There can be little doubt that serious Christians of the Reformation era knew the Bible better than their evangelical counterparts today.  They displayed what can truly be called an appetite for the Word.  “FEED upon the WORD,” John Cotton told his congregation.  Richard Baxter begged his readers to “love, reverence, read, study, obey, and stick close to the Scripture.”  As a young man, John Milton’s father was put out of his parental home and permanently disinherited when his Catholic father found him reading an English Bible in his room.  John Winthrop recorded his “unsatiable thirst after the word of God” after his conversion.

The availability of the Bible quickly produced some familiar Puritan practices.  One was daily Bible reading in the home.  “Let not a day ordinarily pass you,” wrote Cotton Mather, “wherein you will not read some portion of it, with a due meditation and supplication over it.”  Puritans also began holding Bible studies and prayer meetings secretly in the late or early hours to avoid harassment from Anglican officials.

Biblical preaching also flourished with the advent of the English Bible.  In fact, when the young Henry Newcome began his first pastorate, an older preacher advised him that his sermons contained too much history and not enough Scripture.  “The people came with Bibles,” he was reminded, and “expected quotations of Scripture.”

From: Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were by Leland Ryken (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), pp. 139-140.

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