Following God Fully: An Introduction to the Puritans seemed like an appropriate book to review for Thanksgiving.

Many of the pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower were Puritans. Facing persecution in Europe from the Church of England because they desired to worship God only as He commanded in His Word, they left for New England, a promised land of freedom where they desired to “create a fully reformed society, freed from the shackles of the past.” (pg. 8)

It is said that they “made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of Thanksgiving” (H. U. Westermayer) on November 1621, to thank God for His comfort and sustenance, and to beseech Him to create an earnestness in their souls for spiritual food as much as the physical food He had provided.

Their attitude of gratitude in the face of extreme hardship came from a proper understanding of our guilt and God’s grace, which was wonderfully conveyed in their sermons, literature, and lives. Nothing produces more thankfulness than recognizing what we deserve by nature (hell and damnation), and what we have through Christ’s shed blood on the cross: a full and free pardon from all our sin, and eternity spent with Him in Heaven.

The first few chapters of Following God Fully explain what distinctives made the Puritans the Puritans, address common misconceptions about them, and reveal why what they taught is still relevant for us today.

This is followed by nine, short, biographical chapters, each one devoted to a well-known Puritan: William Perkins, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Goodwin, John Eliot, John Owen, John Bunyan, John Flavel, Matthew Henry, and Jonathan Edwards.

The rest of the book is largely dedicated to summarizing what the Puritans believed about important biblical doctrines, and how they arrived at these conclusions based on a clear and accurate interpretation of Scripture.

Over thirty topics are addressed, including the Trinity, covenant theology, faith and repentance, assurance of salvation, Heaven, the Lord’s Supper, church offices and government, the Lord’s Day, marriage, child-rearing, and vocations.

I highly recommend Following God Fully for personal study, for children 12+, or as a family read aloud. It truly is a great introduction to the Puritans, and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will fill your heart with true thanksgiving for all God has purchased for His children through His Son, Jesus Christ.