WILLIAM PERKINS, (1558-1602)
A History of Preaching
F. R. Webber

William Perkins was born at Marston Jabbett, Warwickshire, in 1558. He attended Christ's College, Cambridge, and was graduated M.A. in 1584. He was elected to a fellowship in 1582. In his earlier days he was addicted to drink and profanity. He was brought to his senses by overhearing the remark of a stranger, who pointed him out to a child as "that drunken Perkins." After his religious awakening he begged permission of the keeper of the jail to preach to the prisoners, and so effectively did he preach Law and Gospel that the townspeople came in numbers to the castle where the prisoners were kept, and were allowed to attend the services that Mr. Perkins conducted each Sunday.

After his ordination he was appointed lecturer at Great St. Andrew's. Here his sermons attracted attention, and he was summoned before the High Commission and questioned in regard to his attitude toward Puritanism. In 1590 he published his Armilla aurea, and his strict Calvinism stirred Arminius to reply, and this in part led to the Arminian Controversy. In 1592 he published his catechism, which he called The Foundation of the Christian Religion into Six Principles, and in so doing he laid the foundation for a number of later catechisms by Puritan writers. . . .

William Perkins was a preacher not only of unusual forcefulness, but his sermons are possessed of evangelical richness. It has been said that some preachers err in preaching all Gospel and no Law, whereas Perkins preached all Law and all Gospel. He is said to have combined "the vehemence and thunder of a Bonaerges . . . and the gentle persuasiveness and comforts of a Barnabas." In theology he was a rigid Calvinist, and among the Puritans there were few who were his equal in the pulpit. Not only did his preaching attract large congregations, but it produced results in the form of many changed lives. He preached the Law with severity, and many repented of their sins. However, so persuasively did he set forth the grace of God in Jesus Christ that many were shown the way to the foot of the Cross. He was an able teacher and a diligent writer, and his works have been translated into a number of languages, and were read widely long after his death. The life of William Perkins spans almost exactly the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was born the same year that she came to the throne, and he died just before the close of her long reign.

Return to A History of Preaching Page

© Copyright 2019 Rediscovering the Bible. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us | Email Webmaster