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Re: Constituting of True Churches -James Durham

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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 1 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


      --- 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
      > 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 2 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
        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
        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
        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
        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.
        That's about all I wanted (or will probably have time) to clarify.
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