Chapter 37 - Perkins and His Greatest Case of Conscience
William Perkins (1558-1602) "wed decretal and experimental theology" (587). He wanted to comfort unassured Christians that they had true faith by describing what happened within the soul of one whom God elects. So he lays out in great detail 5 stages of faith from weaker to stronger.
He identifies three grounds we have for the assurance of our salvation:
- Gospel Promises in the Bible
- The Holy Spirit's testimony
- The fruit of our sanctification in obedience and good works
Perkins saw 1 John as a treatise on attaining a clear and assured conscience. [I think this led him to a bit of eisigesis, reading that topic into the text when it wasn't the point.]
Here are some marks of a true believer. There are times when you
- commune with God
- flee worldly lusts
- have a sincere heart toward God
- love fellow Christians
- want to obey God's commandments
Perkins emphasized the subjective experience of faith and assurance more than earlier reformers, but he agreed with them on unconditional election, and the need to ground our experience in the Word of God. He set the tone and direction for Puritan thought for years to come.