Charles I

Charles I reigned from 1625, when Adams was 32, until January 1649, when he was beheaded and the Commonwealth was set up.



James I

King James reigned in England 1603-1625 when Adams was in his twenties and thirties.
James was succeeded by his son Charles I. c 1606

Elizabeth I

When Adams was born in 1583, the reigning monarch was Elizabeth I.
She had been queen since 1533 and continued to reign until her death in 1603,
when Adams was 20. The new king was James.
The Darnley portrait is from 1575This portrait of 1588 celebrates the defeat of the Spanish Armada

The rainbow portrait was done in 1600. For more see here.

Old St Paul's Again

For more on old St Paul's, as Adams would have known it, see here.


Adams Quotes 04

Men and Women
Woman takes her being from man, man takes his well-being from woman.
Though Christ honoured our sex in that he was a man, not a woman: yet he was born of a woman and was not begot of a man.
Woman was principal in killing the first Adam, himself being accessory. But in killing the second Adam, man was the principal and woman had not a finger in it.
True obedience hath no lead at its heels.
They know not Christ who seek to divide his blood from his water, and they shall fail in justification in heaven that refuse sanctification on earth.
Naked faith is no faith.

We know that there is a sun in heaven, yet we cannot see what matter it is made of, but perceive it only by the beams, light and heat. Election is a sun, the eyes of eagles cannot see it; yet we may find it in the heat of vocation, in the light of illumination, in the beams of good works.
Hearing and doing
Many come to these holy places, and are so transported with a desire of hearing, that they forget the fervency of praying and praising God . . . all our preaching is but to beget your praying; to instruct you to praise and worship God . . . . I complain not that our churches are auditories, but that they are not oratories; not that you come to sermons (for God’s sake, come faster), but that you neglect public prayer; as if were only God’s part to bless you, not yours to bless God. . . . Beloved, mistake not. It is not the only exercise of a Christian to hear a sermon; nor is that Sabbath well spent that despatcheth no other business for heaven . . . God’s service is not to be narrowed up in hearing, it hath greater latitude; there must be prayer, praise, adoration.
The least faith is as precious to the believer's soul as Peter's or Paul's faith was to themselves; for it lays hold upon Christ and brings eternal salvation. (On 2 Peter)
Presumption is joined with looseness of life; persuasion with a tender conscience; that dares sin because it is sure, this dares not for fear of losing assurance. Persuasion will not sin, because it cost her Saviour so dear; presumption will sin, because grace doth abound. Humility is the way to heaven. They that are proudly secure of their going to heaven do not so often come thither as they that are afraid of going to hell. (On 2 Peter)
The inconstant man is a stranger in his own house.
The light of nature is like a spark, the light of the gospel a lamp, the light of grace a star, but the light of glory the sun itself.
Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line, the Scriptures being but as it were the swaddling bands of the child Jesus.
Religion gives riches, and riches forgets religion . . . Thus do our affections wheel about with an unconstant motion. Poverty makes us Religious, Religion rich, and riches irreligious.
(Diseases of the Soul: A Discourse Divine, Morall, and Physicall, (London, 1616), 24)
The Law gives menaces. the gospel gives promises.
Sin is the strength of death and the death of strength
It is a poor worship to move our hats, and not our hearts.
One would think that punishment should procure fear, and forgiveness love; but no man more truly loves God than he is most fearful to offend Him .... we fear thee for thy justice, and love thee for thy mercy; yea, fear thee for thy mercy, and love thee for thy justice; for thou art infinitely good in both.
Devotion without instruction winds itself into superstition.
Lay up in the ark of thy memory not only the pot of manna, the bread of life; but even Aaron's rod, the very scourge of correction, wherewith thou hast been bettered.
Sins are so remitted as if they had never been committed.

Spurgeon on Adams

C H Spurgeon (1834-1892) to his students
"Thomas Adams was a divine moralist rather than a theologian: Be sure you get his exposition of II Peter. He was the Shakespeare of the pulpit, and he says some wonderful things."


The Puritans

The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the word Puritan came into fashion around 1556 in Queen Mary’s reign. (Mary lived 1516-1558. She succeeded 1553.) Cf the relevant article on English Dissenters here. Church historian Thomas Fuller apparently wanted the word Puritan banned so imprecise did he consider it.Carl Trueman is not the first to have observed that the word ‘has proved notoriously difficult to define.’ He says, helpfully, that ‘it remains true to say that it is easier to give examples of Puritans than give a precise and fully adequate definition of Puritanism’. (C R Trueman, The Claims of Truth; John Owen’s Trinitarian Theology Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1998, 9). More analytically Jim Packer says ‘Puritan was an imprecise term of contemptuous abuse which between 1564 and 1642’. It applied, he says, to at least five overlapping groups.

1. Clergy, who ‘scrupled some Prayer Book ceremonies and phrasing’.

2. Those who wanted the Presbyterian reforms advocated by Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603) and the 1572 Admonition to the parliament.

3. All who ‘practised a serious Calvinistic piety’.

4. Rigid Calvinists who applauded the Synod of Dort, ‘called doctrinal Puritans by other Anglicans who did not’.

5. MPs, JPs and other gentry who ‘showed public respect for the things of God, England’s laws and her subjects’ rights’.

(Jim Packer, Quest for godliness, 35. Cartwright was a popular Cambridge preacher whose lectures on Acts, 1569-1571 had a big an impact on some eager for further ecclesiastical reform. Deprived of his fellowship he moved to the continent. The Admonition was probably by John Field (1545-1588) and Thomas Wilcox (1549-1608) London based Cartwright disciples imprisoned for it. It was disliked by moderate Puritans eg John Foxe (1516-1587), Thomas Lever (1521-1577).
The Synod of Dort [see pic], a Reformation milestone and the source of the Canons of Dort (the 5 Points of Calvinism) was an international conference in Dort or Dordt (Dordrecht) Nov 1618-May 1619 called to settle controversy in the Dutch Reformed Church over teaching linked to Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) and promoted by Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641), etc. Ames, Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), John Davenant (1576-1641), Joseph Hall (1574-1657), Samuel Ward (1572-1643) attended. See here.)
In an essay on the subject Peter Lake pinpoints three positions regarding the question in recent historiography. (Peter Lake. ‘Defining Puritanism – again?’, Francis J Bremer ed. Puritanism: Transatlantic Perspectives Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1993, 3-29).
First, Puritanism was a movement committed to further reformation in the church’s government or liturgy. In Intellectual origins of the English Revolution revisited Christopher Hill confined the word Puritan to ‘all those radical Protestants who wanted to reform the Church but (before 1640 at least) did not want to separate from it.' (Christopher Hill, Intellectual origins of the English Revolution revisited Oxford: Clarendon, 1997, 25, 26). The unlikelihood of a restructuring of the Church of England no doubt helped such to focus on reforming pastoral care within established structures.
Second, Puritanism was ‘a style of piety, an emotional and ideological style’. Dr Lloyd-Jones, for example, also argued that Puritanism goes back at least as far as the English Reformer William Tyndale (1495-1536) and is an attitude of mind and heart (D M Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: their origins and successors, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1981, 240). He calls Knox the first Puritan (ibid, 260). Cf Knappen; Everett Emerson, English Puritanism From John Hooper to John Milton (Durham: Duke UP, 1968). Geoffrey Nuttall, The Puritan Spirit, London: Epworth Press, 1967, 11, similarly speaks of ‘ … that spirit in religion which has driven men at all times to seek a purer way of life’. Christopher Hill is not far from that with ‘a philosophy of life, an attitude to the universe, … not in the narrow sense restricted to religion and morals …’ (Hill, Intellectual origins, 260, 261)
Those taking this second position either ‘seek a core of definitively Puritan notions or opinions’ or see Puritans as a zealous and intense subset within the broader Protestant movement.
Thirdly, more recently the view that ‘residual notions of Puritanism as a free-standing view of the world are best jettisoned’ has been floated. The word Puritan is seen as no more than a literary device of the time (Bremer, 3-5).
Lake’s own view he describes as an amalgam of the second and third approaches. He suggests that several strands made up the typical Puritan. It is the presence not of one or two strands that identifies the Puritan but a whole series of them creating a ‘central core of a Puritan style, tradition or world view’ (Ibid, 6.). The predestinarian strand, for example, is part of Puritanism but as Lake points out elsewhere ‘between 1560 and 1625 the doctrine of predestination was accepted without question by virtually all of the most influential clergymen in England, puritan and non-puritan alike’. Lake develops his earlier argument that ‘the core of the moderate puritan position lay neither in the puritan critique of the liturgy and polity of the church nor in a formal doctrinal consensus’ but ‘in the capacity, which the godly claimed, of being able to recognise one another in the midst of a corrupt and unregenerate world’. They insisted on the ‘transformative effect of the word on the attitudes and behaviour of all true believers.’
(Cf Christopher Durston and Jacqueline Eales, The culture of English Puritanism 1560-1700, Basingstoke: MacMillan, 1996, 7; Peter Lake, Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church, Cambridge: CUP, 1982, 282. Further discussion of the definition of Puritanism can be found in the opening essays by John Morrill and Dwight Brautigam in Laura Lunger Knoppers (ed), Puritanism and Its Discontents, Newark: University of Delaware Press and London: Associated University Presses, 2003, 27ff.)
By Puritans we mean men of this sort. This group is often identified with the early ‘spiritual brotherhood’ of Richard Greenham (1531-1591), Richard Rogers (1550-1620), Henry Smith (1550-1591), John Dod (1549?-1645), Arthur Hildersham (1563-1632) and those who succeeded them prior to the later Puritan ascendancy. Although Thomas Adams was not entirely one with this group his doctrine was very similar.


London 1640s

London 1640s see here for more detail

London 1650

Old St Paul's

The original St Paul's before the 1666 fire - as it would have been in Adams' day,
except for the spire. This was struck by lightning and lost in 1561.