Drawn from the early years of Spurgeon’s remarkable London ministry, these 138 testimonies of conversion form part of an archive of some 15,000 such accounts at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Here is a powerful reaffirmation of the transforming power of the Gospel in individual lives. Also provides insights into the signs of conversion looked for by the elders, and the questions put to converts.
Here too is a fascinating glimpse into life in Victorian London, with accounts of servants, crossing sweepers, hatters and factory workers, artisans and middle class converts, brimming with social interest.
Illustrated with facsimile pages of notes by C H Spurgeon and elders, and photographs of London life at that time.
The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. (2LCF 1.9)
Coxe said, “. . . in all our search after the mind of God in the Holy Scriptures we are to manage our inquiries with reference to Christ.”
Their Christocentric interpretation of the Bible was a principle derived from the Bible itself, and an application of sola Scriptura to the issue of hermeneutics. In other words, they viewed the Bible’s authority as extending to how we interpret the Bible. Or it could be stated this way: they saw the authority of Scripture extending to the interpretation of Scripture.
Reformed Baptista has begun a series of articles to help women walk through The Baptist Confession. It has been a tremendous privilege to have her as a contributor on CredoCovenant. The following is a compilation of her study helps for the first chapter of the confession. Enjoy.
Preface: I have written that one of my goals for this blog is to go through the 1689. This year, Lord willing, I will do so. It is my hope that this devotional will appeal to women who may be new to the whole “Reformed Baptist” idea, who may find the idea of studying the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith overwhelming. While I have some trepidation in wading in such waters, the knowledge gained will be beneficial for myself, and I pray it will be for you as well. So let’s dip our toe in this stream, shall we? I will mainly use the facsimile edition for my work, copies of which can be found at RBAP.
Those of the past have given us a wonderful treasury of resources to learn from. As early Particular Baptist’s sought to clarify their position they wisely used existing statement’s of faith in order to provide easy comparison with others. This means that the list of agreements and disagreements can clearly be seen, compared and understood between all the parties involved. This chart lists the comparison between the Westminster Shorter Catechism and a Baptist catechism that was based on it which is commonly called Keach’s Catechism. As there are many version of both catechisms with updating and numbering differences between them, there may be some slight variation based on edition. Spelling differences or small changes in wording that do not substantially change the meaning are kept parallel. Some question may not have corresponding sections in one or the other catechism so they are kept blank. Question 95 of the WSC and 101 of Keach’s is put in bold as the question is the same, but the answer has a key difference. I hope that this will be a beneficial resource in your study.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 1. Who is the first and best of beings?
A. God is the first and best of beings.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
Q. 2. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
Q. 100. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is an holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
Q. 95. To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.
Q. 101. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none other.
Q. 102. Are the infants of such as are professing believers to be baptized?
A. The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptized; because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures, or certain consequence from them, to baptize such.
You may have read books or watched videos that teach on music and warn against various styles of music, pointing to their association with things that are ungodly. Those discussions about music can be both helpful and at times misleading. They are helpful in that—
They make us aware that we should be concerned about the music we hear.
They expose some very real issues of sin and abuse of music to promote evil. But they can be misleading in that—
They tend to pick on just 1 or 2 styles of music (Rock, Pop), and give the rest a pass.
They often misidentify the problem.
Let me give you some guidelines for thinking about music as it relates to sin…
I have been surprised over the last several years to sense a rise of views which I associate with Hyper-Calvinism or “Half-step Hyper-Calvinism.” Forty years ago I with my wife were new members of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids (now called Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church). This church was one of only a handful of Baptist churches in the United States espousing the doctrines of grace. And we were staunch five-pointers. So we were called, of course, Hyper-Calvinists. We always thought this odd because to us five-point Calvinism was just Calvinism and thus could not be Hyper-Calvinism.
As the years wore on, the church grew. More and more of our members began to come from various Dutch Reformed denominations in the large Dutch Reformed community in Western Michigan. We began to be aware that there were folks in that large Dutch Reformed community who really did at some level deserve the name Hyper-Calvinists.
We had discovered the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. It was the Confession of our church. In it were not only the doctrines of grace (including particular redemption). In it also we had discovered the doctrines of the free offer of the gospel (chapter 7, paragraph 2) and common grace (14:3). More study assured us that both these doctrines were in the original confessional statement of the doctrines of grace, the Canons of Dort.
Yet at least one of the local Dutch Reformed denominations not only denied the free offer and common grace. It was built on a denial of those doctrines. Its leaders continued in a vehement polemic against the free offer and common grace (Spurgeon’s so-called two track theology) which affirmed both the dimensions of God’s will (known variously as secret and revealed or better as decretive and perceptive).
For this reason, the leaders of RBCGR were frequently engaged in a two front war. We had to fight the Arminianism of the local Baptist churches and institutions, but also the Hyper-Calvinism or Half-step Hyper-Calvinism of the Dutch Reformed denomination mentioned above. We were confident that our Reformed Baptist brethren shared with us our position.
Now, however, I am aware of blogs and brothers which have if not verbally, at least virtually, have adopted substantially the views of the Hyper-Calvinism or Half-step Hyper-Calvinism mentioned above. Brother Curt Daniel has a couple of times invited me to speak at the yearly conference of his church in Springfield, Illinois. Since he wrote his dissertation on the subject of Hyper-Calvinism, I talked to him about my concerns. One of the results was the interview which I want to share with you in three blog posts that are to follow.
The 1689 London Confession affirms the biblical concept of God’s decree:
LCF 3:1: God has decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass:
It then adds qualifying remarks that highlight three striking corollaries or qualifications of God’s decree:
LCF 3:1: . . . yet so as thereby God is neither the author of sin, nor has any fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
They observe that God’s decree is consistent with divine purity, moral free agency, and with instrumental liberty and contingency. We now consider these qualifications.
A. God’s Decree does not Contradict God’s Impeccability.
LCF affirms this qualification: “yet so as thereby God is neither the author of sin nor has any fellowship therein.” God’s decree of sin does not make him its author. Nor does it erase human responsibility and culpability for sin.25 Sinners purpose and perpetrate evil: “you meant evil against me.” God purposes to use human evil for good: “but God meant it for good.”26 Sinners are exclusively to blame for sin. The holy God has neither fellowship with sin nor culpability for it. Rather, he hates and forbids it. Sin is transgression of his law, his revealed will. In Topic 14 I addressed the incomprehensible mystery associated with God’s sovereignty over sin.27
B. God’s Decree does not Contradict Moral Free Agency.
The 1689 Confession also affirms this qualification: “nor is violence offered to the will of the creature.” Man is not a puppet: “howbeit he means not so.”28 God’s decree does not cancel man’s purposes, even his wicked ones. Rather, it uses them in ways man knows not. God does not force the Assyrian against his will to be the rod of his anger. The Assyrian has no intention whatsoever of serving God. The Assyrian freely pursues his own purposes and plans. Yet God before the foundation of the world determined and fixed these free choices of the Assyrian for his own holy and just ends. Such is the wisdom and power of the incomprehensible God with whom we have to do.
C. God’s Decree does not Contradict Instrumental Liberty or Contingency.
The 1689 Confession also affirms this qualification: “nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” God’s decree is not fatalistic. The God who ordains the ends, also ordains the means. Thus Paul says: “except these abide in the ship you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:31). God decreed their deliverance but they still must remain in the ship. Further, God even decreed what appear to us as random events.29 God controls chance, what people call “luck.” Again, who can begin to fathom the depths of the wisdom and power of God? Thus, LCF concludes: “in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.”
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When the Second London Confession was published in 1677 (2 editions in 1677) and again in 1688, it included an Appendix seeking to provide further reasons why the Baptists considered it important to form their own churches based on the practice of believer’s baptism. They had been stung by criticism implying that such actions were divisive; that they should have been content to remain in the paedobaptist churches. The Appendix was an irenic attempt to express their convictions about baptism in greater detail than the text of the Confession itself would allow. We publish this appendix here; the only changes we have made are to modernize most of the spelling to conform to contemporary (American!) English standards.
The Baptists address 4 points: (1) ‘Sponsor Baptism’; (2) Baptism on the basis of Covenantal relation to parents; (3) The ‘holiness’ of children in 1 Cor. 7:12ff.; and (4) ‘Household baptisms’. Several other matters are briefly mentioned at the end. Their comments are of great interest. One will notice, for example, that they do not reject the possibility that the children of believers may be considered, in some sense, as covenant children.
We hope that ready access to this Appendix will further understanding of our great Confession of Faith.
Whosoever reads, and impartially considers what we have in our forgoing confession declared, may readily perceive, That we do not only concenter with all other true Christians on the Word of God (revealed in the Scriptures of truth) as the foundation and rule of our faith and worship. But that we have also industriously endeavored to manifest, That in the fundamental Articles of Christianity we mind the same things, and have therefore expressed our belief in the same words, that have on the like occasion been spoken by other societies of Christians before us.
This we have done, That those who are desirous to know the principles of Religion which we hold and practice, may take an estimate from our selves (who jointly concur in this work) and may not be misguided, either by undue reports; or by the ignorance or errors of particular persons, who going under the same name with our selves, may give an occasion of scandalizing the truth we profess.
And although we do differ from our brethren who are Paedobaptists; in the subject and administration of Baptism, and such other circumstances as have a necessary dependence on our observance of that Ordinance, and do frequent our own assemblies for our mutual edification, and discharge of those duties, and services which we owe unto God, and in his fear to each other: yet we would not be from hence misconstrued, as if the discharge of our own consciences herein, did any ways disoblige or alienate our affections, or conversation from any others that fear the Lord; but that we may and do as we have opportunity participate of the labors of those, whom God hath indued with abilities above our selves, and qualified, and called to the Ministry of the Word, earnestly desiring to approve our selves to be such, as follow after peace with holiness, and therefore we always keep that blessed Irenicum, or healing Word of the Apostle before our eyes; if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you; nevertheless whereto we have already attained; let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing, Phil 3. v. 15, 16.
Let it not therefore be judged of us (because much hath been written on this subject, and yet we continue this our practice different from others) that it is out of obstinacy, but rather as the truth is, that we do herein according to the best of our understandings worship God, out of a pure mind yielding obedience to his precept, in that method which we take to be most agreeable to the Scriptures of truth, and primitive practice.
It would not become us to give any such intimation, as should carry a semblance that what we do in the service of God is with a doubting conscience, or with any such temper of mind that we do thus for the present, with a reservation that we will do otherwise hereafter upon more mature deliberation; nor have we any cause so to do, being fully persuaded, that what we do is agreeable to the will of God. Yet we do heartily propose this, that if any of the Servants of our Lord Jesus shall, in the Spirit of meekness, attempt to convince us of any mistake either in judgment or practice, we shall diligently ponder his arguments; and account him our chiefest friend that shall be an instrument to convert us from any error that is in our ways, for we cannot wittingly do any thing against the truth, but all things for the truth.
And therefore we have endeavored seriously to consider, what hath been already offered for our satisfaction in this point; and are loth to say any more lest we should be esteemed desirous of renewed contests thereabout: yet forasmuch as it may justly be expected that we show some reason, why we cannot acquiesce in what hath been urged against us; we shall with as much brevity as may consist with plainness, endeavor to satisfy the expectation of those that shall peruse what we now publish in this matter also.
Recently, R. Scott Clark has released a series of podcasts in defense of paedobaptism. The majority of the material in the podcasts comes from a series of blog posts he wrote previously (he is often just reading them). Those posts, as well as other essays that Clark has written, have already been addressed in depth in A Critique of R. Scott Clark’s Covenant Theology. Since Clark did not address any of the arguments in that post, it is still relevant and I refer you there for a thorough treatment.
That said, Clark makes a few comments in the podcasts that are worth commenting on. (It’s also worth noting that Clark speaks of “baptists” very broadly, often referring to Arminian Dispensationalists. Only very occasionally does he have confessional baptists specifically in mind.)
Abraham and Moses
Clark’s main argument is simultaneously his main weakness. In response to baptists, Clark emphasizes that Abraham is not Moses. That is, the Abrahamic Covenant is not the Mosaic Covenant. I did not count, but I would not be surprised if he repeated that point at least 60 times over the series of podcasts. Clark is departing from Westminster on this point, resulting in an inconsistent covenant theology. This leads him to deny any kind of dichotomy in Abraham, resulting in some strange inconsistencies…
The popular 17th century Presbyterian preacher Stephen Marshall stated that rejecting infant baptism necessitated a rejection of the Lord’s Day Sabbath as well. Here is the reply from John Tombes.
John Tombes: An examen of the sermon of Mr. Stephen Marshal about infant-baptisme in a letter sent to him. 1645:
…Their ground you say is, because there is not an expresse institution or command in the New Testament: this then is their principle, that what hath not an expresse institution or command in the New Testament is to be rejected. But give me leave to tell you, that you leave out two explications that are needful to be taken in; First, that when they say so, they meane it of positive instituted worship, consisting in outward rites, such as Circumcision, Baptisme and the Lord’s Supper are, which have nothing morall or naturall in them, but are in whole and in part Ceremoniall. For that which is naturall or morall in worship, they allow an institution or command in the old Testament as obligatory to Christians, and such doe they conceive a Sabbath to be, as being of the Law of nature, that outward worship being due to God, days are due to God to that end, and therefore even in Paradise, appointed from the creation; and in all nations, in all ages observed: enough to prove so much to be of the Law of nature, and therefore the fourth Commandment justly put amongst the Morals…
If you were asked to identify the primary quality which defines a true man of God in his specific relation to a true woman of God – distinctively within the marriage relationship – what one-word answer might you give? What if the opposite question were asked: what single quality ought to characterise a woman of God in relation to her husband in particular?
…the distinctive feature of masculinity in this relation to femininity is love. Leadership or headship may be implied, but the focus of the apostle is on the motive and nature of the husband’s relation to his wife. This love is neither physical lust nor romantic delight, and neither one can or will supply a lack of intelligent and principled love.
Let me briefly spell out several things about this love. Note first its character, for it is Christlike. As such, it must be principled, realistic, intelligent , sweet and – ultimately – sacrificial. Its great pattern is Christ’s coming for and dying for his church. This is not a matter of occasional spectacular demonstrations, though it may include them. It is not a notional knight in shining armour who, fortunately for the husband, never actually needs to make an appearance. It is to labour for the good of your wife regardless of the cost to yourself, a daily death of a thousand cuts to male selfishness and laziness.