The Works of William Perkins, Volume 5

Status
Not open for further replies.

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Perkins, William. The Works of William Perkins, Volume 5. Reformation Heritage Books, 2015.

Recent Reformed theology can be sadly described as a generation arising “which knew not the scholastics.” To paraphrase Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring: Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. But at least we have celebrity reformed preachers on the conference circuit, so it probably evens out.

Perkins defines faith as “a supernatural gift of God in the mind, apprehending the saving promise with all of the promises that depend on it” (Perkins 11).

Doctrine of God

God is a spiritual essence. His nature admits of no composition or form (19). Concerning his nature, Perkins notes that “By nature is meant a thing subsisting by itself that is common to many” (24). A person is a thing or essence that subsists but is incommunicable.

Side note: Perkins says “plain reason will show there is a God” (494).

The whole Godhead is “communicated from the Father to the Son, and from both Father and Son to the Holy Ghost” (24). Because of this, we must have doctrines like eternal generation. We distinguish the Father by his personal property of begetting. Moreover, “We distinguish between generation itself and the manifestation of it (Ps. 2) (109).”

The personal relations are notionally distinct from the divine essence, but realistically (in the traditional sense of the term) one with it (27). This does not make a quaternity, as the persons are modes of the Godhead, not distinct entities.

Perkins anticipates and rebuts the wicked heresy of eternal subordination. He notes that the Father is not set before the Son “in regard of time or dignity….but in regard of order only” (28). Commenting on 1 Cor. 11:3, the Father is “head of Christ” only as he is “God incarnate or made manifest in the flesh and in respect of the office to which he willingly abased himself” (11). Concerning 1 Cor. 15:24, this means only that his kingdom shall cease in respect of the outward manner of administration” (111).

Continuing with his treatment of classical theology, Perkins discusses the inseparable operations. The actions of God are twofold, inward and outward. An inward action is one “which one person does exercise toward another, as the Father does beget the Son” (43).

His take on the Filioque is quite interesting. He argues that when a divine person sends another, he communicates his whole essence to him. If both the Father and the Son send the Spirit, then they communicate their one essence to him (308). As it stands it needs more argument, but it is an interesting idea.

God’s Counsel and Man’s Sin

God’s counsel does not hinder the will of man, “but only order and dispose it” (46). God’s counsel is necessary in regard to the highest cause, but contingent regarding secondary causes, which include the wills of man. Regarding Adam’s fall, God did not take away his free will; he only ordered it (86). “God is a moving cause of the wills of evil men” (87). This does not entangle him in the defect of evil.

Christology

Perkins has an excellent section on the theologia unionis. Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit and his human nature received certain created gifts. The first is the “sanctification of the mass or lump which was to be the manhood of Christ” (126). The sanctification stopped the propagation of original sin and guilt. The second part infused holiness into the human nature.

Perkins has a good take on the autotheos controversy. In regard of the Son’s person, he is from the Father; in regard to the Godhead he is of himself.

On the Cross

When Jesus cried “why have you forsaken me?” did that entail Nestorianism? Did it imply a severing of the human nature from the divine nature? (This was always a danger latent in saying Jesus experienced hell). Perkins notes it in no way implied a severing. Rather, “the Godhead of the Father did not show forth his power in the manhood but did as it were lie asleep for a time, that the manhood might suffer” (188).

Death of the Body

The body dies when the soul is separated from it (83). When Christ died “his body and [human] soul were really and wholly severed” (197). This is common-sense. Perkins then adds a degree of precision that probably isn’t found elsewhere in the literature: “For as when he was living, His soul was a mean or bond to unite his Godhead and his body together, so when he was dead, his very Godhead was a mean or middle bond to unite the body and soul. To say otherwise is to dissolve the hypostatic union, by virtue whereof Christ’s body and soul, though severed from each other, yet both were still joined to the Godhead of the Son” (228).

The Fathers believed that Christ’s human soul was the middle point, or interface, between the divine nature and the flesh. This makes sense, as it is both created and immaterial. When Christ died, his Godhead held body and soul together.

Perkins realizes that “descended into Hell'' wasn't part of the Creed originally. He wants to avoid the idea that Christ accidentally (or maybe intentionally) got roasted a bit in his humiliation. Both sides kind of miss the point, though. The Creed collapsed several Greek words into the word “Hell.” Jesus probably raided Sheol or Hades. He didn’t go into Dante’s Hell. Even the passage in 1 Peter where the Spirit of Christ preached to the souls in prison isn’t referring to Hell. It would either be Taratarus or Sheol, not the lake of fire.

On Witchcraft

Perkins is unafraid to address hot topic issues. He argues, quite rightly, that Christ’s ascension protects believers from curses. He notes that “no witchcraft nor sorcery (which often are done with cursing) shall be able to hurt us” (259). Those not covered by the ascended Christ have no such protection. It is important to keep in mind that Perkins was once involved in the occult before he received better teaching.

The Church

The efficient cause of the church is God’s predestination. The formal cause is the mystical union (324ff). Of predestination, we note that the will of God appoints the estates of the creatures. (The following section is an exegesis of Romans 9). When God decrees something, there is no succession of moments. Nonetheless, we make logical distinctions. First, God purposes “what he will do and the end of all things.” The second is where he decrees the execution of the former (331).

God’s Will and Subordinate Means

Does God will evil? This seems to be the implication of predestination, yet it isn't. Perkins notes three actions in God’s willing of a thing. God can absolutely will a thing as something he delights in. God can absolutely nill a thing. “There is also a third action which comes as a mean between the two former, which is remissly or in part to nill and will a thing” (356-357). God does not approve a thing, yet he wills the permission of it.

God’s willing of causes can be set in a hierarchical structure. A highest cause of a thing overrules all. As Perkins’s notes, this is God’s will (358). This is the cause of all things that have being. From this are secondary and tertiary causes. This allows Perkins to rebut something like Molinism. A thing cannot have hypothetical options before it even has being.

Side notes:

Perkins condemns the prayer lives of those involved in usury (436).

Perkins believes reading forms of prayer are lawful (468).

Following his exposition of the Lord’s Prayer is a poem in rhyming couplets. It’s surprisingly good. Not as good as Alexander Pope, to be sure, but still quite good overall.

Criticisms

While the work is structured around the Apostles’ Creed and so lends itself to a natural organization, Perkins’ Ramism, of which I am generally a fan, sometimes gets the better of him. His method is to set forth the doctrine, the uses, the benefits, and probably some other stuff. None of that is wrong, but by the time we get to the fourth or fifth “use,” itself probably a subdivision of a previous use, one sometimes forgets which article of the creed he is on.

While Perkins gives the classic formula of “the practical syllogism,” his take on assurance leaves much to be desired. We are told not to pry into heaven, which is true. Rather, he tells us “by signs and testimonies in ourselves to gather what was the eternal counsel of God concerning our salvation” (337). The syllogism itself isn’t wrong. I know Beza and Perkins take a lot of heat for it, but I like how Perkins frames it: “an application of the promises of the gospel in the form of a practical syllogism.” I’m just concerned that he leaves out one of the very places where Christ has promised to meet us: The Lord’s Supper. In his shorter catechism he rightly notes that the Supper strengthens us in our doubts (506). Very true. He just missed a good opportunity to tie it in here.

Errata

P. 227: There are some formatting typos. Footnote 244 reads “kesmi/oj. 23a.
P. 232: Hades is several times formatted as “[email protected]
 
Last edited:

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
You're welcome. I certainly don't fault Ryan Hurd one bit. I can only imagine the task of editing Perkins' works. On the other hand, those are the only errata I found. There might be more but I don't think so.
Not at all. These things happen. The goal is to correct them.

Dr. Beeke assures me these will be fixed in the next printing.

Side note: Please point out typos as you come across them.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Formatting can "mysteriously" fall out, if it happens after the final proofing though* any number of things, it goes in the final file. I had some issues with Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, for which and other mistakes I have issued an Errata card.
*through
 
Last edited:

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Formatting can "mysteriously" fall out, if it happens after the final proofing though any number of things, it goes in the final file. I had some issues with Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, for which and other mistakes I have issued an Errata card.

I remember the days of copying and pasting Greek font into a Word document and it came out looking like wingdings
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Not at all. These things happen. The goal is to correct them.

Dr. Beeke assures me these will be fixed in the next printing.

Side note: Please point out typos as you come across them.

I doubt I will read through all of Perkins' works, but I do plan on getting volume six (dealing with predestination and Ramism) and volume 9 where he deals with Witchcraft. I plan on that this summer, maybe getting one of them in May. I'll look for any errata.
 

deleteduser99

Puritan Board Junior
Reading William Perkins volume 6 in answering Dicson on memory. He has a witty, sarcastic and humorous way of telling Dicson that both his memory system and writing style are just plain awful.

@Regi Addictissimus tell Dr. Noe that he has really brought Perkins to life in his translation! And I’m more amazed he was able to translate Dicson’s cramped and disorderly style.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Reading William Perkins volume 6 in answering Dicson on memory. He has a witty, sarcastic and humorous way of telling Dicson that both his memory system and writing style are just plain awful.

Read France Yates' The Art of Memory. She documents how Perkins opposed the occultists in England who used Giordano Bruno's memory techniques.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
@Regi Addictissimus tell Dr. Noe that he has really brought Perkins to life in his translation! And I’m more amazed he was able to translate Dicson’s cramped and disorderly style.
I will let him know when I see him this weekend. He will appreciate the comments. Thanks.
 

deleteduser99

Puritan Board Junior
Read France Yates' The Art of Memory. She documents how Perkins opposed the occultists in England who used Giordano Bruno's memory techniques.

I started Yates because I had an interest in this subject of artificial memory. She was too much for me at the time. Just didn’t have the education to comprehend the details she was interacting with. Yates did mention their dislike of the artificial system for the use of impious imagery, and said that part of it was also an inner iconoclasm corresponding to outer iconoclasm.

Among those in the circle of artificial mnemonists, William Perkins is Public Enemy No. 1. And by extension, the Reformers, for squelching such an obviously good memory system over petty disliking of using crass, violent or explicit images to help you remember things. Oh, the horrors....

(On another note, I learned from those that know me I can be quite sarcastic. I did not know this and was surprised by it. But maybe that’s why I am liking Perkins. I blame @Pergamum . And the Scots)

I’ve been looking for a subject on which to hammer out writing skills. Maybe this is a good topic for me.

Jacob, what do you think of the theory that Thomas Aquinas basically composed his Summa in his head, and then dictated it? I remember Yates talking about Aquinas on this subject of artificial memory.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Reading William Perkins volume 6 in answering Dicson on memory. He has a witty, sarcastic and humorous way of telling Dicson that both his memory system and writing style are just plain awful.
Yes, Perkins does have quite the personality that comes through in some of his writings. His collected works have become some of my most prized volumes in my library.

As a student of the Fathers, I appreciate volume seven very much:

-A Reformed Catholic or A Declaration Showing how near we may come to the present Church of Rome in sundry points of Religion, and wherein we must forever depart from them, With an Advertisement to all favorers of the Roman religion, showing that the said religion is against the catholic principles and grounds of the catechism.

- The Problem of Forged Catholicism, and the Universality of the Romish Religion. And it is a counter-poison against Jodocus Coccius’s Thesaurus Catholicus. And An Introduction to young Students in the reading of the Fathers.

-A Warning Against the Idolatry of the Last Times and An Instruction Touching Religious or Divine Worship


Sure, some of his arguments are a bit dated as much time has passed and he is writing in a pre-Vatican II conext. I still find the volume to be profitable.
 

deleteduser99

Puritan Board Junior
Yes, Perkins does have quite the personality that comes through in some of his writings. His collected works have become some of my most prized volumes in my library.

As a student of the Fathers, I appreciate volume seven very much:

-A Reformed Catholic or A Declaration Showing how near we may come to the present Church of Rome in sundry points of Religion, and wherein we must forever depart from them, With an Advertisement to all favorers of the Roman religion, showing that the said religion is against the catholic principles and grounds of the catechism.

- The Problem of Forged Catholicism, and the Universality of the Romish Religion. And it is a counter-poison against Jodocus Coccius’s Thesaurus Catholicus. And An Introduction to young Students in the reading of the Fathers.

-A Warning Against the Idolatry of the Last Times and An Instruction Touching Religious or Divine Worship


Sure, some of his arguments are a bit dated as much time has passed and he is writing in a pre-Vatican II conext. I still find the volume to be profitable.

I am thinking the one I will want to address next is volume 7, for the items in the contents you have listed.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I am thinking the one I will want to address next is volume 7, for the items in the contents you have listed.
To whet your appetite, here are the ToC's in the major treatises of volume 7:

A Reformed Catholic:

The Places of Doctrine Handled
1. Of Free-will
2. Of Original Sin
3. Assurance of Salvation
4. Justification of a Sinner
5. Of Merits
6. Satisfaction for Sin
7. Of Traditions
8. Of Vows
9. Of Images
10. Of Real-presence
11. The Sacrifice of the Mass
12. Of Fasting
13. The State of Perfection
14. Worshipping of Saints Departed
15. Intercession of Saints
16. Implicit Faith
17. Of Purgatory
18. Of the Supremacy
19. Of the Efficacy of the Sacraments
20. Of Faith
21. Of Repentance
22. The Sins of the Roman Church

William Perkins. The Works of William Perkins, Volume 7 (Kindle Locations 757-767). Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.

Forged Catholocism (Perkins examines what is thought to be forged Patristic documents)


A Warning Against the Idolatry of the Last Times and An Instruction Touching Religious or Divine Worship:


The Contents
I. What an idol is.
II. The property of an idol.
III. Three kinds of idols.
IV. God misconceived.
A. The first kind, God and Christ misconceived is an idol.
B. The second kind is when God is worshipped amiss.
1. Here it is handled that a devised image of God is an idol.
2. That God represented or worshipped in any image is an idol.
3. That Christ worshipped in a crucifix is an idol.
C. The third kind is when that which is proper to God is given to the creatures, and that three ways
1. When the divinity is any way given to creatures.
a. Here is a description of heathen gods.
b. The virgin Mary made a goddess.
c. The pope made a god.
2. When properties of God are given to creatures.
a. Thus saints are made idols.
b. Sacraments are idols.
c. Works are idols.
d. The bread in the Eucharist an idol.
3. When God’s worship is given to creatures.
a. Thus angels and saints are idols many ways.
b. Images and relics are idols.
c. The idolatry of the Roman Church in crucifixes, noted.
V. The preservation of ourselves from idols in four respects.
A. From the making of them.
B. From the having or keeping of them.
C. From the religious use of them.
D. From the users of them.
1. First, in respect of their deceits and excuses, which are five.
a. They worship images and not idols.
b. Not images properly, but God in them worshipped.
c. They give worship to God, and service to saints.
d. Worship of images confirmed by miracles and revelations.
e. They worship not gods of the heathen, but saints and Christian images.
2. Second, in respect of their fellowship,
a. Where is showed that we may not have fellowship with idolaters in the exercises of religion.
b. That societies of concord with them are not unlawful.
c. That society of amity is forbidden.
VI. How many ways the word “Son” or “Child” is taken in Scripture.
VII. That the Church of Rome maintains solidarity.
I. What the worship of God is.
A. The foundation of worship
B. The rule of worship
C. The end
D. Of persons apt to worship God
E. The place of worship
F. The properties of worship
II. The kinds of worship.
A. Principal
1. In subjection.
2. In cleaving to God by faith, love, and confidence.
3. The mixture of the former.
a. In humility
b. In patience
c. In prayer
d. In thanksgiving
B. Less principal.
1. Outward worship, where is handled eternal adoration.
2. The parts of this worship are three
a. Church-service: the parts, four
i. Preaching
ii. Fellowship or alms
iii. Sacraments
iv. Public prayer
b. Household service.
c. Personal worship.

William Perkins. The Works of William Perkins, Volume 7 (Kindle Locations 9300-9301). Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I started Yates because I had an interest in this subject of artificial memory. She was too much for me at the time. Just didn’t have the education to comprehend the details she was interacting with. Yates did mention their dislike of the artificial system for the use of impious imagery, and said that part of it was also an inner iconoclasm corresponding to outer iconoclasm

Right. For the occultists and hermeticists, the planets are "gods," and our memory corresponds with variou spheres. Not surprising why Perkins would see that for what it is.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Jacob, what do you think of the theory that Thomas Aquinas basically composed his Summa in his head, and then dictated it? I remember Yates talking about Aquinas on this subject of artificial memory.

I think he composed much of it in his head. It's not completely far-fetched. Their memories were better than ours (any educated monk easily had the Psalter memorized; that was expected).

And Aquinas's method follows a very rigorous pattern. You can basically anticipate what he will say next at certain moments.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Perkins, William. The Works of William Perkins, Volume 5. Reformation Heritage Books, 2015.

Maybe everyone else just took it in stride, but your book review was terrific for me. I don't get that much out of a book. I try, but some people just are better at some things than others. In my business, I often tell prospective clients about my excellent staff. I tell them that my claim to fame is that I hire people smarter than myself. I'm not intimidated at all but humbled rather. I think you did a great job on Perkins, and I just wanted to say so. Thanks.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Maybe everyone else just took it in stride, but your book review was terrific for me. I don't get that much out of a book. I try, but some people just are better at some things than others. In my business, I often tell prospective clients about my excellent staff. I tell them that my claim to fame is that I hire people smarter than myself. I'm not intimidated at all but humbled rather. I think you did a great job on Perkins, and I just wanted to say so. Thanks.

That is very kind. Thank you.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top