We’ve all been taught that the Puritans were a dark, dismal bunch. Our teachers lied to us:
Contrary to popular impression, the Puritan was no ascetic. If he continually warned against the vanity of the creatures as misused by fallen man, he never praised hair shirts or dry crusts. He liked good food, good drink and homely comforts; and while he laughed at mosquitoes, he found it a real hardship to drink water when the beer ran out.
– The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in 17th Century New England, Edmund Morgan.
John Owen, probably the greatest Puritan theologian, would walk through Oxford ‘hair powdered, cambric band with large costly band strings, velvet jacket, breeches set round at knees with ribbons pointed, and Spanish leather boots with cambric tops.’
– The Unquenchable Flame: Discovereing the Heart of the Reformation, Michael Reeves
John Calvin was younger than Martin Luther, and had a great respect for him. Sometimes painted as rivals, or even enemies, the truth is more complex. This, for example, is an amazing ending for a letter that Calvin wrote to Luther:
In a letter which Calvin wrote to Luther, but which he never received or read, for Luther’s friend Melachton, did not think it advisable to deliver it to him, Calvin asked Luther’s opinion about a certain matter which gave him much trouble. Beautiful and magnificent is the ending of this letter.
“For I would preferably converse with you personally, not only on this matter, but also on other matters. But that which is not granted to us on earth, will presently, I hope, be imparted to us in the Kingdom of God. Hail to you, most excellent man, servant of Christ, and honoured father. May God bless you always through his Spirit until the end, to the mutual well being of his church.”