinguishable zeal! What unquenchable thirstings after the conversion of lost sinners! What unslumbering watchfulness in warning and edifying saints! What profound humility and self-abasement in the sight of God! What patience and forbearance, what meekness and generosity, what affability and moderation!  What triumphant faith-what tranquil, yet rapturous joy!” No wonder John Wesley called Alleine “the English Rutherford.”

In a day when the desire for personal happiness and self-esteem have replaced the biblical mandate for holiness of life, a reading of Alleine’s life and letters can be a real tonic to the soul.

The Precious Promises of the Gospel (SDG; 40 pages; 2000)

This booklet is extracted from Richard Alleine’s Heaven Opened. It is one of the two chapters written by Joseph Alleine. Impersonating God in addressing His people, Alleine provides us with a moving declaration of the loving, merciful heart of the Triune God, revealed in the promises of Scripture, which are woven into nearly every sentence.

Other Puritan Profiles in the 08PRC:

* Who Is Richard Baxter? (November)
* Who Is William Guthrie? (October)
* Who Is Sameul Bolton? (September)
* Who Is William Bridge? (July)
* Who Is John Bunyan? (May)
* Who Is Jeremiah Burroughs? (April)
* Who Is Thomas Watson? (March)
* Who Is John Flavel? (February)
* Who Is Richard Sibbes? (January)

Book Alert: Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption

June 4, 2008

Title: Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption
Author:
Joel Beeke
Publisher:
Reformation Heritage Books
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Pages: 134
Format: Hardcover
ISBN 13-digit: 9781601780409
Retail Price: $13.00
Table of Contents: YES (below)
Intro: YES

From RHB:

The Puritans have gotten bad press for their supposed lack of teaching on the doctrine of spiritual adoption. In Heirs with Christ, Joel R. Beeke dispels this caricature and shows that the Puritan era did more to advance the idea that every true Christian is God’s adopted child than any other age of church history. This little book lets the Puritans speak for themselves, showing how they recognized adoption’s far-reaching, transforming power and comfort for the children of God.

RHB for $10.00
Amazon for $10.00
Monergism Books $9.88
Westminister Bookstore $9.88
CBD for n/a

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction: Correcting a Caricature
2. The Greatness and Comprehensiveness of Adoption
3. Adoption Compared in the Two Testaments
4. What Adoption is Not
5. The Westminster Assembly’s Definitions of Adoption
6. The Transforming Power of Adoption
7. Pastoral Advice in Promoting Adoption
8. The Marks of Adoption
9. Transformed Relationships in Adoption
10. The Privileges and Benefits of Adoption
11. The Responsibilities or Duties of Adoption
12. Motives for Pursuing the Consciousness of Adoption
13. Warning, Invitation, and Comfort

Bibliography
Scripture Index

Media:

Calling for Truth recently had a show on “Together for Adoption” where Joel Beeke, along with Russell Moore and Dan Cruver were guests. You can download (MP3) the show by clicking here.

Endorsements:

“Dr. Beeke is well-known for his landmark work setting the record straight on the Puritan doctrine of assurance. Now he comes to our aid again with a superb treatment of the Puritans on adoption. I welcome his expert entry into this important field, and commend his keen insights and careful analysis to all who are interested in knowing ‘what the Puritans really said’ about adoption.”

Ligon Duncan

“In this short but spiritually substantive book, Dr. Beeke—a wise and careful ‘pastor theologian’ in the best sense of both words—introduces us to the Puritans’ comforting and transforming work on spiritual adoption. More than just historically informative, this volume should be warmly welcomed by all Christians who want to learn more about this crucial aspect of our identity as sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”

Justin Taylor

About the Author:

Joel R. Beeke is pastor of Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and a prolific author.

Congrats to Will Bausch! – April Giveaway Winner

May 3, 2008

Drum roll please . . . .

Da da da!

Will Bausch is the winner of the April giveaway, which includes the following four books:

1. Gospel Revelation: Finding Worth in Knowing Christ by Jeremiah Burroughs
2. A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness by Jeremiah Burroughs
3. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit by Jeremiah Burroughs
4. Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson

I want to say again a special thank you to Reformation Heritage Books for sponsoring the month of April and donating these excellent books to the cause of the Puritan Reading Challenge!

If you want to get in on all the book love, be sure to read the Puritan Paperback for each month and comment on the open thread that I will post on the end of the month. From the comments shared, I will then randomly select (computer generated) a number to determine the winner. John Bunyan is up next, and you won’t want to miss his excellent exposition on John 6:37!

Will’s thoughts are well worth repeating, so allow me to share them with you again. Reflecting on Burrough’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Will writes:

“God would not have us set our hearts upon riches, because they are nothing, and yet God is pleased to set his heart upon us, and we are nothing: that is God’s grace, free grace, and therefore it does not much matter what I suffer, for I am as nothing.”
p.87

What can I say about this book, except that it “connected the dots” between the gospel, the affections of my heart, complaining, and discontentment. It has been a pleasure to think about this subject, especially in light of the gospel. I pray that I would soon learn the “ABCs”, as Burroughs would put it, before feeling that I can move on to something greater. There is nothing greater for me than being satisfied in Christ for all that he with all that I am not.

This book also put encouraging words into my mouth, and scripture into my brain, that was used in counseling a brother who is going through a point where God is taking a lot of things away. It was a great pleasure, and medicine for my soul, to awkwardly explain to him what Burroughs explains so eloquently: Christ is all sufficent, and he will lovingly remove all barriers to us realizing this. When he doesn’t remove these barriers, we should begin to worry. Often this refinement hurts, but the contentment in our all-sufficent Lord and Saviour to be found on the other side of the pain is well worth it.

Amen!

Puritan Reading Challenge Book Giveaway (April)

April 23, 2008

I trust that many of you are mining all the gold that is found in Burroughs this month! You will certainly want to catch up reading and be ready to share your thoughts on the open thread at the end of the month because RHB will be giving away an excellent bundle of books with a retail value of over $100! Here they are with a little description:

1. Gospel Revelation: Finding Worth in Knowing Christ by Jeremiah Burroughs
Description: When Christ asked Peter, “Who do men say that I am?” He understood that opinions are as varied as the men who hold them. But the only trustworthy knowledge of God comes from God Himself. Only God’s revelation of Himself is infallible; only that revelation can be trusted to save a sin-sick soul. In the last of the “gospel” series, Jeremiah Burroughs gives us God’s revelation regarding Himself and regarding His Son, Jesus Christ. And then he gives precious insight into the worth of the human soul, created by God to joyously serve and glorify Him. Sin debases a man, but a right relationship to God elevates him to the position of worth and dignity God gave him at first. True Christians can revel in this revelation. Retail: $26.00.

2. A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness by Jeremiah Burroughs
Description: In this important work, Burroughs shows from Scripture the great sin of thinking as the world thinks rather than thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Then, realizing that right conduct is the result of right thinking, Burroughs gives us another gem in the second treatise offered here, A Heavenly Conversation, or Walking with God, which is a discussion on what it means to be heavenly minded, with an accent on living godly in Christ Jesus. Several chapters deal with how to foster heavenly conversation and a heavenly walk. Of this book, Mark Dever notes,”We give ourselves with abandon to our pleasures as if we would die tomorrow. But we build houses and we accumulate things as if we would live forever. You ought to consider this more. The Puritans were great at meditating on this life with the next one in view. I encourage you to read Jeremiah Burroughs’ A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness . It is a wonderful meditation on exactly what this kind of worldly mindedness means, and what is looks like in our lives.” Retail: $19.00.

3. The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit by Jeremiah Burroughs
Description: This title was the first of his writing published. It is based on Numbers 14:24: “Caleb was of another spirit; he followed God fully.” The first part of this book deals with what that “other spirit” is — a gracious spirit, synonymous with a regenerate heart. Those with this gracious spirit are true Christians and desire to follow the Lord fully. The second part of this book explains what it means to serve God thoroughly from a spirit activated and motivated by His grace. I have personally been blessed immensely with this book and find it challenging and convicting. Retail: $24.00.

4. Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson
Description: The most comprehensive guide to the Puritans in print. This work provides great biographical information on each of the Puritans along with a annotated description of all their works and reprints. Not only does it cover the English Puritans, but it also provides resources on the Scottish and Dutch Reformed traditions. The book also has a great reference index, including a lengthy bibliography and glossary of terminology. Shepherd’s Scrapbook named it the 2006 Book of the Year, and for good reason! Retail: $35.00.

Again, let me say a special thanks to Reformation Heritage Books who have been so supportive of this project. They have been incredibly helpful and generous, and I encourage you to consider checking out their bookstore if you plan on purchasing online as they have some of the lowest prices on great reformed and Puritan literature anywhere.

I will be posting the open thread in one week, and I look forward to reading your responses and interaction with Burroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.

Reformation Heritage Books Acquires Soli Deo Gloria Publications

February 3, 2008

This is great news to all of us who are lovers of Puritan literature! Very exciting stuff . . .

From Reformation Heritage Book Talk Blog (emphasis mine):

We are delighted to announce that Soli Deo Gloria Publications, which has put numerous Puritan books back into print, has been acquired by Reformation Heritage Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past few years, Soli Deo Gloria books have been produced by Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Florida. In 2007, Ligonier asked Reformation Heritage Books for guidance on managing Soli Deo Gloria Publications and later invited Reformation Heritage Books to publish and distribute the Soli Deo Gloria titles.

Reformation Heritage Books has received nearly 50,000 Soli Deo Gloria books that are currently in print, and we are ready to distribute them to individuals. Wholesale orders will be ready to process on February 15, 2008. Plans are under way to publish numerous additional Puritan titles. Reformation Heritage Books has agreed to continue publishing a select number of titles under the Soli Deo Gloria imprint, which Ligonier will continue to advertise in its catalogs; meanwhile, most Soli Deo Gloria titles will now be reprinted with the Reformation Heritage Books imprint. Reformation Heritage Books and Ligonier Ministries look forward to collaborating in order to promote Puritan literature around the world.

To be placed on the mailing list for catalogs that include all the Soli Deo Gloria titles (as well as 3,000 titles from other publishers) currently available at discounted prices, contact Reformation Heritage Books, 2965 Leonard N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525; 616-977-0599; orders@heritagebooks.org; www.heritagebooks.org. For further information, contact John M. Duncan, Vice President of Ministry Outreach, Ligonier Ministries; 407-333-4244; http://www.ligonier.org.