Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath

“For its scope, detail, and erudition, this work on the Sabbath is unparalleled in the Puritan tradition–indeed, perhaps even in the Christian tradition.” Mark Jones, author with Joel Beeke, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.

Bownd-Selections (84pp, updated PDF).

This book is now in print and the prepublication offer has ended, but pricing remains around or actually below prepublication pricing at both Reformation Heritage Books and here at the Naphtali Press store. There was so much anticipation for this work that NP co-published the title with Reformation Heritage Books in a large print run.

Nicholas Bownd, Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath (Naphtali Press and Reformation Heritage Books, 2015) 592pp. Hard bound, smyth sewn, dust jacket. Edited with introduction and analysis by Chris Coldwell. Retail $30. 

No book had more influence in confirming a Sabbatarian “heart” to Puritanism than that of Nicholas Bownd (d.1613). The Doctrine of the Sabbath was the first scholarly treatment defending the concept of the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day, later embodied in the Westminster Standards. Not reprinted since 1606, this influential work is presented afresh in a new critical edition.

For most of his ministry, Nicholas Bownd (1551?–1613) was the pastor of a country church in rural England. Judging from the sermons he published, his ministry exhibited the practical divinity taught by his stepfather, Richard Greenham, which focused on the means of grace. The crucial ‘mean of the means’ whereby all these means of grace were made available to the people of God was the weekly gatherings on the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day. In 1595, Bownd published True Doctrine of the Sabbath, which derived from sermons preached about 1586. This book embroiled him in a singular controversy with a troublesome neighbor, which resulted in the first Sabbatarian controversy in England, and also led to a vindicating expanded edition in 1606. For the last two years of his life he ministered at St. Andrew in Norwich, the highest call a man of his puritan convictions could have attained in those days.

Commendations by Mark Jones, James T. Dennison, Richard B. Gaffin and Joel Beeke.

“It is astonishing that the Puritan Nicholas Bownd’s famous work on the Sabbath, which greatly influenced later Puritanism and the Westminster Assembly, and by extension, Western Christendom for centuries, has not been printed in a critical edition with modern typeface long ago. Not reprinted since 1606, this classic work emphasizes the fourth commandment’s morally binding character, the divine institution of the entire Sabbath as the Lord’s Day set apart to worship God, and the cessation of non-religious activities that distract from worship and acts of mercy. I am so grateful that it is back in print, and pray that it will do much good to restore the value and enhance the joy of the Lord’s Day for many believers around the world.”

—Joel R. Beeke, co-author of Meet the Puritans and A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, and president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

“After four centuries of rest, Nicholas Bownd’s famous book on the Sabbath has re-Bownded. Attractively printed, this work is a critical edition of the 1595 version and the expanded 1606 edition. Coldwell has painstakingly collated and meticulously annotated the two so as to allow Bownd’s classic Puritan doctrine of the Lord’s Day Sabbath to be published afresh. Lovers of the Scriptures as interpreted by the Westminster Standards will rejoice. May all glory redound to the Eschatological Lord of Sabbath rest, as it did four centuries ago.”

–James T. Dennison, Jr., author of The Market Day of the Soul: The Puritan Doctrine of the Sabbath in England, 1532-1700; and Academic Dean and Professor of Church History and Biblical Theology, Northwest Theological Seminary, Lynnwood, Washington.

 

“Those with an interest in developments leading up to the formulation of the Sabbath doctrine taught in the Westminster standards will  benefit from this careful documentation and analysis of the views of Nicholas Bownd.”

–Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., author of Calvin and the Sabbath; Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary.

 

Nicholas Bownd’s work, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath, occupies a hugely significant place among Puritan works on polemical and practical divinity. For its scope, detail, and erudition, this work on the Sabbath is unparalleled in the Puritan tradition—indeed, perhaps even in the Christian tradition. Particularly illuminating are Bownd’s “spiritual exercises,” which clearly had an influence upon the later Puritan attitudes regarding the practical implications of Sabbath-keeping and worship. As an added bonus to the content of this book, the editorial work on this book is first-class, and makes for far more enjoyable and easier reading than a simple re-print.

–Rev. Dr. Mark Jones, Minister at Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA).

From the Foreword

With all the Puritan and Presbyterian books expounding upon the fourth commandment which have been published or reprinted in the last four hundred years, it may be reasonably questioned why it is important to bring yet another work on the nature of the Lord’s Day into print again, particularly when few Christians today either believe, understand or appreciate the true doctrine of the Christian Sabbath.  The answer is simple enough. Nicholas Bownd’s books were the first scholarly, lengthy treatment articulating the Puritan Sabbatarian position, and he can fairly be said to have set the mold for the standard argument. The basic tenets he defended are enshrined in that last great set of Reformed symbols, the Westminster Standards. So while he certainly did not invent the doctrine, Bownd can in a sense be called the father of the later Puritan works expounding the fourth commandment. Consequently, his work is of significant historical importance and a new edition is at the very least warranted to aid the study of it. And personally, if for no other reason, I believe a good modern edition of this great work is appropriate out of simple gratitude for the author’s labors in the face of the difficulties of the times and the rather singular persecution he faced.

This project to bring Nicholas Bownd’s True Doctrine of the Sabbath to print in a modern version dates back over twenty years. The source was a poor University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI) photocopy of an equally poor microfilmed example of Bownd’s 1606 revised edition. This required considerable proof reading, and the original having all the problems of a late sixteenth century text made for a tedious job of editing. It was easier to keep shifting focus to other less difficult projects. However, as it turned out in the providence of God, the project needed this delay in order for new research to come to light, revealing more than had previously been in print about Nicholas Bownd. In addition, the editor’s “tool kit” required expanding in order to handle such an old text with the attending necessary research, which other projects afforded over the intervening years. Finally, when the push to get this project on a track to completion was undertaken in the last year or so, a final hurdle presented itself. The discovery of the letter Thomas Rogers wrote to Bownd in 1598 cast all in new light, requiring a late course change and a complete revision of the approach to the text of the book.

For the last nineteen years the intent was to bring Bownd’s 1606 edition to print. However, it became clear that Bownd had made at least one revision based upon a criticism Rogers had made in a 1599 sermon against Sabbatarianism. Using phrases from the surviving notes of that sermon, a few quick searches revealed that while never naming him at any point, all of the main criticisms Rogers made were addressed in the revision. In addition, the description of the 1598 letter, which had never been transcribed, indicated it contained references to Bownd’s 1595 edition. So even before obtaining a copy and transcribing the letter, it was clear that the 1606 text had to be carefully collated with the 1595 edition in order to discover changes directly attributable to Rogers’ criticisms. With a revised critical text noting the additions (herein denoted by large {braces} in the text and in the margins), it became clear that many of the 1606 revisions were made in order to address criticisms made in both Rogers’ 1599 sermon and 1598 letter. This discovery led to a considerable investigation of the dispute between Bownd and Rogers (which is known as the first Sabbatarian controversy in English literature), which resulted in a lengthy but hopefully informative introduction to this volume, now finally completed after all these years.

The text, keyed in the margins to the 1606 edition, has been revised, as far as possible without marring the author’s work, to reflect contemporary spelling, punctuation, and usage. Chapter divisions have been added. Words or insertions supplied by the editor are in [square brackets]. While a few less clear antiquated words or spellings are replaced with the modern equivalents after the first usage (e.g. “entreating [in treating]” etc.), generally changes to clearly archaic spellings are done “silently.” Scripture quotations are italicized,  as well as Latin words and some emphasis. While the original use of italics for all manner of emphasis created many difficulties (see the Analysis), I have attempted to untangle and trace all of Bownd’s references. An annotated bibliography is provided noting the library collections available to Bownd, as well as author, subject and Scripture indices….

Contents (there is also a lengthy table of chapters and subtopics in addition to bibliography, scripture, author and subject index).

Contents of The True Doctrine of the Sabbath    ix

Introduction    xix

Results of the Elizabethan Settlement    xxii

The Bownds and Richard Greenham    xxvii

Richard Greenham    xxix

Nicholas Bownd    xxxii

The Ministry of Nicholas Bownd    xxxiv

The Market Day of the Soul    xxxv

The Works of Nicholas Bownd    xxxvi

Conformity and Presbyterianism    xl

Bownd’s Advocacy/Rejection of Presbyterianism    xliv

Thomas Rogers    xlvii

The Works of Thomas Rogers    xlviii

Thomas Rogers, Proponent of Conformity    liii

Thomas Rogers and the Bury Exercise    lvii

Thomas Rogers versus Nicholas Bownd    lxi

Assessing Rogers’ Claims, Whitgift’s and Popham’s Suppression    lxvi

Rogers’ 1598 Letter to Bownd    lxix

Time table of events    lxxvii

Objections to the Propagandist Theory    lxxxi

Nicholas Bownd Proves Rogers’ Letter is Genuine    lxxxiv

Conclusion    lxxxv

Analysis    lxxxix

Prefatory Epistles, 1595–1606

Dedication (1595)    3

To the Reader (1595)    4

Book One (1606): Dedication    6

To the Studious and Diligent Reader    9

Commendation by Alexander Bownd    12

Andrew Willet to the Reader    16

Book Two (1606): Dedication    22

William Jones to the Author    26

Commendation by Walter Allen    32

Book One: The Ancient Institution and Continuance of the Sabbath    35

Book Two: The Sanctification of the Sabbath    285

Bibliography    449

Author Index    466

Scripture Index    470

Subject Index    474

Commendations    482

The Westminster Assembly’s Grand Debate.

The Grand Debate

The Grand Debate

The special pre-publication offer of The Westminster Assembly’s Grand Debate has ended. Check the online store for regular or sale pricing.

The Westminster Assembly of Divines, The Grand Debate. December 2014. 424 pp. Retail: $52.40. Sewn hardbound, dust jacket, Introduction & Analysis by Rowland S. Ward. 44pp. Edited by Chris Coldwell. Indices, Annotated Bibliography, Appendix on the theological resources of the Westminster Assembly.

This work contains a lesser known set of documents produced by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, arguing for and against the Presbyterian form of church government. Discontented with the majority’s Presbyterian views, the Congregationalist members produced dissenting papers to which the Assembly replied, giving a more detailed view of the matters debated than the snatches of information recorded in the Assembly’s Minutes.

Presented in five sections The Grand Debate includes the following exchanges between the Congregationalist ‘dissenting brethren’ and the Presbyterian majority of the Assembly: I. Reasons against the proposition that many churches may be under one Presbyterial government from the example of the church at Jerusalem, and the Assembly’s reply; II. Reasons against … from the example of the Church at Ephesus, with the Assembly’s reply; III. Reasons against the subordination of church synods, with the Assembly’s reply; IV. Reasons against the Assembly’s limitation on the power of individual congregations to ordain, with the Assembly’s reply; V. Four papers by the Congregationalists presented in the committee formed to come to an accommodation, with answers by the representatives of the Assembly.

The text has been edited for modern spelling and usage. The bibliographical references have been traced. Notes have been added throughout keying the text to the Assembly Minutes, Gillespie’s notes, Lightfoot’s journal, and other sources. Cross references linking the arguments in the dissenting brethrens’ papers to the Assembly’s replies and vice versa have been added in the margins. All the Latin has been translated marginally or in footnotes.

In the original text the Assembly quotes and often summarizes and paraphrases the Independents’ argument without any distinction—all set in the italic face, as was all other emphasis. Much of this over-italicization has been removed for this edition. Any apparent quotations appear within double quotation marks. Obvious paraphrases, proposed objections, or words placed in the mouth of the opponent are set within single quotation marks.

An appendix presents an updated version of research into the theological resources available to the Westminster Assembly, presenting in better form the Assembly’s working library borrowed from Archbishop Laud’s study, and adding reference to the personal libraries of William Greenhill and Lazerus Seaman.

Commendations

Professors Alan Strange, C. N. Willborn, & R. Scott Clark

Recent years have witnessed a marked increase of interest in Calvinistic soteriology, much of it from those self-identified as “young, restless, and Reformed.” A corresponding interest in Presbyterian ecclesiology and polity remains largely dormant among these Reformed novitiates. Additionally, a not insignificant number of Christians in communions other than Reformed and Presbyterian ones who do not style themselves as restless have embraced soteriological Calvinism. Thus there is the need for Reformed and Presbyterian works that speak not only to the question of salvation but also to matters pertaining to the church and its organization. As Presbyterians, we do not permit ecclesiology to swallow soteriology, as does Rome, nor do we marginalize ecclesiology, as do many evangelicals in the current day. We affirm the importance of both soteriology and ecclesiology and desire that those who come to the Reformed faith espouse both.
The Westminster Assembly of Divines certainly concerned itself with both soteriology and ecclesiology, not only in the doctrinal standards that it adopted but also in 1645 in the “Form of Presbyterial Church Government” and the “Directory for the Publick Worship of God.” As a part of addressing matters ecclesiological, the Assembly engaged, beginning on 2 February 1644, in what became known as the “Grand Debate,” the dispute between the Presbyterians and the Independents, particularly the “Five Dissenting Brethren” (Thomas Goodwin, Philip Nye, Jeremiah Burroughs, William Bridge and Sidrach Simpson). There were a series of papers presented by both sides in the debate. The Independents argued in the negative a series of propositions: that presbyteries were proved from the churches at Jerusalem and Ephesus; that there was a due subordination of church synods; and that ordination should be performed by a presbytery. The Committee for Accommodation sought to compose the differences which were sharp, with politics and the success of Cromwell’s army, which favored the Independents, playing no small part in the negotiations.
The important papers addressing the details contained in this significant debate have long been unavailable. In this splendid volume, ably edited by Chris Coldwell and helpfully introduced by Rowland Ward, these important papers are once again made available to modern readers. One might wonder why dusty old historical artifacts as these merit our attention.  They do because the church needs to be reformed in all her doctrine, including ecclesiology. This beautifully produced and well-bound volume should garner interest and pay rich dividends to those who study them. This is the fullest expression of the differences between those who both otherwise hold to the same doctrinal standards but differ as to church government. Much remains in our own day to address with respect to ecclesiology and many people who are convinced Calvinists with respect to soteriology are not such with respect to ecclesiology. This is the perfect volume for such, or for any, who would see the biblical roots of Presbyterianism. Examine The Westminster Assembly’s Grand Debate carefully and you’ll learn more than you’ve ever known about why we are Presbyterians and not Independents.
Alan Strange, Professor of Church History, Registrar, and Theological Librarian, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana.

The Westminster Assembly’s Grand Debate is not reading for the timid or easily distracted. With that out of the way, I commend it to the teachers and pastors of the church. For every one who believes that God loved the church and gave her gifts, this book is well worth the read. Did God care enough to instruct Christ’s church in how she should be ordered for her betterment and beauty?  Is there such a thing as jure divino church government? Many in the history of the church have believed so. A goodly number have even suffered for this cause. This book displays the arduous work of men, godly men, who believed God had spoken to the Bride about her order, and, thus, her well-being on this earth. If we believe that the gospel message is primarily communicated through the church, then her well-being in all respects is essential. One cannot be for preaching the gospel to the world, and care nothing for the church and her decency and order. The Grand Debate displays the concerns of Congregationalists and Presbyterians as they were debated during the Westminster Assembly. The 21st century reader will not only learn history here, but ecclesiology that touches matters of the soul. This book will force the patient and discerning reader to examine his own heart and his love for the brethren; even those with whom he may disagree. We are called to unity in the Holy Scriptures and this volume, though polemical in degree, stands in that apostolic tradition.
C. N. Willborn, Adjunct Professor of Historical Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

How the Lord would have his visible church organized and governed may not interest all evangelicals today but it was a question of great practical and doctrinal interest in the British Isles, in the period leading up to and including the Westminster Assembly in the 1640s. Presbyterians and Congregationalists should especially appreciate the publication of these papers as they shed much light on the concerns (e.g., Christian liberty and the limits of ecclesiastical authority) that animated both movements in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This first edition of The Grand Debate, since 1648, of those papers circulated at the Assembly, with its excellent introduction by Rowland Ward, is much to be welcomed by all who would know the background of the language adopted by the Assembly and who wish to take a peek through this window into the working of the Westminster Divines.
R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California

 

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George Gillespie, English Popish Ceremonies

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George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies. 2013. 544pp. Sewn hardbound, dust jacket, color frontispiece. Foreword, Historical Introduction, Overview & Analysis, Bibliography, Indices: Section, Edition Errata, Author, Subject, Scripture, OED first usage. $43.50 For sale pricing see Store.

Sample Extracts (PDFs) of front matter and body of the work.

Naphtali Press is pleased to announce we are going to press with the publication of a new critical edition of George Gillespie’s seminal work, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, and it should be available in mid to late November, available now. We first published this title twenty years ago and the book has been out of print for some time; but we are persuaded the need for it is still great. Written when “worship wars” involved real wars, the general principals presented by Gillespie have abiding pertinence and if properly applied could go a long way toward resolving the worship controversies of this day.

This extensively revised edition will mark the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of the author. The Dispute contains over a thousand citations from nearly two hundred authors and over three hundred works, which have all been carefully traced and confirmed for this new edition, greatly expanding the footnotes over those in the 1993 edition. With all these sources more clearly exposed for the modern reader, one may better appreciate why this 24 year old astounded his contemporaries on the eve of the Second Reformation, and why the Dispute merited a place for Gillespie at the Westminster Assembly of Divines, where he helped shape Presbyterian doctrine for centuries to come.

EPC-jacket-back

Gillespie marshals material from leading Reformers and Protestant works to defend biblical worship principles, from all the important writers of the time defending the English popish ceremonies, from classical literature, church fathers, scholastics, linguists, as well as from the leading Roman Catholic writers, commentators, anti Catholic and anti Protestant polemicists, and other works of the period. Even if one rejects the Puritan point of view on worship matters, this volume offers valuable insight into the important literature on all sides at this important period in church history.

This new critical edition retains Roy Middleton’s helpful Historical Introduction which explains the setting and why there was a need for such a book. This new edition adds an Overview & Summary, which analyzes Gillespie literary style, surveys the literature cited and gives helpful summaries of the different sections of the Dispute. The text has been collated again against the different editions, and as noted all the thousand+ references checked and traced (some turning into mini research project all in themselves), all the Latin has been rechecked and the translations provided for the 1993 edition confirmed, tweaked, or corrected. There are extensive indices of various sorts and a complete bibliography.

Gillespie’s Dispute truly remains a tour de force and one of the most important works on Reformed worship principles. Also, it is rare that a Christian work also factors as an important work in a nation’s history; and the Dispute certainly is a famous work in Scottish history as well as Covenanter and general Presbyterian history. This new critical edition seeks to do justice to such an important book and present it in a form useful for this and future generations to come.

Commendations

W.D.J. McKay, Hughes O. Old, Terry Johnson, W. Robert Godfrey

A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies by George Gillespie.

Why should a seventeenth century polemical study of ‘popish ceremonies’ be of any interest to readers in the twenty-first century, unless as a historical curiosity? The style of such works is complex and off-putting and the issues discussed apparently relics of a bygone day. To draw such conclusions would be a serious mistake. We live in a day when the biblical doctrine of the church is largely ignored, and the resulting ecclesiastical chaos is only too obvious. Though written more than three and a half centuries ago, Gillespie’s book gets right to the heart of the matter. Discussions of the right of the church to ordain ceremonies not prescribed in the Bible, the power of civil rulers to involve themselves in church affairs, the true nature of liberty of conscience—these issues and many more receive thorough examination. Adding to as well as subtracting from the requirements of Scripture is shown to be unacceptable. The perplexing issue of how to address ‘things indifferent’ is considered at length. Careful thought is given to the place of imitating the example of Christ and the apostles in ecclesiastical matters. All these and more are of pressing contemporary relevance. The style of the book of course offers challenges to modern readers, but Chris Coldwell has done an excellent job of minimising these difficulties in his painstaking editorial work. Gillespie’s treatise merits the careful attention of all who are seriously interested in hearing what the Word of God has to say in relation to the life and worship of Christ’s church: so gird up your loins and prepare to engage with a master theologian of abiding value. Rev. Prof. W.D.J. McKay, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, author of An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie.

Early in my ministry I had occasion to discover the riches of Puritan devotional literature. In the beginning of the seventeenth century in England, in Scotland, and in America, there was a real blossoming of Christian learning which, sad to say, was largely neglected by the time I had gotten to seminary. Happily much of this is now at the beginning of the twenty-first century beginning to reappear.

George Gillespie’s work is especially important because it gives us a glimpse of the thought of a Scot who attended the Westminster Assembly. He is notable for his opposition to the religious ceremonies that the Stuart dynasty tried to impose on the Church of Scotland. Gillespie’s opposition to Erastianism was particularly forceful, as was his opposition to the so-called adiaphora, or “doubtful things.” The Stuarts did manage to impose Erastianism on the Church of England, as well as many of the adiaphora, but never on the Church of Scotland.

George Gillespie died young, never having reached his fortieth year, and yet he is recognized as one of the most articulate Puritans of his age. Hughes Oliphant Old, John H. Leith Professor of Reformed Theology and Worship and Dean of the Institute For Reformed Worship of Erskine Theological Seminary, and author of many books including the multivolume The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church.

Whether one’s interest is historical studies or liturgical theology one cannot but be thankful for the work of Chris Coldwell in producing this new critical edition of the Scottish theologian George Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies, first published in 1637. The text is a revision of the 1993 edition which was also published by Naphtali Press. Gillespie’s copious citations of the church fathers, medieval theologians, Reformers, Roman Catholic apologists and contemporary writers have been traced and documented, the bibliography updated, the translation of the Latin proofed and adjusted. Remarkably, Gillespie wrote this monument of Reformed scholarship when he was but 24 years of age. Its publication was the key to his invitation to serve as a Scottish delegate to the Westminster Assembly, of whom he was its youngest member, not yet 30 years of age. Never did worship ‘according to Scripture’ receive a more comprehensive treatment; never did the regulative principle receive a stronger defense; never were Reformed liturgical theology and apologetics expressed more convincingly than in the hands of the man often called ‘Great Mister Gillespie’ in his own day. Terry Johnson, Senior Pastor, Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Ga., and author/compiler of many books including the Trinity Psalter, Leading in Worship, and The Case for Traditional Protestantism, Reformed Worship.

Gillespie’s famous book is a vitally important work in the history of the Scottish Reformation, but it is much more than simply that. It has abiding and profound value for all who are committed to knowing, applying, and following the Word of God on the proper worship of the church. With great insight and passion Gillespie pursues the freedom of the church from political interference and from ecclesiastical tyranny as well as the freedom of the individual Christian conscience from the burden of tradition. He rejoiced that the Church of Scotland had gotten “rid of all such rotten relics, riven [torn] rags, and rotten remainders of Popery” and feared that they were now returning by political fiat. He warned, “there is not a more deceitful and dangerous temptation than in yielding to the beginnings of evil.” This splendid edition makes Gillespie’s demanding work more accessible to the modern reader and encourages careful reading of this vastly rewarding study. W. Robert Godfrey, President and Professor of Church History, Westminster Seminary California, and author of many books and articles, including, An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor and (with James Montgomery Boice) Pleasing God in Our Worship.

 

Sermons of Rutherford, Gillespie, Baillie and Henderson

Alexander Henderson, Robert Baillie, George Gillespie, Samuel Rutherford. Sermons Preached before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines, 16431645. Introduction by Guy M. Richard. Edited by Chris Coldwell. October, 2011. 592 pages. Retail $54.50; See online store for sale pricing. Hard bound, Smyth sewn, dust jacket, color frontispiece. Portraits by Mike Mahon. Author, Subject and Scripture indices. Bibliography includes collation of works/resources available to the divines at the Westminster Abbey, Sion College and Lambeth Palace libraries during the time of the assembly.

Now available, a new edition of the sermons preached by Alexander Henderson, Robert Baillie, George Gillespie and Samuel Rutherford, while commissioners at the Westminster Assembly of Divines, 1643-1645. These nine sermons previously were published serially as a set in the first volume (four issues) of the Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature (1988), the first publication endeavor of Naphtali Press. That earlier edition was very much a freshman effort in working with seventeenth century texts, and as such was marred by mistakes and the nature of working to deadline for a serial publication. The text presented in this new volume has been significantly revised and improved, and proofed anew against the originals and many corrections made. Most notably, missing words or phrases inadvertently dropped in the first transcription were corrected. Through considerable research, the notes have also been extensively expanded, providing bibliographic details of referenced works, and attempting to trace all the literary, classical and patristic allusions. The Bibliography notes the works referenced in these sermons which may have been found in the Westminster Abbey, Sion College and Lambeth Palace libraries at the time of the Assembly (more extensive research on the divines’ literary resources is presented in Coldwell, “Westminster Abbey Library: The Theological Resource of the Assembly of Divines (1643–1652),” The Confessional Presbyterian 6 [2010] 263–282).

This volume of sermons has received the following kind commendations:

Commendations from William S. Barker, Chad B. Van Dixhoorn, John R. de Witt and Joel R. Beeke.

Not long after the Solemn League and Covenant between England and Scotland was achieved in September of 1643, the four Scottish ministerial commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, Alexander Henderson, Samuel Rutherford, Robert Baillie, and George Gillespie, were offered the opportunity to preach before the House of Commons on the monthly fast day (the last Wednesday of the month) from December 27 to March 27, 1644. Then they preached before the House of Lords in the same cycle from May 28 to August 27, 1645. In between, Henderson preached the thanksgiving day sermon before both Houses on July 28, 1644, shortly after the July 2 victory of the Parliamentary army at Marston Moor. This book provides a carefully edited version of these nine sermons, preached by influential formers of the Presbyterian heritage at a crucial juncture of history.

Read chronologically (they are appropriately organized in groups by the respective preachers/authors), they give a sense of the promising but often frustrating progress of this second reformation of church and state in the three kingdoms of the British Isles. One hears the veteran leader Alexander Henderson speaking truth to power with tremendous command of Scripture. There is Samuel Rutherford’s unusual and colorful turning of phrase, blending the sweetness of his Letters with the scholastic depth of his Lex Rex. There is the urgency of Robert Baillie, frustrated with Parliament’s slow progress in adopting presbyterian government in order to achieve church discipline of errors and hardness of heart. And then there is the earnestness of the young George Gillespie, pleading for humble repentance and also humbly acknowledging his own difficulty in interpreting the prophecy of Ezekiel, and yet applying it aptly to his contemporary situation. Of special interest is that the texts for six of these nine sermons come from the prophets and the period of the Babylonian exile and return. The sermons were preached, and no doubt heard and acted upon, with the sense that God is giving a chance to start anew. Although our circumstances today may be different in many ways, these sermons can give us inspiration for renewal in our time.”

William S. Barker, Author of Puritan Profiles and Editor (with Samuel T. Logan, Jr.) of Sermons That Shaped America.

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The Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly were not only valued by the synod’s members, but also by the public at large. In this elegant edition of their fast sermons, we have access once more to their carefully framed addresses to the English parliament, a body which maintained a complicated and sometimes fraught relationship with the Scottish kirk throughout the English Civil Wars. Scholars will welcome Chris Coldwell’s bibliography of texts cited in these sermons. A general readership will be pleased with the modernized spelling and punctuation of the text. Naphtali Press is to be commended for its continued publication of rare seventeenth-century theological texts.

Dr. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn, Westminster Assembly Project.

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In a profound sense of the word these sermons by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly are beyond praise. They were preached by mighty men of God who stood head and shoulders above most others in their own or any generation. Their piety, knowledge of the Bible, learning, and gifts for leadership could not be questioned. An outstanding characteristic of these astonishing sermons included in this volume is just the degree to which the men who delivered them were prepared to speak the truth to powerful politicians and statesmen. They did so with dignity and appropriate respect, but their primary concern was that they remain faithful to the Lord God who had called them to be his spokesmen. The period in which they flourished must be reckoned as among the most important in religious and political history. Great issues hung in the balance. The Westminster Assembly had been summoned by Parliament and was therefore in the first instance answerable to it. A great struggle was taking place, both on the field of battle and in the effort to establish a truly Reformed church in England. During the Assembly’s protracted debates and from the pulpits of St. Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey, these commissioners bore unexampled witness to the truth of the Word of God. No doubt one should observe as well that the degree to which the House of Commons and the House of Lords were prepared to hear such preaching underscores the seriousness with which those on the political side took their own responsibilities. Chris Coldwell and Naphthali Press have presented us with a substantial gift in the publication of this volume.

Dr. John R. de Witt, Professor of Church History and Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi (1975–1982), and author of Jus Divinum: The Westminster Assembly and the Divine Right of Church Government (1969).

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The Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly shone like a constellation of stars in the darkness of the world. They were profound theologians, brilliant debaters, bold preachers, and prayerful Christians, deeply valued by their colleagues and laypeople alike. This collection of sermons by Baillie, Gillespie, Henderson, and Rutherford—conservatively modernized with contemporary spelling and punctuation—addresses a range of topics from the kingdom of Christ to the kingdoms of men. It will be a blessing to students of historical theology, friends of Presbyterianism, and all manner of godly Christians on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

John R. de Witt’s Jus Divinum: The Westminster Assembly & the Divine Right of Church Government

I am pleased to announce that with the permission of the author there is now a good quality hardbound facsimile reprint available of this long hard to obtain but classic study of the Westminster Assembly’s “deliberations and decisions respecting the matter of church government,” and “particularly, its position relative to the jus divinum, the divine right, of that church government.” Issued under the Confessional Presbyterian Press imprint and available for direct order at the link below. Hard bound, dust jacket, 261 pages, $45.00. Sale Price. $22.95 plus shipping (order direct for our Lulu reprint store at the link below).

Purchase now.

Preventing Anxiety; Collected Sermons of James Durham

Naphtali Press is currently working on a collected sermons of Durham, projected to be either one or two volumes. The volume or volumes will contain all the sermons excluding those on Isaiah 53 in a uniformly edited text with all  prefacing material not included in other recent reprints.

A sample sermon from this collection is available for viewing, entitled Of God’s Relation to His People, a Means to Prevent Anxiety, a very helpful read given the current economic distress.

Of God’s Relation to His People, a Means to Prevent Anxiety, a Sermon by James Durham