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OLIVER CROMWELL by Reg Barrow


Letters to the "Theonomy-L" email newsgroup regarding Cromwell, the Protesters, the Resolutioners and the covenants of the second Reformation

Much of the following debate took place on "Theomony-L" under the thread name "Cromwell or Covenanted Reformation?" between the dates shown before each post listed below. The reason for the thread name "Cromwell or Covenanted Reformation?" should be obvious to all students of history. Cromwell's wicked, antichristian views regarding toleration and liberty of conscience helped open the floodgates to modern atheistic pluralism (Cromwell being a "theological pluralist," which is an oxymoron if there ever was one, for pluralism, of whatever form, of necessity assumes more that one truth, and thus is ultimately to deny both God and His Word). Cromwell was used of the devil to accomplish things that he (i.e. Satan) could never have accomplished with the more obvious antichrist religions which were not pluralistic (e.g. Romanism, Episcopalianism, etc.). Satan had employed these persecuting beasts often up to this point in history, but now it was time for a new twist, and Cromwell fell right into the devil's trap. Cromwell laid his axe of toleration to the root of the tree of covenanted Reformation in a much more subtle manner than the previous dupes of the devil, and thus better served the devious designs of the wicked one during his day (cf. Samuel Rutherford's Free Disputation Against Pretended Libety of Conscience). This will be made manifest in the following letters.

Reply on March 13/96 (all new replies marked in red):

For a faithful look at Cromwell (who was unaffectionately know among the Presbyterian's of his day as the "late usurper"), and the dissimulation, covenant-breaking and tyranny (he executed Christopher Love a covenanted Presbyterian minister, jailed others, included Thomas Watson and generally scuttled the Presbyterian establishment [to his shame and dishonor]) of his military dictatorship, see the book noted below. 

(The following summaries are taken from our [SWRB's] latest catalogue -- some may want to skip to the next reply, which is marked in red, where this debate continues.):

The 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) by the REFORMED PRESBYTERY.

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.

http://www.swrb.com/catalog/r.htm

Regarding 1776 see:

Renewal of the Covenants, National and Solemn League; A Confession of Sins; An Engagement to Duties; and a Testimony; as they were Carried on at Middle Octorara in Pennsylvania, November 11, 1743 (1748) by ALEXANDER CRAIGHEAD

A fascinating Covenanter document proclaiming that "[t]o the Calvinistic system of principles, and the Presbyterian form of government, this nation (the United States) is largely indebted for its civil independence and republican polity. John Calvin and John Knox are the real founders of American liberties. Their teachings, plainly deducible from the Word of God, were disseminated by the persecuted remnant of the Church of Scotland, and were generally incorporated in the structure of American independence." Furthermore, Glasgow, in his introduction, points out that Craighead's covenanting work formed a basis for the national Declaration of Independence, which followed shortly thereafter. "For seven years Mr. Craighead labored among the Covenanter societies; but failing to receive assistance from Scotland, he removed, in 1749, to Virginia, thence to Mecklenberg County, North Carolina. There he became identified with the Presbytery in connection with the Presbyterian Church. Being thoroughly imbued, however, with the principles of the Scotch Covenanters, Mr. Craighead taught them to his people around Charlotte. They in turn formulated them into the First Declaration of Independence, emitted at Charlotte, NC, May, 1775. According to a reliable author (Wheeler's Reminiscences, p. 278) Thomas Jefferson says in his autobiography that when he was engaged in preparing the National Declaration of Independence, that he and his colleagues searched everywhere for formulas, and that the printed proceedings of Octorara, as well as the Mecklenburg Declaration, were before him, and that he freely used ideas therein contained. It is difficult to determine, therefore, the real author of American Independence. Undoubtedly the principles of the Covenanters at Octarara in 1743, the sentiments of the Presbyterians at Charlotte in 1775, and the Declaration submitted by Jefferson in 1776, contain one and the same great principles. 'Honor to whom honor is due.'" However, Glasgow also reports, "[h]ence the Declaration of American Independence was justifiable. But when the newly-born nation ignored the God of battles, rejected the authority of the Prince of the kings of the earth, and refused to administer the government in accordance with the requirements of the Divine Law, then the same loyal Covenanters, faithful to their principles and consistent with their history through all the struggles of the centuries, dissented from the Constitution of the United States, and are justifiable in the continuance of this position of political dissent so long as the government retains its character of political atheism. We may rightfully declare our independence of wicked men and rebellious nations, but we cannot declare our independence of God, and set up a government regardless of His authority, without incurring His wrath and suffering from His desolating judgements. 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.'" This rare book contains much that is exceedingly valuable and the section titled "The Declaration, Protestation, and Testimony of a Suffering Remnant of the Anti-Popish, Anti-Lutheran, Anti-Prelatic, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Latitudinarian, Anti- Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church of Christ, in America," is well worth the price of the book itself. With Glasgow, we set this book forth "[t]rusting that his work will be of historical value to all Covenanters, and interesting to all other readers," with the hope of "enkindling a flame of love for the glorious principles of the Word of God, and arousing an interest in the great work of National Reformation."

http://www.swrb.com/catalog/c.htm

Reply on March 21/96:

____________ writes:

Of course he scuttled the Presbyterian establishment! These guys were no better than Laud. When they did get the upper hand again they brought back that profligate Scot to help them with their dirty work. Too bad for them he was as treacherous as they were.

REG BARROW REPLIES:

No better than Laud? I can't believe that you really mean that. 

Furthermore, you are painting with far too broad a brush. I agree that the Resolutioners (i.e. the compromised "Presbyterians") made numerous sinful errors, for which some were judicially blinded; and in keeping with these errors, and by the force of their own twisted logic, they began breaking forth (along with the Royalists with whom they had compromised) against "the woman in the wilderness," by persecuting the Protesters. Some of the less vehement Resolutioners later repented (like David Dickson) of their backslidings concerning the King, the Protesters, the covenants, and the nation. So you see, that on some of these points, I would be quick to join with you in condemning the measures adopted by and acted upon by the "Presbyterian" Resolutioners.

On the other hand, before anyone is too quick to condemn the Protesting Presbyterians they should give them a fair hearing. Have you read Shields' Hind Let Loose? Shields explains all of the matters surrounding this period of history in great detail in this book - a book which I call "Lex Rex volume two." If, after reading this book, you still think that this persecuted Protestor remnant was "no better than Laud," I would be interested to hear why. But, short of a pilgrimage to Rome, I doubt if any Christian could read A Hind Let Loose and come to that conclusion.

Also, as further proof that the "broad brush" approach is an unsatisfactory method of dealing with this portion of history, the Protesters' attitude toward Charles II is correctly pointed out by The Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology: "The Remonstrants (see Protesters), on the other hand, deplored the hasty admission of Charles II to the Covenants, the toleration of Malignants, backsliding, etc." (IVP, 1993, p.710). Additionally, Baille in his Letters and Journals demonstrates the practical wisdom exhibited among Protesters, noting that they clearly believed that it was wrong "...to promise any power to the King before he had evidenced the change of his principles." They also made it clear that "the continuing of that power in his hand was sinful till that change did appear." Additionally, though the Protesters knew that Cromwell and his Independent cronies were "antichrist" to a certain extent, they also knew that Charles II was worse, for when compared to the Resolutioners they "had a more realistic view of the King. They believed it sinful to require and accept what was obviously insincere compliance, and thought the combination of Royalists, Engagers and other enemies of the Covenant and Reformed religion more of a threat to the Church - and thus to the best interests of Scotland - than the English Independents and sectaries... After the Restoration a few prominent Protesters were executed (e.g. Guthrie) and some went into exile" (Dictionary, p.681). Rutherford, of course was a Protester, and Gillespie would have been (cf. his death bed testimony in his Works) had he lived that long.

Moreover, Cromwell's (and other high ranking sectarian officials during his administration) dissimulation, duplicity and disregard for the ninth commandment can be seen in the following testimony:

"The presbytery testify and declare their approbation of the conduct of the faithful, before the restoration, who, adhering to the foresaid fundamental constitutions of the nations, both refused subjection unto, and testified against the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell and his accomplices, his invading the land, his anti-Christian toleration of all sectarian errors and heresies, threatening the ruin and destruction of the true religion, as well as liberty. This was particularly testified against by the synod of Fife, and others, in conjunction with them, as wicked and intolerable; as opposite unto, and condemned by, the scriptures of truth, Job 34:17; Deut. 13:1-12; Zech. 13:3; contrary to acts of assembly and parliament, made against malignants, their being received into places of power and trust, with whom these sectarians were compilers, such as Act 16th of Assemb. 1646, Sess. 13th, Act 26th, Sess. 2d. parliament, Charles I, etc." (Act, Declaration, and Testimony, for the Whole of our 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 by the Reformed Presbytery, 1761, 1876, pp. 50-51).

Just out of curiosity, what do you think would happen if Bill Clinton:

1. Stepped into the US Congress (with the force of his army backing him) and ejected all the Republicans.

2. Arbitrarily replaced all the ejected republicans with only those of which he personally approved.

3. Forbid the press to report on anything that was against the government.

4. Imprisoned a number of the ecclesiastical ministers that supported the ejected Republican's.

(Moreover, what if Clinton did this after swearing a national covenant before God to uphold Republicanism?)

In my opinion, if Bill Clinton was half the tyrant Cromwell was (regarding the above points, all of which Cromwell enacted against the Presbyterians after swearing to the Solemn League and Covenant), the United States would now be fighting a new civil war. 

Cromwell was a scheming de facto Erastian (Hetherington, The History of the Westminster Assembly, p. 314) and military dictator (Ibid., p.312). He, much in the style of modern communist regimes, "prohibited the publication of pamphlets censuring the conduct of the new government," shortly after forcibly ejecting from parliament everyone who did not bow to his arbitrary demands (Ibid., p.312-313). (Hetherington's The History of the Westminster Assembly [cf. pp. 310-335] uncovers many other glaring inconsistencies concerning this confused individual and the damage he did to Reformation principles.) Cromwell used his military might to undermine public obedience to much that is contained in civil duties required under the first two commandments. Historically, this set in motion a chain of events that led nations to disregard their duty, as nations, to covenant with Christ and uphold his laws. 

In fact, I would contend that much of the lawlessness that we see practiced today, not only in the churches, but in society in general, can be seen as gaining a strong foothold (historically) because of the errors in the doctrine and practice of Cromwell and his Independents (especially the tyranny of their pretended liberty of conscience and their false unbiblical view of toleration, cf. The First Amendment: A Masterpiece of Satan by McClure). Many heresies spread like the plague under Cromwell's administration, all due to his sinful disregard for the Scriptural pattern of establishing a godly state. As Fergusson (sermon 1652) proclaimed, "Of all errors, toleration is the most dangerous and damnable, in so far as other errors do only overturn those particular truths of Scripture to which they are contrary; but by this one error (this monster of toleration) way is made to overturn all the truths contained in Scripture, and to the setting up of all errors contrary to every jot of truth; and in the mean time there shall be no power to hinder it, or take order with it" (Cited from the cover of "Ye That Love the Lord, Hate Evil by Fred DiLella). Cromwell's antichristian views of liberty, conscience, government, etc. have all come to roost among his spiritual descendents. 

Even in their (Cromwell and his Independents) original espousal of a so- called liberty of conscience (which set man's conscience above God's Word) they could not be consistent. As Hetherington has again pointed out: "During their struggle with Presbyterians, they needed the support of numbers, being but few themselves, and therefore they advocated a 'boundless toleration,'- of which they did not really approve, and which, when in power themselves, they did not grant" (Ibid., p.332). 

At the root, "Cromwellianism" asserts its pretended liberty of conscience "by asserting that truth cannot be ascertained with certainty; and that therefore it is best to give equal toleration to all opinions, lest a grievous mistake should be committed, and truth suppressed instead of error. This is the language of skepticism, and the principle which it promulgates is not toleration, but latitudinarian laxity and licentiousness. Such language really implies, either that God did not intend to convey saving truth in a manner intelligible to the minds of men, or that he failed in his intention" (Ibid., p.329). 

In short, it is never a question of establishment versus no establishment (as any presuppositionalist knows), but rather whose establishment. There is no neutrality! And as Wagner, in his Presbyterian Political Manifesto has pointed out (p.18), "To not advocate the establishment of the one true religion is a violation of the first commandment as it applies to the state (cf. Westminster Larger Catechism question 103-105)". 

Do you know what the one true religion is? If not, a summary (without error) can be found in the Westminster Confession Of Faith (original edition, original intent). This is what every nation on earth needs to adopt, this is what ever nation on earth will one day adopt. Cromwell, ultimately fought against this, and to the extent that he hindered the Protesters, he hindered the subjugation of the nations to Christ.

Reply on March 25/96: 

Because you have thrown of your Prelate Lord, And with stiff Vows renounc'd his Liturgie     To seise the widdow'd whore Pluralitie From them whose sin ye envi'd, not abhor'd, Dare ye for this adjure the Civil Sword To force our Consciences that Christ set free, And ride us with a classic Hierarchy Taught ye by meer A. S. and Rutherford?  Men whose Life, Learning, Faith and pure intent Would have been held in high esteem with Paul Must now be nam'd and printed Hereticks  By shallow Edwards and Scotch what d'ye call: But we do hope to find out all your tricks, Your plots and packing wors then those of Trent, That so the Parliament  May with their wholsom and preventive Shears  Clip your Phylacteries, though bauk your Ears, And succour our just Fears  When they shall read this clearly in your charge  New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ Large.

- John Milton  

REG BARROW REPLIES:

"New Presbyter," using Scripture as the final authority, "is but Old Priest," using human traditions, "writ Large," - hardly!

I will put Rutherford's masterful Scriptural reasoning, as seen in his Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, up against the poetry of Milton any day! Is this the best the sectaries had to offer? Where is their systematic refutation of Rutherford's Free Disputation? Rutherford stopped the mouths of the gainsayers. 

If Milton were alive today maybe he would answer Rutherford's massive tome with a rock song. That would be about as effective as the oversimplification expressed in this pathetic poem, where he plays the part of "midwife to Antichrist" (to use one of Flavel's phrases). The confusion that Milton sets forth (above) is the first step toward the anarchy of the Anabaptists, and that is a long way down from the covenanted uniformity of our faithful Covenanted Presbyterian forefathers. I wonder if Milton would have considered Elijah a persecutor? (Just substitute "Elijah" for "Rutherford" above?) And why didn't he write a poem about "the late usurper," Cromwell and his concerted efforts against the Presbyterian ministers of Christ (and the only form of Church government that has positive divine sanction in Scripture [i.e. Presbyterianism, cf. Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici or The Divine Right of Church Government, recently reprinted])?

Furthermore, I find it interesting that so many speak of Rutherford's Lex Rex with affection, yet so few understand the uncompromising theological system of "covenanted reformation" upon which Rutherford built this work. The Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, will give all concerned a much better idea of what is at stake regarding conscience and God's law (within Rutherford's system). Anyone dealing with these issues needs to deal with Rutherford's Free Disputation.

Additionally, some of the errors of Milton, Cromwell, and their modern sectarian followers have to do with the persistent sinfulness of man in refusing to recognize that God takes the first table of the law just a "seriously" (if not more so, humanely speaking) than the second table. Milton wanted the "freedom" to trample upon God's commands (especially the first), Rutherford defended the Crown rights of King Jesus. Until modern Reconstructionists begin to begin at the beginning, giving due emphasis to first table commandments (as the Protesting Covenanters did), we will see little real civil reformation, and be left (given over?) to quoting poetry and smoking cigars.

Note that was not in the email postings listed here: 

It is not surprising that Milton and other heretics like him often cry the loudest for their "pretended liberty of conscience," for beside holding to the sectarian and schismatic views held by the Independents regarding church government, Milton was also an Arian (cf. M'Crie [the younger], Annals of English Presbytery, p. 298).

Reply on April 4/96:

Reg Barrow replies to the assertion that historical testimony is of little use to the Christian - with a quotation from the past:

See especially point four below where "uninspired testimony" is rightly termed "a bond of fellowship," and how ignorance of history, even recent history, makes it impossible to obey God (by keeping His commandments):

HISTORICAL TESTIMONY, CHURCH UNION AND THE SECOND REFORMATION    

To this it is answered, - by no means - every way the contrary, in accordance with the alone infallible rule; for "Christ's scholars never learn above their Bible." This presbytery believes firmly, that the testimony of Christ's witnesses is necessarily progressive, and that is will assuredly advance in the face of all opposition till it be "finished." Rev. xi,7. There is no such anomalous document recognized among the faithful witnesses as a "Standing Testimony." All such measures of compromise they must repudiate. The church of God is one, Song vi.9; Eph. iv, 4-6; the only true historical society on earth; Ps.lxxxix,29; cv,10; Rom. iv.13; the only indestructible and immortal corporation. Is. liv,17; Matt. xvi, 18. Her earnest contendings against the devil, the world, and the flesh, are to be put on record, but not to be confounded with confession of her faith, though both be inseparable. Thus it is that when the spouse is in perplexity, as to present duty, her glorious Husband directs, to "go her way forth by the footsteps of the flock;" Song i,8; to "take for an example of suffering affliction and of patience, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord." Jas. v,10. Christ himself hath left us an example that we should "follow his steps," as well as receive his doctrines. In total disregard of such plain and reiterated declarations of the Holy Spirit, all the so-called judicial testimonies, which have been emitted since the overthrow of the Second Reformation, have excluded history and argument - the very essence of a testimony, save that faithful and Scriptural one adopted in 1761, re-published in 1850, with a progressive supplement.  Thus different parties claiming to be the followers of Christ's witnesses, have palmed upon a credulous world a confession, instead of a testimony.  The Reformed Presbytery would earnestly desire to disabuse the Christian mind of this gross deception and great imposition, by which many sincere and devout disciples are befogged and distracted.

         1. The Bible, both Old and New Testament, is largely historical - the books of Genesis and Matthew beginning with narrative, the wonderful works of God. It is thus adapted to the rational nature of man, and equally to the spiritual nature of the new man.

         2. The church cannot ascertain the fulfillment of prophecy - the cumulating external evidence of her divine original: nor can Christ's witnesses otherwise than by history identify her confederated enemies- the man of sin and son of perdition, his paramour - the well favored harlot, and her harlot daughters - the offspring of her fornication with the kings of the earth.

         3. The present cannot in faith confess the sins, or express thanks to God for the mercies, of a former generation, except on the credibility of human history.

         4. Nor otherwise can a Christian know the time or place of his birth, or the persons whom God commands him to honor as his father and mother, than by uninspired testimony; and the same is true of his covenant obligation, if baptized in infancy. Against all who ignorantly or recklessly reject or oppose history as a bond of fellowship, in the family, in the state, but especially in the church, we thus enter our solemn and uncompromising protest.    

And finally, we testify against all who, under pretext of superior charity or liberality, fiercely clamor for union of churches by a sacrifice of divine truth, and in violation of order; or, who advocate intercommunion among bodies organically separate; or who furnish testimonials of Christian character to officers or members, who avow their intention to break covenant; thus inculcating hypocrisy, by precept and example, and reducing the awful sin of perjury to system. By such sinful and debasing practices; by the haughty bearing of idle shepherds of mercenary spirit- "greedy dogs which can never have enough"-the poor sheep of Christ, whose souls starve under a fruitless ministry, are tempted to "heap to themselves teachers"-unauthorized revivalists-who "understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm;" and are thus prepared to become the vassals of anti-christ; to be led blindfold down to the chambers of eternal perdition. And, notwithstanding the judgments of God inflicted on this nation by the recent internecine war, it still refuses to submit to the authority of the Lord and his Anointed. It authoritatively tolerates all religions, necromancy and polygamy; and profanes the Lord's day by post- office and railway traffic, for profit or pleasure.    

"Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shall inherit all nations."

Excerpted from: The Act, Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation... by the Reformed Presbytery, pp. 177-178 (a SWRB rare bound photocopy [1761], reprinted 1995 from the 1876 edition).

Rushdoony also says:

"Men cannot give a meaning to history that they themselves lack, nor can they honor a past which indicts them for their present failures" (R. J. Rushdoony, A Biblical Philosophy of History, p. 135).

Reply on April 12/96:

Reg Barrow replies (more on history and some new material on covenanting):

I agree that we can not live in the past in the sense that you declaim, but that does not mean we are not responsible for the past actions of those bodies which scripture designates as moral persons (i.e. churches and nations).

As a friend of mine, Larry Birger, recently wrote:

Further, I find their arguments to be wanting inasmuch as they ignore the clear teaching of Scripture that the church is a moral person (Ps. 66:6; Hos. 12:4; Gal. 3:23-25; 4:1-5), spanning the ages and continental boundaries, and subsequent generations are responsible for living up to the attain- ments in sanctification every bit as much as we, as individuals, are responsible to continue onward and upward in our own sanctification. "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. . . . And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break they commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? Wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?"-- Phil. 3:16; Ezra 9:13-14.

This really comes to roost in the most practical way regarding the Covenanters and their battle with all forms of malignancy. This battle has not gone away, in fact it is impossible for it go away (as evidenced by ________ previous post; the conscience of modern covenant-breakers still smarts when held up to the light of God's word on this matter). The Royalists (whether of the Anglican or Resolutioner "Presbyterian" variety) represented one form of covenant breaking and Cromwell (and his independents and sectarians) represented another. In fact, I call Charles II "the devil of the covenant" and Cromwell "the Judas of the Covenant." Only the Protesting Presbyterians (Samuel Rutherford, George Gillespie, James Guthrie, James Renwick, etc.) remained faithful to their vows to God. And many among the faithful remnant of Protesters were called upon by the Lord to seal their testimony with their blood. Christopher Love also did so at the hands of Cromwell's henchmen (but MUCH more on this in the reply that I am preparing for Mr. ________).

Scripture abounds in proof of the continuous public obligations of social covenants. I will cite just one example from The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism by William Roberts (1853); but the whole chapter "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligation of Religious Covenants" should be pursued by all interested parties:

"Another instance in which posterity is recognized in covenant obligation is found in Joshua 9:15. This covenant was made between the children of Israel and the Gibeonites. Between four and five hundred years after that time, the children of Israel are visited with a very severe famine, in the days of David. 2 Sam. 21:1. And it is expressly declared by the Lord that, "It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." And at the same time, v. 2, that very covenant is recognized, and the breach of it is stated, as being the formal reason of the divine displeasure. Now, had it not been for this covenant, the extirpation of the Gibeonites would not have been imputed to Israel as a thing criminal; for they were comprehended in Canaanitish nations, which God had commanded them to root out" (pp. 139-140).

Modern churches and nations must also deal with the moral substance of the National and Solemn League and Covenant.

What do you think of the following short article, written by Greg Price the teaching elder for the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton?

"The Preface and Bibliography to the Rare Bound Photocopy: 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 re- formation 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 L. Price, Pastor of the Puritan Reformed Church Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, March, 1996

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 the following bibliography concerning 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 for the Whole of the Covenanted Reformation..., pp. 11-23.

     8. The Reformed Presbytery, The Auchensaugh Renovation of the National and Solemn League and Covenants..., pp. 115-140.

     9. The Church of Scotland (1639), "The National Covenant of Scotland," pp. 345-354 in the Westminster Confession of Faith (Free Presbyterian Publications).

     10. The Westminster Assembly (1644), "The Solemn League and Covenant," pp. 355-360 in the Westminster Confession of Faith (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 (Free Presbyterian Publications).

April 5/96

Why can't you present a cogent case of your own?

Reg Barrow replies:

It is not that I can't, but rather that I do not have the time at present. Moreover, this IS my case; I feel no compulsion to reinvent the wheel or to be the originator of another sect (which blends all my individual theological tastes into one new [or newly presented] heterodox mess, as most do today). Since mine is the religion "once delivered to the saints" and I am walking in the "old paths," there is a deep well (Still Waters run deep) from which to draw the water of "long quotations" (all saying the same thing as the Scripture). These so-called "long quotations" already make my case and I am not too proud to admit that others are not only better writers than I am, but they also have much to teach me, and are far superior theologians. If you have read Gillespie's Against English Popish Ceremonies, Rutherford's Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, even Wylie's short Two Sons of Oil you will understand what I mean. I like what Spurgeon said, "Those who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains prove that they have none of their own." It also seems to bother you that many of the books that I quote from are somewhat older than those you seem accustomed to, but I ask, Are words any less true because they are old?

Did you check out "An Open Letter To A Teaching Elder In The RPCNA," by Jim Dodson yet? It is an attack (or you might say open rebuke) upon the RPCNA (the so-called "Covenanters" and most other modern Presbyterians). You should like that. It would certainly give you a much better understanding of what I am trying to say.  It is at: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/RPCNAdod.htm. 

I am in the process of drafting a response to your previous post, but because of my present schedule you will just have to sheathe that "flaming sword" of yours temporarily. 

You are in our prayers and though you may find me to be a lot less gentle than you were in your response to me, please keep in mind that I believe that a candid response is the best way that I can truly show that I love your soul.

One last thought to ponder. Some old movie that I once saw, when I was a much younger man (about 15 years ago), contained a scene in which a swordsman (full of bravado) approached what looked to him to be a unarmed man. After much ceremony, pomp, and an extended display of swordsmanship (the assailants shining and bloodless sword sweeping aimlessly through the air) the pathetic criminal (all the time opposing himself) finally stepped forward to attack. The poor deceived swordsman was swiftly dispatched to the judgement, by his intended victim, when a single bullet from a hidden revolver struck him right between the eyes. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear... "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off" (1 Kings. 20:11). 

April 10/96 Dear _________:

I appreciated much of what you wrote in your last post. You will have to forgive me if I respond only briefly at present. When I am working on a new catalogue I just cannot take the time, as much as I am enjoying it, to participate in any substantial way with every point that needs to be dealt with on TL. 

I do, however, look forward to your comments on Dodson's letter and the books when you purchase them in the future. Are you sure that you do not want to try to get just one of the books past the C & S "review board"? In any case my review copy offer stands, should you change your mind in the future.

More on Cromwell, Love, etc. is forthcoming (in future posts - and I continue to wholeheartedly maintain everything that I previously said), but I am still curious as to whether or not you were aware that the Presbyterians were split into two groups regarding Charles II. It seemed to me, from your earlier post, that you were not aware of the great differences between the Protesters and Resolutioners. Did you know that they even held separate general assemblies and condemned each others courts as unlawful? 

I am also preparing something concerning the charge of covenant-breaking that I leveled against you (and the nations of England, Scotland, Ireland, etc.). But please be patient, with my present schedule of duties (if you could call it a schedule), I usually only get between 3 and 5 hours of sleep a night as it is, and sometimes even less than that. 

You write:

As for the points I made, I reaffirm them. I do not think you are fair at all to those with whom you disagree. At each point I have attempted to back up my argument. You are always free to prove me wrong and publicly humiliate me. I know you hold 'high' views and I respect that, there is far too much wishy-washy easy- believism today. But people do not have the wicked motives you impute to them. If you want to debate your point, rather than resort to fire and sword, you have to accept that people often have a case that deserves a hearing.

I did not mean to impute motives to anyone (and if you can show me where I did, and I agree that I did so, I would gladly repent). I may sometimes use strong language, but I try to aim my "guns" at public writings and actions that are documented (for I agree that no man can judge the heart with certainty). By the way, my impression of you has been much the same as yours has been of me, in that "I do not think you are fair... to those with whom you disagree" and furthermore, that you have backed up almost nothing of what you have said (except with your own personal opinion). You may not agree with the witnesses I call, and even try to rule them out of court (Hetherington?), but nevertheless I think if you go back over our previous letters you will see that I have called more witnesses than you have (and have not indulged in nearly as much argumentum ad hominem), and that the witnesses I have called are just as (or more) credible than yours. In fact you seem to complain at times that I rely too much on "long quotations." Moreover, all the private email that I've received, concerning our discussion, has confirmed what I attest on this point.

But give me a chance (in future posts) to get back to the more pointed accusations you brought in your letter brandishing "English steel." I have a pile of books, already personally indexed (this is not the first time I've had it out with the supporters of Oliver), which I will be using to verify each charge I have made against either you or Cromwell (that is why I said earlier that I had wanted to deal with Cromwell, in light of his vows to uphold the Solemn League and Covenant, for some time now - and who knows, your pressing of this issue may even lead to a book or booklet on Cromwell in the future). Some of the books I will be using to make my points have been generally inaccessible until recently, when I published them. I think you may even be somewhat surprised at some of the actions and beliefs (I don't say motives) of Mr. Cromwell that will be uncovered over the next few months. And when I say that Cromwell was the "Judas of the Covenant" I am speaking in regard to his actions, not his motives; and this I will clearly prove.

In any case, after you read Dodson's letter, I am sure that you will see that we are in reality hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of miles apart, and I am not speaking about geography. There is no way that we could presently come to the same communion table together (without the practice of schism [as Augustine defines it], cf. Dodson's letter), but nevertheless I do note that the Covenanters acknowledged the English sectaries as "brethren" (in some sense) in the following account:

"These rejoicings were soon interrupted by the approach of Cromwell, and the shameful defeat at Dunbar, when no less than three thousand Scots fell on the field of battle, among whom were several ministers, who, being viewed with an evil eye by the sectaries, found no mercy at their hands. If we may believe a historian who is far from favouring the Covenanters, the English owed this victory as much to the lenity of the Scottish leaders as to their presumption. Sir Edward Walker tells us that the committee of war would not allow the attack to be made on Cromwell when they might have routed him, 'saying it were pity to destroy so many of their brethren; but seeing that next day they were like to fall into their hands, it were better to get a dry victory, and send them back with shame for their breach of covenant.'" (Footnote: Row's Supplement to the Life of Blair, MS., p. 82; Burnet's History of his Own Times, i. 102; Hind Let Loose, pp. 87, 88; Cruickshank's Introd. i. 38.) 

The Story of the Scottish Church by Thomas McCrie, pp. 234-235

The rest is history, but it is interesting to note that even "a historian who is far from favouring the Covenanters" records that the English were already, at this time, considered as in "breach of covenant." But that is the subject of my next post, which will answer your questions regarding covenant- breaking.

I was going to stop at this point, but I just couldn't resist answering one last item.

_________, you said:

The same goes for Oliver; most historians would snigger at your imputations of his lack of honesty. They would disagree with his actions as misguided, as wrong, as impolitic, but dissimulating!? Gimmeabreak!

This time I will bring as my witness someone who knew Cromwell personally:

"Robert Blair we had occasion to notice before. He was a man of mild and amiable temper, and was exceedingly active in endeavouring to heal the unhappy dissensions between the Resolutioners and Protesters, in which he professed to be neutral... He was a shrewd observer of character. When Cromwell came to Edinburgh, he and Guthrie and Dickson were deputed to hold a conference with the General. Blair, who was best acquainted with him, begged him to answer three questions. 'What was his opinion of monarchial government?' Oliver replied that he was favourable to monarchy (Give me a break!-RB). 'What did he think anent toleration?' He answered as confidently that he was against toleration (Hmmmmmmmmmm-RB). 'What was his judgement about the government of the Church?' 'Ah, now, Mr. Blair,' said Cromwell, 'you article me too severely; you must pardon me that I give you not a present answer to that question.' On retiring, Mr. Dickson said, 'I am glad to hear this man speak no worse;' to which Blair replied, 'If you knew him as well as I, you would not believe one word he says; for he is an egregious dissembler'" (Footnote: Memoirs of Blair, p. 107).

The Story of the Scottish Church by Thomas McCrie, pp. 248-249

Iron sharpens iron...

When I have time I hope to continue this debate on Theonomy-L, where it leaves off above.

From the "rare bound photocopy": JOHN KNOX, OLIVER CROMWELL, GOD'S LAW AND THE REFORMATION OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT http://www.swrb.com/catalog/b.htm (c) 1995 Reg Barrow

Appendix A: A letter to the editor (of Christian Renewal) in reply to a review of Mike Wagner's book A Presbyterian Political Manifesto regarding civil establishments.

Appendix B: Letters to the "Theonomy-L" newsgroup regarding Crowmell, the Protesters, the Resolutioners and the covenants of the second Reformation. http://www.swrb.com/catalog/w.htm

Most of the resources referenced in this book may be purchased through Still Waters Revival Books (mail order discount catalogue) at:

4710-37A Ave. Edmonton, AB Canada T6L-3T5

Phone: (780) 450-3730 (Monday to Saturday).

Home page on world wide web at: http://www.swrb.com (Many free books are also located on our web page)

Email: swrb@swrb.com

Cover illustration: John Knox arriving at Holyrood palace to confront Mary, Queen of Scots (J.A. Wylie, History of Protestantism, 2:3, before title page).

Full listing of Knox titles at http://www.swrb.com/catalog/k.htm

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