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.
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
Stephen Charnock was born in 1628 in London, and little is known about his childhood. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, under William Sancroft. Upon graduation, he became a minister in Southwark, and moved to Oxford in 1652, where he was appointed a fellow of New College. Charnock moved to Ireland in 1656, where he served as chaplain to Henry Cromwell, the son of Oliver Cromwell. While he was in Ireland, he preached regularly each week in Dublin. His sermons were delivered without notes, and Charnock became popular in the city. In 1675, Charnock moved back to London to become a minister at Crosby Hall. He remained in London until his death on July 27, 1680.