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Constituting of True Churches -James Durham

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  • Thomas Britton
    Hi y all I was reading Durham s Concerning the Constituting of True Churches by Reformation Out of Such as Have Been Corrupt, at
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 6, 2003
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      Hi y'all

      I was reading Durham's Concerning the Constituting of True Churches by Reformation Out of Such as Have Been Corrupt, at

      http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/Durham%20Digr%2023.htm

      There's a typo, and my copy of Durham's Lectures on Revelation is in storage.

      My question concerns the 3rd paragraph of the Durham quotation (not FPCR's interspersed comments). The Durham's paragraph begins with the sentence "Thirdly, from this it follows, that a people, or persons, renouncing the abomination of Antichrist, and accepting of, and submitting to the truth and ordinances of the gospel..."

      Here is the sentence in that paragraph which makes no sense, as quoted by FPCR: "Whereupon they are brought to look upon the world as having no church in it, and to be put to wait and seek for some new manifestation, as we may gather from Saltmarsh�s description of the seekers smoke of the temple."

      I am also hesitant about FPCR's selective quoting of Durham's excursus. Have they quoted him in such a way as to preserve Durham's sense?
       
      There's no rush. (But if anybody wants to go to my storage bin and send my library out by Conestoga wagon, I'll pay ya two-bits. And I don't mean green-backs neither, but real, constitutional MONEY )
       
      All jocularity aside. (If you are too jocular, can you get joculitis? If you overdo it, can you damage your jocularynx? If it's unorthodox, is it joculeresy? These are the questions someone should be asking)  
       
      Ahem ... As I was saying, if ya happen to get around to it, great. IF not, THEN c'est la vie.
       
      Tom


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    • weeping_calvinist
      Now, I don t have my copy of Durham handy... I m at work... but... this makes sense to me. Durham is speaking of those who say that there is no Church in the
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 6, 2003
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        Now, I don't have my copy of Durham handy... I'm at work... but...
        this makes sense to me.

        Durham is speaking of those who say that there is no Church in the
        world, since the Reformed Churches came from the Antichristian
        Church, which is no Church at all. Therefore, if this is the case,
        then if there is to be a Church on earth, it needs to drop out of the
        sky, or pop up in some extra-ordinary way. This is not Durham
        arguing, but his presenting the argument of those he is now
        addressing).

        gmw.

        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Britton
        <bander1643@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi y'all
        >
        > I was reading Durham's Concerning the Constituting of True Churches
        by Reformation Out of Such as Have Been Corrupt, at
        >
        > http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/Durham%20Digr%2023.htm
        >
        > There's a typo, and my copy of Durham's Lectures on Revelation is
        in storage.
        >
        > My question concerns the 3rd paragraph of the Durham quotation (not
        FPCR's interspersed comments). The Durham's paragraph begins with the
        sentence "Thirdly, from this it follows, that a people, or persons,
        renouncing the abomination of Antichrist, and accepting of, and
        submitting to the truth and ordinances of the gospel..."
        >
        > Here is the sentence in that paragraph which makes no sense, as
        quoted by FPCR: "Whereupon they are brought to look upon the world as
        having no church in it, and to be put to wait and seek for some new
        manifestation, as we may gather from Saltmarsh's description of the
        seekers smoke of the temple."
        > I am also hesitant about FPCR's selective quoting of Durham's
        excursus. Have they quoted him in such a way as to preserve Durham's
        sense?
        >
        > There's no rush. (But if anybody wants to go to my storage bin and
        send my library out by Conestoga wagon, I'll pay ya two-bits. And I
        don't mean green-backs neither, but real, constitutional MONEY )
        >
        > All jocularity aside. (If you are too jocular, can you get
        joculitis? If you overdo it, can you damage your jocularynx? If it's
        unorthodox, is it joculeresy? These are the questions someone should
        be asking)
        >
        > Ahem ... As I was saying, if ya happen to get around to it, great.
        IF not, THEN c'est la vie.
        >
        > Tom
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ---------------------------------
        > Do you Yahoo!?
        > Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software
      • thebishopsdoom
        ... in storage... ... quoted by FPCR: Whereupon they are brought to look upon the world as having no church in it, and to be put to wait and seek for some new
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 8, 2003
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          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Britton
          <bander1643@y...> wrote:
          > There's a typo, and my copy of Durham's Lectures on Revelation is
          in storage...
          > Here is the sentence in that paragraph which makes no sense, as
          quoted by FPCR: "Whereupon they are brought to look upon the world as
          having no church in it, and to be put to wait and seek for some new
          manifestation, as we may gather from Saltmarsh's description of the
          seekers smoke of the temple."

          I don't see a typo Tom. The wording is slightly different from the
          1658 edition, but there's no typo.

          As for the interspersed comments, I don't really want to debate. But
          a couple of quick comments or so might help via way of clarification
          to you. I haven't seen the site, but I do know that over the years I
          have seen just in general via the internet two extremes when it comes
          to interpreting various matters with respect to separation.
          1st, I have seen quotes from Calvin used specifically to defend (if I
          recall correctly) the unlawfulness of separation from the PCUSA, and
          (I am certain of this part) the lawfulness of evangelials to remain
          within that body. I do not recall whether it was on a website or in a
          forum, though I believe it was the former. It was a few years back
          now.
          On the other hand, I have seen Calvin and Rutherfurd quoted to the
          idea that it would be unlawful to recognize any church with the
          slightest error in doctrine or practice.
          I think a proper balance is held forth in Alexander Shields' A Hind
          Let Loose, which sentiments at the very least may be said to agree
          with some of Rutherfurd's more favoured students (including his
          secretary at the Westminster Assembly, Robert M'Ward).
          "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."

          One comment before going on.
          Based upon these observations, it seems clear that Shields in
          recognizing that we may have such communion with them, certainly
          would not appear to be calling upon members of those other national
          churches to separate from their own communions due to some problems
          existing in the church.


          "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).

          Brown of Wamphray likewise,
          "...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)

          Lastly, Andrew Clarkson (from after the Revolution Settlement) states,
          "Answ. 1. 'Tis granted, that in many Cases, a Testimony, in a Way of
          Church-Communion, is a proper, laudable and indispensible Duty. Such
          as, (1.) When a church is in an Infant-state, and wrestling out of
          Corruption, up towards Reformation; in that Case, 'tis a Duty
          incumbent on every one, in their respective Capacities, to put Hand
          to Work, and strive to strip their Mother of her Grave-clothes, and
          jointly concur, in adorning her as a Bride for the Bride-groom, even
          altho' they should meet with great Opposition, and have but small
          Success for some Time; as in the Case of our reforming Church, when
          throwing off the Antichristian, Popish, and Prelatick Vestments and
          Abominations. Or, (2.) When a Church being rightly constitute, and
          truly married unto the Lord, after Declensions and manifold
          Backslidings, is striving vigorously, in the Strength of her glorious
          Head Christ, to retrieve her lost Ground, repent, and do her first
          Works, and hold fast, that no Man, no Prelate, no King, no Parliament
          take her Crown, or rob her of these precious Jewels, which her
          Husband has vouchsafed her as a Depositum or TRUST, which she is
          bound to keep as inviolable, as a Virgin her Chastity: I say, in this
          Case, surely it is a Duty of the utmost Concern, for all Hands to be
          at Work, in order to build up the Desolations of Zion, raise up the
          Walls of Jeruslem, and Gates therof burnt with Fire, even altho'
          Tobiahs, Sanballats, and some like Elymas or Diotrephes, and others
          of that Kidney, should fight against them. Or, (3.) When a reforming
          Church, enjoying her Privileges and Judcatories in Christ's pure
          Ways, being found in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government,
          honourably asserting and maintaining the Royalties of Christ, has in
          her Communion such, as are dead Weights upon her working Hand, and is
          careful to have them reclaimed and reformed, or that Leaven purged
          out; in such a Case, a Testimony against such Evils and Corruptions,
          even altho' real Scandals is to be maintained in a Way of Church-
          Communion, especially when the greatest Part is not leavened, the
          Church being still in the Exercise of the Duties foresaid; and People
          are to address themselves unto Church-Judicatories, and not withdraw
          from their Ministers (especially for ordinary Scandals) without
          making prior Application to these; yea, Protesting and Joining is a
          most commendable Duty in this Case.
          But I humbly conceive, none of these agree to the Case in Hand, in
          regard, (1.) This Church is not in an infant, but an adult State.
          Nor, (2.) In a growing, but evidently in a declining Case... Nor,
          (4.) Rightly constitute, sound in her Principles and Ordinances; nor
          does she enjoy her Privileges and Judicatories, in the Ways of
          Christ, nor claim them" (Andrew Clarkson, Plain Reasons for
          Presbyterians Dissenting.)


          It is easy to pull quotes from reformers dealing, with Zwinglians on
          the one hand, and with Lutherans on the other hand, to make
          Calvinists to the Lutherans seem Zwinglian, and to the Zwinglians,
          seem Lutherans. We may speak the same with respect to other issues.
          Context is always important to consideration of intent. This is true
          both of the context of what issue one is dealing with and to whom,
          and also with respect to the historical context in which it was
          written.
          Two other issues that have hitherto not been as closely addressed
          above is when there has been a split over defections, whether it is
          lawful for someone who had been a member of the "new side" (by which
          I mean, the side of the split who had changed from the original
          constitution and practice of the church) to remove from the new side
          to the old side without first personally attempting first to go thru
          the channels of their own church courts. It seems that many (I
          refrain from saying all, I certainly don't have access to all) are
          inclined to the lawfulness of such, provided the older position was
          correct of course.
          The second issue regards access to the church courts to have a
          redress of grievances. This was the primary issue at stake in the
          public resolutions controversy of the 1650s. A commission of General
          Assembly acting on controversies until next General Assembly made a
          decision that overturned previous rulings of General Aassembly. A
          number of scots preachers were clear that they believed that the new
          decision was wrong, and vocalized their opposition. When it came time
          for the next General Assembly to meet, the commission had sent word
          to presbyteries that all such as were known opposers of the measure
          were to compear before the court to give account, and were not to be
          chosen as representatives for General Assembly. At this, as we know,
          a protestation was delivered on behalf of the protesting party, and
          from thenceforth, they regarded General Assembly to be unfree and
          unlawful until these decisions were overturned.
          As to the covenanters in the late 1600s, there was no recourse to the
          church courts to overturn the defections after the restoration, and
          thus they remained separated from the judicatures of the main body of
          the Church of Scotland. They argued there was not a free and lawful
          General Assembly to appeal the matters to, and in such a broken state
          of the church, it was sometimes necessary to separate without always
          being able to go thru thenormal channels of appeals thru higher
          courts of the church (see james Renwick, Informatory Vindication).
          When there was a glimmer of possibility of having these things
          redressed, I think I recall that there was some attempt to send
          communication to the General Assembly of the terms upon which they
          would re-recognize the church, but the ministers ended up rejoining
          with a large following taking their lead, in spite of General
          Assemblies not addressing these issues. Further, when the issues were
          attempted to be addressed by some of those who had rejoined General
          Assembly soon thereafter, my recollection is that General Assembly
          refused to hear of the cmplaints and gave warning about making such
          in the future. And so the RPs from that point onwards remained a
          separate body from the "official" General Assembly of the Church of
          Scotland.
          In the case of Rev.s Steele and Lusk in the RPCNA, they were well
          aware of defections already in place for decades before determining
          to decline the authority of the courts of the church, and this on a
          similar basis. There attempts to represent their cause before Synod
          were continuously thrown down, and carried matter not of new ideas
          they wished to introduce, but rather addressed matters whereupon the
          courts were defecting from previous practice and standards. As such,
          the Reformed Presbytery itself had not separated merely because there
          were defections in the church, but access to have them redressed was
          restricted. Since then, of course, a large variety of changes were
          made that caused further offense, and the reasons for their continued
          separate standing grew. Nor were they uncharitable, as though they
          believed everyone in he church which they split from were horrible
          Christians if Christians at all. Much ado was made about Steele's
          using the term "false brethren" with respect to some in the church.
          The case of course had to do with these persons' having been in
          ecclesiatsical fellowship under the name of Reformed Presbyterian
          while in fact having views quite contrary to the church, and trying
          to forge a path for the church to leave her RP distinctives behind.
          It was NOT to declare that the RPCNA were just a bunch of "false
          Christians" as some appear to have insinuated from his use of the
          term. In fact, Steele himself allowed the Seceders to publish an
          article written by him, and it is said he was much respected in the
          UPC, and in some circles still in the RPCNA, in spite of whatever
          differences may have existed with respect to certain issues and
          ecclesiastical ties.
          I think there is a proper balance that exists between those who have
          argued from some texts of the reformers for unity with the main body
          of the church at all costs (so long as the Gospel still exists among
          them), and those who argue from other texts that separation is always
          or most always a duty at all costs, over pretty much anything and
          everything that might be wrong in the church. I think that balance
          not only is a better reading of the reformers as a whole (though I
          won't argue that there could not have been any reformed thinkers who
          themselves gravitated to one or the other extreme), but more
          importantly, is more representative of Scriptural teaching as well.
          The Biblical material available speaks at times with respect to
          separation, and other times not admonishing a duty to separate from a
          church, even in spite of serious errors as we see expressed in 1 Cor.
          15.
          That's about all I wanted (or will probably have time) to clarify.
          -doom
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