The Works of William Perkins fills a major gap in Reformed and Puritan theology. Though Perkins is best known today for his writings on predestination, he also wrote prolifically on many subjects. His works filled over two thousand large pages of small print in three folio volumes and were reprinted several times in the decades after his death. His complete works, however, have not been in print since the mid-seventeenth century. This modern typeset edition of the Works includes four volumes of Perkins’s expositions of Scripture, three volumes of his doctrinal and polemical treatises, and three volumes of his practical writings.
This seventh volume includes three treatises that strike a helpful balance of emphases on theology, history, and practice. A Reformed Catholic exists as a systematic, theological presentation of Perkins’s Reformed soteriology in contrast with the Church of Rome. Perkins’s Problem of the Forged Catholicism is an exercise in historical theology, proving from the primary source documents of church history that the Roman Catholicism articulated at Trent is not supported by the first twelve hundred years of the church’s witness. A Warning Against Idolatry handles worship practices—including liturgies, ceremonies, customs, and rites—concluding that all the externals of worship must be regulated by Scripture in the strictest sense. Taken as a whole, Perkins’s polemical work against the Church of Rome draws a clear dividing line between Roman Catholicism and the Reformed tradition.
Contents of Volume 7:
WILLIAM PERKINS (1558–1602) earned a bachelor’s degree in 1581 and a master’s degree in 1584 from Christ’s College in Cambridge. During those student years he joined up with Laurence Chaderton, who became his personal tutor and lifelong friend. Perkins and Chaderton met with Richard Greenham, Richard Rogers, and others in a spiritual brotherhood at Cambridge that espoused Puritan convictions.
From 1584 until his death, Perkins served as lecturer, or preacher, at Great St. Andrew’s Church, Cambridge, a most influential pulpit across the street from Christ’s College. He also served as a teaching fellow at Christ’s College, catechized students at Corpus Christi College on Thursday afternoons, and worked as a spiritual counselor on Sunday afternoons. In these roles Perkins influenced a generation of young students, including Richard Sibbes, John Cotton, John Preston, and William Ames. Thomas Goodwin wrote that when he entered Cambridge, six of his instructors who had sat under Perkins were still passing on his teaching. Ten years after Perkins’s death,
Cambridge was still “filled with the discourse of the power of Mr. William Perkins’ ministry,” Goodwin said.
Perkins’s influence as a theologian continued unabated after his death. This was due in large part to the widespread popularity of his writings. His writings were translated into several European languages and greatly influenced British and American Reformed theology, the Dutch Further Reformation, and European Pietism.
SHAWN D. WRIGHT is professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
ANDREW S. BALLITCH is a pastor at Hunsinger Lane Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky and an adjunct professor of church history at Boyce College.
JOEL R. BEEKE is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
DEREK W. H. THOMAS is senior minister of First Presbyterian in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Robert Strong Professor of Systematic Theology and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.
“On the broad shoulders of William Perkins, epoch-making pioneer, stood the entire school of seventeenth-century Puritan pastors and divines, yet the Puritan reprint industry has steadily bypassed him. Now, however, he begins to reappear, admirably edited, and at last this yawning gap is being filled. Profound thanks to the publisher and heartfelt praise to God have become due.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia
“Without a doubt, the Puritans were theological titans. The Puritan theological tradition did not emerge out of a vacuum. It was shaped by leaders and theologians who set the trajectory of the movement and shaped its commitments. William Perkins was one of those men. Perkins’s contribution to Puritan theology is inestimable, and this new reprint of his collected works is a much-awaited addition to all who are still shaped and influenced by the Puritans and their commitment to the centrality of the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ. Even now, every true gospel minister stands in debt to Perkins, and in his shadow.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The list of those influenced by the ministry of William Perkins reads like a veritable Who's Who of the Puritan Brotherhood and far beyond. This reprinting of his works, so long unobtainable except by a few, is therefore a publishing event of the first magnitude.”
—Sinclair B. Ferguson, professor of systematic theology, Redeemer Theological Seminary, Dallas
“The father of Elizabethan Puritanism, Perkins presided over a dynasty of faith. The scope of his work is wide, yet on every topic he treats one discovers erudition and deep reflection. He was the first in an amazing line of ministers at Cambridge University’s main church. A pastor to pastors, he wrote a bestseller on counseling, was a formative figure in the development of Reformed orthodoxy, and a judicious reformer within the Church of England. I am delighted to see Perkins’s works made available again for a wide audience.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“William Perkins was a most remarkable Christian. In his relatively short life he was a great preacher, pastor, and theologian. His prolific writings were foundational to the whole English Puritan enterprise and a profound influence beyond his own time and borders. His works have become rare, and their republication must be a source of real joy and blessing to all serious Christians. Perkins is the first Puritan we should read.”
—W. Robert Godfrey, president emeritus, Westminster Seminary California