A Brief Defence of Dissociation in the Present Circumstances
By the Session of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton/Prince George
March 27, 1996
Though false allegations of schism, separatism, and independecy will likely attend our decision to dissociate from The ________ Church, the session of Puritan Reformed Church offers this brief defence in support of its action.
Though it is not necessary that a truly constituted church be absolutely pure as to the doctrine taught or embraced, as to the ordinances administered, or the public worship performed, it is, however, necessary that its constitution be founded upon and agreeable to the Word of God and that its constitution reflect the light attained to by the purest of Reformed Churches (for all reformation must be biblical reformation if it is reformation at all, otherwise it is not a reformation but a deformation, cf. Phil. 3:16). Wherefore, to adopt a constitution that corrupts the light of Scripture or the light of reformation is to adopt a false constitution. A false constitution renders a church and its courts unconstitutional. When the Confession of Faith (25:4) speaks of degrees of purity among particular churches within the "catholick church", we believe it designates degrees of purity within truly constituted churches. For example, though the church of Corinth was plagued with division, immorality, and false doctrine promoted by some within the church (and therefore manifested a lesser degree of purity than other truly constituted churches, cf. the church of Smyrna in Rev. 2:8-11), it was, nevertheless, a truly constituted church for it was constituted by apostolic authority (with apostolic doctrine, apostolic worship, apostolic government, and apostolic discipline). Thus, for a church to constitutionally adhere to Arminianism, Dispensationalism, or Charismatic experientialism (false doctrine), singing uninspired hymns or using instrumental music in public praise (false worship), Episcopacy or Independency (false government), or unrestricted communion (false discipline) is to qualify as a constitutionally false church. That is not to say that there are no believers in churches that are not truly constituted (there may be many in some cases). Nor is it to imply that ministers or elders within those churches do not courageously stand for many truths taught in Scripture. It is simply to say that authority to rule in the church must come from Christ, and if a church does not have a constitution of which He approves (as King of His church), then there is no lawful authority to rule or to administer the ordinances on His behalf. Authority to administer the divine ordinances on behalf of Christ flows directly from the King and His constitution. Authority used within His church on any other grounds is an usurped authority. It is tyranny. For this reason, the magistracy and the church (during the Second Reformation) did not recognize the constitutional viability of any other church within the realm of Scotland than the Church of Scotland:
. . . there is no other face of kirk, nor other face of religion, than was
presently at that time, by the favour of God, established within this
realm: "Which therefore is ever styled God's true religion, Christ's
true religion, the true and Christian religion, and a perfect religion"
(The National Covenant of Scotland, emphases added).
To live in Scotland and yet to be outside the Church of Scotland was to be outside the visible church, for no other church was tolerated or recognized as a constitutionally true church. It was to be excommunicated from a truly constituted church and ministry. An essential term of communion within the Church of Scotland was The National Covenant (and subsequently The Solemn League and Covenant). Concerning the National Covenant as a term of communion note the following historical accounts.
Copies of the Covenant were carried into every corner of the land to
be subscribed, and were looked upon as tests of faith in Christ. . . .
The Presbytery of Kirkcaldy resolved, 1st August 1639, that no
'wilful non-Covenanters should be admitted to the Sacrament'
(James King Hewison, The Covenanters, A History of the Church in
Scotland from the Reformation to the Revolution, Vol. I, p. 272,
At length, on 2nd August 1643, the epoch-making Assembly met in
the east division of St. Giles' Church, Edinburgh, when Sir Thomas
Hope had the unique distinction of sitting as Commissioner, and
Henderson, for the third time, filled the Moderator's chair. They
began business by enacting that the National Covenant of 1638 should
be issued in a little quarto volume, with blank leaves, to be
subscribed in every synod, presbytery, and parish, and that non- subscribers of it should be censured (Hewison, The Covenanters,
Vol. I, p. 377, emphases added).
Furthermore, those accounted as having defected from these covenants (the defectors were called "malignants") were censured by the Church of Scotland.
On 12th July , the Assembly met in Edinburgh, George
Gillespie being Moderator, approved of the Argyll policy, and
condemned the 'unlawful engagement' as sinful and censurable. The
Church opposed the Engagement because it violated the Solemn
League and Covenant, inasmuch as it proposed the reinstatement of an Episcopal monarch, the formation of a party of Covenanters in alliance
with their opponents, and the delegation of power to a government
who 'mind not religion.' The Assembly further declared the Engagers
to be malignants, non-Covenanters, sectaries, and enemies to the one
righteous cause. . . . The Covenant was to be the sole test of patriotism and of religion. Other bonds and the toleration of sects
were to be avoided like the pest. Favourers of any other policy were
to be excommunicated if unrepentant. Ministers approving of the
Engagement were to be deposed. . . (Hewison, The Covenanters,
Vol. I, p. 446, emphases added).
In fact, the issue of faithfulness to the covenants actually rent the Church of Scotland into two parties so that the Protesters declared the Assemblies of the Resolutioners (the covenant-breaking party that developed out of the Engagers) to be unconstitutional and pretended Assemblies. The covenants were obvious terms of communion, for Protesters and Resolutioners refused to meet in the same General Assemblies together. Protesters did not recognize the unlawful courts of the Resolutioner Assemblies and would not attend them when cited to appear. Protesters were deposed from the ministry by Resolutioner Assemblies when they refused to recognize their lawful authority to rule on behalf of Christ.
It [the joint General Assembly of Protesters and Resolutioners--PRC]
met in St. Andrews on 16th July. . . . Rutherford, and other twenty-one sympathisers, protested against the meeting as unconstitutional. . . .
There [later at Dundee, where the General Assembly of Protesters,
who had separated themselves from the Resolutioners, was now
meeting--PRC], on 22nd July [1651--PRC], Rutherford's cogent
Protest declining the Asembly was read. Balcarres [a Resolutioner--
PRC] in vain demanded that the twenty-two absent Protesters should
be reported for civil punishment for their reflections on the King,
Parliament, and Church. The Assembly [of Resolutioners--PRC]
ordered Presbyteries to deal with them. It was ultimately agreed to
cite [James--PRC] Guthrie, Patrick Gillespie, James Simson, James
Naismith, and John Menzies. They did not compear [i.e. appear at
the Resolutioner assembly--PRC]. The [Resolutioner--PRC]
Assembly deposed Guthrie, Gillespie, and Simson, suspended
Naismith, and referred Menzies to the Commission.
After the meeting of the Assembly at St. Andrews, a work was
published entitled A Vindication of the Freedom and Lawfulness of
the late Assembly [by James Wood, a Resolutioner--PRC], etc.
This was answered by The Nullity of the Pretended Assembly at
Saint Andrews and Dundee [signed by 40 Protesters including
Rutherford and Guthrie--PRC](Hewison, The Covenanters, Vol. II, pp.
34,35, emphases added).
Separate Assemblies of Protesters and Resolutioners met in 1652 and in 1653 in Edinburgh. The Protesters declared the Assembly of the Resolutioners in 1652 to be "unlawful, unfrie, and unjust" (Hewison, The Covenanters, Vol. II, p. 43). It is worthy to be noted that the issue between the Protesters and the Resolutioners did not deal at all with the propriety of ministers and members of the Church of Scotland swearing the covenants, but over the issue of faithfulness to the covenants. Both sides upheld the obligation of ministers and members to own the covenants. Furthermore, unfaithfulness to this term of communion (i.e. faithfully maintaining the covenants) on the part of the Resolutioners led the Protesters to separate from their brethren to avoid schism and in order to maintain a truly constituted church. They would not serve with the Resolutioners while they maintained different terms of communion, neither would they serve them the Lord's Supper (e.g. Rutherford refused to serve communion with Blair at St. Andrews; and on another occasion Rutherford and Moncrieff debarred Resolutioners from the table at Scoonie). Such actions can only be defended if the covenants were terms of communion. Were the covenants biblical terms of communion? We testify that they were and still are biblical terms of communion. To affirm otherwise is in effect to charge the faithful covenanters (Protesters) of the Second Reformation with sin and to undermine their covenanted reformation and the biblical presbyterianism they taught and practiced.
Therefore, we must maintain a faithful testimony in defence of this covenanted reformation and presbyterianism as it was taught and practiced by faithful covenanters of the Second Reformation as being biblical and "which therefore is ever styled God's true religion, Christ's true religion, the true and Christian religion, and a perfect religion" (The National Covenant of Scotland, emphases added).
1. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that the covenants and the historical testimony defending those who were faithful to the covenants is a biblical term of communion.
2. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that all churches and assemblies which do not subscribe the moral substance of the covenants have departed from the biblical light attained to by the Second Reformation and are constitutionally false (especially is this true of churches that profess to be presbyterian and which know of the covenants, but yet have refused to own them in their constitutions).
3. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that only those who own the covenants are presbyterians (even the Reformed Church of Holland, and other Reformed Churches in Europe were agreeable to uniting with the Reformed Churches in Scotland, England, and Ireland in a covenanted reformation because they recognized the biblical foundation of the Solemn League and Covenant, cf. William Hetherington, History Of The Westminster Assembly Of Divines, pp. 337-339).
4. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that it is not schismatic to dissociate from a constitutionally false church in order to be faithful to a constitutionally true church. It is rather schismatic, sectarian, and unpresbyterian to refuse to subscribe the covenants of the Second Reformation. With Mr. Rutherford we do take our stand:
When the greatest part of a Church maketh defection from the Truth,
the lesser part remaining sound, the greatest part is the Church of
Separatists (Samuel Rutherford, Due Right Of Presbyteries, p. 255,
5. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that it is a sinful independency to dissociate from a constitutionally true church without going through full judicial process. Again we cite the words of that faithful covenanter, Samuel Rutherford:
There is no just cause to leave a less cleane Church (if it be a true
Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner" (Rutherford, Due Right Of Presbyteries, p. 255, emphases added).
The qualification which Rutherford adds ("if it be a true Church") is the precise point at issue: Is a professing church a truly constituted church if it does not own the covenants? Our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers did not believe so and neither do we. Let the ________ Church prove that it is a constitutionally true church while refusing to own the covenants as a term of communion, and we will repent of what would then be a sinful separation and immediately unite with it.
6. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that to refuse to subscribe the moral substance of the covenants is to have no part in the covenanted reformation of the seventeenth century. One cannot be neutral in regard to the covenants (whether personally or socially). To seek to remain neutral is in effect to support those who refused to sign the covenants (and were excommunicated from the church) and who undermined the Second Reformation. We stand with another faithful covenanter who reasoned:
It is a moral duty to abjure all the points of Popery, which was done
in the national covenant; and it is a moral duty to endeavour our own reformation and the reformation of the church, which was sworn to in
both covenants; it is a moral duty, to endeavour the reformation of
England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government,
which was sworn to in the league and covenant; it is a moral duty to
purge out all unlawful officers out of God's house, and to endeavour
the extirpation of heresy and schism, and whatsoever is contrary to
sound doctrine, which was sworn to there also; it is a moral duty to
do what God had commanded towards superiors, inferiors and equals,
which, by the league and covenant, all were bound unto; and,
therefore, the covenants are strongly obliging, being more absolute
than other covenants, because they bind et vi materice et vi sanctionis,
--both by reason of the matter and by reason of the oath, and so are
perpetual, Jer. l.5. And, therefore, a breach of these must be a greater
fault than the breach of such covenants as are about things not morally
evil, which only bind vi sanctionis [by reason of oath], and so, it is
beyond all doubt that the breach of these covenants is a most heinous
and crying sin (John Brown of Wamphray, An Apologetic Relation,
p. 173, emphases added).
7. We do testify with our covenanted and presbyterian forefathers that it is our duty to honor the church of Jesus Christ as our mother who bore us (Ex. 20:12; Gal. 4:26). However, Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is . . . my mother" (Mk. 3:33,35). The church of Jesus Christ as represented by the Church of Scotland and all churches adhering unto her covenanted and presbyterian principles since then are our mother. To presently own the ________ Church as a true constitutional expression of our mother is to disown in the same breath The Church of Scotland at the time of the Second Reformation as a true constitutional expression of our mother. When the constitutions of two churches disagree (one church requiring as a term of communion the sincere owning of the covenants while the other church refusing as a term of communion the sincere owning of the covenants), both cannot be true expressions of our mother. Thus, we are conscientiously compelled to own The Church of Scotland at the time of the Second Reformation as a true expression of our mother, and to disown The ________ Church as being such.
8. We do testify that we are not only bound to adopt these covenants because the true church throughout history is one moral person and what is morally binding on the church in one age is morally binding on the church in a subsequent age, but, furthermore, many of us are bound (by an additional obligation) to adopt these covenants because we are actual bloodline descendants of our covenanted forefathers from Scotland, England, and Ireland who bound all of their succeeding generations to the terms of these covenants.
And finally, being convinced in our minds, and confessing with our
mouths, that the present and succeeding generations in this land are
bound to keep the foresaid national oath and subscription
inviolable (The National Covenant, p. 352 in the Free Presbyterian
Publications volume of the Westminster Confession of Faith, emphases added).
. . . that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith
and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us (The
Solemn League and Covenant, p. 359 in the Free Presbyterian
Publications volume of the Westminster Confession of Faith, emphases added).
. . . we shall each one of us, according to our place and interest,
endeavour that they [England, Ireland, and Scotland--PRC] may
remain conjoined in a firm peace and union to all posterity (The
Solemn League and Covenant, p. 359 in the Free Presbyterian
Publications volume of the Westminster Confession of Faith, emphases added).
Those of us who trace our heritage to these covenanted forefathers can in no wise loose ourselves from these covenantal bonds (unless of course these covenants were unlawful and sinful to subscribe in the first place, a suggestion from which we recoil). Nor can we excuse ourselves from the moral and perpetual obligation of these covenants by declaring that though we are natural descendants of the covenanted people of Scotland, England, and Ireland, we no longer live under the national and territorial jurisdiction of Scotland, England, and Ireland. For inasmuch as Israel and Judah were ever morally bound by the covenants their forefathers made even when they were scattered from the national and territorial jurisdiction of Israel into a host of foreign nations, so are we though we be scattered throughout the whole world. We believe the prayers of our natural as well as our spiritual forefathers have now at this time been heard in raising up a covenanting remnant who will follow in the footsteps of the fathers who have already inherited the promises.
For the reasons stated above, we believe that we cannot remain in The ________ Church without incurring God's just discipline for maintaining an unlawful association under unbiblical terms of communion that expressly state: "It is not necessary to take the Covenant of the three kingdoms" ("Organizational Meeting Minutes of the ________ Church", October 1, 1994). Such an action is absolutely necessary, if we are one moral person with the churches who defended the covenants with their lives. Will we say that they shed their blood for something that was not a moral and biblical necessity? Will we in effect side with their persecutors who also believed the covenants to be unnecessary? Will we exclude from our church George Gillespie, Samuel Rutherford and all the faithful covenanters of the Second Reformation? Will we be excluded from their church? We cannot do so. We will stand side by side with faithful covenanters like James Guthrie who was put to death for his loyal and unremitting testimony to the covenants.
I do bear my witness to the National Covenant of Scotland, and
Solemn League and Covenant betwixt the three kingdoms. These
sacred, solemn, public oaths of God, I believe can be loosed or
dispensed with by no person, or party, or power, upon earth, but are
still binding upon these kingdoms, and will be so forever hereafter. . . .
I bear my testimony . . . against the controverted assemblies and the
public resolutions. . . . The Covenants, the Covenants, shall yet be
Scotland's reviving (John Howie, The Scots Worthies, p. 266).
FREE ITEMS FOR FURTHER STUDY
(Selections and summaries added by Still Waters Revival Books):
The Reformed View of Schism (Being pages 177-221 from Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution Church of Scotland. Also, Their Principles Concerning Civil Government, and the Difference Betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles(1731). One of the best refutations of the modern malignant folly promoted by many calling themselves Presbyterians today -- especially the "Baconite" schismatics in Texas.)
Calvin, Close Communion and the Coming Reformation by Reg Barrow (Shows how Calvin practiced close communion and how the biblical view of this ordinance is intended to purify the individual, church and state. Refutes the Popish and paedocommunion heresies [regarding this sacrament], as well as all views of open communion.)
FOR FURTHER STUDY (BOOKS FROM SWRB):
Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution Church of Scotland. Also Their Principles Concerning Civil Government, and the Difference Betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles (1731)
An exceedingly rare and important book. The Contending Witness magazine (May, 1841) described Plain Reasons "as the single best volume penned defending the principles of the second Reformation." It sets forth "the grounds why Presbyterian Dissenters refused to hold communion with the revolution church and state," (Reformed Presbytery, Act Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation, p. 154n). These principles still apply today and this still remains one of the best books explaining why and when an individual (our church) should separate itself from those (in church or state) who do not hold fast to all the attainments of our covenanted forefathers. The Reformed Presbytery's Act, Declaration and Testimony (p. 47) further explains the context of the so-called "glorious revolution of 1688" and overthrow of the Royalist tyranny with these words, "for in a few months, God in his righteous judgement and adorable providence, overturned that (Royalist--RB) throne of iniquity on which they depended, and expelled that inhuman, cruel monster (the duke of York--RB), from his tyrannical and usurped power, upon the Prince of Orange's (William--RB) coming over into England, in the beginning of November that same year (1688--RB). But although the Lord at this juncture, and by this means, rescued and delivered our natural and civil rights and privileges in a national way, from under the oppression and bondage of anti-christian tyranny, arbitrary and absolute power; yet the revolution, at this time, brought no real deliverance to the church of God; but Christ's rights (by these [rights--RB] are not meant the rights of Christ personal. It is not in the power of mortals, or any creature, to acquire and secure these to him; but the rights of Christ mystical, that is, of the church, or of his truth, true worship, and religion, and professors of it as such.), formerly acquired for him by his faithful servants, lay still buried under the rubbish of that anti-christian building of prelacy, erected on the ruins of his work in this land; and the spiritual liberties and privileges of his house remained, and do still remain under the bondage of Erastianism, supremacy, toleration, etc. For it is well known, that although this man (William of Orange--RB), Jehu-like, 'destroyed Baal out of Israel, yet he departed not from the sins of Jereboam, wherewith he made Israel to sin.'" See pages 55 and following in the Act, Declaration and Testimony for more on "the grounds of the presbytery's testimony against the constitutions, both civil and ecclesiastical, at the late revolution, anno 1689; as also against the gross Erastianism and tyranny that has attended the administration both of church and state, since that memorable period; with various instances thereof, etc." The only drawback that needs to be noted, regarding Clarkson's Plain Reasons, is that a few of the pages (the book being as rare as it is) in the only copy that we have been able to obtain, are a little hard to read. Even so, most of the book is easily legible and contains the highest quality of Reformation thought regarding the subjects of which it deals.
(Rare bound photocopy) $99.95-90%=9.99
Terms of Communion: Covenants and Covenanting ($19.99, 7 cassettes)
Explains and defends the fourth term of communion, which is "That public, social covenanting is an ordinance of God, obligatory on churches and nations under the New Testament; that the National Covenant and the Solemn League are an exemplification of this divine institution; and that these Deeds are of continued obligation upon the moral person; and in consistency with this, that the Renovation of these Covenants at Auchensaugh, Scotland, 1712 was agreeable to the word of God." Includes the studies offered separately on the National Covenant (2 tapes), the Solemn League and Covenant (1 tape), the Auchensaugh Renovation (2 tapes), as well as two introductory lectures (only available in this set) on the biblical principles related to the ordinance of covenanting, the descending obligation of lawful covenants, objections against covenanting, etc. Roberts, in his Reformed Presbyterian Catechism ($8.99), catches the spirit of this tape set in the following question and answer: "Q. May we not indulge the hope, that, in the goodness of our covenant God, and by the promised outpouring of his Holy Spirit, 'the kingdoms of the world' at large, and the British empire in particular, will dedicate themselves to God in a covenant not to be forgotten - animated by the example of our covenant fathers exhibited in these memorable deeds? A. Yes. We have the most cheering grounds for this blessed hope; for it is written, that the nations at large in the spirit of devoted loyalty, shall cry -- 'Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten': and it cannot be well doubted, that the death-cry of the martyred Guthrie has been heard on high, and shall be verified -- 'The covenants, the covenants, shall yet be Scotland's (and the world's -- RB) reviving'" (p. 151). A thoroughly amazing set of tapes -- among our best!
Strictures on Occasional Hearing
An inquiry into Song 1:7, "Why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?" This book sets out to demonstrates the proposition that one should not hear the public preaching of those he can not take communion with (i.e. it proposes a ban on occasionally hearing those with whom you can not maintain organic fellowship with). The implications contained in this truth are immense; especially when one has adopted the Biblical doctrine of close communion and is set upon upholding the covenanted reformation. The duty to separation and to true visible unity are all encompassed here. A review of this book, written in 1818, notes that the "treatise may be viewed as a complete repository of all that has yet been said on the subject." It is filled with Scriptural, as well as historical testimony, and is a welcome tonic to the weak and compromising books of our day that so often sacrifice the truth of the altar of some other man made expediency (such as unity for political or ecclesiastical advantage). For as the introduction notes, "It is the revealed will of God, and not saintship, which is the only rule of a visible profession." That Christians exist in other denominations is not denied, but that they are faithful to the covenanted reformation (already historically obtained) is. The arguments set forth here are reminiscent of those found in Rutherford's Due Right of Presbyteries. If you are struggling with questions related to separation, the unity of the visible church, close communion, etc. this book may be exactly what you've been looking for. A massive appendix also lays out the historical testimony concerning this matter.
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $39.95-80%=7.99
Concerning Close Communion
An strong little book that should be considered by all those seeking the purity and peace of the church. Holds to the strict old covenanted Presbyterian position. Justifies the maintaining of the separate existence of a denomination that will faithfully testify against sin, and the excluding from the Lord's table those that do not so testify. Gives numerous examples of backsliding in regard to specific truths of Scripture. Proclaims that "the Word of God teaches unequivocally that the Commandments are equally binding." This includes the first commandment as it relates to Christ's Kingship over the nations (and dissent from immoral civil governments which will not recognize and obey Christ as King and law giver); and the second commandment concerning purity of worship (as against "all devising, counselling, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God Himself," such as the use of songs other than the Psalms and the Popish use of musical instruments in public worship). Maintains that violation of these commandments are grounds for barring a person from the Lord's table. Shows how close communion is nothing more than the old Presbyterian view, in keeping with the Westminster Confession of Faith and John Calvin when he stated "We are only contending about the true and lawful constitution of the church, required in the communion not only of the sacraments (which are the signs of profession) but also especially of doctrine" (John Calvin, Institutes 2.12). Also includes an excellent discussion of essentials and non-essentials, as they relate to the Lord's supper and salvation. The best short book on the Lord's supper that we have seen. Written by an RPCNA minister in large easy-to-read type.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.99
An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc.
Defends the inescapable necessity of creeds and confessions, while promoting a fully creedal church membership. Shows how the law of God obliges all Christians "to think the same things, and to speak the same things; holding fast the form of sound words, and keeping the ordinances as they have been delivered to us" (Col. 3:13). After laying some basic groundwork, this book proceeds to defend the six points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion Agreed Upon by the Reformed Presbytery." These six points are the most conservative and comprehensive short statements of consistent Presbyterianism you will likely ever see. Besides the obvious acknowledgement of the alone infallible Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the divine right of Presbyterianism, these points also maintain the perpetual obligation of our Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Renovation of these covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, and the Judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery. In short, this book sets forth adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, in both church and state, as it has been attained by our covenanting forefathers.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98
(NEW!) Unity and Uniformity in the Church (1881)
This item lays out the case for unity among churches, proving its assertions from: (1.) throughout Scripture; (2.) from our Lord's declaring His will both in precept and prayer; (3.) from apostolic practise; and (4.) from the covenanted Reformation's "Solemn League and Covenant" which lead to the production of the Westminster standards. Houston notes that in the Apostolic church "the government of the church was one and common wherever churches were planted. It was Presbyterian, and neither Prelatic, a system of monarchial despotism, nor Congregational, a system of popular democracy." This biblical and Presbyterian uniformity was considered the apostolic, visible and doctrinal manifestation of the scriptural injunction to "one Lord, one faith, (and) one baptism." Houston also points out that "the only true and safe way of union is based on the platform of Scriptural uniformity; while that which is framed on allowing diversity in doctrine, and differences in government and worship, is a mere human contrivance, and its effect is to sanction and perpetuate divisions (which is to sanction schism under the false pretence of unity--RB), and to mar the prospect of an ultimate happy union in the church of Christ." Biblical union and uniformity is shown to be based on "agreement in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government." Moreover, the author contends that, "this is to be constantly sought after by men united in mind and heart, pledged to God and to one another; it is to be externally manifested, and to be diligently labored for, that it may be generally and universally prevalent. It is never to be viewed as impracticable. This was the main design of the convocation of the Westminster Assembly." The eschatological aspect of visible unity is also noticed, shedding valuable light on such postmillennial strongholds as, "The watchmen on the walls of Zion shall see eye to eye, they shall lift up the voice together, and together shall they sing" (Isa. 52:8) and "The Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one" (Zech. 14:9). This book is full of faithful encouragement and is one of the best introductions to this topic we have seen.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98
Why the PCA is Not a Duly Constituted Church and Why Faithful Christians Should Separate from this Corrupted "Communion"
Two letters from Larry Birger, Jr. to the session of his former congregation in the PCA, with an historical introduction. Birger states, "This work is emitted by way of testimony against the defections from the reformation of the true religion granted by God in ages past, in hopes of playing some small part in the edification of God's people currently languishing under such defected and defecting denominations." It spotlights the differences between classic Presbyterian thought (paleopresbyterianism) and what today is but a pale imitation (neopresbyterianism) of the Reformation attainments that have been won (at the cost of much suffering and many lives) in the past. This is a good practical introduction to ecclesiology, testimony-bearing, and second Reformation thought.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98
WILLSON, JAMES M.
(NEW!) The Distinct Denominational Position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1860)
The Covenanter church and its distinctives explained in an easy to read summary. A great short introduction upholding the "Crown Rights of King Jesus!". Excerpted from the Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine (volumes 1:7-16).
(Rare bound photocopy) $14.95-70%=4.48
FRASER, JAMES (of Brea)
The Lawfulness and Duty of Separation from Corrupt Ministers and Churches Explained and Vindicated (1744)
This is one of the most comprehensive treatises dealing with lawfulness and duty separation. It does not shy away from the hard biblical questions, but rather meets them head on. Fraser covers all the major biblical reasons for separation, both in general and in particular. Some of these Scriptural reasons for separation include (examples in brackets are selected to fit our contemporary situation in accord with the general headings found in the book -- though a number of these specific errors are also dealt with in the book itself): 1.) Heresy, or error in doctrine (e.g. Arminianism, Pelagianism, Romanism, the denial of the regulative principle of worship, antinomianism, legalism, etc.); 2.) Idolatry in public worship (e.g. singing hymns of human composition, paedocommunion and open communion, the use of musical instruments, woman speaking or preaching, anti-paedobatism, Charismatic [or anabaptistic] folly and excesses, malignancy [anti-covenanting], etc.); 3.) Tyranny in government (e.g. Popery, Prelacy, Independency, etc.); 4.) Sinful terms of communion (e.g. any terms which deny or ignore the attainments of the covenanted Reformation or in any way contravene Scripture); 5.) Tolerationism (e.g. refusing to discipline the scandalous, open communion and countenancing false ministers or false governments or false doctrine, etc.) . Many other areas are also dealt with, not the least of which include a strong testimony against the Prelatical Priest George Whitefield (who, as the preface notes, is "a person leavened with gross errors, enthusiastic delusions, etc."). In the publisher's original reasons for publication we read, "In this book the case and nature of schism and separation is cleared, and the true scriptural terms of church-communion, and grounds of separation from corrupt churches and ministers, carrying on backsliding courses from the covenanted Reformation-principles..., are clearly handled, and the same proven to be just and warrantable grounds of separation, and many useful cases of conscience concerning separation; and what are just and warrantable grounds of separation and what are not, are solidly, learnedly, and accurately discussed and resolved, and the case of separation clearly stated, handled and determined; and separation from corrupt ministers and churches is fully vindicated; and the true Scripture marks of time-servers and hirelings, who should be separated from, are given from the Word of God." Calvin, Knox, Rutherford, Gillespie, Durham, Owen (who repented of his Independency and embraced Presbyterianism just before he died) and a host of other notable Reformers are cited throughout. Occasion hearing and occasion communion are also exposed and rebuked from Scripture. Appended to the book is "The Reasons agreed upon by the Reformers of the Church of Scotland, For which the Book of Common Prayer, urged upon Scotland, Anno 1637 was refused. As also the Reasons agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, for laying aside the English Book of Common Prayer. Together with Mr George Graham's Renunciation and Abjuration of Episcopacy." This is an almost flawless photocopy of this exceedingly rare and valuable book (which was obtained at great expense from the Bodleian Library [Oxford University] in England). It is one of the major Reformed classics concerning the topics that it deals with and answers many common questions which Christian raise today regarding church affiliation. It is also a much needed landmark of Reformation testimony against the white devils of Independency and sectarianism and the black devils of Popery and Prelacy -- which can be seen to be covering the land once again -- contrary to the teaching of the Word of God and the attainments fought (and died) for during the second Reformation. 239 pages.
(Rare bound photocopy) $99.95-85%=14.99
Alexander and Rufus; or a Series of Dialogues on Church Communion, in Two Parts. Part 1: Vindication of Scriptural Church Communion in Opposition to Latitudinarian Schemes. Part 2: Defence of the Communion Maintained in the Secession Church. (1862)
On the topic of church and sacramental communion you are unlikely to find many other books with as much solid information. Recommended for advanced study only. Indexed, 518 pages.
(Rare bound photocopy) $99.95-80%=19.99
Presbyterian Government in Extraordinary Times (1991)
This historical survey attempts to apply the lessons of history to contemporary problems by distinguishing between "the polity which exists in a fully-organized church, and those principles which apply to churches in irregular circumstances." A controversial contemporary Presbyterian work, it defends separation from corrupt churches, based on the principle of private judgement, fought and died for at the Reformation. Contains numerous quotations demonstrating the historical validity of its reasoning. It notes that, "[a] faithful shepherd will lead the sheep to safe pasture, giving his life, if necessary, to insure the safety of the sheep (John 10:9,10). When pastor and elders become convinced of the desperate state of the churches in our own day, they should take the lead; their sacred callings demand that they promptly direct their congregations away from corrupt denominational ties, to form biblical connections of church government. In some cases this will mean that entire congregations should secede from their apostate denominations and join with other churches of like faith and practice. To leave the sheep in danger, under the jurisdiction of a corrupt presbytery, is gross negligence on the part of those who watch over souls 'as they must give an account'" (Heb. 13:17). These arguments also apply to individuals who find themselves in obstinately backslidden, deforming, heretical and/or idolatrous congregations. Also contains a useful section explaining "why modern 'Reformed' and 'evangelical' authors have so much trouble with Charismatics," noting that "[t]he fundamental flaws of the Charismatic movement are completely overlooked if the discussion turns merely on the subject of 'spiritual gifts.' The real issues at stake are the nature of the gospel and true worship; and these issues are largely ignored, because modern 'Reformed' and 'evangelical' churches really do not believe that the Pelagianism of the Charismatics is 'another gospel,' or that human devices in worship are idolatry" (pp. 40-41).
Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation, As Attained To, And Established In, Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt The Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against All The Steps Of Defection From Said Reformation, Whether In Former Or Later Times, Since The Overthrow Of That Glorious Work, Down To This Present Day (1876)
Upholds the original work of the Westminster Assembly and testifies to the abiding worth and truth formulated in the Westminster family of documents. Upholds and defends the crown rights of King Jesus in church and state, denouncing those who would remove the crown from Christ's head by denying His right to rule (by His law) in both the civil and ecclesiastical spheres. Testifies to the received doctrine, government, worship, and discipline of the Church of Scotland in her purest (reforming) periods. Applies God's Word to the Church's corporate attainments "with a judicial approbation of the earnest contendings and attainments of the faithful, and a strong and pointed judicial condemnation of error and the promoters thereof" (The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness, Dec. 17/93, p. 558. Write for a sample of this highly recommended publication at: P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA, 19464, USA). Shows the church's great historical victories (such as the National and Solemn League and Covenant, leading to the Westminster Assembly) and exposes her enemies actions (e.g. the Prelacy of Laud; the Independency, sectarianism, covenant breaking and ungodly toleration set forth by the likes of Cromwell [and the Independents that conspired with him]; the Erastianism and civil sectarianism of William of Orange, etc.). It is not likely that you will find a more consistent working out of the principles of Calvinism anywhere. Deals with the most important matters relating to the individual, the family, the church and the state. Sets forth a faithful historical testimony of God's dealings with men during some of the most important days of church history. A basic text that should be mastered by all Christians.
(Rare bound photocopy) $19.95-70%=5.99
Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant; with the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties as they were Renewed at Auchensaugh in 1712... Also the Renovation of These Public Federal Deeds Ordained at Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1880, By the Reformed Presbytery, With Accommodation of the Original Covenants, in Both Transactions, to their Times and Positions Respectively (1880 ed.)
"In 1712, at Auchensaugh, the Covenants, National and Solemn League, were renewed... At the renewal the covenant bonds were recognized as binding the descendants of those who first entered into those bonds. The Covenanters, however, sought to display the true intent of those Covenants with marginal notes. These notes explained that the Church of Jesus Christ, in Scotland (and around the world), must not join hands with any political power in rebellion to the crown rights of King Jesus. The Covenanters pledged the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church to the support of lawful magistracy (i.e. magistracy which conformed itself to the precepts of God's Word) and declared themselves and their posterity against support of any power, in Church or State, which lacked biblical authority." (From "About the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church" P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA 19464). An excellent introduction (historical and moral) regarding the reasons, motives and manner of fulfilling the duty of covenanting with God. Especially helpful concerning the Biblical view of the blessings (for covenant-keepers) and cursings (for covenant breakers) related to covenanting. As noted on page 37, "the godly usually in times of great defection from the purity and power of religion, and corruption of the ordinances of God's worship, set about renewing their covenant, thereby to prevent covenant curses, and procure covenant blessing; as we find both in scripture record, 2 Chron. 15:12-13; 29:10; 34:30-31; Ezra 10:3, and in our own ecclesiastical history." Times like ours certainly call for a revival of the Scriptural ordinance of covenanting, for "[t]he nations throughout Christendom, continue in league with Antichrist and give their strength to the beast. They still refuse to profess and defend the true religion in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, contrary to the example of the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland in the seventeenth century" (p. 136 in this book).
(Rare bound photocopy) $19.95-70%=5.99
A Short Directory for Religious Societies (1881)
This work is still a extremely useful system of rules and instructions for religious fellowship -- especially where duly constituted churches are non-existent and/or where a regular faithful pastoral ministry is lacking. It was originally written to protect the "scattered flock" -- whose pastors were persecuted and martyred through prelatic and popish tyranny -- from spies and informers (who would have put them in danger of their lives); and to encourage faithful Christians to maintain regular religious meetings for their mutual edification and the propagation of the Gospel. Initially drawn up by the appointment of the Reformed Presbytery (in Scotland), this edition was published by the Reformed Presbytery in America (Rochester, NY). This Presbytery stated that "[a]part from anything local or temporary, the intelligent and faithful witness will easily discern in this treatise some of the footsteps of the flock of slaughter -- some of the waymarks set up by those heroic patriots who 'loved not their lives unto the death,' while in adhering to their solemn vows, they nobly contented against the dragon and his angels for the covenant rights of God and man... That the Lord God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our covenant fathers, may give their successors the same spirit of faith to contend earnestly and strive lawfully for these precious rights, is the earnest prayer of" this Presbytery's committee. A much needed book in our day of "the continued national overthrow and burial of Christ's covenanted cause and testimony, increasing apostasy, idolatry, blasphemous heresies, errors and delusions, ungodliness, atheism, and all manner of wickedness;" as pockets of the faithful covenanted remnant are once again beginning to appear all across the map. 100 pages.
(Rare bound photocopy) $19.95-75%=4.99
How Best to Secure a Return to the Use of the Psalms in the Ordinance of Praise
Superb, strongly worded, Biblical teaching on the proper method of lovingly bringing peace and purity to the body of Christ. The author contends that "hymn-singing in the service of praise is in its ultimate analysis a species of idolatry," and thus must be strenuously opposed. Numerous practical methods (and the rationale) to promote Psalmody and oppose the use of man-made "hymns" in the public worship service are given. From McNaugher's The Psalms in Worship.
(Rare bound photocopy) $6.95-72%=1.95
The Westminster Confession of Faith
":The product of Puritan conflict," stated Shedd, reaching "a perfection of statement never elsewhere achieved.""All that learning the most profound and extensive, intellect the most acute and searching, and piety the most sincere and earnest, could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of Systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church," writes Hetherington in The History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (p. 345, emphasis added). "These are worth an hundred victories on the battle field. We do not fear to say of them that they are the finest transfusion into uninspired language of the sublime, awful, blessed truths of the Word of God which the Church has as yet been honored to make... Never can the Covenanters be robbed of the immortal honor of having, while at the summit of their power, published this great principle to the world" noted J.A. Wylie, in praise of the Westminster Standards (cited in Johnston's Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 101). Concerning the Shorter Catechism, which is one of the items also included in this book, Mitchell, in his Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards, notes: "...it is a thoroughly Calvinistic and Puritan catechism, the ripest fruit of the Assembly's thought and experience, maturing and finally fixing the definitions of theological terms to which Puritanism for half a century had been leading up and gradually coming closer and closer to in its legion of catechisms" (p. 431). The WCF is the greatest of all the creeds of the Christian church. The church of Christ cannot be creedless and live. Especially in an age of doubt and confusion, it is her duty to define and proclaim the one true faith. Nowhere has the Reformed church done this so effectively as in the Westminster family of documents. This book represents Reformed thinking at its purest and best. It was intended, as part of the covenanted reformation taking place during its compilation, to be adopted as the binding confessional standard for every individual, family, court, church, and legislature in the British Isles. Study it carefully and we think that you will see why this same goal should be covenanted to by all serious minded followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the definitive edition of the WCF and its many related documents. It contains Manton's "Epistle to the Reader," the Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, "The Sum of Saving Knowledge," "The National Covenant (1638)," "The Solemn League and Covenant (1643)," "Acknowledgment of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant (1648)," "The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645)," The Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1645)," "The Directory for Family Worship (1647)," an extensive index and more! "Every effort has been made, by sparing no expense or labour... to render it the Standard Edition," note the publishers. An essential book for every Christian home, church, and state! Next to the Bible itself, no other book can furnish you with as much necessary spiritual information. Related items: Robert Shaw's Exposition of the WCF ($29.95 - 60% = 11.98/bound photocopy) and William Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly ($24.95 - 50% =12.47/softcover).
(Pocket edition, just the Confession: without scripture proofs, the Catechisms, etc.) $4.95-20%= $3.96
(The Confession on cassette) $7.95 - 80% = $1.59
(Larger Catechism on 2 cassettes) $15.90 - 80% = $3.18
(Shorter Catechism on cassette) $7.95 - 80% = $1.59
ROBERTS, WILLIAM L.
The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism (1853)
A manual of instruction, drawing from such notable authors as William Symington and J.R. Willson, presenting "arguments and facts confirming and illustrating the 'Distinctive Principles'" of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Chapters deal with: "Christ's Mediatorial Dominion in general;" Christ's exclusive Headship over the Church;" "The Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the Word of God in the Church;" Civil Government, the Moral Ordinance of God;" Christ's Headship over the Nations;" "The Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ;" The Word, or Revealed Will of God, the Supreme Law in the State;" "The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to acknowledge and support the True Religion:" "The Spiritual Independence of the Church of Christ:" "The Right and Duty of Dissent from an immoral Constitution of Civil Government;" "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants;" "The Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony;" and finally "Application of the Testimony to the British Empire." A most important book, as we approach (possibly) the end of the great apostasy and will be in need of preparing for the dawning of the glorious millennial blessings to come; the days prophesied in which the church "shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
(Rare bound photocopy) $29.95-70%=8.99
Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1841)
This book is not designed to discuss "the (many-RB) doctrines which the Reformed Presbyterian church holds in common will others," but is written to set forth RP distinctives. It tackles its subject from three major heads: "Social Covenanting;" "The Dominion of Christ;" and "The Universal Application of Scripture (civil as well as religious)." It shows that while these doctrines "are held by many, as abstract doctrines of divine truth, they are not embodied in the testimony of any other Christian denomination: nor made necessary to ministerial or Christian fellowship. Although other individuals may hold these doctrine, it is a 'distinctive' feature of the RPC to embody them in her testimony; and to make them terms of communion." It also explains how these are the same distinctives that were maintained "at the era of the reformation, (when) the covenanted church of Scotland bore a distinguished testimony for all the offices of Christ, as prophet, priest and king: and for the pure doctrines, worship, discipline, and government of the house of God." The author states that "the great object aimed at is to help forward the glorious triumph of the Messiah, so beautifully described in the 72nd Psalm. When 'all Kings shall fall down before him; and all nations shall serve him.'"
(Rare bound photocopy) $49.95-80%=9.99
The Duty and Perpetual Obligation of Social Covenanting
The material found in this bound photocopy addresses a forgotten and neglected ordinance of God: social covenanting. God's people in times of repentance and thanksgiving, trial and blessing have been a covenanting people. In the most pure times of ecclesiastical and civil reformation throughout history, both church and state under the mediatorial rule of Christ have by the grace of God bound themselves together by covenant to promote and defend the true Christian religion. The first document adopted by the Westminster Assembly was in fact, the Solemn League and Covenant (1644). It united the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland in a covenanted reformation of both church and state in order to preserve, promote and defend the true Christian religion (as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directory For Public Worship, and Form of Church Government), and in order to expose and uproot all false teaching contrary to the Scripture and these standards. Furthermore, it was not only the desire of the Westminster Assembly to unite in covenant the three British kingdoms, but rather to include in this covenanted reformation all of the Reformed Churches throughout Europe. Consider the goal of the Assembly as summarized by Hetherington: "There was one great, and even sublime idea, brought somewhat indefinitely before the Westminster Assembly, which has not yet been realized, the idea of a Protestant union throughout Christendom, not merely for the purpose of counterbalancing Popery, but in order to purify, strengthen, and unite all true Christian churches, so that with combined energy and zeal they might go forth, in glad compliance with the Redeemer's commands, teaching all nations, and preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven. This truly magnificent, and also truly Christian idea, seems to have originated in the mind of that distinguished man, Alexander Henderson. It was suggested by him to the Scottish commissioners, and by them partially brought before the English Parliament, requesting them to direct the Assembly to write letters to the Protestant Churches in France, Holland, Switzerland, and other Reformed Churches. . . . and along with these letters were sent copies of the Solemn League and Covenant, a document which might itself form the basis of such a Protestant union. The deep thinking divines of the Netherlands apprehended the idea, and in their answer, not only expressed their approbation of the Covenant, but also desired to join in it with the British kingdoms. Nor did they content themselves with the mere expression of approval and willingness to join. A letter was soon afterwards sent to the Assembly from the Hague, written by Duraeus (the celebrated John Dury), offering to come to the Assembly, and containing a copy of a vow which he had prepared and tendered to the distinguished Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, wherein he bound himself 'to prosecute a reconciliation between Protestants in point of religion'. . . . [O]n one occasion Henderson procured a passport to go to Holland, most probably for the purpose of prosecuting this grand idea. But the intrigues of politicians, the delays caused by the conduct of the Independents, and the narrow-minded Erastianism of the English Parliament, all conspired to prevent the Assembly from entering farther into that truly glorious Christian enterprise. Days of trouble and darkness came; persecution wore out the great men of that remarkable period; pure and vital Christianity was stricken to the earth and trampled under foot. . ." (William Hetherington, History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines , [Edmonton, Alberta: Still Waters Revival Books], pp. 337-339). The material presented herein is commended to the reader with the sincere prayer and confidence that God will again restore the Church of Jesus Christ to a glorious covenanted reformation--one that will even surpass that one to which she had attained at the time of the Westminster Assembly. However, when the Lord brings that future covenanted reformation it will not be limited to only three kingdoms of the earth, but by the grace and power of Christ our King, it will be a covenanted reformation that will encompass all of the nations of the earth (Ps. 2:6-12; Is. 2:1-4; Mt. 28:1-20) and will bring to the church a visible unity and uniformity that (unlike pleas for unity today) is firmly grounded upon the truth" (Greg Price, Preface). The material contained in this compilation was gathered together by the session of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton/Prince George. Its 210 pages contain the following items, as listed in this bibliography for social covenanting.
1. Samuel Rutherford, Due Right of Presbyteries , pp. 130-139
2. George Gillespie, The Works of George Gillespie, Vol. 2, pp. 71-88.
3. John Brown of Wamphray, An Apologetic Relation , pp. 167-175, 181-207.
4. David Scott, Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, pp. 14-90.
5. William Roberts, The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism , pp. 134-152.
6. The Reformed Presbytery, An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion , pp. 181-187.
7. The Reformed Presbytery, Act , Declaration and Testimony , pp. 11-23.
8. The Reformed Presbytery, The Auchensaugh Renovation , pp. 115-140.
9. The Church of Scotland (1639), The National Covenant of Scotland , pp. 345-354 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
10. The Westminster Assembly (1644), The Solemn League and Covenant , pp. 355-360 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
11. The Church of Scotland (1648), A Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant , pp. 361-368 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
(Rare bound photocopy) $22.95-70%=6.89
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