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Select Practical Writings of John Knox – A Review by Ben Ramsbottom

Category Book Reviews
Date November 11, 2011

The Banner of Truth has published The Select Practical Writings of John Knox1. We have had a spate of writings by or about John Calvin, and now new books are beginning to appear about John Knox (the 450th anniversary of the Reformation in Scotland and the approaching 500th anniversary of Knox’s birth). We welcome this. John Knox (c. 1514-1572) was a great man. Most people seem to have heard about him, yet little has been really known about him. What is known seems to have been spoiled by secular historians. He was a man of granite, before whom rulers trembled, but he was a man of much godliness and grace.

This work is selected from his almost unobtainable complete Works. Here he appears as a man of very tender spirit. His letters (like those of Rutherford) clearly reveal the man. Most of them were written to his tried and tempted mother-in-law, and very beautifully he speaks of gospel comfort. It is very clear that he himself had been deeply led in the path of tribulation, both spiritually and outwardly. (He was captured by the French, and for eighteen months knew hard labour on one of their galleys.) There is a good introduction – not so much John Knox’s life, but rather how the various pieces published fit into his life, one of much activity.

Whilst John Knox was, under God, the leader of the Reformation in Scotland, he was also influential in France, in Geneva and in England. He was even offered a bishopric.

Apart from historical interest, Knox’s writings are profitable and not difficult to read (as with some of his contemporaries). We think our readers will always find that there is a difference in the writings of the Reformers from those of the Puritans in the next century. The Reformers were laying the foundations, on which the Puritans later built. The Select Practical Writings of John Knox was first published by the Free Church of Scotland in 1845. There was a movement for the republication of the old divines, but it was necessary that there should be subscribers first to make the work viable. It seems incredible that within a few months there were 20,000 subscribers! We cannot help feeling sad when we consider the difference today. It was interesting to see the preface was written by Dr. Candlish.

The publishers state:

You are holding in your hands a rare and precious book. It contains the choicest practical writings of a man whom God used to transform his native country and bring it into the light and under the blessing of Jesus Christ, and that in spite of constant opposition and grave personal danger.

Notes

    The Select Practical Writings of John Knox
    price £16.00

    Description

    The Banner of Truth has published The Select Practical Writings of John Knox1. We have had a spate of writings by or about John Calvin, and now new books are beginning to appear about John Knox (the 450th anniversary of the Reformation in Scotland and the approaching 500th anniversary of Knox’s birth). We welcome this. […]

Taken with permission from The Gospel Standard, November 2011.

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