The folks at Christ the Center invited Phil Ryken to discuss his doctoral dissertation on Thomas Boston and Boston’s teaching of the fourfold state. This was a lively discussion about a very popular Puritan era preacher who wrote many books for the common Christian while avoiding the purely scholarly level of writing. But with a book titled “Human Nature in its Fourfold State” one would be tempted to think this was a scholarly work. However, this was a popular work, testified by the fact that it was the widest selling English book in the 17th century.
The ‘Fourfold State’ is simply a way to work out the different states of man as taught by Scripture: The state of innocence enjoyed by Adam and Eve, the state of sin after the fall, the state of grace as a man under the grace of salvation, and the state of glorification after we shed our human bodies and go to heaven.
The discussion about the fourfold state takes relatively little time. The great value of this discussion is what we learn about the life and character of Thomas Boston, as a faithful pastor, as viewed by a faithful pastor — Phil Ryken.