How to Read Logos’ Baptist Covenant Theology Collection

Posted in Covenant Theology with tags on February 18, 2015 by Jultomte

With the release of Logos’ Baptist Covenant Theology Collection (17 vols.) I thought it would be helpful and important to offer a few tips for those who are diving into these books.

If you are like me, it’s exciting to spend time in the writings of the Particular Baptists. Every now and then you feel like Indiana Jones looking for the lost Ark. There are even Nazis (Daniel Featley and Thomas Edwards) trying to kill you. This excitement and nostalgia, combined with your desire to find what you seek, may lead you astray in your reading of the sources. So, if this is your first foray into 17th century writings in general, and those of the Baptists in particular, then you should keep in mind at least the following things:

1. Keep in mind that you are from the 21st century. They are from the 17th century (except Isaac Backus, he’s from the 18th century). Their world was similar to yours, but also very different. Many of the debates, ideological shifts, philosophical currents, and other intellectual factors that we take for granted today were not a part of their lives. Surely they dealt with problems in their own time, battling the currents of thought in their day, but the point of this reminder is to realize that the questions you may be asking may not be the questions that they were asking. Read them on their own terms, following their own questions and their own arguments. Don’t read them anachronistically, reading into their thoughts the categories and ideas that you think are important due to your own modern concerns (however valid they may be).

2. Keep in mind the context in which the authors are writing. Why did the authors write these works? Most of them serve a polemic purpose. What the authors say and what they do not say are important. Think about the Reformers. They wrote extensive exegetical and systematic works. Subsequent generations often made summary reference to those works, but did not go into as much detail. Why is that? Is it because later generations were less committed to the truth, or did they disagree? Certainly not. To the contrary, they were relying on the work of their predecessors, assuming that they would continue to be read and taught. However, did later generations go into considerable detail about peculiar topics when the situation demanded it (i.e. controversy, disagreement, or pastoral concern)? Most assuredly.

So then, what will you NOT find much of in the Particular Baptists’ covenantal writings? You will not find comprehensive treatments of covenant theology that take on the topic from beginning to end. Why not? Because they agreed with much of the macrostructure and interpretation of their paedobaptist brothers. Where did they go into detail? They went into detail on the relationship between the covenant of grace and the Abrahamic covenant and other related questions. (Nehemiah Coxe holds a special place because he discusses the building blocks of covenant theology in more detail than other Particular Baptists. In fact, in his preface he says that he is intentionally avoiding approaching the topic in the standard polemic fashion, though he has polemical purposes.)

The danger here is that if we reduce the Particular Baptists’ covenant theology merely to these writings, thinking that this exhausts their views, we will have a very skewed and incomplete picture of their beliefs in this area. It may also cause us to overemphasize and misrepresent the similarities and differences between the Particular Baptists and their paedobaptist brothers.

3. Keep in mind that some of the authors later abandoned the faith. Paul Hobson and Samuel Fisher became Quakers. That does not make their writings useless or wrong. But it should at least raise some flags in our mind. Don’t assume uniformity in these writings, and read each author on his own terms before comparing him to others.

4. Keep in mind that just because Baptist A held X belief, it does not mean that all Baptists, or any other Baptist held X belief. You have to read them in concert. Benjamin Keach and the Anonymous author of “Truth Vindicated in Several Branches” denied the covenant of redemption. Keach was aware that this set him apart from others.
Benjamin Keach, The Display of Glorious Grace, iv

5. Keep in mind that there are other works on covenant theology from the Particular Baptists. This is just a reminder that these works do not comprise the whole of Particular Baptist thought on covenant theology. That being said, this is a good start.

6. Keep in mind that some of these authors are not Baptists, though their works support Baptist principles and the Baptists appealed to them. Little is known about Andrew Ritor. He may not have been a Baptist. Writing in 1642, the Particular Baptists were in their infancy, so to speak. Once again, this means reading him in his context on his own terms. Henry Lawrence was not a Baptist. However, both of these works were appealed to by Particular Baptists and played a role in the debates of the day. So they remain quite useful.

7. Anyone who reads through Samuel Fisher’s work in its entirety deserves an award. I feel very sorry for the person who had to transcribe his book. You should see it…

P.S. This is Sam Fisher, but not Samuel Fisher the Baptist-turned-Quaker…
4346068-6257921355-tom-c

Particular Baptists Arrested for the Confession of Faith

Posted in 1644/1646 London Baptist Confession with tags , , on February 13, 2015 by Jultomte

Journal of the House of Commons
Die Jovis (Thursday), 29 Januarii, 1645/6

Resolved, &c. That the Serjeant do apprehend Benjamin Cox and Samuel Richardson, the Parties that delivered a Pamphlet at the Door to the Members of this House, intituled, “A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists;” and do take Bail of them, to appear, from time to time, at the Committee for plundered Ministers: And that it be referred to the Committee of plundered Ministers, to examine the Book, and the Parties, whose Names are subscribed; to send for the Licenser and Printer; and state the Business to the House with all Speed: And that the Committee of plundered Ministers shall have Power to advise with such of the Assembly of Divines, as they shall think fit to send for upon this Business.

Ordered, &c. That the Masters and Wardens of the Company of Stationers do forthwith take diligent Care to suppress a Pamphlet, intituled, “A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists.”

Ordered, &c. That the Serjeant at Arms do immediately send some of his Servants to seize and suppress the said Books.

Ordered, &c. That the Parties that delivered the said Pamphlet at the Door be called in; and demanded, By what Order and Authority the said Pamphlet was published; and who licensed it.

Samuel Richardson and Benjamin Coxe were accordingly called in; and, being demanded, Who printed the said Pamphlet, said, One Simonds; and that he got it licensed: And Richardson said, That the Printer told him, That Mr. Downeham licensed it: That this was a Second Edition: That they had Meetings every First Day of the Week: That there were Seven Congregations of them English, and One French: And that the Subscribers were Two of every Congregation.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol4/pp420-422

The first London Baptist Confession was a pamphlet, so it makes sense that it was handed out this way.
See the left-hand work:
DSC_0441

One copy on EEBO has the date Jan. 28 on it. Perhaps Benjamin Coxe and Samuel Richardson handed it out, literally hot off the press.

Do we confess the faith with such courage?

Newly Discovered Work by Nehemiah Coxe on Covenant Theology!

Posted in Covenant Theology, Nehemiah Coxe with tags , , on January 30, 2015 by Jultomte

If you’ve read Nehemiah Coxe’s work on Covenant Theology, you probably read or browsed the preface. Coxe says some important things in it, such as:
Nehemiah Coxe, A Discourse, Preface-0

Ok, Nehemiah, you’ve got my attention. Go on.

Nehemiah Coxe, A Discourse, Preface-1

That sounds like a great idea, Nehemiah. I can’t wait for it to be published.

Nehemiah Coxe, A Discourse, Preface-2

I don’t like where this is going.

Nehemiah Coxe, A Discourse, Preface-3

Wait, WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Nehemiah Coxe, A Discourse, Preface-4

Very funny, Nehemiah. VERY FUNNY. “Happily prevented?” I think not.

Y U DO DIS

Seriously though…

That is, until RBAP came along…324 years later.

Posted in Covenant Theology with tags , on January 29, 2015 by Jultomte

Willialm Russel, A Vindication of the Baptized Churches, 27-28

Guess what? It’s in print!
http://www.rbap.net/our-books/covenant-theology-from-adam-to-christ-by-nehemiah-coxe-and-john-owen/

John Clark, Phraseologia, 265-1

Beautiful Truths, Written Beautifully

Posted in Catechism with tags , on January 28, 2015 by Jultomte

Click to enlarge.

Westminster Shorter Catechism 1-3
Edward Cocker, The Guide to Penmanship-2

WSC 4-6
Edward Cocker, The Guide to Penmanship

WSC 20-22
Edward Cocker, The Guide to Penmanship-1

“Thus is my deliverance.”

Union and Peace Recommended: A Sermon by John Piggott, 1704

Posted in Associationalism with tags , , , on January 26, 2015 by Jultomte

John Piggot, Eleven Sermons, 295-296, 1704, Unity and Truth

From a sermon entitled “Union and Peace Recommended” preached by John Piggott to several congregations in 1704.
John Piggot, Eleven Sermons, Unity and Truth

Questions and Answers for the Afflicted

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on January 23, 2015 by Jultomte

When sorrows surge, and strength has fled,
When streams become a flood,
When man is laid upon his bed,
And finds he’s flesh and blood,
Where will he run, where will he turn,
Where can a creature go?
When will he see, when will he learn,
What he should surely know?

“Why now? Why here? Why me? Why this?
Why us?” we cry aloud.
“Have I behaved aright? Amiss?”
We ask, with body bowed.
“Has God forgotten to be kind,
Will he not keep his vows?”
Such thoughts and questions fill the mind,
More than the soul allows.

Yet through his word, fit for my frame,
I find myself consoled.
“Recall my deeds, recall my name,
Recall my works of old.
Twas I who brought the Israelites
Out from their slavery.
Twas I who led them day and night
Through deadly land and sea.

Recall to mind, and then have hope,
That I do all things well.
When in the shadows, blind, you grope,
I will, the dark, dispel.
New, new, each morn, my mercies are,
Bright as the rising sun.
And whether you go near or far,
They cannot be undone.”

But greater still than parted waves,
Or manna from the sky,
Is God the Son, who came to save,
Who only lived to die.
He is the bread; he is the way
Through death and judgment’s path.
And he alone saves on that day
Of God’s unfailing wrath.

And in his death I start to see,
The clouds begin to clear.
The questions that were plaguing me
Begin to disappear.
In history, outside of me,
I see God’s working hand,
And find a true reality
That makes me understand.

For if my God through wickedness,
Can bring about his plan
To save from sins in righteousness
An undeserving man,
Then can he not in my life, too,
Cause good to come from ill?
And should I not, since this is true,
Resign to trust his will?

Who else have I, who else have we,
If not our God above?
Where can we fly, where can we flee,
If not to he who’s love?
We can, we may, we will, we must,
Find rest in God alone.
The creature’s sole and only trust,
Is he who’s on the throne.

And do I not have reasons great
To know that this is so?
Since he, in heaven, sets my fate
Here on the earth below?
And so the Father calms his child.
He wipes and dries my tears
And in his ever-loving arms
The Father calms my fears.

What vanities befall me now,
I know they work for good.
And though I often don’t see how,
I see the cross of wood.
And when my sorrows well within,
As sorrows well without,
I’ll take my Savior’s medicine,
And banish fear and doubt.

These thoughts were drawn especially from Psalm 77 and Lamentations 3.

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