Photo: The Reformation Wall in Geneva
The historic occasion of this discourse was the founding of Princeton Seminary (in 1812), and the installation of Archibald Alexander as the first professor of the school. In this thoughtful address, Samuel Miller considers the role of the church in fostering a faithful ministry. Miller discusses two basic questions: (1.) What is an able and faithful ministry? (2.) What means should the church employ in order to promote such a ministry? During his discourse, Miller emphasizes that ministerial training should take place in the context of the church. He underscores the role of church judicatories in supervising various phases of ministerial training.
Samuel Miller (1769-1850) was a Presbyterian pastor in New York City for over 20 years. In 1813 he was selected as the second instructor at Princeton Seminary, where he served for over 35 years as professor of ecclesiastical history and church government.
This volume is not a detailed commentary; rather it furnishes an overview of the principal persons and themes in the book of Job: Job's happy estate, Satan, Job in affliction, Job's three friends, Job's conflict, Job's triumph, Job's refutation of his friends, Elihu, the Lord, and the place of the book of Job in the scheme of holy scripture.
William Henry Green (1825-1900) was a professor at Princeton Seminary. His volume about the book of Job was originally published in 1874.
In this concise essay, the author discusses the basic principles of Presbyterian church government. He focuses upon several foundational tenets: (1.) scriptural church officers, (2.) church courts, (3.) confessional standards, and (4.) church membership. The author illustrates how biblical principles of ecclesiastical government are vital to the health of the church.
This booklet was first published in 1983; it was subsequently expanded to include additional remarks about church officers, a new chapter on church membership, and an updated bibliography.
Professing Christians differ widely in the manner in which they conduct their worship. Such diversity in practice may prompt an inquiry. Is there a biblical measure by which we may evaluate various practices of worship? What means of worship possess the Lord's approval? What pattern of worship does the Lord truly require of his people?
The author contends that the Bible regulates all matters of worship, and the scriptures prohibit all elements of worship besides those which God himself has instituted. All of our worship should possess two preeminent characteristics: (1.) We must come to the Lord with sincere hearts filled with love for him; (2.) We must worship God using only the means established in his word.
This essay describes and exposes the activities and teachings of Alexander Campbell and his followers. The author is especially critical of the Campbellite doctrine of baptismal justification.
Nathan Rice (1807-77) was a contemporary of Campbell, and this tract was originally published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, circa 1850. Rice was a Presbyterian pastor who served congregations in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, and New York. Twice he held positions as a professor of theology; and he was president of Westminster College (Fulton, Missouri) from 1869-74.
Previously published in Baptism and Christian Education: a volume which combined writings by Samuel Miller on infant baptism and the spiritual nurture of children. This essay was originally a report submitted to the General Assembly. Since Miller was the primary author of the report, he was credited with the authorship when the report was published as a small book in 1840.
Is Christmas Christian? Pastor Michael Schneider approaches this question in a practical manner, by examining the inception, the institutions, and the implications of Christmas observance. He concludes that Christmas is essentially a pagan holiday; and its religious elements foster an imitation gospel which obscures an understanding of the true gospel.
Following pastor Schneider's sermon, Kevin Reed presents an historical survey of Protestant opposition to Christmas. For several centuries, many Protestants (especially Presbyterians) rejected Christmas, on the basis of the scriptural principles of worship upheld in the reformed churches. From the era of the Protestant Reformation through the nineteenth century, there was a consistent testimony against Christmas. Yet, in the twentieth century, biblical authority has declined within Presbyterian and reformed congregations; and, as churches have abandoned scriptural principles of worship, Christmas observance has become common.
This booklet serves as a good introduction to an emotional and controversial subject. Undergirding the entire presentation is the commitment of the authors to the sola scriptura rule of Protestant theology.
In 1994 and 1995, Professor David Engelsma defended Christmas observance in the pages of the Standard Bearer, a denominational publication of the Protestant Reformed Churches. In support of Christmas-keeping, the professor used arguments which bear upon reformed principles of worship in general, as well as Christmas observance in particular.
David Cason examines Professor Engelsma's remarks, showing that the professor has seriously misrepresented principles of worship which are foundational to the reformed faith. Cason shows how biblical principles of worship apply to ecclesiastical festivals, and he reviews the historic testimony of reformed churches and authors regarding Christmas observance.
The Protestant Reformation was more than just a struggle against Rome regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The conflict with Rome also included a dispute over the nature of true worship. John Calvin stated the matter succinctly: 'to debate about the mode in which men obtain salvation, and say nothing of the mode in which God may be duly worshipped, is too absurd.'
The reformer's defence of proper worship is combined with a call for Protestants to bring their actions into conformity with their teaching. Calvin makes it clear that the word of God requires of believers an outward practice consistent with an inner commitment to the truth. 'Genuine piety begets genuine confession.'
In this context, Calvin writes against the 'Nicodemites:' a class of would-be Protestants who hope to maintain their social standing by outward conformity to Romish rituals and worship; these dissemblers claim that it is lawful to attend the outward ordinances of Romish worship, so long as they do not inwardly receive the heretical tenets of Rome.
Calvin's response is forceful. Through a series of tracts, letters, and sermons, the reformer consistently maintains that proper worship is an essential part of the believer's duty to God. Calvin decries all forms of superstition and man-made worship. He exposes the blasphemous nature of popish worship, and stresses the duty of true Christians to separate themselves from such polluted forms of worship. 'Let us hold this rule,' he says, 'that all human inventions which are set up to corrupt the simple purity of the word of God, and to undo the worship which he demands and approves, are true sacrileges in which the Christian man cannot participate without blaspheming God, and trampling his honour under foot.'
This volume includes a publisher's introduction, describing Calvin's concern for worship, and providing historical background to the individual works contained in the book. The English translation, by Seth Skolnitsky, is based upon the French text of Calvin's writings, as published in the standard collection of the reformer's works.
John Craig (1512-1600) was a Scottish reformer. Previously a Dominican Friar, Craig was converted to the Protestant Faith. The Roman Inquisition condemned Craig to death, yet he escaped and returned to Scotland. In 1560, Craig became co-pastor with John Knox in Edinburgh. Later, Craig became a chaplain to James VI. At the direction of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Craig composed this catechism, which was subsequently approved by the Assembly in 1592. The catechism is designed to focus the attention of communicants upon the basic truths of redemption.
During the reign of Bloody Mary, many English Protestants fled from their homeland, seeking refuge on the Continent. In October 1555, a group of English Protestants in Geneva formed a congregation which left an enduring legacy for Protestants everywhere. This was the congregation which produced the famous Geneva Bible; and it was the congregation which was pastored by John Knox and Christopher Goodman. The congregation's confession of faith is reproduced here, along with scripture proofs from the Geneva Bible. (The forms of worship and polity used by the congregation may be found in the Genevan Book of Order, listed below.)
Writing to ministerial students, Samuel Miller once said, "It ought to be remembered that neither the conscience nor the heart can ever be suitably impressed but through the medium of truth. It is only as far as gospel truth is apprehended, that any genuine scriptural exercises with regard to it can exist."
Because genuine spiritual life is inseparably connected with gospel truth, Miller repeatedly issued calls for doctrinal integrity. He well understood that the very nature of the church required an uncompromising commitment to the truth of scripture. And he firmly believed that the principal doctrines of the Bible are embedded in the Westminster Standards.
Miller's writings on doctrinal integrity grew out of the turbulent decades of the 1820s and 1830s, when the church was rocked by turmoil over doctrinal controversies. Miller was distressed by the decline of doctrinal integrity among Presbyterians. Aberrant theological opinions were gaining widespread circulation, even among church officers: many persons denied original sin and human inability, asserted the will of man as determinative in salvation, and adopted the evangelistic techniques of Charles Finney. Lax views of confessional subscription prevailed in some presbyteries; men declaimed against creeds in general and spoke openly of their differences with leading articles of the Westminster Confession.
Within this context, Miller arose to defend the doctrine and order of the Westminster Standards. His most prominent statements on doctrinal purity are found in his work on Creeds and Confessions and his open letters to Presbyterians on "Adherence to Our Doctrinal Standards." These crucial writings are published together in this volume under the new title of Doctrinal Integrity.
The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions (1824) was originally composed as a lecture for seminary students. In this work, Miller provides an eloquent statement on the necessity of written creeds. He answers several objections commonly lodged against creeds and confessions. Miller examines the appropriate extent of creeds, showing that they should include many articles not ordinarily deemed "essential" or "fundamental." Further, he discusses the binding nature of confessional standards as regards ministers in the church.
Miller's "Letters to Presbyterians" were written to counteract apostasy in the church. Written, as they were, in an era of spiritual decline and confusion, his comments provide many timely observations and warnings. Because these epistles were written for the general membership of the Presbyterian church, the letters possess more vigor and immediacy than many of Miller's seminary compositions.
This newly-typeset edition includes a scripture index and a detailed table of contents (which serves as a good outline for the volume). The introductory essay, written by Kevin Reed, provides historical background on the nature of confessional subscription, and contains contemporary applications of the subject.
This is a work of great practical value. Dickson provides much "how-to" advice respecting the work of the eldership, as he focuses on the spiritual oversight of the local church.
Dickson discusses the following topics: the importance of the eldership; the elder's qualifications; duties of elders; the elder in his district; ordinary visitation; visitation of the sick; family worship; special thoughts pertaining to the young, inquirers, and servants; special means of doing good; cases of discipline; encouraging members to work; the elder's relations to the minister and session; encouragements and discouragements.
David Dickson (1821-85) was a ruling elder in the Free Church of Scotland.
Drawing upon numerous scripture texts, and examples from Christian history, J.H. Merle d'Aubigné presents several motives for family worship. He surveys biblical examples from the days of the patriarchs, up through the time of the New Testament, illustrating the practice of household worship among the saints of former generations. The author considers the vital nature of family ties, and he demonstrates the sacred obligation of family piety.
Merle d'Aubigné next provides several directions for family worship. He asserts that exercises of domestic piety must be filled with spirituality, truth, and life. The author then comments on various elements of family worship: Bible reading, prayer, and singing. He closes with a searching exhortation, urging his hearers to undertake the right performance of private and family worship.
J.H. Merle d'Aubigné (1794-1872) was a pastor, court preacher, and church historian. He is, perhaps, best known for his multi-volume History of the Reformation.
Drawing upon scriptural examples, Samuel Miller asserts the duty of Christians to practice religious fasting. He then describes several benefits to be gained from this practice. Miller discusses the proper way to observe a biblical fast, including some of the physical mental, and spiritual aspects of this exercise.
The First Book was written by the authors of the Scottish Confession of 1560. It was designed as a blueprint to transform the Scottish church and nation into a society which would be reformed in manners, as well as doctrine. Nearly twenty years later, Scotland was decidedly Protestant and had a regular system of church courts. The Second Book was written to clarify details concerning Presbyterian polity and the proper relation between church and state.
During the early 1600s, the English monarchy sought to destroy the Presbyterian practices of worship and church government adopted by the Church of Scotland. Banished from Scotland at the time, David Calderwood prepared an edition of the First and Second Books of Discipline, in an effort to defend the true principles of the Scottish Reformation. We have included Calderwood's fiery preface to his edition of 1621.
The text of the First Book of Discipline is based upon the published edition in the Works of John Knox (edited by David Laing; Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), Vol. 2, pp. 183-260. The text of the Second Book of Discipline is based upon the published edition in David Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland (edited by Thomas Thomson; Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1843), Vol. 3, pp. 529-55. Other editions were consulted, including the text in Calderwood's The True History of the Church of Scotland (1678 edition), pp. 102-16. For the convenience of the reader, the present edition has adopted the chapter subdivisions given in the Thomson edition of Calderwood's History.
David Calderwood's Preface was first published anonymously in his edition of The First and Second Book of Discipline (Amsterdam, 1621).
In this controversial work, John Knox contends that "to promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant to nature, contumely to God, a thing most contrary to his revealed will and approved ordinance; and finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice."
In the twentieth century, few people have read this historic treatise, and still fewer have made an attempt to understand the reformer's position. The scriptures teach that women should not bear rule over men, whether in the church or the state. Indeed, writes Knox, the testimony of scripture is so plain that "to add anything were superfluous, were it not that the world is almost now come to that blindness, that whatsoever pleases not the princes and the multitude, the same is rejected as doctrine newly forged, and is condemned for heresy."
The reformer also knew that his opponents expected some customary citations from the church fathers and classical writers. Knox takes aim at the methods of his critics by quoting some of the stoutest citations imaginable: from patristic sources to classical philosophers, there is a venerable history of opposition to female government. Nevertheless, Knox rests his main argument upon the authoritative word of God. He says, "For as I depend not upon the determinations of men, so I think my cause no weaker, albeit their authority is denied unto me; provided that God by his revealed will, and manifest word, stands plain and evident on my side."
Christians are frequently tempted to form unequal yokes in many spheres of life: in the church, in politics, in business, in social relations, and in marriage. Gillespie's study provides a timely warning, enabling us to avoid a multitude of unwise connections which could bring disastrous consequences upon ourselves, our families, and the church.
George Gillespie (1613-48) was a Scottish commissioner to the Westminster Assembly. Gillespie ministered during the turbulent era of the English Civil War. During this period, ecclesiastical matters and civil government were greatly entwined. Thus, religious covenants and political alliances formed the basis of lively discussion.
Forbidden Alliances examines timeless principles which bear on many contemporary issues respecting social, political, and ecclesiastical ties. Gillespie shows how fidelity to Christ is the preeminent claim which must govern all our alliances among the sons of men.
John Knox pastored the church of English exiles who lived in Calvin's Geneva during the reign of Bloody Mary. This was the same congregation which produced the famous Geneva Bible.
The order of worship for the Geneva congregation was originally drafted when Knox was a pastor in the Englishspeaking church in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the Frankfurt congregation was disrupted by a faction which contended warmly for the use of the Anglican prayer book. This conflict forced Knox to leave Frankfurt; and later, many of the exiles relocated to Geneva, where they called Knox to be one of their ministers. The congregation in Geneva then adopted a brief confession, and the simple order of worship previously drafted in Frankfurt.
The Geneva Book is not a liturgy, but it illustrates the doctrine and practices of worship used by a church committed to the regulative principle of worship. The Geneva Order was later adopted and expanded by the Church of Scotland.
The Genevan Book of Order was first published in English under the title of The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc. used in the English Congregation at Geneva: and approved by the famous and godly learned man, John Calvin. The text of this edition is based primarily upon the published version in The Works of John Knox, edited by David Laing (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), vol. 4, pp. 141-214.
The two books reproduced in this volume are thematically linked, and they furnish Miller's most extensive writings on Christological controversies. Each book was produced with a distinct readership in mind. The first work, Letters on Unitarianism (1821), was written for a general readership, in order to expose the evils of Unitarianism, so that orthodox Christians would guard against the inroads of Unitarian errors. The second work, Letters on the Eternal Sonship of Christ (1823), was composed to correct the errors of a straying brother, Moses Stuart, a professor at Andover Seminary; in contrast to the first book, the second work is cast with a more academic readership in mind. Also included, as an Appendix, is Miller's "Letter to the Editor of the Unitarian Miscellany," which was a reply to a published attack against Miller, by an anonymous Unitarian writer whose article was printed in the Unitarian periodical.
Suicide is "a crime of the deepest diewhich has become alarmingly frequent in our land," says Samuel Miller. Although these words were penned nearly two centuries ago, they remain timely unto the present day, when suicide has become epidemic and political activists advocate suicide as a right of self-determination.
Miller addresses the topic from a pastoral perspective: "Brethren, be not deceived! Every individual who hears me has an interest in this subject. Who can foresee the situation in which he may hereafter be placed, or the temptations by which he may hereafter be assailed? Or who can tell how soon the conduct of a near relative, or of a valued friend, may bring the subject home, with the deepest interest, to his bosom?"
From 1793 to 1813, Samuel Miller served as a pastor in the Presbyterian congregations of New York City. In 1813, he was appointed as the Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at Princeton Seminary.
Upon assuming his duties at Princeton, Miller recorded a series of personal resolutions. Among these, he stated: "By the grace of God, I will not merge my office as a minister of the gospel, in that of professor. I will still preach as often as my Master gives me opportunity and strength. I am persuaded that no minister of the gospel, to whatever office he may be called, ought to give up preaching. He owes it to his ordination vows, to his office, to his Master, to the church of God, to his own character, to his own soul, to go on preaching to his last hour. Lord, give me grace to act on this principle!"
Holding these convictions, Miller did, indeed, continue preaching unto the last days of his life. He provided pastoral care through private counsel and admonition, as well as preaching at the Seminary Chapel, the College Chapel, in neighbouring churches, and on other special occasions in more distant places. Thus Miller instructed his pupils in homiletics -- by both classroom instruction and example.
Many of Miller's discourses were delivered on extraordinary occasions, which prompted the treatment of a specific topic. Throughout these sermons we find his characteristic concern for Christian doctrine; he makes repeated references to the minister's role as a "watchman on the walls of Zion." And Miller sought to discharge this duty faithfully, by guarding the truth from the many assaults of error in his day.
Contents of the Volume:
The full title of this work is Infant Baptism Scriptural and Reasonable; and Baptism by Sprinkling or Affusion, the Most Suitable and Edifying Mode (1835). In sermonic form, Miller discusses the warrant for infant baptism, answers common objections to the practice, and demonstrates the scriptural basis for sprinkling as the biblical mode for administering baptism.
Girardeau defends the historic Presbyterian position against instrumental music in the worship of the church. The author opens with a general statement of the regulative principle of worship. He demonstrates that instrumental music in Old Testament worship was tied to the Levitical priesthood and ordinances, with typological significance. The finished work of Jesus Christ put an end to the Levitical priesthood and ordinances, and issued in a simpler pattern of worship for the church.
Girardeau explains and defends the teaching of the Westminster Standards, with respect to worship. Girardeau's sermon, "The Discretionary Power of the Church," is included in this volume, along with Robert L. Dabney's favorable review of Girardeau's book on instrumental music.
During the Protestant Reformation, John Knox laboured among Protestants in England, Switzerland, France, and Scotland. His achievements in his native country earned him a place in history as the Scottish reformer.
Given Knox's stature as an international reformer, modern readers might expect to find numerous historical and theological studies about him. Yet for all his accomplishments, John Knox is largely forgotten: his life's work, his writings, and his beliefs buried in oblivion.
The present volume seeks to restore interest in Knox's theology, illustrating how the reformer's beliefs have great relevance for our own day. Doubtless some matters are controversial, but Knox never shrank from controversy when the cause of Christ was at stake.
The individual essays in this book treat the following topics: the life of the reformer, the biblical law of worship, true and false churches, the role of the faithful pastor, the use of plain speech, a warning against the Anabaptists, and church government.
In the mid-1800s, the American Presbyterian Church was rocked by numerous controversies over doctrine and ecclesiastical order. The conflict between the Old School and the New School parties in the denomination eventually led to a denominational split. In the midst of the turmoil, prior to the split, Samuel Miller addressed a series of open letters to Presbyterians about several subjects which were at the heart of the conflicts within the denomination. Two of these letters dealt with the subject of revivals of religion. Miller's remarks are full of judicious observations, as he warns readers of the danger of spurious revivals, and exposes the faulty methodology of Finneyism.
In 1994, a group of prominent evangelicals and Roman Catholics issued a statement of cooperation entitled, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (ECT). The document has provoked numerous articles and books assailing the evangelical signatories to the accord.
To date, most critics of ECT have taken aim at areas where Rome is an easy target, while avoiding crucial aspects of doctrine and practice where modern evangelicals exhibit remarkable similarities to Rome. The accord and its aftermath reveal much about the present state of evangelicalism, demonstrating that most evangelicals have departed from the doctrines and practices of the Protestant Reformation.
The present essay seeks to redirect readers to the bigger picture, providing a framework for assessing Roman Catholicism, contemporary evangelicalism, and the ECT document. This book illustrates how both Romanists and evangelicals have rejected scriptural teaching about (1.) the essence of the gospel, (2.) divinely-instituted worship, and (3.) the marks of a true church. By corrupting the gospel, worship, and the church, evangelicals and Roman Catholics together are making shipwreck of the Christian faith.
John Calvin begins these sermons by asserting God's authority in all matters of belief and practice. "See, therefore, how regarding the faith, men must by no means bring forth anything from their own head or from their own brain, but must simply content themselves with what God shows them."
The reformer's expositions are rooted in the principles of headship stated by Paul in 1 Cor. 11:3: "the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God." Calvin urges believers to cling to Christ, who is our Head, "knowing that without Him, God would reject us, and the door of Paradise would be closed to us."
Although the Lord saves people irrespective of gender or class, there remain distinctions of rank and authority in the church and society. The example of Christ, in humbling himself unto death, is set before us as an example of subjection to divine order.
Within the divine order, men are appointed to rule over women. "If they do not rule themselves wisely, and thus fail to live up to their rank, it will be to their greater shame." Similarly, women are "past sense and reason, when they want to rule over men."
The reformer explains the apostle's remarks on head coverings. He also applies the general themes of the text as they relate to our duties in the church and society. Calvin reminds his readers that "it is an offence against God when people do not practice what He has appointed in this world."
Translated from French by Seth Skolnitsky.
This tract, written by John Calvin in 1543, succinctly states the principal disputes of the Reformation. What were the central grievances which caused Protestants to demand reform? What measures were essential for genuine reformation?
Calvin declares the biblical doctrine of justification. The reformer also unfolds the wider scope of the Reformation, as he states the need to restore biblical doctrine and practice regarding the proper means of worship, the correct administration of the sacraments, and the government of the church.
Calvin defends the reformers against the charge of schism. He rebukes the spirit of ungodly toleration which masquerades as "moderation."
The Necessity of Reforming the Church is more than just an historic monument to the Reformation. It is a spiritual manifesto, calling us to repentance in our own era of religious corruption.
Written by John Knox under the direction of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Geneva Order and the First Book of Discipline previously set forth the general doctrine of church discipline. Based upon Matthew 18, this document sets forth specific details for handling serious disciplinary cases which may lead to excommunication; it also describes the process for readmitting repentant subjects of ecclesiastical discipline.
The Order of Excommunication and of Public Repentance was adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1569. The text of this edition is based primarily upon the published version in The Works of John Knox, edited by David Laing (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), vol. VI, pp. 447-70.
Robert Breckinridge defends several basic principles of Presbyterian polity. He maintains that church government is a matter of divine law (jure divino). He discusses the scriptural warrant for ruling elders, the nature of church courts, and the limits of church power.
Set amidst the eldership debates of the 1840s, Breckinridge's historic speech received much attention in its day. J.H. Thornwell provided a favourable review of this discourse and several other writings of Breckinridge.
R.J. Breckinridge originally gave this speech before the Synod of Philadelphia in October 1843. At the time, Breckinridge was pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Breckinridge later held position as president of Jefferson College (Pennsylvania); pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky; and Professor of Theology in the Presbyterian seminary at Danville, Kentucky.
This edition contains an introductory essay which provides background to the eldership controversy and biographical information about Breckinridge.
A companion speech to Breckinridge's Presbyterian Government, this discourse sustains the argument that ordination is a joint governmental act of the presbytery, not a ministerial rite restricted to preachers. Breckinridge defends the propriety of ruling elders participating in the laying on of hands in ministerial ordinations.
For the historical background to this selection, see the introductory essay prefixed to Presbyterian Government.
Originally published in 1835, these essays by Albert Dod furnish a thoroughly devastating critique of the revivalism of Charles Finney. The first article treats the theology of Finney; the second article exposes the "New Measures" of Finney.
Albert Dod was a Presbyterian minister who taught at Princeton College.
In this classic work, Samuel Miller (1769-1850) offers an extensive scriptural and historical presentation on the office of the ruling elder. The full title of this work is, An Essay, on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Office of the Ruling Elder, in the Presbyterian Church (New York: Jonathan Leavitt; Boston: Crocker & Brewster.
Professor Miller begins by establishing the divine warrant for elders in the church. He traces their role from the Old Testament, into the New Testament, and throughout church history. In his practical discussion on the duties and qualifications of elders, Miller also tackles such critically important issues as the election, resignation, and discipline of elders.
The text has been newly edited in preparation for a reissue of Miller's work on the eldership; the new edition has over 100 pages of additional material (included here in the electronic version as well); the additional material is a sermon Miller published later in his career: The Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Office of the Ruling Elder, in the Presbyterian Church: A Sermon Preached in Philadelphia, May 22, 1843 (Philadelphia: William S. Martien, 1844).
In this booklet, extracted from the author's larger work on the ruling elder (described above), Miller explains the biblical duties and qualifications of elders. He covers both public and private aspects of the elder's service. Miller's treatment of the eldership also includes an open letter to church members, stressing the duties which they owe to their ruling elders.
The Protestant Reformation gave birth to many public confessions of faith, and the Scottish Confession of 1560 was among the most lively testimonies to the truth. Written by John Knox and several of his contemporaries, the Scottish Confession treats many of the doctrinal landmarks of the Reformation: the sovereignty of God over all of creation; the sinfulness of mankind; the person of Christ, in both his deity and humanity; the blessed work of Christ, the promised Redeemer; the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation and sanctification of God's elect; the preservation of the church; the authority and sufficiency of scripture; the nature and right administration of the sacraments.
The Scottish Confession handles topics succinctly, and with vitality, making it an ideal introduction to the teachings of the Christian faith. Additionally, the Confession contains a special section on the notes by which the true church is discerned from the false; this section provides a very helpful testimony in the present era of ecclesiastical confusion.
The same document as described in the preceding entry, along with proof texts from the 1560 edition of the Geneva translation of the Bible.
This special edition of the Scottish psalter includes the following features:
Note: If you wish to print out a copy of Brown's notes, without the the text of the Scottish psalter, there is a separate PDF version containing only the annotations; see the title, Devotional Notes upon the Psalter, in the list of "PDF Files."
Patrick Fairbairn calls readers to a sober examination of the Bible. He follows the historic Protestant practice of allowing the scriptures to stand as their own witness and interpreter. The author explains the "analogy of faith," in understanding the Bible. As summarized in the Westminster Confession (1:9), this principle states: "The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly."
Next Fairbairn discusses the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. He notes that, when examining New Testament passages which draw upon the Old Testament, it is crucial to determine whether the relationship is one of contrast, or of continuity (or both). He guards against denigrating the Old Testament; and he cautions against Judaizing the New Testament.
Additionally, Fairbairn provides a treatment on the figurative language of scripture, with a special discussion on the interpretation of parables. His comments are judicious and sober -- a much needed antidote to the hermeneutical madness of our own day.
Patrick Fairbairn (1805-74) served in the Free Church of Scotland as a minister, professor of divinity, and principal of the Free Church College in Glasgow. He is the author of The Typology of Scripture (1845-47), Prophecy (1856), a commentary on Ezekiel (1851), and Pastoral Theology (1875). The text for this booklet is taken from Fairbairn's Hermeneutical Manual: or, Introduction to the Exegetical Study of the Scriptures of the New Testament.
The Westminster Standards have provided the creedal expression of Presbyterianism for over 350 years. There are numerous editions of these documents; yet, even the most complete editions lack a thorough index for the scripture proofs of the standards. Therefore, this work is a valuable tool for all who wish to study the confessional standards with greater profit.
The index is based upon the original version of the Confession, as approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1647.
At the conclusion of the index, the reader will find a list of printing errors which have crept into many popular editions of the Westminster Confession. These typographical errors were catalogued by S.W. Carruthers in his definitive edition of the Confession published in 1937. Although the number of these typographical errors is small, modern editions of the standards generally fail to reflect the careful work of Carruthers in restoring the correct proof texts to the Confession.
The scripture proofs for the Westminster Confession have a distinct history of their own. For this reason, the publisher has added a brief historical essay, explaining the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly in relation to the scripture proofs.
John Knox has much to say to the present generation. His writings breathe with pastoral urgency, as he addresses timeless themes of worship, the gospel, ministerial faithfulness, and reformation. Knox speaks words of comfort to the downcast; he thunders prophetic admonitions to the wicked and the careless. Contemporary Christians will find much profit in the writings of the Scottish reformer.
It has been over 100 years since the Works of John Knox were published in a collected edition. Sadly, his works have been rendered even more inaccessible to general readers, because the definitive edition retains the antiquated orthography of the sixteenth century. There were two popular 19th century anthologies from Knox's writings, but these volumes suffered from serious defects because of editorial abridgements.
Presbyterian Heritage has prepared a new edition of selected writings by John Knox. The first volume draws upon the tracts, treatises and public letters of the reformer, written before he returned to Scotland in 1559. The material is generally arranged in chronological order, enabling the reader to see the development of Knox's career and theology. Each selection is preceded by a brief introduction that describes the setting and calls attention to preeminent aspects of the work.
The text is based upon the definitive collection, originally edited by David Laing. It has been newly edited to reflect contemporary spelling, punctuation and grammar. The result is a readable and faithful edition of Knox's writings.
Scripture references are placed in the side margins, and explanatory footnotes at the bottom of the page, so that they can be consulted easily. The book includes a table of contents, a chronological summary of the life and writings of Knox, a scripture index, and a subject index.
This volume includes the following works by John Knox:
Following the general format of the first volume of the reformer's Selected Writings, the second volume contains the following works:
During the Reformation, French Protestants lived in a society dominated by Papists. The temptation to compromise was significant; anyone who ceased to attend the Mass would make himself conspicuous among religious and civil authorities. In order to maintain their social standing, and
to avoid persecution, some would-be Protestants claimed it was lawful to attend the outward ordinances of Romish worship, so long as they did not inwardly receive the heretical tenets of Rome.
Calvin responds to such attitudes with a stinging rebuke. The reformer argues that "genuine piety begets genuine confession." Drawing upon scriptural commands and examples, Calvin notes: "to perform any act of idolatry, in order to gain the favour of man is more to be shunned than death in its most fearful form." The reformer provides a specific consideration of popish worship, especially the Mass. Calvin exhorts his readers to avoid any participation in Romish rites of worship. The reformer's remarks reach beyond the mere conflict at hand, for Calvin offers many timeless observations about the general subject of worship.
From 1555 to 1558, Christopher Goodman served as co-pastor, with John Knox, of the congregation of English exiles in Geneva. During the course of his ministry, Goodman preached upon Acts 4:19 and 5:29: "Whether it be right in the sight of God, to obey you rather than God, judge ye.We ought rather to obey God than men."
At the request of his brethren, Goodman subsequently published an expanded version of his exposition, How Superior Powers Ought to be Obeyed of Their Subjects: and Wherein They May Lawfully by God's Word be Disobeyed and Resisted. Wherein also is declared the cause of all this present misery in England, and the only way to remedy the same. In this book, Goodman contends against both ecclesiastical and political tyranny. He refutes claims of usurped authority, and provides an enlarged discussion on civil disobedience. A principal theme of the work is contained in the subtitle, where the author notes that, in certain cases, superior powers "may lawfully by God's word be disobeyed and resisted."
Goodman's book is thematically linked to Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Both books were published in 1558, when Bloody Mary was oppressing and murdering Protestants. In England, both volumes were immediately denounced by royal proclamation. Anyone who was found with these books in their possession, or who, finding them, did not instantly burn them, could incur the penalty of death under martial law.
This new edition of Superior Powers includes a scripture index, a subject index, a biographical essay on the life of Christopher Goodman, and the original foreword by William Whittingham.
The Protestant Reformation was a conflict over many critical issues. Of all the issues contested between Romanists and reformers, no issue was more crucial than the question of true worship.
John Knox displayed a preeminent concern for worship. Throughout his ministry, the reformer proclaimed the scriptural law of worship: all forms of worship (and all religious ceremonies) must possess clear scriptural warrant, if they are to be admitted as valid means of worship. This concept has subsequently been called the regulative principle of worship.
The discourse in this booklet was taken from A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass is Idolatry (1550). Knox delivers some potent blows against the Mass; and he bases all his arguments upon scriptural proof that all worship invented by man, or which lacks biblical warrant, is idolatry. Thus, the entire discussion turns upon Knox's spirited defence of the scriptural law of worship.
This booklet also contains an introductory essay, written by Kevin Reed, summarizing Knox's teachings and practices with regard to worship.
Calvin battles ecclesiastical politicians who are willing to barter away various portions of biblical truth, under the pretext of securing peace within the church. While battling "moderates" and theological compromisers, Calvin makes a spirited defence of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith: justification and worship. The reformer also provides a substantial discussion regarding the church and the sacraments.
George Gillespie asserts the importance of maintaining the truth against the inroads of error. He answers basic questions: What is heresy? How should we respond to heresy?
At the outset, Gillespie stresses the need for stability and firmness in the truth: "Skepticism, fluctuation and wavering, concerning those things which God has revealed to be believed or done by us, is a sin; and to be firm, fixed and established in the faith is a duty commanded."
Next, Gillespie gives a definition of heresy, based upon numerous references in the scriptures. He provides a detailed consideration of 1Cor. 11:19. He states, godly men "are known by this as one of their characters: they hate, avoid, and resist heresies, and earnestly contend for the faith."
Finally, Gillespie mentions several guidelines for evaluating the "new lights" offered by men who attempt to modify or overthrow established doctrine.
Unity, schisms, realignment, ecclesiastical mergers, fraternal relations: these are topics of frequent discussion among contemporary Presbyterians. Yet, "there is nothing new under the sun;" and the subject of church unity has been covered in a masterful fashion by Thomas M'Crie (1772-1835), the prominent Scottish Presbyterian minister and biographer of John Knox.
M'Crie's book is written with a strong pastoral outlook. It is not a lofty tome hurled down from above by an ivory-tower theologian or church bureaucrat. Rather, M'Crie speaks eloquently to Christians who are troubled by the present disarray in the church. He fully appreciates the biblical obligation to seek unity. Yet, he also recognizes that it is folly to construct a superficial union which sacrifices truth and purity on the altar of expediency.
M'Crie wrestles with questions often posed by Christians troubled over dissension in the church:
The author surveys the biblical landscape to provide a helpful discussion of these questions. He yearns for true scriptural unity: a yearning which should characterize every pious church member. He deplores schism. Yet, he also asserts our duty to preserve the truth, and exposes the fallacies and unscriptural character of modern plans of union.
The church in M'Crie's day was divided by different opinions as the proper relationship between church and state. In an appendix to his book, M'Crie gives an explanation and defence of the original position of the Westminster Confession respecting the role of the civil magistrate.
The Unity of the Church was first published in 1821, and subsequently has become quite scarce. This reprint has been newly typeset with a scripture index and a detailed table of contents (which serves as a good outline to the book). There is an extra appendix containing a letter by Dr. M'Crie on the subject of ecclesiastical mergers.
Thomas M'Crie was born in 1772. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1796. During his lifetime, M'Crie repeatedly wrestled with problems posed by both divisions and mergers among Scottish Presbyterians. M'Crie's most famous work was the Life of John Knox (1811). He also wrote the Life of Andrew Melville (1819), a short biographical study of Alexander Henderson, and numerous articles. He authored a History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Italy (1827) and a History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Spain (1829). A volume of his Sermons was published posthumously by his son in 1836. At the time of his death, M'Crie was working on a biography of John Calvin.
Benjamin Morgan Palmer begins his discourse with a consideration of the warrant for public worship. This warrant is drawn from the social nature of mankind, the necessity of worship to the church as the visible kingdom of Christ, and the role of public ordinances in advancing the kingdom of God over the opposing powers of darkness.
Having established the warrant for public worship, the author moves to a discussion of the nature of Christian worship: specifically, "the Protestant view of public worship." Drawing upon his text (John 4:23-24), Palmer notes the complete withdrawal of the ancient types (the ceremonial aspects of Levitical worship). Because Christ is more clearly revealed in the New Testament, formal instruction possesses a central role within Christian worship. Nevertheless, it is important for public instruction to be set within the context of public devotion, lest the proclamation degenerate into a heartless philosophy.
Finally, Palmer stresses the simplicity of Christian worship. He warns against the corruption of worship by means of religious rites and ceremonies which lack scriptural warrant.
This sermon was originally preached on 9 October 1853, and it was published in the The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1906), written by Thomas Carey Johnson.
This forceful address represents Dabney's mature thought on creeds and the Westminster Confession. In this message, Dabney covers several topics of special interest to Presbyterians.
In his treatment of the doctrinal contents of the Confession, Dabney points to the Confession's ruling point of view: theocentric Trinitarianism. He then notes the "doctrinal moderation" of the Confession; the Westminster Assembly refused to adopt speculative and aberrant views which were part of the contemporary scene.
In the second major portion of Dabney's address, he covers the necessity and value of creeds. He refutes frequent objections to creeds.
This address was composed for the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church, which met in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1897, less than a year before Dabney's death. The occasion of the message was a special commemoration celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Westminster Assembly. Dabney suffered from blindness, and his health was failing. Nevertheless, he took an active part in the Assembly's deliberations, although his paper was read by a brother minister. This address is not contained in Dabney's Discussions.
This brief article was originally written in 1988, calling into question the commitment of reconstructionists to the first table of the law. The author describes several ways in which theonomists have publicly disregarded proper applications of the first four of the ten commandments.
This review was originally written in the 1984, as an exposé of the liturgical views of worship being promoted by the Westminster Presbyterian Church (Tyler, Texas), as advocated by James Jordan. The article shows that Mr. Jordan has abandoned historic reformed views of worship for notions more suited to Rome or Canterbury. The discussion focuses on the regulative principle of worship.
This essay examines the theology and evangelistic methodology of Charles G. Finney. The author discusses Finney's impact upon American evangelicalism.
An essay originally published in Baptism and Christian Education: a volume which combined writings by Samuel Miller on infant baptism and the spiritual nurture of children.
This essay is an extended book review of The Church and the Parachurch: An Uneasy Marriage by Jerry White (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1983). It is critical of the ecclesiastical independency of Mr. White in particular, and evangelicals in general.
This article consists of a brief extract from Miller's "Introductory Essay" to The Articles of the Synod of Dort, translated from the Latin, with notes, by Thomas Scott (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856), pp. 8-13. Miller notes the disingenuous behavior of Arminius in the promulgation of his heterodox beliefs.
A combined book review of two titles: Princeton Seminary [vol. 2]: The Majestic Testimony by David C. Calhoun (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1996); Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church by Gary North (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1996). These volumes deal with Northern Presbyterianism, covering the latter half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century.
This article is a book review of The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23, James Jordan (Tyler Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984). The review is critical of Jordan's speculative and allegorical method of hermeneutics.
A research paper describing the origins of Fundamentalism. As it originally developed, the fundamentalist movement was an alliance of men committed to the infallibility of scripture, regardless of differing denominational affiliations and other doctrinal differences. The paper focuses upon two principal groups within the the Fundamentalist alliance: the Bible-college premillennialists and the orthodox "Princeton" Presbyterians. The author discusses how these groups battled against the religious modernists of their day.
A book review of The Millenarian Piety of Roger Williams by W. Clark Gilpin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979). Gilpin's book provides much helpful information about the early American Puritans, as well as about Roger Williams. The book is particularly useful to dispel several myths about Williams which are sometimes circulated in popular historical narratives..
This review was written in July 1984, and subsequently published, in slightly different form, in the Banner of Truth magazine (issue no. 256, January 1985).
A fictitious (satirical) letter from a church bureaucrat, chiding the apostle Paul for failing to conform to contemporary expectations respecting evangelism and church politics.
This article examines problems posed by the current method of training men for the ministry in theological seminaries. The author questions contemporary practices which undermine biblical principles of church order. This article was published, in slightly different form, in Journey magazine (January/Feb. 1988).
In August 1993, Professor David Engelsma ran a review of John Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet in the Standard Bearer magazine. The review contained criticism and misinformation regarding Knox on the matter of female government. This reply to Engelsma id designed to show that Knox's position is consistent with scripture and the opinions of other reformers.
This essay was drafted in 1991 to explore the biblical principles of ecclesiastical government which apply when the church is in a forming or unsettled condition. It is mainly an historical survey, with an attempt to apply the lessons of history to contemporary problems.
This study highlights the teachings of reformed writers and creedal statements, with a strong emphasis upon the Scottish Presbyterianism. Nevertheless, the essay has raised the ire of some priggish and pretending Presbyterians, who seem to prefer empty forms instead of a genuine reformation in doctrine and practice.
This is a lesson plan, with brief notes, for an imaginary class on church polity. It is satirical, since the outline for this class illustrates ways in which "conservative" Presbyterians have deviated from the historic principles of Presbyterianism.
A critical review and commentary upon Worship in Spirit and Truth, a book by John Frame (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1996). The review demonstrates how John Frame's notions of worship undermine historic Presbyterian beliefs and practices.
A book review, with expanded comments, based upon The Coming Evangelical Crisis (John H. Armstrong, general editor ). The review notes that the authors of the book have correctly identified several crucial areas where contemporary evangelicals have departed from the scriptures. The review then illustrates that the authors have understated the depth of the problem and have failed to provide a cohesive response to the crisis facing evangelicals, especially with respect to proper worship.
A book review, with commentary, based upon David Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: Volume 1, Faith and Learning, 1812-1868 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1994). The reviewer generally gives a positive assessment of the volume, while also stating the need for clarification of some issues raised by Calhoun's history. Specifically, Reed addresses matters of the eldership and ministerial training which were not adequately covered in Calhoun's book. This review appeared, in slightly different form, in the magazine of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia.
This article is a book review, with commentary, of Ways of Lying: Dissimulation, Persecution, and Conformity in Early Modern Europe, Perez Zagorin (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990). Zagorin's work provides more than a mere chronicle of duplicitous speech and actions; rather, he investigates the rationale, including appeals to scripture, which were set forth in defence of dissimulation. The review explores Zagorin's main themes, and then seeks to apply the lessons of history to contemporary cases of theological lying.
This article is a book review, with commentary, on They Gathered at the River: The Story of the Great Revivalists and Their Impact Upon Religion in America, by Bernard A. Weisberger. In tracing the history of revivalism, Weisberger notes how each successive wave of revivalism brought a downgrade in both the message and the methodology employed by the revivalists.
This article is a book notice for War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin by Carlos M. N. Eire (Cambridge University Press, 1986.).
The attacks of Iconoclasts upon Popish images have often been regarded as the activities of extremists on the fringe of the Protestant Reformation. Yet, the Reformation was not merely a struggle over the doctrine of justification; it was a battle for the proper worship of the living God. Carlos Eire demonstrates that the Continental Reformers issued a preeminent call to purge Romish corruptions from worship; and, thus, iconoclasm was an integral part of the program to Reform worship.
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