What We Can Learn from the Puritans’ Preaching

I love working with students, and my favorite part of my job is preaching. Each week, I have the awesome privilege of sharing God’s Word with a lot of students, and I want to communicate well. One of the reasons that I am still going to seminary is that I want to be the best preacher that I possibly can. Not for fame or popularity, but because God has called me to preach and I want to give Him my best. I started a class on preaching in American history last week, and I studied the Puritans. I read about their preaching style and many of their sermons. I read the sermons of John Cotton, John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, and several others in order to determine how they interpreted Scripture and how it impacted their preaching. There were several things that I believe contemporary preachers can learn from the Puritans (listen up, those of you who are called to ministry!), and I wanted to share them here. The following paragraph is from my assignment, with slight modifications:


There are several ways that contemporary preachers should respond to the preaching of the Puritans. They sought to interpret Scripture in a literal and historical manner, and they attempted to communicate biblical truth clearly. These aspects of Puritan preaching should be imitated. They also preached sermons that were rich in theological content, and for this they should be praised. Their preaching emphasized the doctrines of sovereignty, depravity, and grace, and contemporary preachers would be wise to follow their example. On the other hand, the Puritans were not always hermeneutically consistent. At times, they embraced the literal meaning of the biblical text, but other times they resorted to the Pre-Reformation model of allegorical interpretation. This inconsistency is likely the result of their emphasis on the covenants. Their strong belief in the Social Covenant, the Church Covenant, and the Covenant of Grace often led them to search for covenantal concepts in passages that were not directly related to God’s covenants with man. This serves as a warning to contemporary preachers, who must avoid allowing their theology to drive their interpretation of Scripture.

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