The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1. Edited by J. Stephen Yuille. General Editors: Joel R. Beeke and Derek W.H. Thomas. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 832 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less. Also for Kindle for $9.99.
I have reviewed The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins a couple years back and found it to be much needed food for thought as I was merely six months into my pastorate at the time.
To underscore the importance of this first volume of the forthcoming ten-volume series, watch this quick video:
This first volume consists of three major sections. The first is a harmony of the Old and New Testaments. The second looks at Matthew 4:1-11 when the Devil tempted Jesus in the desert after our Lord’s 40-days of fasting and trial.
The third section, and roughly 5/8 of the entire volume, is a study of the Sermon on the Mount. I do believe this is longer than Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s treatment on the same text in his classic work Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.
Wow! This first volume is rich beyond comprehension. When I first saw that thirty-one different men endorsed this series, I was a bit concerned. Were they simply over zealous to sell a book or were they genuinely excited at the republication of these Works. It must be noted that Perkins’s complete works have not been reprinted in their entirety since the middle of the 1600’s.
In his harmony of the Old and New Testaments, Perkins offers dates based on his study of Genesis and the Flood the narrative. He goes into detail such that the Hebrew year was “36 days, five hours, and 59 minutes.” From that, he dates the crucifixion of Christ to be 4,000 years after the creation of the world. Further, he shows where in the historical narratives of Scripture these events take place as well as in what year (after creation).
His writings on the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 are rich with insight and is commended to all.
The main thrust of this first volume is his dealings with the greatest sermon ever…the Sermon on the Mount. With the precision of a surgeon and the care of a mother nursing her newborn, William Perkins exposits, explores, exhorts, and encourages his readers with great skill and practice.
One will not be able to read his work on the Sermon on the Mount only once. What is more, I believe this treatment of Matthew 5-7 will rival that of Lloyd-Jones in popularity.
Finally, Yuille did a masterful job of typesetting and offering subheadings (I do not know if these were in the original though I doubt they were) for the modern reader. They are extremely helpful and provide sufficient pause for the reader to be able to put the book down with a bookmark (extremely difficult to do!) at various points in his deep treatments of the Word of God.
The Christian church is indebted to Reformation Heritage Books for the republication of The Works of William Perkins. The bar has been set high by none other than Perkins himself. This first volume of this ten volume set is pure gold. You owe it to yourself to purchase a copy and drink from a deep well of Christian knowledge and practice.