The Puritan Hope
By Iain Murray
Iain Murray does great work showing that the Puritans had a positive hope for the future, earthly spread of the Gospel prior to Christ’s return to consummate His Kingdom. The twin grounds of this hope are found in the subtitle of the book: “Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy.” Murray excels at historical recounting of the church, and he goes in depth into the revivals that swept England and Scotland in the 1600s. The character of these were a thirst for Scripture, deliberate, sober living and repentance, and attending closely to the Word preached publicly in corporate worship. Ministers found themselves overwhelmed with people seeking their counsel and confessions. Murray’s point is that God can bring revival at any time, and can easily do so in the future, as in the past.
His second point is that God promises to bring revival to the Jews, in Romans 11:25-26. Murray doesn’t do an in depth exegesis of this text, but again gives an historical accounting of how the Puritans read this verse: God will bring about a revival among the Jews, ethnic Israel, prior to the coming of Christ. While other streams of thought stress the depravity of man such that we should not expect things to get better but rather worse, Murray points to this promise as a touchstone for other promises that God’s Word will not return void and His Spirit will work in men powerfully, visibly, and on a wide scale to bring the nations to Christ.
This was a good and convincing work, most encouraging in how God can use preaching in revival. The weak point was lack of theological interpretation of prophecy, but that was beyond the scope of the book anyway.