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A Golden Chain or The Description of Theology (Perkins)

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Puritan Reprints


To the Christian Reader

Christian Reader, there are at this day four several opinions of the order of God's predestination. The first is of the old and new Pelagians; who place the cause of God's predestination in man; in that they hold that God did ordain men either to life or death, according as he did foresee, that they would by their natural freewill, either reject or receive grace offered. The second of them, who (of some) are termed Lutherans; which teach, that God foreseeing, how all mankind being shut up under unbelief, would therefore reject grace offered, did hereupon purpose to choose some to salvation of his mere mercy, without any respect of their faith or good works, and the rest to reject, being moved to do this, because he did eternally foresee that they would reject his grace offered them in the Gospel. The third, of Semipelagian Papists, which ascribe God's predestination, partly to mercy, and partly to men's foreseen preparations and meritorious works. The fourth, of such as teach, that the cause of the execution of God's predestination, is His mercy in Christ, in them which are saved; and in them which perish, the fall and corruption of man: yet so, as that the decree and eternal counsel of God, concerning them both, hath not any cause beside his will and pleasure. Of these four opinions, the three former I have labored to oppugn as erroneous, and to maintain the last, as being a truth, which will bear weight in the balance of the sanctuary.

A further discourse whereof, here I make bold to offer to thy godly consideration: in reading whereof, regard not so much the thing itself, penned very slenderly, as mine intent and affection: who desire among the rest, to cast my mite into the treasury of the Church of England, and for want of gold, pearl and precious stone, to bring a ram's skin or twain, and a little goats' hair to the building of the Lord's tabernacle, Exodus 35:23

The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant that according to the riches of His glory, thou mayest be strengthened by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in thy heart by faith; to the end that thou being rooted and grounded in love, mayest he able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length, and height thereof; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that thou mayest he filled with all the fullness of God. Amen. Farewell, July 23rd, the year of the last patience of the saints, 1592.

Thine in Christ Jesus, William Perkins

Chapter 1 - Of the Body of Scripture

Chapter 2 - Of God and the Nature of God

Chapter 3 - Of the Life of God

Chapter 4 - Of God's Glory and Blessedness

Chapter 5 - Concerning the Persons of the Godhead

Chapter 6 - Of God's Works, and His Decrees

Chapter 7 - Of Predestination and Creation

Chapter 8 - Of Angels

Chapter 9 - Of Men and the Estate of Innocence

Chapter 10 - Of Sin, and of the Fall of Angels

Chapter 11 - Of Man's Fall and Disobedience

Chapter 12 - Of Original Sin

Chapter 13 - Of Actual Sin

Chapter 14 - Of the Common Punishment of Sin

Chapter 15 - Of Election, and Jesus Christ the Foundation Thereof

Chapter 16 - Of the Union of the Two Natures in Christ

Chapter 17 - Of the Distinction of Both Natures

Chapter 18 - Of Christ's Nativity and Office

Chapter 19 - Concerning the Outward Means of Executing the Decree of Election and the Decalogue

Chapter 20 - Of the First Commandment

Chapter 21 - Of the Second Commandment

Chapter 22 - Of the Third Commandment

Chapter 23 - Of the Fourth Commandment

Chapter 24 - Of the Fifth Commandment

Chapter 25 - Of the Sixth Commandment

Chapter 26 - Of the Seventh Commandment

Chapter 27 - Of the Eighth Commandment

Chapter 28 - Of the Ninth Commandment

Chapter 29 - Of the Tenth Commandment

Chapter 30 - Of the Use of the Law

Chapter 31 - Of the Covenant of Grace

Chapter 32 - Of the Sacraments

Chapter 33 - Of Baptism

Chapter 34 - Of the Lord's Supper

Chapter 35 - Of the Degree of Executing God's Decree of Election

Chapter 36 - Concerning the first Degree of the Declaration of God's Love

Chapter 37 - Concerning the second Degree of the Declaration of God's Love

Chapter 38 - Concerning the third Degree of the Declaration of God's Love

Chapter 39 - Of Repentance and the Fruits Thereof

Chapter 40 - Of Christian Warfare

Chapter 41 - Of the First Assault

Chapter 42 - Of the Second Assault

Chapter 43 - Of the Third Assault

Chapter 44 - Of the Patient Bearing of the Cross

Chapter 45 - Of the Calling Upon God

Chapter 46 - Of the Christian Apology and Martyrdom

Chapter 47 - Of Edification, and Alms Among the Faithful

Chapter 48 - Of the Fourth Degree of the Declaration of God's Love; and of the Estate of the Elect After This Life

Chapter 49 - Of the Elect at the Last Day of Judgment

Chapter 50 - Of the Estate of the Elect After Judgment

Chapter 51 - The Causes of Salvation and Damnation According to Rome's Doctrines

Chapter 52 - Concerning the Decree of Reprobation

Chapter 53 - Concerning the Execution of the Decree of Reprobation

Chapter 54 - Concerning a New Devised Doctrine of Predestination, Taught by Some New and late Divines

Chapter 55 - Of the State and Condition of the Reprobate When They Are Dead

Chapter 56 - Of the Condemnation of the Reprobate at the Last Judgment

Chapter 57 - Of the Estate of the Reprobate in Hell

Chapter 58 - Of the Application of Predestination


William Perkins (1558 – 1602) was a clergyman and Cambridge theologian who was one of the foremost leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England.



"Contemporary scholars have called Perkins 'the principal architect of Elizabethan Puritanism,' 'the Puritan theologian of Tudor times,' 'the most important Puritan writer,' 'the prince of Puritan theologians,' 'the ideal Puritan clergyman of the quietist years,' 'the most famous of all Puritan divines,' and have classed him with Calvin and Beza as third in 'the trinity of the orthodox.' He was the first theologian to be more widely published in England than Calvin and the first English Protestant theologian to have a major impact in the British isles, on the continent, and in North America. Little wonder that Puritan scholars marvel that Perkins's rare works remain largely unavailable until now." - Dr. Joel Beeke