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Covenanters (and other dissenting Presbies) on Xians of differing professions

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  • gmw
    (taken from http://www.geocities.com/reformedpresbyterian/quotes.htm ) gmw. ... How do Covenanters view other churches and Christians of differing professions?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2004
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      (taken from http://www.geocities.com/reformedpresbyterian/quotes.htm )

      gmw.

      ---

      How do Covenanters view other churches and Christians of differing
      professions?

      "In this age of boasted charity, but really "detestable neutrality and
      indifferency," it is an irksome and painful task, but a duty, thus to
      bear testimony against churches, in which are to be found, no doubt,
      many precious sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty." (Act,
      Declaration, and Testimony [the Ploughlandhead Testimony], 1761).

      I Thes. 3:15 "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a
      brother."

      "Yes, unto them which believe Christ is precious; and I never question
      that he is so to multitudes who never heard of the British Covenants;
      but I grieve when these are lightly called the "old covenants" by
      those under the obligation of them..." (David Steele, Reminiscences,
      1883).

      "We are not unsocial, or morose, or indifferent to the kindly regards
      of other followers of Christ. In the language of our Testimony,—they,
      Reformed Presbyterians, "sincerely lament that the principles of their
      Testimony should prove so opposite to the practice of many churches
      containing many of the saints of God; but they had no alternative;
      they must act thus, or renounce their faithfulness. They cheerfully
      appreciate the talents and piety of their acquaintances. And, as
      opportunity may offer, commune with them as friends and as Christians;
      but they cannot extend to any one the right hand of fellowship in the
      visible church upon any other principles than those contained in their
      Declaration and Testimony." (Test., Hist. Part last p.)" (Covenanter
      Magazine, "Occasional Hearing," 1852.)

      "We declare our esteem of and love for all the godly in these lands,
      who have the root of the matter in them, and love our Lord Jesus
      Christ in sincerity, who are studying godliness and have sad hearts
      for the tokens of God's sad displeasure, and the sins and abominations
      procuring the same, notwithstanding of their not being of the same
      sentiments and mind with us as to some parts of our testimony and
      practice" (Matthew Hutchison, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in
      Scotland, 1893).

      "It is vast pity, and it is with grief and lamentation, that the
      presbytery find themselves, in point of duty, obliged to lift up a
      testimony against the forementioned party [the Seceder Presbyterians];
      considering that they have made a professed appearance under a
      judicial banner displayed for truth, and a covenanted work of
      reformation, and have, in reality, showed much zeal in opposing a
      variety of errors in doctrine, corruption in discipline and
      government, most prevalent in the National Church of Scotland; have
      contributed to vindicate some of the most important truths and
      doctrines of the Christian faith, that have been openly impugned in
      this day of blasphemy, and may have been instrumental in turning many
      to righteousness, and reviving the exercise of practical godliness
      among not a few." (Act, Declaration, and Testimony [the Ploughlandhead
      Testimony], 1761).

      "The Reformed Dissenting Presbytery embraced more of the distinctive
      principles of the covenanted reformation than either of the parties
      above noticed. On the doctrines of magistracy and toleration,
      abstractly considered, they manifested commendable fidelity." (Act,
      Declaration, and Testimony [the Ploughlandhead Testimony], 1761).

      [Various differing opinions on historical testimony among the
      Christian churches] "by which many sincere and devout disciples are
      befogged and distracted." (Act, Declaration, and Testimony [the
      Ploughlandhead Testimony], 1761).

      "In proposing the above Terms of communion, we wish a difference to be
      made between persons holding, proclaiming, and propagating sentiments
      in religion, opposite to those which are recognized by our Terms, and
      persons who may be, comparatively, ignorant, or have private views of
      their own, but are willing to be farther instructed. The former must
      be positively debarred from church fellowship, whereas milder
      treatment is due to the latter. Let it also be remembered, that there
      is a material difference between church-communion, properly so called,
      and private occasional communion, with those who may agree in the
      great essentials of salvation, through a crucified Saviour. Church
      communion, among the professing members of Christ's mystical body, we
      consider as lying chiefly in their conscientiously walking together,
      and enjoying mutual comfort in the regular observation of all public
      Gospel ordinances, in general, and joint participation of the solemn
      seals of the new covenant, in particular; as these are dispensed by
      the ministers of religion, who are vested with office, according to
      the laws of Christ. This, necessarily, requires unanimity in all those
      things which belong to the constitution of the church in her organized
      capacity; such as, doctrines to be believed, a certain mode of worship
      to be observed a form of government to be exercised, and discipline to
      be administered. As it doth not appear that the church, in her
      complete and organized capacity, can exist without any of these
      articles, so neither is it easy to conceive how persons holding
      jarring sentiments on these important subjects can consistently enjoy
      church fellowship with each other. Private Christian communion, we
      apprehend, consists in the joint discharge of those religious duties
      which are not peculiar to official characters as such, but are common
      to them and all Christians at large, in their individual capacity. Of
      this kind we may reckon reading the Scriptures; religious
      conversation, as opportunity offers, in the course of providence;
      occasional prayer with the sick; when desired; praising God in the
      family, when providentially lodged together; joint craving of Heaven's
      blessing on the provision of our table, and such like. From private
      and occasional communion, with Christians of other denominations, in
      things like these, we never thought of debarring our people; though we
      cannot help being of opinion, that church fellowship should ever be
      regulated by some such scriptural terms as those which we have
      endeavoured to exhibit and explain" (John Reid, on behalf of the
      Reformed Presbytery, An Explanation and Defense of the Terms of
      Communion).

      "While, therefore, we warmly approve, to a great extent, of the
      abstract principles advocated by the reforming party in the
      Established Church, and earnestly desire their success in endeavouring
      to throw off a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to
      bear, we cannot but deeply regret, that they should take their stand
      on ground which, according to the most favourable construction it can
      bear, is but equivocal and unsatisfactory..." (Principles of the
      Second Reformation, lecture 4.)

      "It is with the deepest regret, that the committee find themselves
      laid under the disagreeable necessity against the conduct of their
      brethren..." (Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Constitution
      of the ARP Considered, Disowned, and Testified Against).

      "I. The unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, ought to be the
      endeavour of all that are members of the one body of Christ, partakers
      of his one Spirit, called in one hope, professing one Lord, confessing
      one faith, sealed with one baptism, Eph. 4:3, etc. And for brethren to
      dwell together in unity, is good and pleasant, and like the precious
      ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron's beard, Psal.
      133:1,2. A fragrant ointment indeed, if it be composed aright of
      gospel simples, according to divine art, and the wisdom that is from
      above, which is pure, and then peaceable: and not made up of
      adulterate politics: that union that hath the spirit for its author;
      the scripture for its rule, peace for its bond and beauty, love for
      its cement, faith for its foment, Christ for its foundation, and truth
      and holiness for its constant companions, cannot but be intensely
      desired, enixly endeavoured, and fervently followed by all the
      professors of the gospel of peace, and subjects of the prince of
      peace: which makes division and schism not only a great misery, but a
      grand sin. But it must be in the way of truth and duty, and consistent
      with holiness and the honour of Christ, otherwise if it be in the way
      of apostasy and defection, it is but a confederacy and conspiracy
      against the Lord. And true union can neither be attained, nor
      retained, nor recovered, except the sinful cause of division,
      defection; and the holy overruling cause, the anger of the Lord be
      removed in turning to and following him.

      II. Though there be not perfect union, but diversity both of judgments
      and practices, in several cases there may be communion with a church
      in its ordinances and ministry. As, 1. We may have a catholic
      communion with all christian ministers and members of the catholic
      church, considered as such; holding the head Christ, and the fountain
      sure. And so we may meet for worship with all devout men in every
      nation under heaven, whether they be Parthians, or Medes, or Elamites,
      or French or Dutch, etc. though differing in controversies of lesser
      moment, not overturning that; if they hold the universal testimony of
      the gospel, against the common enemies thereof, Jews, Turks, or
      Pagans: for there is neither Greek nor Jew, if he be a christian,
      Christ is all and in all, Col. 3:11. But if they be heretics, we can
      have no communion with them. 2. We may have a more special communion
      with all Protestant ministers and members of the Reformed church,
      considered as such, more strictly, and upon stricter conditions:
      providing they hold, not only the universal of Christians, but the
      general testimony of Protestants, against the greater and lesser
      Antichrists; though differing from us in some circumstantial points,
      not Reformed, and not contradictory unto the Protestant testimony
      against Popery, and all heresy; nor declining from their own
      reformation, by defection or schism. And consequently, it is lawful to
      own communion with the churches of the United Provinces, and take
      ordination from them, though they have some forms not allowable, from
      which they were never Reformed, because they are sound in the
      Protestant testimony. But with the Sectarians, or Schismatics, or
      Apostates among them, we cannot own that special communion. 3. We may
      have a more particular communion upon yet stricter conditions with all
      our Covenanted brethren, ministers and members of the churches of
      Britain and Ireland, considered as such: providing they hold, not only
      the universal; not only the more special, Protestant testimony against
      the greater and lesser Antichrists, but the Covenanted testimony for
      the reformation in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government,
      against popery, Prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, and
      profaneness, according to the Covenant; though differing from us in
      those controversial points, never Reformed, and which were never the
      word of Christ's patience, and do not overturn the covenanted
      testimony. But with those that contradict and counteract that, we
      cannot own that particular communion. 4. We may have yet a nearer
      organical communion, upon stricter conditions still with all the
      ministers and members of the national church of Scotland constitute
      and confederate under one Reformed government, according to the rule
      of Christ: providing they hold, not only all the former testimonies
      under the foresaid considerations, but the Presbyterian testimony as
      stated in the ecclesiastical constitution, and sworn to in the
      national covenants and engagements of that church, founded upon the
      word of God, against popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, sectarianism,
      toleration, schism and defection; though differing in some things from
      us, never Reformed, never considered in ecclesiastical judicatories,
      never engaged against in our covenants, never stated as the word of
      patience and matter of testimony. But with these that oppose,
      suppress, reproach, and abandon this testimony, we cannot own this
      organical communion, in this broken state of the church. We may have
      yet a stricter congregational communion, upon stricter conditions, and
      with the ordinary or extraordinary meetings or societies of the Lord's
      people for gospel ordinances, with any minister or ministers, duly and
      truly admitted to that function according to Christ's appointment, and
      the call of the people, whether in a fixed or unfixed relation;
      providing he holds the testimony of Christ, under all the
      considerations, and owns and adheres unto the true received principles
      of the church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and
      government, founded upon the written word of God, and whatsoever
      declarations or testimonies, former or latter, particular or more
      general, are agreeable thereunto; though differing from us in some of
      the integral and not essential parts of our testimony against the
      enemies of our covenanted reformation. But with such as deny or
      decline from it, by schism or defection, or compliance with the
      enemies thereof, we cannot own this congregational communion, in this
      broken state of the church.

      III. Though there be many things in a church, to brangle [squabble]
      and lessen the comfort of our communion with it, and the ministry
      thereof; yet we may keep fellowship with a true church, though in many
      things faulty and corrupt, as all churches are in some measure in this
      militant state. As the church of Corinth had many corruptions in their
      practice, yet no separation is enjoined from it. And the Lord did not
      require separation from the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira; though
      they had many corruptions and deficiencies in discipline, in a
      toleration of heretics; and would lay no other burden upon them, but
      to hold fast what they had: as Mr. Durham shows in his Commentary on
      the Revelation, Chap. 2. Lect. 6. Pag. 148, 149. as also Chap. 18.
      Lect. 1. Pag. 585. in 4to. This must be granted especially in these
      cases, 1. In the infant state of the church, when the reformation is
      only begun: then many things may be tolerated, before they be
      gradually Reformed, which, in an adult state, are not to be suffered.
      2. In a growing case of the church, advancing out of corruptions, then
      many things may be born with, while they are ascending and wrestling
      up the hill, which in a declining state, when the church is going
      backward, must not be yielded unto. See that objection of hearing
      Prelatical men in the time of former Prelacy, answered above,
      Peri[od]. 4. In a constitute and settled case of the church, enjoying
      her privileges and judicatories, corruptions may be forborne, and the
      offended are not to withdraw, before recourse to the judicatories for
      an orderly redress; but in a broken and disturbed state, when there is
      no access to these courts of Christ; then people, though they must not
      usurp a power of judicial censuring these corruptions, yet they may
      claim and exercise a discretive power over their own practice; and by
      their withdrawing from such ministers as are guilty of them, signify
      their sense of the moral equity of these censures that have been
      legally enacted against these and the equivalent corruptions, and when
      they should be legally inflicted" (Alexander Shields, A Hind Let Loose).

      "In the Beginning of the blessed Reformation, our wise and pious
      Ancestors took care to set forth an Order for Redress of many Things,
      which they then, by the Word, discovered to be vain, erroneous,
      superstitious and idolatrous, in the public Worship of God. This
      occasioned many godly and learned Men to rejoice much in the Book of
      Common-Prayer at that Time set forth; because the Mass, and the rest
      of the Latin Service, being removed, the public Worship was celebrated
      in our own Tongue; many of the common People also received Benefit by
      hearing the Scriptures read in their own Language, which formerly were
      unto them as a Book that is sealed. REASON I. HOWBEIT, long and sad
      Experience hath made it manifest, that the Liturgy used in the Church
      of England (notwithstanding all the Pains and religious Intentions of
      the Compilers of it) hath proved an Offence, not only to many of the
      Godly at Home, but also to the reformed Churches Abroad." (The
      Westminster Assembly, The Reasons agreed upon by the Assembly of
      Divines at Westminster, for laying aside the English-Book of
      Common-Prayer.)

      "...for there is a vast difference to be put betwixt a time wherein
      the church is advancing in a course of reformation, and a time wherein
      she is declining and sliding back from that degree of reformation unto
      which she had already attained. In a time wherein the church is but
      coming out of darkness, and the day is but beginning to break up, many
      things may then be comported with and tolerated which may not be
      submitted unto after the church hath got all these abuses reformed.
      Every believer and every church is bound to stand fast in that which
      they have attained unto, and not to cede in a hoof: so that Christians
      living in a time wherein the church is but beginning to wrestle up
      from under the heap of error and corruption, may be allowed to do many
      things which must not be done when the noontide of the day is come. In
      the time of the reformation begun by Luther and others, many things
      might have been comported within the church (reformation being a
      gradual motion that hath but small beginnings and risings) which now,
      since the reformation hath been carried on, through the blessing of
      God, to that degree it was advanced to, cannot be allowed. When God
      hath wonderfully, by his mighty power and outstretched arm, brought a
      church to a great length in reformation, it will be the duty of that
      church, and of the members thereof, to adhere to that degree unto
      which they have attained with all perseverance. It will be lawful for
      the church which is but coming up the hill to stand at such a step
      until they gain another, when yet it will not be lawful for the same
      church to go backward after they have advanced. The truth once bought
      should never be sold. So then the consequence is null. Their
      forefathers stumbled not nor did scruple at the doing of such or such
      things; therefore those in this generation who have advanced, through
      the blessing of God, unto a farther degree of reformation, should not
      scruple either. It is a poor consequence to say, The posterity may
      return backwards because their forefathers could not advance further.
      Much more may be seen when the sun is up than in the twilight:
      therefore the scrupling of honest people now doth no way condemn their
      forefathers; but, on the contrary, the steadfastness of their
      forefathers, in standing to the degree to which they had reached, and
      their endeavouring to advance, will condemn this generation for
      backsliding. In their days those abuses and corruption were not
      remedied,-- the church was not then freed of that yoke of oppression."
      (John Brown of Wamphray, Apologetical Relation, 1660).

      [The next several are by John Anderson, who was a Seceder rather than
      a Covenanter, but the Seceders held the same principles as the
      Covenanters on the issue of relations to other churches, hence the
      quotations]

      "Let none from hence conclude that the ministers and people belonging
      to the Associate Presbytery, judge that the administrations of those
      that are not of their communion, are invalid. The validity of
      ordinances is derived from their agreeableness to the word. The Lord
      will never bless any error or corruption in his church to promote her
      edification; but where there are many things wrong in churches the
      Lord has his servants and people, as was the case in the seven
      churches of Asia: These evils being reproved by the Lord, shows that
      the Lord is a strict observer of the state of matters in every church.
      After the reproofs and warnings given to the churches of Thyatira and
      Pergamos, if they did not reform, it was doubtless the duty of the
      people of the Lord, desirous to cleave to the Lord's cause, to
      separate from their communion. The Apostle in like manner reproves the
      corruptions and laxness that bad tarnished the glory of the Corinthian
      church, but still he supposes persons may build on the foundation,
      wood, hay and stubble; and may be at great pains and expense to
      promote this building with wood, hay, and stubble; for which they
      shall suffer the loss of their pains in so doing: "but he himself will
      be saved, yet so as by fire." (1 Cor. 3:12-16). It is a gross
      aspersion cast on us, that we think none will get to heaven but
      ourselves. Whoever will get to heaven it will be by Jesus Christ
      alone. Some say that the various religious professions are like the
      different ways to a city; but the fact is, that the way to heaven is
      one, and the Lord's people among the different denominations all
      travel one way, have one guide, and have communion with Christ only is
      the way of his truths. It would be blasphemy to suppose the Lord would
      bless any thing contrary to his blessed word, as a mean of edification
      to his church. But how far the Lord may bless the truths of his own
      word, or the ordinances of his appointment, though dispensed with many
      corruptions, would be presumption in any to determine. Eminent lights
      have appeared and shone forth among Independents and Episcopalians,
      but yet their defences of gospel truths, and their distinguished
      piety, do not make these different forms of religion any more
      agreeable to the word, but only show that we know in part, and
      prophesy in part; and that we ought to call no man master, nor follow
      any man, however learned or pious, farther than he follows Christ"
      (John Anderson, Sermon Against Occasional Hearing).

      "We have no doubt that there are many eminent and pious Christians
      among the ministers, and many precious saints among the private
      members of different denominations, who, believing the same doctrines
      of the glorious gospel, that we do, concerning Christ and him
      crucified, shall be saved in him with an everlasting salvation: but
      this does not warrant church-communion with such as do not observe
      Christ's ordinances as they are written. It is the revealed will of
      God, and not saintship, which is the only rule of a visible
      profession" (John Anderson, Strictures on Occasional Hearing; In An
      Inquiry Into Song 1:7, 1820).

      "The catholic church comprehends all that profess the true religion.
      There is a lawful and necessary division of it into sections in
      respect of local situation. But when a number of people, bearing the
      Christian name, combine together as a distinct society, for the
      purpose of maintaining and propagating doctrines and practices, which,
      instead of belonging to the true religion, are contrary to it; they
      ought not, considered as such a combination, to be called a lawful
      section of the catholic church. It is not denied, that they belong to
      the catholic church; but it is denied, that there ought to be any such
      section or division in it. Thus, there ought to be no section of the
      catholic church, having for the peculiar end of its distinct
      subsistence, the support of episcopal hierarchy, unknown in the
      Scripture, of the propagation of antipaedobaptism, or of
      anti­scriptural doctrine, in opposition to that of God's election,
      redemption, effectual calling and the conservation of his people, as
      delivered in the scripture; or for the support of ways and means of
      divine worship not found in scripture. If the catholic visible church
      were brought to a suitable discharge of her duty, she would abolish
      all such sections. But no society ought to be called such an unlawful
      section, while it can be shown that it subsists as a separate society
      for no other end, than for the maintaining of something in the
      doctrine, worship or government of the church which belongs to the
      Christian religion as delivered in the Word of God, or for exhibiting
      a testimony against prevailing errors and corruptions which the
      scripture requires the catholic church to condemn. Such a profession
      of any party of Christians is no sectarian profession; and a union
      with them is not a sectarian, but properly a Christian union; and,
      being cordial and sincere, is a union in Christ; and communion upon
      the ground of this union is truly Christian communion. On the other
      hand, however much of our holy religion any body of Christians hold in
      common with others, and however many of them we may charitably judge
      to be saints, yet while their distinguishing profession is contrary to
      the Word of God, communion with them, as a body so distinguished, is
      sectarian communion; as it implies a union with them in that which
      ought to be rejected by the whole catholic church" (John Anderson,
      Alexander and Rufus, 1862).

      "On the other hand, however much of our holy religion any body of
      Christians hold in common with others, and however many of them we may
      charitably judge to be saints, yet while their distinguishing
      profession is contrary to the word of God, communion with them, as a
      body so distinguished, is sectarian communion; as it implies a union
      with them in that which ought to be rejected by the whole catholic
      church" (John Anderson, Alexander and Rufus, 1862).
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