-Why Luther declined a general synod for unity in
-There is a great difference between the prelatical conformity and the presbyterial uniformity.
-This is branched out in seven particulars.
-Both nature and Scripture give precedents for uniformity.
-The church in the Old Testament was very uniform both in the substantials and rituals of their worship.
-It was also prophesied to be under the New Testament, and commended and commanded in it.
-The church in the ancient times had a great uniformity.
The word uniformity is become as odious to divers who plead for liberty and toleration, as the word conformity was in the prelates' times. Hence proceeded Mr Dell's book against uniformity, and Mr Burton's book, entitled, Conformity's Deformity. I confess my love and desire of uniformity hath not made me any whit to depart from my former principles against the prelatical conformity, or the astricting of men's consciences (at least in point of practice and observation) to certain rites, whether unlawful or indifferent in their own nature, under pain of censure. Yet I must needs justify (as not only lawful, but laudable) what the solemn league and covenant of the three kingdoms obligeth us unto, namely, to endeavour to bring the churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in one confession of faith, one directory of worship, one form of church government and catechism.
It is always to be remembered, that good things, yea the best things, may be dangerously abused by the corruptions of men, especially when the times are generally corrupted. Luther had reason in his time, and as the case stood then, to decline a general synod of Protestants for unity in ceremonies (which some moved for), before the doctrine of faith and the substance of the gospel was settled. He said the name of synods and councils was almost as much suspected with him as the name of freewill, and that he would have the churches freely and voluntarily to comply and conform in external rites, by following the best examples in these things, but by no means to be compelled to it, or snares prepared for the consciences of the weak. (See Melchior Adamus, in Vit. Lutheri, p. 128,129.) But if Luther had found as good opportunity and as much possibility of attaining a right uniformity in church government and worship as God vouchsafeth us in this age, I do not doubt but he had been more zealous for it than any of us now are; or, if he had been in Calvin's stead, I make no question he had done in this business as Calvin did. So that we ought to impute it rather to the times and places in which they lived, than to the difference of their spirits, that Luther's zeal was wholly spent upon the doctrine of free grace. Calvin's zeal did also extend itself to discipline, about which Luther was unwilling to make any business at all. But for further satisfaction to truly tender consciences, and that they may not fear we are leading them back again to Egypt, I desire that these particular differences between the prelatical conformity and the presbyterial uniformity, according to the covenant, may be well observed.
1. They did, after the heathenish and popish manner, affect ceremonies, and a pompous external splendour and respectability, and made the kingdom of God come with observation.[A] We desire to retain only the ancient apostolical simplicity and singleness, and, we conceive, the fewer ceremonies the better, knowing that the minds of people are thereby inveigled and distracted from the spiritual and inward duties.
2. Much of the prelatical conformity consisted in such things as were in themselves, and in their own nature, unlawful and contrary to the word. Show us the like in any part of our uniformity, then let that thing never more be heard of. Uniformity in any thing which is unlawful is a great aggravation of the sin.
3. They conformed to the Papists, we to the example of the best reformed churches, which differeth as much from their way, as she that is dressed like other honest women differeth from her that is dressed like a whore.
4. The prelatical conformity was, for the most part, made up of sacred ceremonies, which had been grossly and notoriously abused either to idolatry or superstition, and therefore being things of no necessary use, ought not to have been continued, but abolished, as the brazen serpent was by Hezekiah. But in our uniformity now excepted against, I know no such thing (and I am confident no man can give instance of any such thing in it) as a sacred religious rite or thing, which hath neither from Scripture nor nature any necessary use, and hath been notoriously abused to idolatry or superstition: if any such thing can be found, I shall confess it ought not to be continued.
5. They imposed upon others, and practised themselves, ceremonies (acknowledged by themselves to be in their own nature not merely indifferent, but looked upon by many thousands of godly people as unlawful and contrary to the word) to the great scandal and offence of their brethren. Our principle is, that things indifferent ought not to be practised with the scandal and offence of the godly.
6. Their way was destructive to true Christian liberty both of conscience and practice, compelling the practice, and conscience itself, by the mere will and authority of the law-makers. Obedite praepositis was the great argument with them to satisfy consciences: Sic volo, sit jubeo, sic pro ratione voluntas. We say that no canons nor constitutions of the church can bind the conscience nisi per et propter verbum Dei, i.e., except in so far as they are grounded upon and warrantable by the word of God, at least by consequence, and by the general rules thereof; and that canons concerning things indifferent bind not extra casum scandali et contemptus, i.e., when they may be omitted without giving scandal, or showing any contempt of the ecclesiastical authority.
7. The prelatical ordinances were "after the commandments and doctrines of men," as the Apostle speaks, Col. ii. 22. Compare Matt. xv. 9, "But in vain do they worship me, teaching, for doctrines, the commandments of men." Where doctrines may fitly express the nature of significant mysterious ceremonies, such as was the Pharisaical washing of hands, cups, tables, &c., to teach and signify holiness. All sacred significant ceremonies of man's devising we condemn as an addition to the word of God, which is forbidden no less than a diminution from it. Let many of those who object against our uniformity, examine whether their own way hath not somewhat in it which is a sacred significant ceremony of human invention, and without the word; for instance, the anointing of the sick in these days when the miracle is ceased, the church covenant, &c. For our part, except it be a circumstance such as belongeth to the decency and order which ought to appear in all human societies and actions, whether civil or sacred, we hold that the church hath not power to determine or enjoin anything belonging to religion; and even of these circumstances we say, that although they be so numerous and so various that all circumstances belonging to all times and places could not be particularly determined in Scripture, yet the church ought to order them so, and hath no power to order them otherwise, as may best agree with the general rules of the word. Now, setting aside the circumstantials, there is not any substantial part of the uniformity according to the covenant which is not either expressly grounded upon the word of God, or by necessary consequence drawn from it, and so no commandment of men, but of God.
Other differences I might add, but these may abundantly suffice to show that the prelatical conformity and the presbyterian uniformity are no less contrary one to another than darkness and light, black and white, bitter and sweet, bad and good.
And now having thus cleared the true nature and notion of uniformity-that it is altogether another thing from that which its opposers apprehend it to be-the work of arguing for it may be the shorter and easier. Mr Dell, in his discourse against uniformity, argueth against it, both from nature and from Scripture. I confess if one will transire de genere in genus, as he doth, it is easy to find a disconformity between one thing and another, either in the works of creation or in the things recorded in Scripture. But if one will look after uniformity in uno et eodem genere, in one and the same kind of things (which is the uniformity we plead for), then both nature and Scripture giveth us precedents not against uniformity, but for it. It is a maxim in natural philosophy, that motus caeli est semper uniformis velocitate -- the heavens do not move sometime more slowly, sometime more swiftly, but ever uniformly. God himself tells us of the sweet influences of Pleiades, of the bands of Orion, of the bringing forth of Mazzaroth in his season, and of the other ordinances of heaven, which all the power on earth cannot alter nor put out of course, Job xxxviii. 7-33; of the sea which is shut up within the decreed place, and within the doors and bars which it cannot pass, ver. 10,11; and generally, all the great works which God doth there discourse of, each of them in its own kind is uniform to itself: so likewise, Psal. civ. Hath not God said, that "while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease"? Gen. viii. 22. If there were not an uniformity in nature, how could fair weather be known by a red sky in the evening, or foul weather by a red and lowring sky in the morning? Matt. xvi. 2,3. If there be not an uniformity in nature, why saith Solomon, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun"? Eccl. i. 9. Is it not an uniformity in nature that "the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming"? Jer. viii. 7. Is not that an uniformity in nature, John iv. 35, "There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest"? As the Apostle saith of the members of the body which we think to be less honourable, "upon these we bestow more abundant honour," 1 Cor. xii. 23; so I may say of those things in nature which may perhaps seem to have least uniformity in them (such as the waxing and waning of the moon, the ebbing and flowing of the sea, and the like), even in these a very great uniformity may be observed.
As for Scripture precedents, there was in the Old Testament a marvellously great uniformity both in the substantials and rituals of the worship and service of God. For instance, Num. ix. 3, it is said of the passover, "Ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it." Exod. xii. 49, "One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you." Another instance see in the sacrifices, first seven chapters of Leviticus. Another instance, Acts xv. 21, "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath-day." A fourth instance, in the courses and services of the priests and Levites, 1 Chron. xxiii. 26; Luke i. 8,9. The like in other instances.
Of the church of the New Testament it was prophesied, that God would give them one way as well as one heart, Jer. xxxii. 39; that there shall not only be one Lord, but his name one, Zech. xiv. 9. We are exhorted to walk by the same rule, so far as we have attained; that is, to study uniformity, not diversity, in those things which are agreed upon to be good and right, Phil. iii. 16. Doth not the Apostle plainly intimate and commend an uniformity in the worship of God, 1 Cor. xiv. 27, "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret;" ver. 33, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints;" ver. 40, "Let all things be done decently, and in order"? He limiteth the prophets to that same number of two or three, even as he limiteth those that had the gift of tongues, ver. 29. And was it not a great uniformity, that he would have every man who prayed or prophesied to have his head uncovered, and every woman covered, 1 Cor. xi.? Doth not the same Apostle, besides the doctrine of faith and practical duties of a Christian life, deliver several canons to be observed in the ordination and admission of elders and deacons, concerning widows, concerning accusations, admonitions, censures, and other things belonging to church policy, as appeareth especially from the epistles to Timothy and Titus? And, 1 Cor. xvi. 1,2, he will have an uniformity between the churches of Galatia and of Corinth in the very day of putting forth their charity, "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store," &c. In the ancient church, although there was not an uniformity in all particulars among all the churches,-for instance, in the point of fasting, some fasting on the Sabbath, some not; some taking the Lord's supper fasting, some after meals (which differences in fasting gave occasion to the old rule, Dissonantia jejunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei); although, likewise, there was a great difference between the custom of one church and another in the time and manner of celebrating the Lord's supper, and in other particulars, as Augustine, Socrates, and the author of the Tripartite history record unto us,-yet the Centurists, and other ecclesiastical historians, show us in every century a great uniformity in those ancient times, even in very many things belonging to church government and form of worship. Neither can any man doubt of the great uniformity in the ancient church. Who is a stranger to the canons of the ancient councils? And although Irenaeus and others justly blamed Victor, bishop of Rome, for excommunicating the churches of Asia, and the Quartodecimans, because of their disconformity in keeping of Easter, yet the endeavouring of the nearest uniformity in that particular was so far from being blamed, that it was one cause (though neither the sole nor principal) of the calling and convening of the Council of Nice; which council did not have it arbitrary to every one to follow their own opinion concerning Easter, but by their canon determined that it should not be kept upon the same day with the Jews, that is, upon the fourteenth day of the month.
[A] Mentes humanae mirifice capiuntur et fascinantur ceremonialium splendore et pompa. Hospin. Epist. ante lib. de Orig. Monach.
Excerpted from the Works of George Gillespie.
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The Covenanted Reformation Defended Against Contemporary Schismatics: A Response and Antidote Primarily to the Neopresbyterian Malignancy and Misrepresentations, and the Manufactured "Steelite" Controversy, Found in Richard Bacon's A Defense Departed; With a Refutation of Bacon's Independency, Popery, Arminianism, Anabaptism and Various Other Heresies (Including an Exhibition of His Opposition to Scripture and the Covenanted Reformation, in General; and His Opposition to John Calvin, John Knox, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [Especially 1638-1649], Samuel Rutherford, George Gillespie, the Testimony of the Covenanter Martyrs, the Reformed Presbytery, the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton and a Host of Other Prominent Reformers from Past Generations, in Particular) -- With Copious Notes on Mr. Bacon's Backsliding and His Blackening of the Blue Banner; as Well as Various Replies to Other Modern Malignants by Greg Barrow (Greg Price, Reg Barrow, Larry Birger, et al.) (Though set in the context of a debate with one individual, this book addresses a number of specific problems which plague the Presbyterian and Reformed churches of our day in general. "It conclusively and irrefutably demonstrates that those churches which today call themselves Presbyterian [and even many which claim a more general Reformed heritage] have grievously departed from the Scriptural standards and principles of the previous Spirit led Reformations [of the 16th and 17th centuries]. This will become progressively [and painfully] clear as the reader witnesses evidence upon evidence of defection from biblically based Reformation attainments (Phil. 3:16) -- and the burying and/or removing of the ancient Reformation landmarks. Ultimately, when the testimony and evidence [presented in this book] is weighed in light of Scriptural verities, it is entirely safe to say that the original Reformers would not only have sought negative ecclesiastical sanctions against our modern pseudo-Reformers, but in many cases negative civil sanctions as well," writes Reg Barrow in the "Publisher's Preface." This book, of over 300 [8.5" X 11"] pages, is also offered as a cerlox bound photocopy [$14.98 US funds] or a Hardcover photocopy [$25.00 US funds]. It is also free on most of the CDs in both the REFORMATION BOOKSHELF CD set [30 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/reformation-bookshelf-CDs.htm ] and the PURITAN BOOKSHELF CD set [32 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/puritan-bookshelf-CDs.htm ])
His Dying Testimony
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The Works of George Gillespie (2 vol.)
Gillespie was one of the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. One of the great theologians of all time ó almost singlehandedly steering this august Assembly at certain points. As Hetherington notes, "in all those debates no person took a more active part, or gained more distinction than George Gillespie," though he was the youngest man there. Furthermore, Hetherington calls him a "genius of the highest order," and writes that his work "dazzled and astonished his countrymen." He "held an undisputed position among the foremost of the distinguished men by whose talents and energy the Church of Scotland was delivered from the prelatic despotism" of that day. This rare work contains Gillespie's per-sonal notes during the Westminster Assembly and A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies. A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies is a rare classic on Reformed worship, taking on all the arguments related to the use of man-made ceremonies in worship. Burned by the Prelates (Episcopalians) just after it first appeared in 1637, this masterful defense of the regulative principle has yet to be answered (by those that oppose God's sovereignty in worship). It ably, and in a detailed manner, refutes the old errors of Prelacy and Romanism ó many of which are being resurrected in our day by writers like James Jordan (and others abandoning historic Presbyterian [i.e. Biblical] worship). Gillespie's practical "Treatise of Miscellany Questions," contains 22 chapters. Topics dealt with range from: whether prophets and prophesying continued beyond the primitive church (answered in the negative); whether a sound heart and an unsound head can consist together; what are heresies and what is their purpose; are infants to be baptized; should the civil government attach a negative sanction to not swearing to the Solemn League and Covenant (against one aspect of Theonomy); etc. These Works also contains a memoir of Gillespie's life and writings, written by Hetherington, Gillespie's sermons before the house of commons, and much more!
Unity and Uniformity in the Church
This item lays out the case for unity among churches, proving its assertions from: (1.) throughout Scripture; (2.) from our Lord's declaring His will both in precept and prayer; (3.) from apostolic practise; and (4.) from the covenanted Reformation's "Solemn League and Covenant" which lead to the production of the Westminster standards. Houston notes that in the Apostolic church "the government of the church was one and common wherever churches were planted. It was Presbyterian, and neither Prelatic, a system of monarchial despotism, nor Congregational, a system of popular democracy." This biblical and Presbyterian uniformity was considered the apostolic, visible and doctrinal manifestation of the scriptural injunction to "one Lord, one faith, (and) one baptism." Houston also points out that "the only true and safe way of union is based on the platform of Scriptural uniformity; while that which is framed on allowing diversity in doctrine, and differences in government and worship, is a mere human contrivance, and its effect is to sanction and perpetuate divisions (which is to sanction schism under the false pretence of unity--RB), and to mar the prospect of an ultimate happy union in the church of Christ." Biblical union and uniformity is shown to be based on "agreement in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government." Moreover, the author contends that, "this is to be constantly sought after by men united in mind and heart, pledged to God and to one another; it is to be externally manifested, and to be diligently labored for, that it may be generally and universally prevalent. It is never to be viewed as impracticable. This was the main design of the convocation of the Westminster Assembly." The eschatological aspect of visible unity is also noticed, shedding valuable light on such postmillennial strongholds as, "The watchmen on the walls of Zion shall see eye to eye, they shall lift up the voice together, and together shall they sing" (Isa. 52:8) and "The Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one" (Zech. 14:9). This book is full of faithful encouragement and is one of the best introductions to this topic we have seen.
Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian
Liberty, or, The True Resolution of a Present Controversy Concerning Liberty of
One of our most rare and valuable resources. A masterpiece! Wholesome Severity was written during the sitting of the Westminster Assembly and demonstrates why Gillespie is considered one of the most influential Divines of the seventeenth century. Here we have the question stated (regarding liberty of conscience), the middle (or biblical) way between Popish tyranny and Schismatizing liberty approved, and also confirmed from Scripture, with the testimonies of Divines, yea of whole churches added to vindicate Christ's kingship (over the idolatry of the rule of an ill-informed, sinful conscience sitting in judgement upon the truth of the Word of God). The chief arguments of exception used in (Roger Williams) The Bloudy Tenet, The Compassionate Samaritane, M.S. to A.S. etc. are examined herein and Gillespie also deals with many of the thorny questions related to the abiding validity of the Old Testament judicial laws. Eight distinctions are added for qualifying and clearing the whole matter. In conclusion, a moving brotherly appeal is addressed to the five Apologists (Independents at the Assembly) for choosing accommodation rather then toleration. This is classic Scottish (covenanted) Presbyterianism at its best, a work that can be read over and over with increasing profit! This exceedingly rare essay is not found in Gillespie's Works or The Presbyterian Armoury, however it is also available on two cassettes for $4.77.
Aaron's Rod Blossoming; or, the Divine Ordinance
of Church Government Vindicated
The remainder of the title reads: "So as the Present Erastian Controversy Concerning the Distinction of Civil and Ecclesiastical Government, Excommunication and Suspension, is Fully Debated and Discussed, from the Holy Scriptures, for the Jewish and Christian Antiquities, from the Consent of Later Writers, from the True Nature and Rights of Magistracy, and from the Groundlessness of the Chief Objections made Against the Presbyterial Government, in Point of a Domineering Arbitrary Unlimited Power." In short, this book deals with the biblical view of the separation of church and state, and is especially pertinent concerning the modern political climate, in which the old Erastian tree of civil ecclesiastical interference is growing strong and spreading much poisonous fruit. As with just about everything else Gillespie wrote, this book has been widely recognized as THE classic in its field. Three major sections cover "Of the Jewish Church Government;" "Of Christian Church Government;" and "Of Excommunication from the Church, and of Suspension from the Lord's Table." Lachman, in his Preface writes, "It presents the classic Reformed point of view, one now little heard and perhaps less understood. Gillespie writes carefully and clearly, in many respects resembling the better know John Owen in the clarity and power of his reasoning." Bannerman states, "This famous treatise is unquestionably the most able, learned, systematic, and complete work on the Erastian controversy in existence. It deserves, and will repay, the most careful study" (The Church of Christ, vol. 2., p. 432). Beattie (Memorial Volume, p. xxxvi, 1879) called this book, "the ablest plea for Presbytery ever made."
"I know also that a government and discipline in the church (the thing which I now undertake to plead for) is a very displeasing thing to those that would fain enjoy liberty, either of pernicious errors or gross profaneness."—George Gillespie, Aaron's Rod Blossoming; or, the Divine Ordinance of Church Government Vindicated. (1646).
Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience (1649 edition.)
Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce, is still one of his most important works – with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his unsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked – for it contains the same searing insights as Lex Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane. Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. Excellent sections are also included which address questions related to determining the fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more. Walker adds these comments and context regarding Rutherford's Free Disputation, "The principle of toleration was beginning to be broached in England, and in a modified shape to find acceptance there. Samuel Rutherford was alarmed, or rather, I should say, he was horrified, for he neither feared the face of man or argument. He rushed to the rescue of the good old view... It is not so easy to find a theoretical ground for toleration; and Rutherford has many plausible things to say against it. With the most perfect confidence, he argues that it is alike against Scripture and common sense that you should have two religions side by side. It is outrageous ecclesiastically, it is sinful civilly. He does not, however, take what I call the essentially persecuting ground. He does not hold that the magistrate is to punish religion as religion. Nay, he strongly maintains that the civil magistrate never aims at the conscience. The magistrate, he urges, does not send anyone, whether a heretic (who is a soul murderer--RB) or a murderer, to the scaffold with the idea of producing conversion or other spiritual result, but to strengthen the foundations of civil order. But if he gives so much power to the king, he is no lover of despotism withal: the king himself must be under law. To vindicate this great doctrine is the object of another book, the celebrated Lex Rex; of which it has been said by one competent to judge, that it first clearly developed the constitutionalism which all men now accept" (Theology and Theologians..., pp. 11-12). In our day Francis Schaeffer, and numerous others, have critiqued many of the problems found in modern society, but most have spent little time developing explicitly Biblical solutions – especially regarding the theoretical foundations that Rutherford addresses here. Rutherford's Free Disputation provides a detailed blueprint for laying the foundations that must be laid before any lasting, God-honoring solutions will be found. Furthermore, Rutherford and his writings were the enemies of all governments not covenanted with Christ. This book will give you a very clear picture as to why "the beast" (civil and ecclesiastical) has reserved his special hatred for such teaching. As Samuel Wylie noted "[t]he dispute, then, will not turn upon the point whether religion should be civilly established... but it is concerning what religion ought to be civilly established and protected, -- whether the religion of Jesus alone should be countenanced by civil authority, or every blasphemous, heretical, and idolatrous abomination which the subtle malignity of the old serpent and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, can frame and devise, should be put on an equal footing therewith" (Two Sons of Oil: or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis, softcover). Can our generation swallow Rutherford's hard, anti-pluralistic, Covenanter medicine, poured forth from the bottle of the first commandment, without choking on their carnal dreams of a free and righteous society divorced from God (and His absolute claims upon everyone and everything)? Not without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit -- that is for sure! In summary, this book answers all the hardest questions theonomists (and their wisest and best opponents) have been asking for the last 20-30 years (and these answers are much more in depth than any we have seen in the last couple of millennia [less about a century to account for the apostles]). As the reader will discover, Rutherford was a wealthy man when it came to wisdom (and much advanced theologically), and those who take the time to gaze into the King's treasure house, as exhibited in this book, will find that they are greatly rewarded. Furthermore, because of its uncompromising stand upon the Word of God, this book is sure to be unpopular among a wicked and adulterous generation. However, on the other hand, it is sure to be popular among the covenanted servants of King Jesus! This is one of the best books (in the top five anyway) for advanced study of the Christian faith. We have now obtained an easy-to-read, amazingly clear copy of this very rare, old treasure. Great price too, considering that a copy of the 1649 edition, containing this quality of print, would likely cost upwards of $1000 on the rare book market -- though it is unlikely you would ever see a copy for sale!
The Covenant of Life Opened: or, A
Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (1655 edition.)
A exceedingly rare Covenanter classic! These are deep waters and this title is recommended for those who have already developed some fair strength in swimming the strong theological currents of the second Reformation. Containing some of Rutherford's most mature thought, this book was published six years before Rutherford passed on to glory. Over 350 pages.
The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism
A manual of instruction, drawing from such notable authors as William Symington and J.R. Willson, presenting "arguments and facts confirming and illustrating the 'Distinctive Principles'" of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Chapters deal with: "Christ's Mediatorial Dominion in general;" Christ's exclusive Headship over the Church;" "The Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the Word of God in the Church;" Civil Government, the Moral Ordinance of God;" Christ's Headship over the Nations;" "The Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ;" The Word, or Revealed Will of God, the Supreme Law in the State;" "The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to acknowledge and support the True Religion:" "The Spiritual Independence of the Church of Christ:" "The Right and Duty of Dissent from an immoral Constitution of Civil Government;" "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants;" "The Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony;" and finally "Application of the Testimony to the British Empire." A most important book, as we approach (possibly) the end of the great apostasy and will be in need of preparing for the dawning of the glorious millennial blessings to come; the days prophesied in which the church "shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
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
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.). 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. This book is also free on the web at: http://www.covenanter.org/RefPres/actdeclarationandtestimony/acttitle.htm.
Sketches of the Covenanters
Stirring accounts of sacrifice and martyrdom for the Reformed Faith that will bring tears to eyes of all but the backslidden. Follows the chain of events which gave Scotland two Reformations and a Revolution. Knox, the National Covenant, the Westminster Assembly, the Field Meetings, and much more is covered. The history of great battles for Christ and His royal rights are recounted in this moving history book. Sheds much light upon the warfare with the dragon for true liberty. One of our best history books, highly recommended!
An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of
Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc.
Defends the inescapable necessity of creeds and confessions, while promoting a fully creedal church membership. Shows how the law of God obliges all Christians "to think the same things, and to speak the same things; holding fast the form of sound words, and keeping the ordinances as they have been delivered to us" (Col. 3:13). After laying some basic groundwork, this book proceeds to defend the six points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion Agreed Upon by the Reformed Presbytery." These six points are the most conservative and comprehensive short statements of consistent Presbyterianism you will likely ever see. Besides the obvious acknowledgement of the alone infallible Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the divine right of Presbyterianism, these points also maintain the perpetual obligation of our Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Renovation of these covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, and the Judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery. In short, this book sets forth adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, in both church and state, as it has been attained by our covenanting forefathers.
WORKS ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT: