Stephen Charnock was an influential Puritan minister, whose writings and sermons combined theological acumen, a thorough understanding of Scripture, and a clear grasp of philosophy. He ministered in the context of theological controversy and political upheaval, and contributed to the establishment of Reformed orthodoxy in seventeenth century England and Ireland.
The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock contains 64 theological discourses—2,804 pages of rich Puritan writing on biblical and theological topics. This collection also contains Charnock’s seminal work, The Existence and Attributes of God, found in the first two volumes. This work has become a classic text on the doctrine of God, and examines in detail God’s foreknowledge and sovereignty, and discusses the possibility of free will and natural law. No Reformed theologian prior to Charnock treated God’s existence and attributes with such clarity and depth—in fact, his was one of the first works solely devoted to the subject to appear in the Reformed theological tradition, and has become a standard work on the subject. His positions have been echoed and refined by generations of theologians, and most recently have contributed to contemporary debates over free will, foreknowledge, and the openness of God.
Stephen Charnock’s Works will interest Reformed theologians, Puritan scholars, historians of the English Reformation, and anyone interested in the open theism debate.
“It is necessary to excite men to daily and actual considerations of God and his nature, which would be a bar to much of that wickedness which overflows in the lives of men.” (Volume 1, Page 129)
“We must first believe that he is, and that he is what he declares himself to be, before we can seek him, adore him, and devote our affections to him, Heb. 11:6. We cannot pay God a due and regular homage unless we understand him in his perfections, what he is; and we can pay him no homage at all, unless we believe that he is.” (Volume 1, Page 129)
“‘Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?’ &c. Interrogations are in Scripture the strongest affirmations or negations. It is here a strong affirmation of the incomparableness of God, and a strong denial of the worthiness of all creatures to be partners with him in the degrees of his excellency. It is a preference of God before all creatures in holiness, to which the purity of creatures is but a shadow; in desert of reverence and veneration, he being ‘fearful in praises.’ The angels cover their faces when they adore him in his particular perfections.” (Volume 2, Page 189)
“Doct. Holiness is a glorious perfection belonging to the nature of God, hence he is in Scripture styled often the Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, the Holy One of Israel, and oftener entitled Holy than Almighty, and set forth by this part of his dignity more than by any other. This is more affixed as an epithet to his name than any other; you never find it expressed, his mighty name or his wise name, but his great name, and most of all his holy name. This is his greatest title of honour; in this doth the majesty and venerableness of his name appear.” (Volume 2, Page 190)
The place of Stephen Charnock among theologians has long been definite and distinguished. . . . Massive, substantial, and thorough, [Charnock’s works] well represent the religious thinking and character of the man.
—The Evangelical Witness and Presbyterian Review, 1865