Signatories of 2LCF?

There is an idea I have heard various times throughout the years, that the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (2LCF) was “signed” by Baptists at the 1689 GA, or that we can talk about the “Signatories” of the Confession. I want to briefly investigate this idea and the evidence for or against it.

There is no 1689 Confession to Sign

We must remember that, as explained on this page, 2LCF was never published in 1689. It had already been published in 1677 and 1688.

The Significance of the 1689 General Assembly and its “Narrative”

The year 1689 is significant for the Particular Baptists because it was the year that they held a national General Assembly in London in September 1689. The Glorious Revolution and the Act of Toleration gave them freedom from persecution, allowing them to act more openly than before. Afterwards, the Assembly published “A Narrative of the Proceedings” in which the delegates of the GA declared that the Confession of Faith from 1677/1688 represented “the Doctrine of our Faith and Practice.”

Untitled

In subsequent pages, the Baptists listed all of their churches and their ministers who either attended the GA in person, or sent reports of their churches to the GA.

As we consider this paragraph, we must remember that the Confession had been published and used for 12 years by this time. The title page of 2LCF when it was published in 1677 stated that the Confession was,

Put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians (baptized upon Profession of their Faith) in London and the Country

So, we could say that the 1689 GA Narrative does not represent the adopting of the Confession by these “many Congregations…in London and the Country” but the owning of the Confession. They are not saying “We now take it unto ourselves,” but, “It was ours all along.”

The Odd Page in the Third Edition of 2LCF

Perhaps the closest we get to “signatories” of the Confession is a list of ministers which appears in the 1699 edition, the third edition, of 2LCF.

Untitled

You may note that the paragraph at the top of this page is lifted straight from the 1689 GA Narrative, though removing the phrase that the Confession can be purchased from John Harris (who was dead before 1699). This page is actually rather odd, however.

First, several of the persons named were dead in 1699 (e.g., Hanserd Knollys, John Harris, Thomas Vaux, probably a few more, too). So, this list is not contemporaneous with 1699. Hanserd Knollys died in September 1691, which would seem to date this list to 1689-1691.

Second, the phrase “In the Name and behalf of the whole Assembly” comes from the 1689-1693 GA narratives, where it is used various times.  This would imply some action on the part of a GA, but the 1689 GA Narrative does not use that phrase in relation to the paragraph owning the Confession. And we have the other GA narratives which likewise do not include anything of the sort.

Third, the list of names in the 1699 Confession does not appear in the GA narratives. The GA narratives have various lists of names, but not this list in this particular quantity or order.

Some possible explanations for the odd page in the 1699 edition of 2LCF are:

Considering that the paragraph itself does indeed come from the 1689 GA Narrative, perhaps this list of names and the phrase “In the Name and behalf of the whole Assembly” were supposed to appear in the 1689 GA Narrative, but were left out for some reason?

Another possible explanation is that the 1699 printer put it together however he wanted to, with or without input from the men whose names he listed.

I’m conjecturing. But no matter what, it’s odd.

Conclusion

Can we conclude anything from this scant evidence?

We can say that the 1689 GA delegates chose to make a public declaration that the Confession of Faith that had been around for 12 years and been printed two times was the Confession of Faith used by the churches listed in the narrative.

Perhaps I’m overly picky about terms here, but I would prefer to speak about the “confessors” of 2LCF or the churches and ministers who owned the Confession. To me, “signatories” sounds too close to those responsible for the document, like it’s an assembly that drafted and signed the document itself. The delegates at the 1689 GA didn’t spill one drop of ink on the Confession. And if that’s the idea in people’s heads, then it’s more mythical than material.

Thomas Plant, A Contest for Christianity, 55

Reformed Credobaptism

In this post, I want to investigate the relation of faith to baptism in the Reformed tradition, and how it relates to modern discussions and debates.

Common Argument: Sacraments are God’s word to us, not our word to God

In my experience with debates about credobaptism vs. paedobaptism, one of the common arguments that modern Reformed Christians direct toward Baptists is that Baptists misunderstand the nature of sacraments. The common argument goes like this:

Sacraments are God’s word to us, not our profession of faith to God. Infant Baptism fits this perfectly because it is a picture of God’s grace promised to a helpless individual. Baptists turn baptism into a work performed by man, rather than a sign of divine grace given by God.

Let’s be clear, up front. It would be very easy to provide numerous examples of Baptists laying a heavy emphasis on baptism as man’s profession of faith to God. And it would also be easy to say that in such cases there is an omission and neglect of appreciating sacraments as God’s word to his people. I grant this in full, and Baptists need to do a much better job at teaching and appreciating sacraments as God’s word to his people.

However, do Reformed Christians fall into the same mistake, but on the opposite side? Do they, by emphasizing God’s grace signified to man in the sacraments, neglect and omit man’s side in the use of sacraments? The Reformed of the 16th and 17th centuries did not. But (if experience can be the gauge here) the modern Reformed do, frequently.

The Reformed: Sacraments are Mutual Testimonies

The Reformed of the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras clearly assert a mutuality in sacraments.

John Calvin, for example, defined a sacrament as:

“a testimony of God’s favor towards us confirmed by an outward sign, with a mutual testifying of our godliness toward him.”

John Calvin, The Institvtion of Christian Religion (London: Reinolde Wolfe and Richard Harrison, 1561), fol. 90v. (IV. 13. 1). Cf. also fols. 94v-95r. (IV. 13. 13-14).

And William Perkins offered a similar definition:

“Baptism serves to be a pledge unto us in respect of our weakness, of all the graces and mercies of God, and especially of our union with Christ, of remission of sins, and of mortification. Secondly, it serves to be a sign of Christian profession before the world, and therefore it is called ‘the stipulation or interrogation of a good conscience,’ 1 Pet. 3:21.”

William Perkins, A Commentarie or Exposition, upon the five first Chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians (Cambridge: John Legat, 1604), 249.

And Lucas Trelcatius offered the same:

“By the name of Sacrament, we understand a signe of grace, ordained of God, that he might both seal up his benefits in us, and consecrate us to himself for ever; for in the signification of Sacrament, there is a mutual respect: the one on God’s behalf offering grace; the other on man’s behalf, promising thankfulness.”

Lucas Trelcatius, A Briefe institution of the Common Places of Sacred Divinitie (London: T.P. for Francis Burton, 1610), 293. Spelling updated.

These statements may seem to create a tension with infant baptism. How can an infant participate in the mutuality of the sacrament?

The Reformed: Faith is a Prerequisite for Baptism

For many paedobaptists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the mutual nature of sacraments was not an obstacle. They did not hesitate to connect baptism with a profession of faith, even in the case of infants. In fact, they required faith for baptism.

One way to handle this was to have sponsors answer for the child. This was the doctrine of the church of England. Sponsors profess faith and repentance for the child. You can read about it in this post.

The Westminster Assembly debated this issue and concluded that it was necessary for parents to make a profession of faith in the baptism of their children. You can read about it in the post just linked above. The Assembly’s decision relocates the profession of faith. It is not the child’s faith professed by sponsors, but the parents’ faith.

The Church of England and the Westminster Assembly were not alone in requiring faith in baptism. Edward Polhill noted that the Leiden Synopsis (its title is Synopsis Purioris Theologiæ, the work of Johannes Polyander, Andreas Rivetus, Antonius Walaeus, and Anthonius Thysius), first published in 1625, likewise required faith in infants prior to baptism.

Edward Polhill - Christus in Corde - 206

These are not the views of an isolated or idiosyncratic Reformed writer. The Westminster Assembly and the Leiden Synopsis are collaborative projects of some of the best minds the Reformed faith has ever known. But what does the Leiden Synopsis actually say about baptism, faith, and infant baptism?

The Leiden Synopsis: Infants of the Faithful have the Seed of Faith

I’ve translated relevant portions of Disputation 44, “Of the Sacrament of Baptism.” I don’t claim to be a Latinist, so feel free to check or correct my work in comparison to the original here. This portion of the Synopsis should be released in translation this year.

Though not exactly germane to this discussion, we can note that the Leiden divines makes immersion or pouring an indifferent matter, as well as whether to dip/pour once or thrice.

Thesis 19. And whether the baptizand should be dipped once, or three times, is judged a thing indifferent in the Christian church, as also whether by immersion or aspersion.

Moving on to their theology of infant baptism, here are relevant portions. Edward Polhill’s quote above was referring to Thesis 29.

Thesis 28. No valid distinction can be made between the baptism of adults and infants, except that the baptism of adults is a sign and seal of regeneration already possessed, and the baptism of infants is the instrument of the beginning of regeneration. There is no foundation for any difference beyond this in all Scripture, which acknowledges but one kind of baptism only…

Thesis 29. Therefore we do not align the efficacy of baptism with the moment of its administration, when the body is dipped in the water, but in all persons baptized we do require beforehand faith and repentance, though with the judgment of charity. And this is just as true in the case of covenant infants, in whom, by virtue of the divine blessings and covenant of the gospel, the seed and spirit of faith and repentance are present, we contend, just as in adults, for whom profession of actual faith and repentance is necessary. For as when a seed is cast in the earth, it does not always grow to its height immediately, but [it grows] when rain and warmth come upon it from the sky, neither is the efficacy of the sacramental sign always tied to its first moment, but in the passage of time, with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, is it granted.

Thesis 47. Second, we count [as valid subjects of baptism] infants who are born of faithful and federal parents, according to the promise of God, Genesis 17 “I will be God to you and your seed.” […] To whom the thing signified pertains, no one can deny the sign. […] Now then truly none can deny that the benefits of the blood and Spirit of Christ belong to the infants of the faithful, except those [children] who choose to exclude themselves from salvation; neither is anyone able to enter the kingdom of God unless they are regenerated by water and Spirit, John 3:5. For no one is of Christ who does not have his Spirit, Romans 8:9.

Thesis 48. Ephesians 5:26 is a confirming illustration of this, where the apostle says “Christ loved his church, and gave himself up for her, cleansing her in the washing of water through the word.” From which it follows that the infants of the faithful are not born into a different church from the one for which Christ gave himself, and which he cleansed with the washing of water through the word.

The idea that baptism and faith go hand in hand is not at all a tension for those who believe that the infants of the faithful possess “the benefits of the blood and Spirit of Christ” and have “the seed and spirit of faith and repentance.”

Some Reformed: Infants of the Faithful Have a Distinct, Provisional, Perishable, Regeneration

The doctrine that the infants of the faithful possess the seed of faith creates another tension. What does it mean for covenant children to possess the seed of faith and the blessings and benefits of Christ, and yet “to choose to exclude themselves” from salvation? Also, are the infants of the faithful not born in Adam?

There are varying answers to these questions among paedobaptists. Joseph Whiston lays out various options in this post. Whiston’s option is that the infants of the faithful have a provisional regeneration that is distinct in kind from the ordinary regeneration that believers experience.

For Whiston, and some Reformed, their infants, by virtue of the federal holiness they enjoy as children of the faithful, are cleansed of original sin, and are therefore guaranteed to enter Heaven if they die in their infancy.

For some sources on the discussion and pedigree of such views, see this post, this post, and the related (though later) discussion of sources here:

Conclusions

We can make the following conclusions:

First, the common caricature of “The Reformed make baptism God’s word to us, and Baptists make baptism man’s word to God” demonstrates that both sides need a lesson in historical theology.  There is no reason why Baptists should not appreciate and enjoy the sacraments, first and foremost, as God’s promises made visible to his people. Likewise, the Reformed should not hesitate to say that participation in the sacraments is a mutual testimony, from man to God.

Second, related to this, the common caricature that Baptists connect faith too closely to baptism must be applied equally to the Westminster and Leiden divines. They require faith for baptism. It simply isn’t a “Baptist” move. A distinction can be made between fidebaptism, and credobaptism. The Reformed baptize based on faith (fidebaptism), not necessarily profession of faith (credobaptism). However, that would only apply to infants. The Reformed would practice fidebaptism for infants, and credobaptism for adults.

Third, the modern Reformed departure/distancing from (what I perceive as) the more robust forms of paedobaptism explains some of the tensions with so-called “Federal Vision” ideas. Like it nor not, in some cases, certain tenets of the more “Federal Vision” flavor of paedobaptists are not so much a departure from the Reformed tradition as they are a return to one of its more robust forms.

Fourth, modern Reformed Christians need to recognize that the common argument of “We baptize based on the promise to us and our children” is anemic in comparison to “We baptize on the basis of God’s covenant with us, by virtue of which our children are provisionally cleansed and have the seed of faith.” In the modern Reformed version, what is actually true of a covenant child? Promises are made to the child, but is there any way to say, definitely, that any given infant has actual possession of any benefit? I have a feeling that in the social media circles I know, any Reformed Christian who began to assert objective benefits for their covenant children would be swiftly and strongly denounced by other Reformed Christians.

Fifth, the modern Reformed version of paedobaptism creates a tension between infant and adult baptism (to use the Leiden Synopsis’ categories). As the Leiden Synopsis states, its version of infant baptism is very much in line with adult baptism. Both presuppose cleansing; both require repentance and faith. But the common modern Reformed version of paedobaptism makes paedobaptism, as William Cunningham said,

“a peculiar, subordinate, supplemental, exceptional thing, which stands indeed firmly based on its own distinct and special grounds.” (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation)

For Reformed Baptists (i.e., 2LCF Baptists), there is, as the Leiden Synopsis states, “but one kind of baptism only” acknowledged by the Scriptures. That is credobaptism, baptism based on profession of faith, not age. Are the modern Reformed ready to embrace the older Reformed credobaptism and bring their adult and infant baptism  into realignment? Or will they practice credobaptism for adults, and something else for their children?

John Owen, Unto the Questions, 7

Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 4

This is the fourth and final part of a guest post by Richard Barcellos. The previous installments can be found here, here, and here.

No Communion and No Christ?

 A response to two recent claims by Dr. R. Scott Clark:

  1. “In short, when we say communication we mean ‘communing.’ When the PBs say communication they seem to mean ‘the transmission of information.’”
  2. According to PBs, “God the Son is not actually present” prior to the incarnation.

Richard C. Barcellos

This is the final installment of my response to two recent claims offered by Dr. R. Scott Clark (found here).

In the “Conclusion” to Clark’s piece, he says:

When the Particular Baptists speak of the benefit of Christ being communicated, it seems as if they mean that a future reality was revealed to the Old Testament saints, which they anticipated but which was not actually present for them. (emphasis mine)

These claims were supported by Clark’s analysis of a brief section in one paragraph in 2LCF and some statements made by Coxe. Is Clark right? He views some of the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century and some today as either explicitly (and intentionally) or implicitly (and unintentionally) denying that God the Son was actually present with his people prior to the incarnation. This denial is due to their seemingly intended meaning of the words “communication” or “communicated.” His claim is that, due to their distinct seemingly intended meaning of the words “communication” and “communicated,” some Particular Baptists effectively deny the presence of Christ with his people prior to the incarnation.

In my first installment, I offered and analyzed statements made by Benjamin Keach and Hanserd Knollys, both seventeenth-century Particular Baptists. It became very clear that by “communication” Keach meant “communing,” the conveyance of that which is promised—“Christ’s blessed merits” (Keach’s words). It also became clear that by “communion” Knollys meant communing, by virtue of the pre-incarnate Son of God conveying that which is promised, such that Solomon enjoyed “his beloved” (Knollys’ words)—Christ.

The last paragraph of the first installment reads as follows:

It is time to get to the specific focus of my reply to Clark. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? And did he teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

My second installment was an attempt to answer the first question stated above. The third installment sought to answer the second question. The answer to both questions was the same—no.

At the end of the third installment, I inserted the first paragraph of my conclusion. It is now time to present my conclusion in its entirety. It is relatively brief and dependent upon the previous installments. If you have not read all three of those, I highly recommend that you do so prior to reading the conclusion.

IV. Conclusion

Dr. Clark has made two claims: first, that by “communication” Nehemiah Coxe and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists seem to have meant “the transmission of information” and second, due to the first claim, Coxe’s and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists’ view entails that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation. The saints prior to the incarnation did not enjoy union and communion with our Lord. These two claims were the focus of my response. There were other issues I initially thought about discussing but decided it best to limit myself to these two claims by Clark.

In light of the evidence and comments provided above, I contend that Clark has misread Coxe and the 2LCF. He has also impugned (unwittingly) others from the seventeenth century, as well as some in our own day. Misreading and misunderstanding others is not some novelty of which we should be shocked. We have all done it and will, most likely, do it again. In saying that Clark has misread others, I am not suggesting he did this with any malice whatsoever. He did, however, make some claims that simply will not hold up against closer scrutiny. Nehemiah Coxe, other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists, the 2LCF, and at least some contemporary Particular Baptists do not mean by “communicated” “the transmission of information” without actual, real, vital union and communion with Christ, nor did or do they deny such prior to the incarnation of our Lord. As well, in good Protestant fashion, all of these believed and believe that the Mediator took up his work of mediation, according to his divine nature, prior to the incarnation, even upon the fall of man into sin. These points have been proven clearly and amply in the previous installments.

Clark’s claims need to be modified in light of the evidence I have provided, evidence that is lucid, plenteous, and available to all interested parties. Instead of what Clark claims, we can now confidently assert the following: first, in short, though it is true that when the Reformed say communication they seem to mean “communing,” it is not true that when some Particular Baptists say “communication” they seem to mean “the transmission of information” exclusively, specifically without actual, real, vital union and communion with Christ and second, according to some Particular Baptists, it is not true that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation. Both of Clark’s claims have been found abundantly wanting and, therefore, in need of chastening.

I hope my response to Dr. Clark aids all of us in our pursuit of truth and truthfulness among ourselves, especially when engaging other believers both past and present.

Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 3

This is the third part of a guest post by Richard Barcellos. The first and second installments can be found here and here.

No Communion and No Christ?

 A response to two recent claims by Dr. R. Scott Clark:

  1. “In short, when we say communication we mean ‘communing.’ When the PBs say communication they seem to mean ‘the transmission of information.’”
  2. According to PBs, “God the Son is not actually present” prior to the incarnation.

Richard C. Barcellos

This is the third installment of my response to two recent claims offered by Dr. R. Scott Clark (found here).  The last paragraph of the first installment reads as follows:

It is time to get to the specific focus of my reply to Clark. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? And did he teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

My second installment was an attempt to answer the first question stated above. The present installment seeks to answer the second question: Did Nehemiah Coxe teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

Is it true that some seventeenth-century Particular Baptists believed in some sort of “real absence” view of Christ concerning the Old Testament saints? I have already provided a little evidence to the contrary, but since Clark’s focus was on Coxe, it will do us well to examine some statements by him which, in my view, prove that Clark’s claim is found wanting.

III. Coxe’s view of the work and presence of the mediator prior to the incarnation

  1. Coxe, p. 34

So it must be acknowledged that it is of great use and concern for us to be well acquainted with those transactions of God with men and his dispensations toward them that are recorded in the sacred history of the first ages of the world and the church of God in it.

Comment: Here it seems Coxe distinguishes between “those transactions of God with men” and the things recorded for us in Scripture. “Transactions” here seems to entail communion.

  1. Coxe, pp. 39-40

But more eminently, the covenant of grace is established in Christ as its head. All its promises were first given to him and in him they are all yes and amen. It is by union to him that believers obtain a new covenant interest and from him they derive a new life, grace, and strength to answer the ends of the new covenant.

Comment: Union with Christ brings with it “new life, grace, and strength”—i.e., communion, the conveyance of the benefits of Christ to the soul.

  1. Coxe, p. 53

By the sin of man the frame of earth and the heavens made for his service and delight was loosed, and their foundations so shaken as would have issued in an utter ruin had not Christ interposed and upheld their pillars (Psalm 75:3 with Hebrews 1:3).

Comment: Christ’s work of mediation did not begin at the incarnation, nor did the blessings of union and communion with him. This must be the case since these blessings are included in his work of mediation.

  1. Coxe, p. 54

2. In pursuing this covenant of redemption and the suretyship of Christ taken in it upon the fall of man, the government of the world was actually put into the hands of the Son of God, the designed Mediator, who interposed himself for the prevention of its present and utter ruin. By him were all future transactions managed for the good of man, and all discoveries of grace and mercy were made to the children of men in him and by him. All things in heaven and earth were brought into an order subservient to the ends of the new creation and the redemption of lost man to be accomplished in the fullness of time by the Son of God incarnate. Fallen man could have no more to do with God, nor God with him in a way of kindness, except in a mediator.

Comment: The work of mediation by the Son of God began “upon the fall of man.” In his work of mediation prior to the incarnation, the Son had “the government of the world…put into…[his] hands.” Not only that, but since the fall, “By him were all future transactions managed for the good of man, and all discoveries of grace and mercy were made to the children of men in him and by him.” It seems that “all discoveries of grace and mercy” is a subset of the transactions mentioned in the prior clause. Everything “in heaven and earth” is “subservient to the ends of the new creation and the redemption of lost man to be accomplished in the fullness of time by the Son of God incarnate.” Since the fall, “man could have no more to do with God, nor God with him in a way of kindness, except in a mediator.” It is clear that Coxe viewed the Son of God as very present and active as mediator prior to the incarnation, causing some to discover “grace and mercy.” This requires union with Christ and entails that communion with him was enjoyed by some prior to the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 58

3. Yet, the world is set under a general reprieve and the full execution of the deserved curse is delayed until the day of judgment. Until that time the children of men are under a dispensation of goodness and sparing mercy. So they are in a remote capacity or possibility of obtaining salvation by Christ where it pleases God to send the gospel, the dispensation of which is made effectual for the salvation of all the elect, who are in this way gathered into the kingdom of Christ.

4. The Lord Christ has undertaken in the close of his mediatorial kingdom, when all his sheep are brought into his fold, (for whose sake alone the day of his patience is lengthened out to the world) to raise all mankind again in an incorruptible state, prepared for that eternal duration to which they were designed in their first creation.

Comment: Once again, Christ’s work of mediation did not begin at the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 59

But by the covenant of grace and redemption, the relationship and previous acceptance of the person in Christ was the reason of the good acceptance of all their sincere though imperfect obedience which now sprang from faith. And so it is said in Hebrews 11:4, “God had respect to Abel and his offering;” first to the person and then to his work. This order and way of salvation in its general nature always was and must be the same and invariable in all ages and under all different dispensations of God toward his church.

Comment: The way of salvation is the same and invariable “under all dispensations of God toward his church.” Therefore, the experience of union and communion with Christ by faith predates the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 63

For this is to be observed concerning the state of the church before Christ came in the flesh: that as the gospel was preached to them by types and dark shadows, so this kind of instruction was afforded them not only by the stated ordinances of ceremonial worship, but also by many extraordinary works of providence. These were so ordered by divine wisdom that they might bear a typical relationship to and be an apt representation of spiritual things. This may be observed in many instances in the history of Abraham and his offspring, the children of Israel. On this account the manna they ate in the wilderness is called spiritual meat; the water of the rock which they drank, spiritual drink; and the rock, Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3, 4).

Comment: Types were “an apt representation of spiritual things.” Types can be symbols signifying a present reality (i.e., Christ communicated to the souls of the elect). This communication of the benefits of Christ to the people of Christ predates the incarnation of Christ.

  1. Coxe, p. 79

Section 9. Fifthly, the last thing I will note is the eternal settlement of the way of salvation according to the character of this covenant which is by faith in Christ. This is a covenant that conveys the grace of life to poor sinners by a free and gracious promise which admits of no other restipulation in order to covenant interest except believing. It is of faith because it is of grace (Romans 4:16) and this way is the only way of life. There is but one covenant of spiritual and eternal blessing in Christ Jesus, founded in the eternal decree and counsel of God’s love and grace, which is now revealed to Abraham.

Comment: The “covenant of spiritual and eternal blessing in Christ Jesus” which “was revealed to Abraham” “conveys the grace of life to poor sinners” through faith. “Conveys” is a way of affirming communion.

  1. Coxe, p. 81

3. The sum of all gospel blessings is comprised in this promise. Therefore it will follow that the proper heirs of this blessing of Abraham have a right (not only in some, but) in all the promises of the new covenant. This is true not in a limited sense, suspended on uncertain conditions, but in a full sense and secured by the infinite grace, wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God. Accordingly, they are in time made good to them all. And this will be more manifest if we consider that all the blessings of this covenant redound on believers by means of their union and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both the Head and Root of the new covenant, and the Fountain from which all its blessings are derived to us. Since these blessings were entirely purchased by him, so are they entirely applied to all that are in him and to none other.

Comment: Gospel promises are made good to “the proper heirs of this blessing of Abraham,” more manifest in this: “that all the blessings of this covenant redound on believers by means of their union and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both the Head and Root of the new covenant, and the Fountain from which all its blessings are derived to us.” Note the language of “union and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Coxe clearly affirms present union and communion with Christ prior to the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 82

None are washed by him but those that are in him as the second Adam. It is by union to him as the root of the new covenant that the free gift comes on them to the justification of life. And none can have union to him but by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit. Wherever the Spirit of God applies the blood of Christ for the remission of sins he does it also for the purging of the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. As certainly as any derive a new covenant right from Christ for pardon, they also receive a vital influence from him for the renovation of their natures and conforming their souls to his own image.

Comment: Interest in Christ comes by “union to him by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit.” These words by Coxe come in the context of the promise of Christ given to Abraham before circumcision. Believers were united to Christ by his Spirit. Union and communion go together, and these two benefits of Christ were experienced by gospel-believing sinners prior to the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 108

2. In the establishment of this covenant there was a seed promised to him that would certainly inherit its spiritual and eternal blessings. The promise was sure to all the seed. But this was a seed of believers collected out of all nations and united to Christ by faith, and not the children of Abraham according to the flesh. This is manifest in almost every page of the New Testament.

Comment: Here Coxe asserts that only those “united to Christ by faith” inherit spiritual and eternal blessings. In the context, this includes believers prior to the incarnation. With union comes communion, both upon and prior to the incarnation.

  1. Coxe, p. 128

To prevent their being ensnared with this corrupt doctrine, he informs them how Christ was the end and substance of all those shadows and that all fullness dwells in him in whom they were complete.

Comment: Here Coxe is explaining Colossians 2:11. Note that he asserts Christ as the end and “substance” of the Old Testament shadows. Given the previous quotations of Coxe, it is clear that believers before the incarnation communed with the substance of the covenant of grace—Christ.

Dr. Clark has made two claims: first, that by “communication” Coxe and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists seem to have meant “the transmission of information” and second, due to the first claim, Coxe’s and other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists’ view entails that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation. The saints prior to the incarnation did not enjoy union and communion with our Lord. These two claims were the focus of my response. There were other issues I initially thought about discussing but decided it best to limit myself to these two claims by Clark. In my next installment, I will attempt to bring the issues discussed to a reasonable conclusion.

Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 2

This is the second part of a guest post by Richard Barcellos. The first installment can be found here.

No Communion and No Christ?

 A response to two recent claims by Dr. R. Scott Clark:

  1. “In short, when we say communication we mean ‘communing.’ When the PBs say communication they seem to mean ‘the transmission of information.’”
  2. According to PBs, “God the Son is not actually present” prior to the incarnation.

Richard C. Barcellos

This is the second installment of my response to two recent claims offered by Dr. R. Scott Clark. The last paragraph of the first installment reads as follows:

It is time to get to the specific focus of my reply to Clark. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? And did he teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

This installment will answer the first question stated above. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? I will provide examples of how Coxe used the words “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate.” (I could not find Coxe using the singular noun form “communication.”) This will give us a variety of contexts in which Coxe uses these terms. As with the first installment, my response is focused on historical theology, specifically on the words and their meanings as used and intended by Nehemiah Coxe.

II. Examples of how Coxe used the words “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”[1]

  1. Coxe p. 36

Section 3. The general notion of any covenant of God with men, considered on the part of God or as proposed by him, may be conceived of as “A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them.”[2]

Comment: Clark’s concern is not aimed at Coxe’s use of the word “communion.” This use of the word (and others) by Coxe, however, helps us better understand his view of “communing,” a word Clark used. It seems clear that by “communion” here, Coxe does not mean “the transmission of information” but communing, the conveyance of that which is promised or, in this instance specifically, “the benefits [God] will bestow on” men. It becomes clear that Coxe distinguishes between the “declaration of his sovereign pleasure,” or as he says on the next page, “the revelation of the counsel of God’s will in a covenant proposed” and the “communion” promised in his “declaration” or “revelation” of said covenant. Divine “declaration” and divine “revelation,” in this context, are not synonymous with “communion.”

  1. Coxe, p. 43

1. This was an eternal law and an invariable rule of righteousness by which those things that are agreeable to the holiness and rectitude of the divine nature were required and whatever is contrary to it was prohibited. This law was only internal and subjective to Adam, being communicated to him with his reasonable nature and written in his heart, so that he needed no external revelation to perfect his knowledge of it.

Comment: Applying the claim of Clark, Coxe’s explanation of the law written on Adam’s heart would mean this: “This law was only internal and subjective to Adam, being information transmitted to him with his reasonable nature and written in his heart, so that he needed no external revelation to perfect his knowledge of it.” Instead, it seems clear that by “communicated” here, Coxe does not mean “the transmission of information” but that which is given, in the sense of creaturely endowment. Being made in the image of God, Adam’s existence was “communicated” to him, granted to him by his creator. And concreated with that existence was “an invariable rule of righteousness…written in his heart.” This gift of coming into existence did not require of Adam the acceptance of or belief in that which was endowed in order to Adam’s existence. Or in the language of older covenant theologians, the initial act of creational endowment did not require restipulation (a term Coxe uses[3]) by the creature. That which was endowed came with the “stuff” of Adam’s unique creatureliness. Clark’s “the transmission of information” formula seems to entail the existence of man and his receiving an extra-creational objective and propositional revelation to him from God, and a restipulation by him. Clark’s formula does not fit this use of the word “communicated” by Coxe. Recall that the specific word under dispute is a form of “communicated.”

  1. Coxe, p. 45

2. The natural inclination of men. They expect a reward of future blessedness for their obedience to the law of God and to stand before him on the terms of a covenant of works. This necessarily arises from man’s relationship to God at first in such a covenant (which included the promise of such a reward) and the knowledge of these covenant terms communicated to him, together with the law of his creation.

Comment: Applying the claim of Clark, Coxe’s explanation of the knowledge of the terms of the covenant of works would mean this: “…the knowledge of these covenant terms was transmitted as information to him, together with the law of his creation.” In the context of Coxe’s discussion, this use of “communicated” seems, indeed, to indicate “the transmission of information” which results in “the knowledge of these covenant terms” (i.e., the knowledge of the terms of the covenant of works). The various forms in which this knowledge was conveyed to Adam are discussed by Coxe in the wider context of the quote under investigation. So, while using the term “communicated,” Coxe may and does, at least once, mean “the transmission of information.

  1. Coxe p. 48

Because as Adam’s sin is imputed to all that were in him, and so judgment to condemnation comes on all that were represented by him, so also the obedience of Christ is imputed to all that are in him, and the free gift redounds on them to the justification of life by virtue of their union to and communion with him.

Comment: Though Clark’s claim does not refer to Coxe’s use of the word “communion,” once again, it is interesting to note its use in this instance. It seems clear that by “communion” here, Coxe means benefits conveyed to those in union with Christ and the same benefits enjoyed by them. The benefits of Christ are imputed to them by virtue of their union with Christ, which union entails “communion with him.” Union with Christ entails communion with him, according to Coxe.

  1. Coxe p. 51

And now instead of that original righteousness with which he was first beautified, there was nothing to be found in him but abominable filthiness and horrid deformity. His mind was covered over, even possessed with hellish darkness. Hatred of God reigned in his heart and his affections were no longer subject to right reason but became vile and rebellious. It is evident that in this state he must be utterly incapable of communion with God and of the enjoyment of him in whom alone the true happiness of a reasonable creature consists.

Comment: Here is another instance where, though Clark’s claim does not refer to Coxe’s use of the word “communion,” it is interesting to note its use. By “communion” here, Coxe means the reception and enjoyment of the divine goodness and its appropriate creaturely responses. This clearly refers to something more than “the transmission of information.

  1. Coxe p. 62

The violence and corruption of mankind abounded and even the sons of God were taken with the bait of sensual delights. Those who had formerly kept up a pure and distinct communion for the solemn worship of God by calling on his name (and so also had his name called on them, Genesis 4:26, being denominated the sons of God) now lost the sense of religion and broke the bounds of their just separation and mingled themselves with the daughters of men (Genesis 6:24).

Comment: Again, Clark’s claim is not aimed at Coxe’s use of the word “communion.” It seems clear, nevertheless, that by “communion” here, Coxe means the sharing of the blessing of public worship among men. By the way, assuming the worship Coxe is referencing was acceptable religious worship (which seems clear in context), the assumption is that it had been instituted by God “by his own revealed will” (2LCF 22.1) and was “not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone” (2LCF 22.2).

  1. Coxe pp. 63-64

Thus the ark was an extraordinary sacrament, or prefiguring, of the church’s redemption and salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ and of her union and communion with him that died and rose again, so as to enjoy all the benefits of his death and resurrection.

Comment: Again, “communion” here is especially instructive for our purposes. Believers are in “union” with Christ and, therefore, enjoy “communion with him.” What is it to have union and communion with Christ according to Coxe? He defines it as enjoying “all the benefits of his death and resurrection.” Union with Christ entails communion with Christ, “so as to enjoy all the benefits of his death and resurrection” before and after the incarnation.

  1. Coxe p. 81

3. The sum of all gospel blessings is comprised in this promise. Therefore it will follow that the proper heirs of this blessing of Abraham have a right (not only in some, but) in all the promises of the new covenant. This is true not in a limited sense, suspended on uncertain conditions, but in a full sense and secured by the infinite grace, wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God. Accordingly, they are in time made good to them all. And this will be more manifest if we consider that all the blessings of this covenant redound on believers by means of their union and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both the Head and Root of the new covenant, and the Fountain from which all its blessings are derived to us. Since these blessings were entirely purchased by him, so are they entirely applied to all that are in him and to none other.

Comment: Clark’s claim is that it seems that some Particular Baptists mean by “communication” “the transmission of information” and that, as a result of this, they effectively deny the presence of Christ with his people prior to the incarnation. I think Clark’s claim may be put in this form: Because for some Particular Baptists “communication” seems to mean “the transmission of information,” there is no “communing” with Christ prior to the incarnation. The various uses of the word “communion” by Coxe, however, indicate very clearly that he did not deny communion with Christ prior to the incarnation. In fact, the evidence clearly and emphatically indicates just the opposite. Union and communion are covenantal blessings, the application of redemption.

  1. Coxe p. 99

Section 6. To confirm this I will offer these things. First, circumcision was the entrance into and boundary of communion in the Jewish church.

Comment: Here “communion” seems to indicate the shared blessings of those within the Jewish church.

  1. Coxe p. 111

But still God’s communications to them and acts for them, both in regard to the blessings he will bestow and the terms and conditions on which they will be bestowed, are limited by the covenant he has made with them and the nature and extent of the promises of it.

Comment: Applying the claim of Clark, Coxe’s explanation of “I will be their God” (see the context of the Coxe quote above), specifically “the [covenant] blessings…and the terms and conditions on which they will be bestowed” would mean this: “But still God’s transmission of information to them and acts for them, both in regard to the blessings he will bestow and the terms and conditions on which they will be bestowed…” Instead, it seems clear that by “communications” here, Coxe does not mean “the transmission of information” but “communing,” the conveyance of things promised.

  1. Coxe p. 111

Either God is obliged by this promise to communicate himself in the highest degree possible to all those to whom it is made, and to do the utmost for them that may be done (without implying a contradiction to his being and infinite perfections) and to bring them absolutely to the utmost degree of happiness that omnipotent goodness can raise them to, or else the promised good must fall under some particular limitation.

Comment: Applying the claim of Clark, Coxe’s explanation of “I will be their God” (see the context of the Coxe quote above) and what it promises would mean this: ““Either God is obliged by this promise to the transmission of information [about] himself in the highest degree possible to all those to whom it is made, and to do the utmost for them that may be done (without implying a contradiction to his being and infinite perfections)…” Instead, it seems clear that by “communicate” here, Coxe does not mean “the transmission of information” but “communing,” the conveyance of that which is specifically promised.

  1. Coxe p. 129

This communion that believers have with Christ in his benefits through the faith of the operation of God, is in a lively manner held out and signified to them in their baptism, in which they are said to be both buried and risen together with him (Colossians 2:12).

Comment: Here is another use of “communion” by Coxe that helps us understand his intended use of this term. It seems clear that by “communion” here, Coxe intends the conveyance of that which is promised, signified in baptism.

What can be said in light of the Coxe statements above? It seems to me that Coxe means by “communicated” (or other forms of this word) “the transmission of information” only once. Because the revealed word of God is a means of grace by the blessing of the Spirit to the elect, however, Coxe surely would and did acknowledge that, though “communion” requires “the transmission of information” it is not exhausted by it. I think the statements by Coxe above amply prove these assertions.

But what about Clark’s other claim? Is it true that some seventeenth-century Particular Baptists believed in some sort of “real absence” view of Christ concerning the Old Testament saints? I have already provided a little evidence to the contrary, but since Clark’s focus was on Coxe, it will do us well to examine some statements by him which, in my view, prove that Clark’s claim is found wanting.

My third installment will consider the following:

III. Coxe’s view of the work and presence of the mediator prior to the incarnation

[1] This is the order of which these words occur in the Coxe work Clark critiqued.

[2] All quotations of Coxe are taken from Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen, Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ, ed. Ronald D. Miller, James M. Renihan, and Francisco Orozco (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005).

[3] Coxe uses this term in Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology. At its first use on p. 35, this footnote gives its definition: “[The Oxford English Dictionary indicates this rare word carries the sense “to promise or engage in return; a counter-engagement.” It cites an occurrence from Thomas Adams’ commentary on 2 Peter 2:9 to make the point:  “If he covenant with us, ‘I will be your God’; we must restipulate, ‘Then we will rest upon you’.” “Restipulation” appears to have a technical use in covenant theology closely related to the fœdus dipleuron (the two-sided covenant) which describes “the relationship of God and man together in covenant, and particularly the free acceptance on the part of man of the promise of God and of the obedience required by the covenant” (Muller, Dictionary, 120, 122). The same covenant viewed as the declaration and imposition of God’s will toward man is the fœdus monopleuron (the one-sided covenant). These standard Protestant covenant theological terms are clearly behind Coxe’s thinking in this section.]” The footnote references Richard A. Muller’s Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms in its first edition. The entry for fœdus dipleuron is on p. 127 of the second edition.

“In, with, and under” Types?

In this post, I want to focus on Dr. R. Scott Clark’s use of the phrase “in, with, and under” in his recent post about differences between the Reformed view of OT saints’ experience of the benefits of Christ through typology and the Particular Baptists’ views of the same. It appears in the title and throughout the post itself and is used to describe the Reformed position, positively, and the Particular Baptist position, negatively:

…in the Reformed view (see below) the Christ and his benefits, the substance of the covenant of grace, are inwith, and under the types and shadows. For the PBs [Particular Baptists] Christ and the covenant of grace cannot be in, with, and under the types…

Is this language helpful for discussing either the views involved, or the theology itself? I contend that it is not. Why?

“In, with, and under” is not Helpful

First, the phrase itself “in, with, and under” has quite a history, as of course Dr. Clark knows well. The phrase is unavoidably attached to the Lutheran view of the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, teaching that by virtue of the union of Christ’s humanity to his deity, his glorified body is ubiquitous, and therefore is “in, with, and under” the elements of the Lord’s Supper (albeit illocally).

Rightly or wrongly, the Reformed regarded this view as “consubstantiation” because the substance of the glorified body of Christ is “in, with, and under” the substance of the bread and wine. This makes Christ’s body “consubstantial” with the elements.

Richard Muller argues that “consubstantiation” is not an accurate representation of the Lutheran view. Nevertheless, as demonstrated at the end of this post in quotations from William Ames, David Dickson, and Edward Polhill, the Reformed rejected the language of “in, with, and under” as used by the Lutherans, and often called such language “consubstantiation.” The Reformed denied any bodily presence in the Supper and instead taught that Christ is really present, spiritually, to the faith of believers.

Whether the Reformed were accurate in their depictions of the Lutheran view, it is not helpful to use a well-known formula with a history relating to a doctrine specifically rejected by the Reformed as the explanation for a Reformed doctrine.

Second, I am glad to be corrected here, but I am not aware of the phrase “in, with, and under” having a place in the Reformed tradition’s explanations of the relation of Christ to OT types. It is unsurprising to me that the phrase would not have a history in the Reformed tradition, given the previous point. So then, why use language to describe the Reformed that they themselves did not use?

It is not helpful to use a phrase without a history within the Reformed tradition as the descriptor for Reformed theology on that point.

Third, appealing to metaphysical categories to affirm things about signs is notoriously problematic. It was precisely this that made debates about transubstantiation and consubstantiation so bewildering to navigate.  As shown in the quotes at the end of this post, the Reformed response to consubstantiation was that it was essentially nonsensical. Polhill calls the Lutherans explanations of consubstantiation “strange Riddles [which they] must maintain to make good their opinion.”

I have high confidence that Dr. Clark does not read “The Rock was Christ” as a metaphysical statement just as he does not read “This is my body” as a metaphysical statement. So, why use metaphysical language here? What does it mean for Christ to be “in, with, and under” animal sacrifices or a bronze serpent or any of the other types of the OT? What does it affirm? It sounds to me more like “strange riddles” than clear teaching. It is not helpful. The language is more difficult to explain than the concepts.

To be abundantly clear, I am not suggesting in any sense that Dr. Clark is adopting or promoting the Lutheran position on the Lord’s Supper. I am questioning the wisdom of Dr. Clark’s use of the language of the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantation for a discussion of typology.

Signs and Things Signified (Again)

I would suggest that the more common Reformed terminology of signs and things signified is superior, and better equips us to speak about the issue. WCF 27.5 will suffice to demonstrate the point.

The Sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified, and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New. (WCF 27.5)

Note the designation of “the spiritual things thereby signified” as the substantial continuity between the OT and NT signs. David Dickson, in his comments on the Westminster Confession explains that this substantial continuity is not located in the signs themselves, but the thing signified:

which is not done by reason of the sign, for the signs are diverse and different: therefore it must be done, by reason of the thing signified

A discussion of signs and things signified is far more fruitful and productive than a discussion of Christ being “in, with, and under” OT signs. Why is that?

It is far more helpful because it is a context in which I can clearly state my own position, namely, that Scripture teaches that OT signs signify two things. The first thing signified is something in the original context of the sign. The second thing signified is indeed “for substance, the same with that of the New.”  I have recently explained this here.

It would be very easy for Dr. Clark to affirm or deny arguments in such a discussion.

Missing the Mark

In light of this analysis, what are we to make of Dr. Clark’s words, provided above:

…in the Reformed view (see below) the Christ and his benefits, the substance of the covenant of grace, are inwith, and under the types and shadows. For the PBs [Particular Baptists] Christ and the covenant of grace cannot be in, with, and under the types…

Dr. Clark’s descriptions of Particular Baptists just don’t fit. (Richard Barcellos is publishing brief articles detailing more on this. The first is available here.) There is an agreement between the Reformed and the Particular Baptists that the “spiritual things thereby signified” are one and the same from OT to NT.

Built on this, Dr. Clark’s repeated insistence that the Particular Baptists and the Reformed are so very different, based on the language of Christ being “in, with, and under” types, misses the mark. Likewise, the recent flurry of posts quoting Reformed theologians asserting the substantial unity of OT and NT administrations misses the mark (assuming that Dr. Clark intends them to be aimed at Particular Baptists). Those criticisms or arguments simply don’t land on the Particular Baptists. (See more on the language of “administration” here.)

Thomas Bilson, The Survey, 552

The question is not whether “the spiritual things thereby signified” are one in substance between the OT and the NT. That is where we are agreed. The question is whether there is an original context for types that is, in fact, in itself, distinct from their antitypes. In other words, the question is whether types signify two things.

In light of the arguments presented in this post, I simply refuse to accept the language of “in, with, and under” as the terms of this debate or an accurate descriptor either of Reformed theology positively or Particular Baptist theology negatively. By doing so, I am by no means rejecting the use of historial categories and terms related to this subject. To the contrary, I am insisting that we stick to historical categories of signs and things signified.

And all I would like to know is, did the OT types signify one thing or two things?

Sources on the Reformed rejection of Consubstantiation and the language of “in, with, and under.”

William Ames, The Substance of Christian Religion (London: Thomas Mabb, 1659), 184-185.

For this spiritual nourishment in the Supper it is not required, that the bread and wine be substantially changed into the body and blood of Christ; nor that Christ be bodily present, in, with, and under the bread and wine; but onley that they be changed as to relation, and application or use; and that Christ be spiritually present onely to such as partake in faith.

This is hence gathered, in that bread and wine are said to remain here in the Supper; and our communion with Christ, is in a sort said to be such, as Idolaters have with their Idols; which stands in relation onely. Therefore, Transubstantiation of Papists and Consubstantiation of Lutherans fight:

Reas. 1 [fight] With the nature of Sacraments in general, whose nature consist in a relative union, or likeness, as hath been explained; not in a bodily succession of the one, in the others place, or a substantial change of the one into the other; nor yet in a bodily conjunction or presence of the one with, in, and under the other.

David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error (Edingburgh: John Reed, 1684), 298-301.

Quest. V.

Is the Body and Blood of Christ in this Sacrament corporally, or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine?

No. 1 Cor. 10. 16.

Well then, do not the Lutherians err, who maintain, that the body and blood of Christ, are corporally in, with, and under the bread and wine: and that (as the Papists also teach) his body and blood, are taken corporally by the mouth, by all Communicants, believers, and unbelievers?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, Christ was sitting with his body at the Table. (2) Because, he himself did eat of the bread, and drink of the wine. (3) Because, he took bread from the Table: he took not his own body: he break bread, and did distribute it, he break not his own body: so he took the Cup, and not his own blood. (4) Because, Christ said, the Cup was the New Testament in his blood: but the Cup is not inwith, and under the Wine. (5) Because Christ said, the bread was his body, which was broken; the Wine was his blood, which was shed. But neither was his body broken under the bread, nor his blood shed under the Wine, seeing Christ as yet, was not betrayed, crucified, and dead.

In the next place, the end of the Lords Supper is, that we may remember Christ, and declare his death until be come; Luke 22. 19. 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25, 26. Therefore if Christ be now present with his body, inwith, and under the bread, the Sacramental remembrance of Christ, and the declaring of his death, ought to cease.

This Doctrine of Consubstantiation, is contrary to the Articles of our Faith. It is against the Truth and Verity of his Humane Nature, which is visible, palpable, and in a certain place circumscriptive. It is against the Article of his ascension: for it makes his body, which is now in Heaven, until the last day, to be in, with, and under a piece of bread. It is against the spiritual communion of the Saints with Christ the Head, which the Lutherans makes by this doctrine a corporal and carnal communion, contrary to 1 Cor. 10. 3, 4. Ephes. 1. 22. Ephes. 4. 4. Rom. 8. 9. 1 Cor. 6. 17. 1 Iohn 4. 13. Iohn 15. 5.

It brings with it many and great absurdities; as that the body of Christ, Non habeat partem extra partem; hath not one part of it without another; but as if all the parts of his Body, were in one part, which is contrary to the Nature of a true and real Quantum, which consists essentially in three dimensions, length, breadth, and thickness. It makes in effect his Body to be no body. It brings down the glorious Body of Christ from Heaven, and puts it under the base Elements of this Earth. It makes as many bodies of Christ, as there are pieces of Eucharistical bread. It makes his body to be broken inwith, and under the bread, and bruised with the teeth: It sends his Body down to the stomach, where it is turned into a mans substance, and afterwards throwen out.

Moreover, all true Eating brings life and Salvation; Iohn 6. 50, 51. but eating by the mouth profiteth nothing; Iohn 6. 63. Again, our union with Christ, (and therefore our eating of his Body, from whence ariseth this union) is not corporal but spiritual; Eph. 3. 17. And the Body and Blood of Christ, are meat and drink; not carnal but spiritual; even as the hunger, whereby we long for this meat is spiritual: and the life to which we are nourished, is spiritual, and the nutriment is spiritual. Lastly, according to this Doctrine of Consubstantiation, stiffly maintained by the Lutherians, it follows, that Christ did his own body, while he did eat the bread of the first supper. That his Disciples did eat their Lord and Masters Body. That Christ before he was crucified, was dead: That his Disciples were more cruel and inhumane to him than the Iews were that crucified him: That he is often buried within the intrals of wicked men.

Edward Polhill, Christus in Corde: Or, The Mystical Union Between Christ and Believers Considered (London: A.M., 1680), 219-220.

As touching the Will of Christ, expressed in those words, This is my body. The Lutherans seem to stand for the letter of the Text; but their Interpretation is not a litteral one, “This” is not properly “in, with, and under this” in propriety. “This is my body” is one thing, “in, with, and under, This is my body” is another; neither is their Interpretation true. Baptism is a Sacrament of the New Testament as well as the Lords Supper; as in the one, the blood of Christ is not in, with, and under the water; so in the other, the body is not in, with and under the bread; the reason is alike in both Sacraments. If in the Eucharist the body be in, with, and under the bread, then the blood is in, with, and under the wine; consequently the blood is separate from the body. There is put upon Christ now in Glory, not to say, a second passion, but as many passions as there are Eucharists. It is not easie to imagine how the bread should be broken, and the body under it, not be so; or how the body should be broken on Earth, and at the same time glorious in Heaven; or how the same body as the same instant can be present in as many distant places as there are Eucharists in the world; or, if such a Presence might be, how the body could be finite, or indeed a body. All which strange Riddles the Lutherans must maintain to make good their opinion.

 

Guest Post: No Communion and No Christ? Part 1

This is the first part of a guest post by Richard Barcellos.

No Communion and No Christ?

 A response to two recent claims by Dr. R. Scott Clark:

  1. “In short, when we say communication we mean ‘communing.’ When the PBs say communication they seem to mean ‘the transmission of information.’”
  2. According to PBs, “God the Son is not actually present” prior to the incarnation.

Richard C. Barcellos

I. Introductory Comments

After reading the two claims above by Dr. R. Scott Clark (found here), I thought to myself, “Wow, that is what I believe?” I am kidding, of course. I did think to myself, “Who believes or even asserts such things?” More specifically, I thought to myself, did Nehemiah Coxe mean by communication “the transmission of information” (Clark’s words) exclusively? And did Coxe teach that “God the Son is not actually present” (Clark’s words) with his people prior to the incarnation? And are these things taught by some seventeenth-century and some contemporary Particular Baptists, though possibly unwittingly? In the “Conclusion” to Clark’s piece, he says:

When the Particular Baptists speak of the benefit of Christ being communicated, it seems as if they mean that a future reality was revealed to the Old Testament saints, which they anticipated but which was not actually present for them. (emphasis mine)

These claims were supported by Clark’s analysis of a brief section in one paragraph in 2LCF and some statements made by Coxe. I simply want to ask this question: Is Clark right? But before giving you my answer to that question, I want to state at the beginning what I understand to be the specific focus and concern of Clark. He views some of the Particular Baptists of the seventeenth century and some today as either explicitly (and intentionally) or implicitly (and unintentionally) denying that God the Son was actually present with his people prior to the incarnation. This denial is due to their seemingly (I say “seemingly” because Clark uses the word “seem” [see above]) intended meaning of the words “communication” or “communicated.” Due to Clark’s understanding of their meaning of these terms, the position of some Particular Baptists is “distinct from the Reformed” (Clark’s words). And due to their distinct seemingly intended meaning of the words “communication” and “communicated,” these Particular Baptists effectively deny the presence of Christ with his people prior to the incarnation. This, it seems to me, fairly represents the focus and concern of Clark. In fact, the title of his blog post seems to indicate this: One Important Difference Between The Reformed And Some Particular Baptists: God The Son Was In, With, And Under The Types and Shadows.

In my response to Clark, I am concerned primarily with historical theology, that is, seeking to understand rightly the theology of those in history past. To that end, I will be providing two sets of quotations by Coxe. The first set gives examples of how he used the words “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate.” (I could not find Coxe using the singular noun form “communication.”) This will give us a variety of contexts in which Coxe uses these terms. The second set gives examples of Coxe’s view of the work and real presence of the mediator prior to the incarnation. For each quotation in the first set I supply the words of Coxe then give brief comment in light of Clark’s claim that Coxe does not mean “communing” when he uses forms of the word communication. The second set of quotations are followed by brief comments. Any bold and italicized words are mine.

Though I will not address 2LCF 8.6 in any detail (see this post by Sam Renihan who responds to Clark on this issue), for the sake of discussion, let’s grant Clark’s claim (though I deny it) that Particular Baptists seem to mean by “communication” “the transmission of information” at 8.6 (8.6 uses the verbal form “communicated”), what does that formula look like when inserted into 2LCF? Below are two examples. I took the liberty to modernize the language of the confession a bit. The first is from chapter 8, “Of Christ the Mediator” and the second is from chapter 21, “Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.”

Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ, till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated [i.e., the transmission of information] to the elect in all ages successively, from the beginning of the world… (2LCF 8.6a)

All which were common also to believers under the Law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace; and in fuller communications [i.e., transmissions of information] of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the Law did ordinarily partake of. (2 LCF 21.1b)

If Clark is right, this is surely a conundrum for some Particular Baptists. God the Son was absent from the saints prior to the incarnation because only information about him was transmitted to them. When some seventeenth-century Particular Baptists use various forms of the word “communication,” while speaking of the benefit of Christ “communicated to the elect” (2LCF 8.6) prior to the incarnation, they mean “the transmission of information.” Therefore, Christ “was not actually present for” (Clark’s words) the Old Testament saints.

Clark only examined a sliver of one seventeenth-century Particular Baptist, Nehemiah Coxe, and one statement in 2CLF. To prove his assertion about Coxe, he would have to examine more of Coxe’s uses of the terms mentioned above. Assuming that would prove his case, Clark would then need to go outside of Coxe’s writings in order to substantiate his claim about other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists.

What would one find by scouring the writings of other seventeenth-century Particular Baptists and their use and intended meanings of terms like “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? Would these terms mean “the transmission of information” exclusively, or even seem to mean that? These terms certainly may mean that, but do they in every instance used by Particular Baptists? The two examples from 2LCF above do not, it seems to me, substantiate Clark’s claim. In fact, it seems obvious that what the Particular Baptists meant by “communicated” in 2LCF 8.6a and “communications” in 2LCF 21.1b is simply “communing,” that is, the conveyance of that which is promised.

Thankfully, examples of the use of the terms under discussion by seventeenth-century Particular Baptists are not hard to find. While discussing the Lord’s Supper, Benjamin Keach says:

There is a mystical conveyance or communication of all Christ’s blessed merits to our souls through faith held forth hereby, and in a glorious manner received, in the right participation of it.[1]

Does Clark’s equation fit here? It would read as follows:

There is a mystical conveyance or communication [i.e., the transmission of information about] … all Christ’s blessed merits to our souls through faith held forth hereby, and in a glorious manner received, in the right participation of it.

Does Keach intend by the word “communication” “the transmission of information”? Are there any indicators before or after Keach’s use of this word in this instance which help us understand his intended meaning? I think there are. First, note the word “conveyance.” On its own, “communication” could mean “the transmission of information.” However, Keach supplies the word “or” between “conveyance” and “communication.” It seems he intends these as synonymous, at some level. Then, immediately after the word “communication,” he tells us of what it consists: “of all Christ’s blessed merits to our souls through faith…” Does it seem like Keach intends by “communication” “the transmission of information”? No. He means, rather, the “transmission” of “all Christ’s blessed merits to” the souls of gospel believers. So, I ask again, does Keach intend by the word “communication” “the transmission of information”? Again, I think not. It is very clear that by this term he means “communing,” the conveyance of that which is promised—“Christ’s blessed merits.” I give this as an example of the use and meaning of the term not to prove any Particular Baptist necessarily meant the same thing when speaking about the saints prior to the incarnation. That’s another issue, the very issue under discussion.

I could give several other examples of seventeenth-century Particular Baptists using the words “communication” and “communicated” to entail “communing.” Instead, I will mention only one more. In his commentary on the first chapter of the Song of Solomon, explaining the title, Hanserd Knollys, a seventeenth-century Particular Baptist, says this:

Solomon being now taken up in the Spirit with heavenly contemplations of the holy communion between Christ and his spouse wherein his soul had real and experimental enjoyment of his beloved, (for Solomon loved the Lord, 1 Ki. 3.3).[2]

Knollys is clear. Solomon himself “had real and experimental enjoyment of” Christ, “his beloved,” while being “taken up in the Spirit with heavenly contemplations of the holy communion between Christ and his spouse.” It seems clear that “wherein” finds its antecedent in at least “the holy communion between Christ and his spouse.” Though the noun “communion” is not technically a cognate of “communication” or “communicate,” “communing” is a cognate of “communion” and is the very term Clark used above to indicate what he means by “communication.” Recall that Solomon lived prior to the incarnation. So, does Clark’s equation fit with the intent of this seventeenth-century Particular Baptist? Are we to take Knollys to mean by “communion” “the transmission of information”? I think not. It seems clear that by “communion” he means communing, by virtue of the pre-incarnate Son of God conveying that which is promised, such that Solomon enjoyed “his beloved”—Christ. That “his” refers to Solomon and “beloved” refers to Christ is clearly what is meant by virtue of Knollys’ words in parentheses: “(for Solomon loved the Lord, 1 Ki. 3.3).”

It is time to get to the specific focus of my reply to Clark. Did Nehemiah Coxe mean “the transmission of information” exclusively by the terms “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”? And did he teach, or does his view entail, that “God the Son is not actually present” with his people prior to the incarnation?

The next installment of this response will consider the following:

II. Examples of how Coxe used the words “communion,” “communicated,” “communications,” and “communicate”

[1] Benjamin Keach, Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Classics, 1972), 639.

[2] Hanserd Knollys, An Exposition of the first Chapter of the Song of Solomon. Wherein the Text is Analysed, the Allegories are explained, and the hidden Mysteries are unveiled, according to the Proportion of Faith. With Spiritual Meditations Upon every Verse (London: Printed by W. Godbid, and are to be fold by Livewel Chapman at the Crown in Popeshead-alley, 1656), 3. Knollys’ commentary views “[t]he excellency of this Song” as “the great mystery of Christ and his church” and “the style thereof (though it expresses things very dark, in metaphors and allegories, yet when opened and understood) is most proper and elegant…” (2). The fact that Knollys viewed the Song as containing allegory should not deter from the point under discussion. The point is that by communion he meant Solomon was communing, receiving that which is promised, with Christ prior to the incarnation.

 

Typology: Signs and the Things Signified

I am enjoying current discussions of the relationship of typology to OT and NT sacraments and the appropriation of the grace of Christ by OT saints. This is a fruitful field of discussion. In fact, I think that it is precisely the place where we can locate true areas of agreement and disagreement.

To accomplish that, we have to face the challenge of language. How do we speak so as to be understood? Patience and willingness to listen to explanations certainly helps. I want to try to add some clarity on my own position. I would encourage readers to consider my fuller arguments in The Mystery of Christ.

Two Signs, One Thing Signified

Let’s begin by looking at the question as some see it and speak of it.

It is common for the Reformed to speak of the OT and NT sacraments as differing in the outward sign, but not the thing signified. Two different signs signify one and the same thing. When they contrast the differing outward signs, they acknowledge a difference in clarity and even simplicity, as one can see in Dr. Clark’s recent post where he includes a helpful assortment of quotations from Reformed theologians. One of the quotes in that post (Ursinus, using Augustine) states the position plainly, affirming that “The sacraments of the Old and New Testaments differ in their signs, but agree in the thing signified.”

Would I disagree with this position? Would Particular Baptists disagree with it? Some have said so. Note how Dr. Ramsey highlights the same issue, pointing back to seventeenth-century Presbyterians interacting with Baptistic Congregationalists (i.e., early Particular Baptists):

Is this an all-or-nothing issue as some seem to make it? Is the position “The OT and NT sacraments differ in the outward sign, but not the thing signified” the only way to approach the question?

Signs, and Things Signified

I find that we can attain greater clarity by using typology to distinguish OT and NT sacraments as two different kinds of signs:

1. OT and NT sacraments are both signs.

2. Pre-incarnation sacraments, by virtue of being types, are signs that signify two things.

2a. Types signify something in their own context.

2b. The original significance of a type points above and beyond itself to a greater, and other, future reality (antitype), namely, Christ, his covenant, and his kingdom.

3. Post-incarnation Sacraments are signs that signify one thing, the very reality of 2b (antitype).

Consider an example, as a test:

  • OT sacrament: Animal Sacrifices
  • Its Antitype: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross
  • NT sacrament: The Lord’s Supper

What is the original context and significance of the sacrificial system?

20 Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. (Lev. 4:20 ESV)

Note that Animal sacrifices “make atonement” and provide forgiveness. This is their original significance and function in their own context.

Above and beyond this, these sacrifices point to a greater, and other, future reality, namely Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The Scriptures tell us that these sacrifices were types. But it also tells us that these types did not, in themselves, accomplish or provide that which Christ’s sacrifice provided.

1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?
3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb. 10:1-4 ESV)

The animal sacrifices, in themselves, did not provide the same atonement or forgiveness of sins that Christ’s sacrifice did. If they did, the sacrifices would have ceased. And yet, for all their inherent weakness, reminding worshipers of sin, they were “a shadow of the good things to come.”

As types, these sacrifices signified two different, but analogous, things. They signified atonement and forgiveness in the context of ceremonial cleanliness for the offspring of Abraham according to the flesh (the circumcised). They also signified the atonement and forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ for the offspring of Abraham according to the Spirit (believers). The writer to the Hebrews (*cough* Paul *cough*) asserts that these are not the same.

The Lord’s Supper is a sign, just as the sacrifices were. But the Lord’s Supper signifies one thing, and one thing only: the atonement and forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ for the offspring of Abraham according to the Spirit (believers).

Comparison and Contrast

With this understanding, is the following statement, introduced above, sufficient for discussion and clarity? “The OT and NT sacraments differ in the outward sign, but not the thing signified.” I propose that it is not sufficient, because it skips over the original context and significance of OT types. It creates an all-or-nothing that confines and obstructs the debate.

I, and Particular Baptists, affirm the effective mediation of Jesus Christ in all ages, and the appropriation and enjoyment of the grace of the new covenant for all of Christ’s children at all times. And we affirm the role of types and shadows as being the means of this grace reaching OT saints, and being a source of their communion with Christ. OT sacrifices would have functioned equally for a believer or unbeliever in Israel, restoring ceremonial holiness. But they would have been a means of grace to the believing.

But, due to the substantial difference between types and their antitype (as evidenced by the sacrificial system), we must specify that OT sacraments are signs pointing to two things. And when the antitype to which they point arrives, the typical sign and its original significance and context are removed, having served their purpose. All that remains is the reality, bringing with it its own signs that clearly and directly portray one thing, the antitype, and nothing else.

This is why Christ’s children are all one, whether born from above before or after his incarnation. And this is why Christ’s children born from above before his incarnation communed with him through OT ordinances. But this is also why we affirm that those OT ordinances, in themselves, are not the same as the NT ordinances, while also affirming a direct continuity in the grace they conferred.

Understanding Differences and Tensions

In my experience, Reformed Christians either ignore or disdain this typology because it injects tensions and serious questions into the Reformed view of the relationship between the old and new covenants, arriving eventually at (among many other things) questions about the continuity of baptism and circumcision.

If you doubt my assessment, consider various internal debates in the Reformed world. Issues revolving around typology explain why Meredith Kline’s two-level typology is viewed by some as granting serious ground to Baptist theology. More broadly, some in the Reformed camp are highly critical of the systematic implications of versions of Republication that identify the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of works functioning on its own typological level, distinct from, but subservient to, the covenant of grace.

Some see (and I fully agree) that such a view holds extensive common ground with the view of typology that I am proposing.

Anon, A Censure of Three, 8

I differ from such persons (and Owen) because I extend the view to the Abrahamic covenant where even the Reformed who hold to Republication do not.

And, perhaps most informative are the roots of all this in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries themselves. However, I am saving for another time an instructive debate and discussion from the seventeenth century where these very issues arose within the Reformed camp itself.

Nathaniel Wyles, Comfort for Believers, 37

 

Typology and Communication in 2LCF 8.6

Dr. R. Scott Clark continues to study the relationship between Reformed theology and Baptist theology as expressed by modern and seventeenth-century adherents of the Second London Confession. Dr. Clark has recently written a post relating to the groups’ views on the benefits of Christ’s work being appropriated by Old Testament believers.

I would prefer not to reengage on this subject, especially since I’ve already written about it. However, I will reengage briefly because comments on Twitter and on Dr. Clark’s post itself express acceptance of the differences as they are portrayed by Dr. Clark.

2LCF 8.6: “Work” vs. “Price”?

Dr. Clark notes that 2LCF 8.6 modifies the wording of WCF 8.6 from “work…wrought” to “price…paid.”

WCF 8.6

WCF 8.6

2LCF 8.6

2LCF 8.6

Dr. Clark doesn’t make much of this difference, but on the chance that some might read these two as teaching a doctrinal difference, you need to understand why the language was changed. Behind this change is the covenant of redemption, which is confessed in 2LCF, but not WCF (which is not to say WCF rejects it).

As WCF/2LCF 7.1 state, obedience or work is meritorious for rewards in the context of covenants. How was the work of Christ meritorious? 2LCF 7.3 and 8.1 affirm that the covenant of redemption is the context for Christ’s redemptive work. The language of 2LCF 8.6 derives not just from the theological category of covenantal merit, but more specifically from 1 Cor. 6:20 and 7:13  which state that we were “bought at a price.” So, 2LCF 8.6 makes a precise assertion that Christ’s work on the cross was a meritorious and efficacious “price” which was “paid” in the context of the covenant of redemption.

Now, lest we think that this change in 2LCF 8.6 represents some kind of difference between Reformed theology and the Particular Baptists, we must understand that other Reformed Christians taught the same truths, for example, John Norton in the 1650s. Notice his assertions about Christ’s obedience being “a price, i.e. a ransom.”

John Norton, The Orthodox Evangelist, 223-224

2LCF 8.6: “Communicated”?

More to the point, Dr. Clark contrasts WCF and 2LCF 8.6’s use of the language of the “virtue, efficacy, and benefit” of Christ’s work being “communicated to the elect in all ages.” Dr. Clark prefaces his discussion with this,

…it has also become clearer to me that the Reformed and Particular Baptists can use the same language or similar language and yet mean different things by it.

Then he asks,

What, however, do the PBs mean by communicate as distinct from what the Reformed mean by it?

Dr. Clark quotes Nehemiah Coxe, myself, and my brother, and concludes,

In short, when we [the Reformed] say communication we mean “communing.” When the PBs say communication they seem to mean “the transmission of information.”

The argument that 2LCF 8.6 means something different from WCF 8.6 is what most concerns me in Dr. Clark’s post. 2LCF 8.6’s assertion of the benefit of Christ’s work being “communicated” to the elect in all ages means the exact same thing as WCF 8.6. But Dr. Clark’s post states that they mean something different. To read 2LCF 8.6 and emerge with the idea that “communicated” simply means “the transmission of information” requires the assumption of something underlying the text.

I appeal to any reader of 2LCF 8.6 to answer this question: “Does 2LCF 8.6 confess that the elect in all ages appropriated and received and enjoyed the benefit of Christ’s salvific work?” Yes, it absolutely and undeniably does. If so, why would one assume that the Particular Baptists mean something different?

As I mentioned already, Dr. Clark quotes Coxe and myself to prove the point. I am glad that Dr. Clark is reading Nehemiah Coxe. However, (and I may be wrong about this), I believe that Dr. Clark’s assessment is skewed because he has not finished Coxe’s work. I don’t mean that Dr. Clark would agree with Coxe if he finished the book, but would understand it better. Why? The final chapter of Coxe’s work is entitled “The Mutual Respect of the Promises made to Abraham.” In this chapter, Coxe distinguishes but also relates types and antitypes in God’s covenantal dealings with Abraham.

The State of Israel after the Flesh being typical; The Israel of God among them, were taught to look above, and beyond their external priviledges, unto those things that were shadowed by them, as set before their Faith in the promises of Grace by Christ; and so to live upon the Grace of that Covenant, which their outward State, and Covenant of Peculiarity [i.e., the Abrahamic Covenant] was subservient to; And unto them, all these things had a spiritual, and evangelical Use, which being their principal End and Intent, a fair Occasion is ministred for such an Intermixture of the Promises of Typical, with those of real Blessings, as we have now had under Consideration; Because of the Covenant of Grace, and that of Circumcision have their mutual respect, as the Type to its Antitype.

Notice that Coxe says that the “principal end and intent” of types was “a spiritual and evangelical use.” However much Nehemiah Coxe (or myself) may distinguish types and antitypes, types are never not types.

It is my opinion that Dr. Clark misrepresents the differences between Particular Baptist and Reformed Christians because he unsympathetically reads our treatments of typology and wrongly attributes to them an almost Anabaptist hyper-discontinuity.

Typology is the True Test

All of this may seem confusing. Am I denying all differences between the Reformed and Particular Baptists? No. Rather, I am insisting that they be rightly understood and stated.

The question is not whether the benefits of Christ were communicated to the elect in all ages. We both affirm this.

The question is not whether the benefits of Christ were communicated to the elect before the incarnation through types. We both affirm this.

The question is, whether types had their own function and reality that is distinct, but not divided, from their antitypes. The Particular Baptists affirm this. The Reformed tradition has varying (and in many ways opposing) trajectories on this question.

Sticking to the question itself, consider a few brief examples:

Type: Function:
Circumcision Separation from the nations
Canaan A blessed land
Tabernacle Sacrificial system/God’s presence
Sacrifices Restoration to ceremonial holiness
Bronze Serpent Deliverance from snakebites

It was entirely possible to participate in those realities without faith. Now, our Reformed brothers will reply at this point that the same remains true today. There are some who say “Lord, Lord, did we not…?” and they will be condemned eternally. There are those who participate outwardly without inward faith. Yes, of course. But that’s not the issue here.

The issue is that even if one participated in the items mentioned in the table above, without faith, they still had something entirely real in which they were participating. If you were circumcised, you inherited Canaan. If you offered animal sacrifices, you were restored to ceremonial holiness. If you lifted up your eyes to the bronze serpent, your snakebites were healed. The Israelites are criticized and condemned for living like this without ever looking beyond such types, but the life they lived and the ceremonies they performed were nevertheless real.

It is the identification and recognition of these types as possessing their own initial meaning and function distinct from their antitypes that establishes the key difference between us. As Coxe said, the elect looked “above and beyond” the types to the antitypical realities. But I fear that we are rarely heard beyond the initial point. We distinguish the type from the antitype and we become Anabaptists in the eyes of some.

It is worth noting that though typology is the true test of where differences lie between Particular Baptists and other Reformed Christians on these questions, 2LCF 8.6 (and the rest of the Confession) does not get specific. It simply states that the virtue, efficacy, and benefit of Christ’s redemptive work was applied to and received by the elect in all ages through types.

Conclusion

In conclusion,

  • 2LCF 8.6 and WCF 8.6 teach the same thing, though 2LCF 8.6 is more specific about Christ’s work as a “price.”
  • Describing 2LCF’s or the Particular Baptists’ understanding of typology merely as “the transmission of information” is inaccurate.
  • The most accurate and profitable way to describe or discuss differences between Reformed Christians and Particular Baptists in this area is to discuss the extent to which types are distinct from their antitypes and the theological consequences that follow.

For those who wish to read further, I describe the role of typology in the Particular Baptists’ covenant theology (and its roots in a branch of the Reformed tradition) from a historical-theological standpoint here. I argue for my views on typology from an exegetical standpoint here.

 

“Thy desire, appetite, turning, or obedience shall be for thy husband”

This blog was originally intended to provide primary sources for those interested in reading them. This post will fit in with that purpose, focusing on translations and interpretations of Genesis 3:16b in seventeenth-century (and some late sixteenth-century) literature. The goal is simply to provide the data, arranged chronologically. I used this resource to track down expositions of this verse.

The first is the most difficult to read, so I will transcribe it. The rest can be read, with a little help.

Gervase Babington, Certaine plaine, briefe, and comfortable notes, vpon euery chapter of Genesis Gathered and layde downe for the good of them that are not able to vse better helps, and yet careful to read the word, and right hartily desirous to taste the sweet of it.
London: Printed by I. R[oberts] for Thomas Charde, 1596.
Page 41

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“The subjection of the woman to the man, and his rule over her, was a just check of that hold taken upon her, both to talk so much with the Serpent, and also to do as he bade her, without any privity and knowledge of her husband. And it is as much as if God should have said to her: “Because you took so much upon yourself without advice of thy husband, hereafter your desire shall be subject unto him, and he shall rule over you.” Yet this authority of the man, may not embolden him any way to wrong his wife, but teaches him rather what manner of man he ought to be: namely, such a one, as for gravity, wisdom, advice, and all good government, is able to direct her in all things to a good course. And her subjection should admonish her of her weakness and need of direction, and so abate all pride and conceit of herself, and work true honor in her heart towards him, whom God has made stronger than herself, and given gifts to direct her by. This I say, this authority in the man, and subjection in the woman should effect. But alas, many men are rather to be ruled than to rule, and many women fitter to rule, than to be ruled of such unruly husbands. On the other side, many men for ability most fit and able to rule, yet for pride in the heart where subjection should be [i.e., in the woman’s heart] shall have no leave to rule. So fit we sometimes to the order appointed of almighty God. Amendment is good on both sides, for fear of his rod, whose order we break.”

Lancelot Andewes, Apospasmatia sacra, or, A collection of posthumous and orphan lectures delivered at St. Pauls and St. Giles his church
London: Printed by R. Hodgkinsonne for H. Moseley, A. Crooke, D. Pakeman, L. Fawne, R. Royston, and N. Ekins, 1657. (Originally preached 27 August 1598.)
Page 314

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Nicholas Gibbons, Questions and disputations concerning the Holy Scripture wherein are contained, briefe, faithfull and sound expositions of the most difficult and hardest places: approued by the testimony of the Scriptures themselues; fully correspondent to the analogie of faith, and the consent of the Church of God; conferred with the iudgement of the fathers of the Church, and interpreters of the Scripture, nevv and old. Wherein also the euerlasting truth of the word of God, is freed from the errors and slaunders of atheists, papists, philosophers, and all heretikes. The first part of the first tome.
London: Imprinted by Felix Kyngston, 1602.
Page 154-155

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Andrew Willet, Hexapla in Genesin: that is, A sixfold commentarie vpon Genesis wherein sixe seuerall translations, that is, the Septuagint, and the Chalde, two Latin, of Hierome and Tremellius, two English, the great Bible, and the Geneva edition are compared, where they differ, with the originall Hebrew, and Pagnine, and Montanus interlinearie interpretation: together with a sixfold vse of euery chapter, shewing 1. the method or argument, 2. the diuers readings, 3. the explanation of difficult questions and doubtfull places, 4. the places of doctrine, 5. places of confutation, 6. morall obseruations: wherein aboue a thousand theologicall questions are discussed … Diuided into tvvo tomes
Cambridge: Iohn Legat, 1605.
Page 51

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Henry Ainsworth, Annotations Vpon The Five Bookes of Moses; The Booke of the Psalmes, And The Song of Songs, Or, Canticles
London: Printed for John Bellamie, 1627. (Ainsworth’s comments on Genesis were first published in 1616, I believe.)
Page 17

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Arthur Jackson, A help for the understanding of the Holy Scripture intended chiefly for the assistance and information of those that use constantly every day to reade some part of the Bible, and would gladly alwayes understand what they read if they had some man to help them : the first part : containing certain short notes of exposition upon the five books of Moses, to wit Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomie : wherein all such passages in the text are explained as were thought likely to be questioned by any reader of ordinary capacity
Cambridge: Printed by Roger Daniel.., 1643.
Page 12

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Westminster Assembly Divines, Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament
London: John Legatt and John Raworth, 1645
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John Trapp, A clavis to the Bible. Or A new comment upon the Pentateuch: or five books of Moses. Wherein are 1. Difficult texts explained. 2. Controversies discussed. … 7. And the whole so intermixed with pertinent histories, as will yeeld both pleasure and profit to the judicious, pious reader.
London: Printed for Timothy Garthwait, 1649.
Pages 40-41

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Benjamin Needler, Expository notes, with practical observations; towards the opening of the five first chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis. Delivered by way of exposition in several lords-dayes exercises.
London: Printed by T.R. & E.M., 1654.
Page 106-107 (quoting John Trapp without attribution)

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John White, A commentary upon the three first chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis
London: Printed by John Streater, 1656.
Page 201

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