“Hold-Fast”, John E. Hazelton


3 Oct 2016, by AHB Library

John E Hazelton


A Sketch of Covenant Truth and Its Witnesses

By: John E. Hazelton

“Hold fast the form of sound words” (2 Tim 1:13)

“An everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure” (2 Sam 23:5)


The following pages are but a slight sketch of a vital subject; they aim in a simple way to show the continuity through the centuries of the testimony to “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The Author has, so far as possible, given interesting quotations, bearing upon present-day perils, so that it may be said of each Witness referred to…

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Chapter 1: Sovereign Grace

Chapter 2: The Reformers

Chapter 3: The Puritans

Chapter 4: The Eighteenth Century

Chapter 5: The Church of England

Chapter 6: The Independents

Chapter 7: The Baptists

Chapter 8: Literature

Chapter 9: The Future

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“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Ephesians 2:8,9

In the crowded synagogue of Capernaum the Lord Jesus Christ, addressing many who had eagerly followed Him because of His miracles, declared, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can some unto Me, except it were given him of My Father.” Immediately the enmity to the truth of God which is latent in every unrenewed hearted was deeply stirred; for, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” “Will ye also go away?” was the piercing question put to the twelve. “Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the…

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“The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”—Ephesians 6:17

The peaceful little Leicestershire town of Lutterworth, situated in the midst of beautiful pasture lands, has no more prominent object than its noble Church, the tower of which is visible for miles round. To it many travelers wend their way that they may look upon a place which will ever be association with John Wycliff, who in the fourteenth century was so eminent a patriot and above all so great a spiritual benefactor to his country by his translation of the Bible into the English tongue, multiplying the copies with the aid of transcribers, and by his “poor priests” in their russet gowns recommending it to the perusal of their hearers. His spare, emaciated form, weakened by study, hardly promised a Reformer who could stand before the rising storm, but within this frail body was an immense energy and an immovable conviction, and the personal charm which ever accompanies real greatness drew many around him. He was wondrously strengthened for the work given him to do, and in his well-nigh 300 treatises…

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“In doctrine shewing incorruptness, gravity, sincerity.”—Titus 2:7

The seventeenth century is the era of the Puritans, who have left behind them a vast mass of theology which is the common property of the Church of Christ; the neglect into which their writings have fallen is an unmistakeable token of spiritual degeneracy, for the absence of their works from a minister’s shelves can be compensated neither by Fathers, nor Reformers, nor by the ephemeral and often unscriptural religious literature of the day. It may be at once admitted that many of their works are over-cumbered by references to works little known and altogether unread; but in the best there are experience, unction, warmth; not only truth grasped and wrought out by great minds, but realized by loving hearts. The writers have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and Spirit-taught men and women, as we shall see in succeeding chapters, have ever found instruction and refreshment in their pages. With the political aspects of Puritanism we have here nothing to do; our object is simply…

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“Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”—Ezekiel 34:10

After the death of Oliver Cromwell nothing but God’s mercy prevented the re-establishment of Popery, and but for the faithfulness of the Nonconformists in the time of James II it would, in all human probability, have been restored. Political Protestantism prevailed, and in 1688, under William III, became firmly established. But truth languished. Ministers of the school of Burnet and Tillotson could not preach the Gospel of the grace of God; they approved it not; their doctrines respecting justification leaned more towards Rome than towards Scotland or Geneva. Amongst the papers of Laud was found a letter addressed to him by a foreign Jesuit, who exhorted him to make the encouragement of Arminianism his chief object; for that its establishment would, more than anything else, promote the growth of Popery. Arminianism was encouraged by High and Broad Church alike, and the strength of Protestantism was dependent more on its being…

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“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me.”—Psalm 101:6

This and the following chapters are designed to give a sketch of some of the most noteworthy and useful of the exponents of the doctrines of grace during the nineteenth century; a few named did most of their work during the latter part of the preceding century, but, as they did not pass away till the earlier years of the nineteenth, they are included in these chapters…

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“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”—John 8:32

William Huntington (1743-1813) must occupy the first place in this chapter in order of time and reach of influence. He was born in the Weald of Kent, between Goudhurst and Cranbrook, his mother being the wife of a day labourer working for seven or eight shillings weekly in the winter, and in the summer for nine shillings per week. He learned to spell and read and write a little, and this constituted his educational equipment for the battle of life. He walked in evil paths, and at one period of his life used to unload coals from the…

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“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”—1 Corinthians 12:13

In sketching some of God’s witnesses among the Baptists in the nineteenth century, Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) should be first mentioned, because in his earlier years he sat under the ministry of Toplady, Romaine, and Hawker, with the latter of whom he was on terms of close friendship till the end of the life of the Vicar of Charles. Romaine’s ministry was especially useful to him. He writes: “In a subsequent sermon, Mr. Romaine said, ‘Believers, you that are believers, God looks upon you as He doth on Christ; and loves you with the love He doth Him.’ ‘I looked up,’ says Mr. Pierce, ‘with amazement! Oh, thought I, if I can find this in the Word of God, it is the greatest truth I ever heard. I will go home and search the Bible. I conceive the 17th of John is the most likely place to find it.’ I constantly went every Lord’s Day, and I was so swallowed up in hearing that I always stood; nor did I lose one single sentence. I received it into my very heart. Mr. Romaine often expressed himself thus…

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“Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.”—Ecclesiastes 11:1

The literature of the past century, expository of the distinctive truths of the Gospel, has been of singular value; and whilst it lacks the massiveness and majesty of the doctrinal Puritans and the beauty and power of others, it is adapted to the period in which we live, for it translates with unction and scripturalness immortal truths into the language of the day. The works of Huntington, already referred to, have become Christian classics amongst us, and few gracious readers can peruse…

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