Beginner Reading List

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The Need to be Converted

Chapin, Calvin – ‘The Sinner Warned’  1808  19 pp.

Semple, Gabriel – ‘Seek ye the Lord while He may be Found’

Semple, one of the Scottish covenanters of the late 1600’s, preached this at one of the fugitive field meetings where attending Christians were at peril for their lives.

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Sin

Alexander, Archibald

‘The Deceitfulness of Sin’  no date or source info, 5 paragraphs

‘The Misery of the Lost’  no date or source info, 28 paragraphs

‘The Day of Judgment’  no date or source info, 21 paragraphs

Bavinck, Herman – ‘The Greatness and Miserableness of Man’  1956  3 paragraphs from Our Reasonable Faith, pp. 22-23

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Repentance

Colquhoun, John

The Difference Between True and Counterfeit Repentance  8 points in 37 paragraphs, from his Evangelical Repentance

A Word to the Impenitent  7 points in 10 paragraphs, from his Evangelical Repentance

The Fruits and Evidences of True Repentance  10 points in 14 paragraphs, from his Evangelical Repentance

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Salvation

Dickson, David and James Durham – The Sum of Saving Knowledge  1651

Alexander, Archibald

‘The Cross’  no date or source info, 4 paragraphs

‘Christ Standing and Knocking at the Door’  no date or source info, 5 paragraphs

‘Sinners Welcome to Come to Jesus Christ’  no date or source info, 38 paragraphs

Dabney, Robert – ‘Christ our Substitute’  no date, 4 pp.

Buchanan, James – ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Each Have a Part in Saving Sinners’  1867  6 paragraphs, from his Doctrine of Justification, 388-392

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Conversion

Alexander, Archibald

‘The New Birth’  1844  27 short paragraphs, from Thoughts on Religious Experience

‘The Peace of God’  no date or source info, 5 paragraphs

Buchanan, James – New Birth, Repentance and Faith  1847, 10 paragraphs, from The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit

Cunningham, William – Faith Unites us to Christ  Buy  1872  8 paragraphs, from Sermons 1828-1860

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Profiting from the Word

Pink, A.W. Profiting from the Word  37 pp.

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Bible Commentary

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible: Abridged  Buy 

Here is a wonderful preface (1828, 8 pages) to the commentary by Archibald Alexander, the first professor at old Princeton Seminary.

Hall, Joseph  d. 1656

Contemplations on the Historical Parts of the Old Testament

Contemplations on the Historical Parts of the New Testament  The work only covers the life of Christ (not the whole N.T.).

Hall was an influential reformed Anglican bishop.  These devotional and practical contemplations savor of deep spirituality and are very insightful.  One of a kind and one of the best.

***  ‘Need I commend Bishop Hall’s Contemplations to your affectionate attention?  What wit!  What sound sense!  What concealed learning!  His style is as pithy and witty as that of Thomas Fuller, and it has a sacred unction about it to which Fuller has no pretension.’  ‘The work can be readily procured; but if its price were raised in proportion to its real value, it would become one of the most costly books extant.’ – Spurgeon

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Psalm Singing

God tells us in his Word to sing psalms with joy (1 Chron. 16:9; Ps. 95:2; 105:2; Jam. 5:13).  Listen to the voice of God and begin singing them.

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Psalters

The Scottish Metrical Psalter, 1650  Buy

All the psalms are set to Common Meter, which means that if you know the tune to ‘Amazing Grace,’ you can sing the whole psalter.  Here are several handful more tunes you may know to help you start singing the songs that Jesus sang.  Once you get a little better, try the traditional tunes that the Scottish covenanters sang long ago!

The Book of Psalms for Singing  Buy 

This psalter put out by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America has set the psalms to many popular hymn tunes.  The psalter is useful for that reason (that persons can often sing right away the tunes they already know or can easily pick them up), but the translation is paraphrastic, which is much less than ideal, and the tunes do not always fit the words of the psalm.

For those reasons (amongst others) the 1650 Scottish Psalter is to be preferred as it is a much more faithful and literal translation, though it is in old English.

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Help for Singing

Roberts, Francis – Directions for the Right Singing of Scripture Psalms  1675, 12 pages, being pp. 128-131 of his larger The Key of the Bible: Unlocking the Richest Treasury of the Holy Scriptures.  This is an updated and easier to read edition than the original.

Roberts (1609–1675) was an influential puritan who wrote a very large introduction to the Bible, from which this work is taken.  Roberts gives 8 very helpful directions on how to sing the psalms with the most spiritual profit.  Print out these directions as a pamphlet to help fellow saints be encouraged in the Lord. 

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Devotional

Puritan Daily Devotional Chronicles  Buy

This is the best devotional the webmaster has come across!

Fraser, James of Brea – Hungering and Thirsting after Christ  1721 

These meditations are the fruit of this Scottish covenanter’s experience being jailed at Bass Rock and Blackness Castle.

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Christ

Guthrie, William – Sermon on Gal. 2:20, ‘Who loved me, and gave Himself for me…’  Buy  17 pp.

Brown, John of Wamphray – Christ: the Way, the Truth and the Life  Buy  150 pp.

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The Teachings of Scripture

Hooker, Edward – ‘Love to the Doctrines of the Bible an Essential Element of Christian Character’  1836  18 pp.

On love for Divine truth.

Alexander, Archibald – A Brief Compend of Bible Truth  Buy  1846  224 pages 

Originally published for the blind, a winsome and easy to read summary of Bible truth.  Great for beginners and young people.

Hodge, Charles

The Way of Life  Buy  1842  328 pp.

Popular treatments of the practical teachings of Christianity aimed to produce holiness.

‘Christianity Without Christ’  1876  10 pp. from the Princeton Review, Apr., 1876, vol. 5, issue 18, pp. 352-362

Berkhof, Louis – ‘Perversions of the Gospel’  in the early Church,  16 paragraphs, from his History of Christian Doctrine

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Sermons

Print

Alexander, Archibald – Practical Sermons  Buy  1850  596 pp.

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Audio

Mattull, Jonathan – The Knowing of the Love of Christ  on Eph. 3:18-19, 2013

Rev. Mattull is a minister in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).

Eph. 3:16-19,  “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory… that ye… may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”

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Bite-Size Puritan Works

The Pocket Puritan Series by Banner of Truth  Buy

This is some of the best Christian literature that there is:  easy to read, hitting many topics in the Christian life, and aimed at the heart.

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Love

Binning, Hugh – Christian Love  Buy  112 pp.

If our eye is on loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourself, we will fulfill the whole Law (Rom. 13:10).  This classic treatise throughout the centuries by one of the Scottish covenanters will help us do just that.  

While this short book will greatly soften our rough edges and endear our fellow brothers and sisters to us (a reward in itself), what is not always known is that this priceless and tender-hearted gem was written by one of the most doctrinally strict and uncompromising Christians ever to walk this earth.  May this be an example to us, and may we find, as did Binning, where truth and mercy kiss (Ps. 85:10).

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Personal Godliness

Porter, E. – ‘Love to Christ’  1808  15 pp.  in The Columbian Preacher

Alexander, Archibald

‘Prayer a Privilege’  no date or source info, 6 paragraphs

‘Love to an Unseen Savior’  1863  12 pages

‘The Nature of Vital Piety’  1843  19 pages, being the introductory essay to Advice to a Young Christian, by J.B. Waterbury

The piece begins:  “True religion not only enlightens the understanding, but rectifies the affections of the heart.  All genuine feelings of piety are the effects of divine truth…”   

Hodge, Charles – ‘Let him who Boasts, Boast in the Lord’  from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, 1:26-31

Brooks, Thomas – ‘The Secret Key of Heaven, a Discourse of Closet Prayer’  d. 1680  110 paragraphs  This is an excerpt from his book of the same title.

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Holiness

Ryle, J.C.

Holiness  200 pp.

Practical Religion  500 pp.

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The Christian Life

Fenn, Stephen – ‘Christians Bound to Distinguish Themselves from the World’ on Mt. 5:47, ‘What do ye more than others?’  1808  13 pp.  in The Columbian Preacher

Buchanan, James

‘Thoughts and Reflecting on the New Year’  no source info, 4 paragraphs

‘The Spirit as the Comforter’  1843  7 pp.  from his The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 277-284

Alexander, Archibald

‘The Faithful Elder’  no date or source info, 6 paragraphs

May we be found as faithful as this elder.

‘Practical Directions on How to Grow in Grace and Make Progress in Piety’  no date or source info, 30 paragraphs

‘The Lord’s Day’  1846  16 paragraphs, from his Brief Compend of Bible Truth

‘Fasting’  no date or source info, 7 paragraphs

Letters to the Aged  1868, 84 pp.  7 letters, originally published as an Appendix to Thoughts on Religious Experience

Godly and wise advice on how to grow old well.

Hodge, Charles – The Nature and Necessity of a Public Profession of Religion  Buy  1841  10 paragraphs from The Way of Life

All too often Christianity is thought to be a personal opinion that one can keep to themselves and requires nothing.  Here is a Biblical corrective.  Christ said, “whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”  Mt. 10:33

Kennedy, John – Things to be Pondered: A Course of Twelve Lessons, which I have Begun to Learn, and Should not Cease to Remember  no date, 2 pp.  from The Life of John Kennedy, D.D. by Rev. Alexander Auld

Here is Biblical meditation and self-examination at its best.  Read this five minute piece, and then do the same.

Hyde, Daniel – Why do Christians Worship on Sunday?  2014  7 paragraphs

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The Christian Journey

Bunyan, John – Pilgrim’s Progress

Bunyan during the late-1600’s wrote this classic fictional allegory about the Christian life from prison.  Through history it has been the 2nd most popular piece of Christian literature ever, next to the Bible. 

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Self-Examination and Assurance

Guthrie, William – The Christian’s Great Interest  Buy  †1665

Fear not: while puritans such as Thomas Hooker in New England thundered against hardened hypocrites (rightly, as the town churches were filled with them), Guthrie handles the reader gently and winsomely in ‘a most homely and plain style’, not crushing the bruised reed but building up even the smallest babe in Christ to know how to attain an assurance of salvation, even ‘Heaven on earth’.  

Thomas Chalmers, one of the fathers of the later Free Church of Scotland, who wrote an Introductory Essay to the work, said that ‘while it guides, it purifies,’ and that it ‘is the best book I ever read’.  Be not fooled, though the book is sweetly simple, John Owen said of Guthrie and his work, ‘That author I take to have been one of the greatest divines that ever wrote… I have written several folios [there are 23 volumes in Owen’s Works], but there is more divinity in it than in them all.’  

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Evangelism

Anonymous – ‘Do You Ever Attend the Missionary Prayer Meeting?’  1845  4 pp. starting on p. 101, appended to Samuel Miller’s Letters on the Observance of the Monthly Concert in Prayer

Beeke, Joel – Puritan Evangelism  Buy  78 pp.

The best and most Biblical work on how to share your faith with others.

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Affliction

Buchanan, James

‘The Bible and Consolation’  no source info, three paragraphs

Comfort in Affliction: Meditations  Buy  1851  254 pp.

This is some of the dearest and most poignant Christian literature, filled with comfort for those suffering in affliction.

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Family

1600’s

Dod, John and Cleaver, Robert – Duties of Husband and Wife  1603, 20 paragraphs, being excerpts from A Plain and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments

Some of the best marital advice there is, from a standard English Puritan treatment of the Ten Commandments.

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1800’s

Alexander, Archibald

The Way of Salvation Familiarly Explained in a Conversation Between a Father and his Children  1800  78 pp.

‘Counsels to Christian Mothers’  no date or source info, 27 paragraphs

‘Catechetical Instruction’  no date or source info, 15 paragraphs

On teaching your family and kids the truths of God.

Thoughts for Young People  1844  19 paragraphs from his Thoughts on Religious Experience

Miller, Samuel – ‘The Appropriate Duty and Ornament of the Female Sex’ on Acts 9:36-41,  1808  15 pp.

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Contemporary

McCurley, Rob – Biblical Marriage  2010  55 pages, being notes to 4 linked hour-long audio messages 

Here are Scriptural guidelines for a godly and spiritually fulfilling marriage, from a seasoned pastor.  These warm audio messages and notes are filled with Biblical wisdom, to guide you into the richest blessings of the Lord.  They are helpful for premarital counseling and any stage in marriage, whether one needs an encouraging check-up, or a wholesale turn around.  

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Church

Miller, Samuel

Church Attachment and Sectarianism  1854  6 pp.  from The Presbyterian Magazine

“It is indeed, not only a misfortune, but a sin, that the Church of Christ which ought to be one in name, and in profession, as well as in fact, is divided into so many different denominations,” Miller rightly states.  

Let us not be sectarians and forget that we are part of the One Body of Christ on earth.  This is a very balanced treatment.

The Importance of the Gospel Ministry  1827  68 pp.

Breed, W.P. – ‘Jenny Geddes’  1869  15 paragraphs  from Jenny Geddes: or Presbyterianism and its great Conflict with Despotism

How can one person reform the church?  Throw your stool at the minister when he does things God has not prescribed in scripture, just as this godly woman of old did and started the Second Reformation in Scotland (1638).

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Worship

The Worship of God: the Importance of Purity of Worship, the Westminster Directory of Public Worship and How Should Our Churches Worship Today  Buy  1997  71 pp.

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The Lord’s Supper

Hodge, Charles – But what is it to Eat and Drink Unworthily?  1860, 3 paragraphs, from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians

Alexander, J.W. – Self-Examination and Questions before the communion  being chapters 18 & 19 of Plain Words to a Young Communicant, pp. 29-35

Swinnock, George – A Good Wish about the Lord’s Supper  in Works 1:218-222

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Scottish Church History

Collins, G.N.M. – The Heritage of our Fathers  Buy

This stimulating story though Scottish Church history reads like an adventure story; you probably won’t be able to sleep until you finish it.  This is the best short book on Scottish Church history there is.

Collins was a professor of Church History in the Free Church of Scotland in the mid-1900’s.

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Death

The Story of the Burning of Thomas Cranmer  see the three paragraph caption under the picture

Hodge, Charles – A brief account of the last hours of Albert B. Dod  1845  13 pp.  Albert Dod was a professor of mathematics, a presbyterian theologian, and a friend of many of the Princeton theologians.  Here is a wiki article on him.

Here is an account of how to die well. 

Alexander, Archibald – A Prayer for One who Feels that he is Approaching the Borders of Another World  8 paragraphs  from Thoughts on Religious Experience, pp. 259-262

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Heaven

Alexander, Archibald – Heaven  no date or source info, 4 paragraphs

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Other Websites

Grace Gems