I finally read Learning in Christ’s School by Puritan Ralph Venning (d. 1674). To be honest, it isn’t my favorite Puritan Paperback. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but for me it was quite tedious and seemingly repetative. I did, however, appreciate Venning’s use of Scripture to point out the different maturity levels of Christians. Here’s a rough outline of the book, in case you’re interested.
1) Babes in the faith (1 Cor 1.3.1-2 & Heb. 5.11-14).
2) Little children (1 John 2.12-13)
3) Young men (1 John 2.13-14)
4) Fathers (1 John 2.13-14)
Venning spends half the book on that first point (babes in the faith). This section really drug on for me; I kept looking ahead to see when he’d move on to the next point. Its hard to explain, but I just wasn’t captivated with this book like I was when reading some other Puritan Paperbacks.
Here’s a sort of summary of the book in Venning’s words (p. 22).
“They [the above named Christians] are all members of the body, the foot as well as the hand, the ear as well as the eye. Though the stars differ from one another in glory, they are all stars. The fathers, the young men, the little children, and the babes also have this iin common, that they are of God’s family and of the household of faith, the sons of God. They are all in Christ’s school, though not in the same class.”
In summary, if you’re studying those texts listed above, the book might be helpful. Or, if you’re familiar with other Puritan works, you’d like it. On the other hand, if you’ve not read many Puritans, don’t start with this volume. Get the shorter ones first (like Watson on Repentance) and then in a few years maybe check into this one by Venning if the topic interests you.