Samuel Petto (C. 1624-1711): A Portrait Of A Puritan Pastor Theologian -- By: Michael G. Brown
PRJ 2:1 (January 2010) p. 75
Samuel Petto (C. 1624-1711): A Portrait Of A Puritan Pastor Theologian
There are probably few students of English Puritanism and Reformed orthodoxy who recognize the name of Samuel Petto. Very little is known about this obscure Puritan. While in recent years various historical studies have referred to him in connection with his nonconformist ecclesiology,1 as well as his works on eschatology,2 pneumatology,3 witchcraft (a subject of growing interest in both Old and New England during the seventeenth century),4 and covenant theology,5 secondary literature devoted to Petto is practically non-existent. Although he was not as prolific a writer as some
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of his contemporaries, he nevertheless wrote on a vast number of theological subjects and may have had a more substantial role in the development of British covenant theology than his present obscurity suggests. For example, his 1674 work, The Difference Between the Old and New Covenant Stated and Explained, [hereafter: DBONC], was endorsed by the preeminent Puritan John Owen (1616-1683), who wrote the foreword to this book and called Petto a “Worthy Author” who labored “with good success.”6 Moreover, in 1820, twenty-nine Scottish ministers and theologians called for Petto’s book to be republished, “entirely approving and recommending it, as a judicious and enlightened performance.”7 The purpose of this article is to give a biographical sketch of Samuel Petto. It pursues the questions of who he was and what he accomplished in his time.
Samuel Petto lived and ministered during the turbulent era of England’s seventeenth century. Born in 1624, his upbringing and education paralleled the controversial reign of Charles I (1600-1649), who, from his coronation in 1625 until his Parliament-ordered execution in 1649, remained openly opposed to the Puritan plea for further reformation in the Church of England.8 Though his parentage is
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unknown, Petto may have descended from the Peyto family of Warwickshire and been related to the English Cardinal William Peyto (d. 1558/9), who once served as confessor to Princess Mary (1516-1558).9 Some have suggested th...
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