Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

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A Textual Index to Puritan & Reformed Sermons

"Our clearest notions of the religious life of any age are gathered from the sermons of the representative men of that age. When the future historian of the church shall come to portray the life and experience of our time he will find here the evidence of the existence of that type of religion that has always been the glory of the kingdom of Christ."
-George A. Blackburn, Editor's Preface to Sermons on Important Subjects, by John L. Girardeau

Most recent additions :

March 2006 -- Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Sermons (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2002), 1138pp.
April 2006 -- John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Sprinkle Publications, 2001), 5 vols.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth I Samuel
II Samuel I Kings II Kings I Chronicles II Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job
Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song/Solomon Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel
Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi            
Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans I Corinthians II Corinthians Galatians
Ephesians Philippians Colossians I Thessalonians II Thess. I Timothy II Timothy Titus Philemon
Hebrews James I Peter II Peter I John II John III John Jude Revelation

A Word of Introduction:

     Commentaries are rarely written with the purpose of bringing conviction of sin or of exhorting the believer to greater godliness.  They are typically intended to be thorough discussions of the text in question.  Sermons, on the other hand, have by their very nature a confrontational purpose.  Yet most pastors, in the preparation of their own sermons, tend to consult only commentaries and related tools and so the rich sermonic work of our fathers in the faith is frequently neglected.  Even when we do have their works on our shelves, their labors hide behind broad titles and it is unwieldy trying to locate a sermon on a particular text.

     That is what this work is intended to do for you:  to spare you some of the time of searching through volume after volume, wondering if any of our great forefathers have previously preached on your intended text.  Of course it still remains for you to have access to these volumes, but at least with this assistance, perhaps it will be easier in knowing where to turn in searching out the given matter. A Bibliography of the works consulted in the preparation of the Index has also been prepared.

     As an added benefit, we hope that this volume will further an interest in the publication and promotion of Reformed works.  Perhaps more men will have an interest in utilizing these great riches once they know precisely where to turn to compare one great preacher with another.

     Our preferred title for this work is "A Grand Prophesying."  This, after the Puritan tradition of meetings, called "prophesyings", in which a number of pastors would all speak on the same text, each having separately prepared his sermon.  How interesting it must have been to hear the different aspects that each man would reveal from the text.  How convicting it must have been, as the Holy Spirit drove, in each sermon, the same points into the hearts and minds of the congregation.

     I can't resist mentioning that, as a lover of puns I'm inclined to title the work "A Postill Holiday!," playing on the old (German?) designation for "sermon," and thus a pun meaning "a celebration of sermons."

The work entailed in this Index was originally begun around 1989, on an old 8088 computer and written in DOS. Over the years the files have been moved through several successive generations of computers and their software, until it now arrives in its present HTML form. My return to seminary, I thought, would facilitate the completion of the work, but instead the demands of classwork only slowed the project. Just as I had the work nearing completion, Banner of Truth published a more extensive volume, including topical indexes, titled A Guide to the Puritans and authored by Robert P. Martin. None of Martin's work was utilized in compiling the information in this Index. Nor would I want to detract from the sales of that book by posting this information to the web. If you find the material posted here to be helpful, I would strongly urge you to consider purchasing Martin's book, in order to have a fuller reference work at hand.

From the Banner's web site, at http://www.banneroftruth.co.uk/Books/Puritans/guide_to_the_puritans.htm, there is this description of Martin's work: "The writings of the Puritans are a rich feast for God's people, but, for many, finding one's way around the dishes on offer has constituted a problem. This fascinating book provides a topical and textual index to the writings of the Puritans and some of their successors recently in print. It contains an alphabetical list of topics with references to where they are dealt with by the writers concerned, a Scripture index, leading to books or sermons on the texts listed, a section on biographies and sermons preached on special occasions, and a bibliography of all the works indexed, around a thousand in all." [ISBN 0 85151 713 7 £12.95 $25.99 546pp. Paperback]

I'm also aware that many today wonder why anyone would find these old Puritan sermons of value today. They are often (mis)characterized as pedantic and prone to sermon structures like "and fifteenthly. . . ". But it has been my experience that among these writers are some of the richest jewels of Christian literature. I probably cannot say it better than one recent Westminster Seminary graduate:

". . .someone once asked me why I generally referred reading the Puritans and their successors to reading modern works of theology. The answer I gave was that while I have learnt much from works that have been published more recently, I find that they do not have the same edifying and mortifying effects as Puritan authors. I have gleaned much from Ridderbos, for instance, but never has Ridderbos reduced me to tears by instilling a conviction of my own sin or warmed my soul with a consideration of the beauties of Christ. Most modern works of theology (there are exceptions of course) tend to take a highly academic approach, they often seem afraid of drawing larger theological conclusions, and they rarely have an element of personal application. The Puritans, on the other hand, rarely frame theology in strictly academic terms. They never seem to forget that their readers are also sinners in desperate need of salvation and are willing to "drive the point home" whenever possible. They were clearly writing when theology was a more "sapient" and pastoral exercise, long before the rules of the academy also became the rules for theological endeavor."
     -Andrew Webb, in an email to the Warfield Listserv, Monday, May 28, 2001, 9:32 PM.