The Puritan Study (Part 5) Print book searches

Part 5: Print book searches

We have spoken much about the Puritan literature; today we begin looking at real research. In the next post we will specifically cover e-Puritan searches, but today we are concerned with using printed Puritans.

Printed indexes

One of the most important resources available to the Puritan researcher are the printed indexes. This is true in both the works of a single author and in the Puritan index by Robert Martin (A Guide to the Puritans).

Thomas Manton

There are two reasons why Puritan Thomas Manton is my homeboy. First, his sermons are filled with rich exposition and pastoral warmth. When I really need a quote to convey a deeper truth, Manton is my source. And second, whoever edited his complete works did an incredible job (and an incredible service to preachers today) by including a detailed index. His 22-volume works (available on CD-Rom) conclude with over 300 pages of textual and topical indexes! A dream for the researcher.

From the screenshot to the right, you can see two pages from Manton’s topical index.

But Manton is not alone. The Complete Works of John Bunyan, Thomas Brooks, John Flavel and Richard Sibbes all come with excellent topical indexes.

Topical index

As an aside, I was speaking with a close friend recently who admitted that keeping a list of quotations was very difficult for him. One of the great difficulties to making an effective index of quotations is an inability to view an individual quote within the big framework. Some will read a quote about the power of the Cross without thinking how it would be properly indexed (ex. Christ > the Cross > effects of > power in believer).

To me, this is why the Puritans are liberating. Once you determine the general content of your sermon, you can go searching for great quotations! Surrounding yourself with quality Puritan literature will lessen the importance of a lengthy quote index.

As another example, I don’t have many quotations indexed on the sobering topic of God’s eternal judgment upon sinners. And I don’t need to. All I need to remember is that Jonathan Edwards preached a few incredible sermons (like Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) and John Bunyan preached another very quotable sermon on the same subject (A Few Sighs from Hell). Allow a little time to read and soak these sermons in and you will have all the quotes you could imagine on the subject.

This makes the topical Puritan index by Robert Martin, A Guide to the Puritans, especially important. Because while I knew that Edwards and Bunyan preached on the subject of God’s judgment, I was unaware that John Flavel (3:129-153), Thomas Boston (8:347-375) and Thomas Brooks (5:113-145) had also preached important sermons on the subject.

The wealth of Puritan sermons make personal quote indexes unnecessary.

Back to Psalm 16:11

As we began in Part 4, we are researching Psalm 16:11 as an example. And in studying our text we have three avenues of research open to us with these printed volumes.

(i) Primary text as sermon text
. Of our 14 top Puritans, none preached sermons where Psalm 16:11 was their primary passage (Why not? I cannot say). If you are searching on a text and you find two or more sermons where your text is the primary text, you may have all the content necissary for your Puritan research. But our problem here is a common one. On Psalm 16:11 we will need to dig deeper.

(ii) Primary text as indexed text. I will use the scripture index from Manton as an example. If you look to the screenshot to the right you will see that Psalm 16:11 was a topic of concern for Manton throughout his ministry. We see this especially in the following works in the following places: (volume: printed page) 9:455; 12:474; 14:469; 15:400; 16:192; 19:236; 20:465; 22:19. And these references come from just one of our 14 Puritan friends.

(iii) Cross-reference text as sermon text. If you need more information from the cross-references, follow the steps for (ii) except with other texts like Ps. 36:8.

You can use these principles on any text or topic study. Just find the biblical passages and track down the references in the scripture index or look up the topic in the topic index. The printed editions of the Puritan works remain important for these indexes.


Now a few references from Manton that I found as a result of my research.

Manton, 9:455 – “What can be found in the creature is but a drop to the ocean in comparison of what a believer findeth in God himself. God is to them an overflowing fountain of all felicity … Here (in this life) it admits of increase and decrease; but there the soul is so filled that it cannot receive any more: Ps. xvii. 15, ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.’ … In heaven the soul shall be filled with unspeakable joy and delight. What delight is to the sense, that joy is to the mind. Three things are necessary to delight – a faculty, or power of the soul capable of pleasure; and then the thing itself; which being brought to the mind, doth stir up delight. As in bodily things, colors, fruits, tastes, pleasure consists in the near union and conjunction of these things. The more noble the faculty, the more excellent the object; the nearer the conjunction, the greater the delight and pleasure. Now in heaven our faculties are perfected: God is the subject, and there is a near conjunction. Oh! What embraces between him and the soul!”

Manton, 22:19 – “The tree of life is gone, when paradise was defaced by the flood; but God hath provided a better life by the death of his Son, that we should live for ever, both in body and soul, eternally in heaven. Nothing else be this deserveth to be called life. The bodily life is short; it is a dying life or a living death. It floweth from us as fast as it cometh to us; but this never fadeth, but endureth for ever. The bodily life is subject to pain and misery, but the heavenly, full of joy and endless glory. The bodily life is supported with meats and drinks, but there God is all in all. The bodily life is consistent with sin, but this life is pure and perfect” (references to 1 John 3:2, Jude 2-4 and Psalm 16:11).

The options of what we now do with the quotations will be the subject of a later post. My point here is to show that it took just five minutes to find these two references from the works of Manton. I have six others references remaining in the works of Manton and another 13 Puritans I have yet to open.

By using these printed scriptural and topical indexes, it should be obvious that Puritan sermons provide the valuable depth we need in our sermon preparation.

Next time … Part 6: Electronic searches.