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Jared Smith, Bits And Pieces

If one subscribes to sovereign grace with Baptist convictions, it is assumed he/she by default is a Reformed Baptist. It is then assumed a Reformed Baptist is another name for the historic group of churches known as the Particular Baptists. Henceforth, the appellations Reformed and Particular are used interchangeably, the legacy of the latter being subsumed by the identity of the former. However, according to Dr. Kenneth Dix, then Chairman for the Strict Baptist Historical Society, the Reformed Baptist movement emerged during the 1950’s, distinguished by teachings which differ from the Particular Baptists.

The Origin Of The Reformed Baptist Movement

Dr. Dix traced the origin of the Reformed Baptist movement to September 1955, with the first publication of the Banner of Truth Magazine. This magazine was started by Sidney Norton, the minister of St John’s Church, Oxford, and his ministerial assistant, Iain Murray. In 1956, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones invited Iain to serve as his assistant at Westminister Chapel, London. He held this post for three years, during which time the Banner of Truth Trust was organized. The purpose of the Trust was to republish out-of-print Reformed and Puritan books. This ministry grew quickly, with book sales reaching forty countries. During the late 1960’s, a Banner of Truth Trust office was opened in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA. Of course, Martyn and Iain were not Baptists, and therefore their interests rested squarely on the “Reformed” tradition of church history.

On July 22, 1957, The Banner of Truth Trust was registered as a non-profit charity, the trust deed stating: “The object of the Charity is to promote in such parts of the world as the Trustees may decide the better knowledge and understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith as taught by the Protestant Reformers and English Puritans.” It should be noted, aside from the out-of-print books belonging to the Protestant Reformers and the English Puritans were also the hidden treasures of the Particular Baptists. However, the Trust was not interested “to promote the doctrines of the Christian faith as taught by the” Particular Baptists.

In addition to the publication of Protestant Reformed writings and the English Puritans, the Banner of Truth began hosting Minister conferences in the early 1960’s. Youth conferences followed during the 1970’s. These conferences were soon attended by large numbers of Calvinistic Baptists, who were drawn together by the resurgence of sovereign grace literature. The void of Baptist resources was easily filled by the plethora of Protestant books, which eventually led to the strange teachings (from a Baptist perspective) of the Reformed Baptist movement.

Simultaneous with the Banner of Truth publications and conferences was the start of another magazine called Reformation Today. It was founded in 1970 by Erroll Hulse, a friend of Iain Murray and the first manager of the Banner of Truth Trust between 1957 and 1967. Deeply influenced by Protestantism, Erroll adopted a number of views differing from his Particular Baptist counterparts, thus introducing a new branch of Baptist churches. Indeed, Erroll is one of the pioneering pastors of the Reformed Baptist movement.

The far reaching influence of The Banner of Truth Trust and the Reformation Today magazine during the 20th and 21st centuries cannot be denied or underestimated. Alister McGrath, in his biography of J. I. Packer, speaks of the “revival in Puritan spirituality that had been borne aloft on the wings of Banner of Truth’s inexpensive paperbacks.” Curt Daniel, in his History and Theology of Calvinism, describes the Reformation Today magazine as “the unofficial organ of the Reformed Baptists.” Without question, the publications and the conferences of these organizations gave rise to the Reformed Baptist movement, the teachings of which lean heavily on Protestantism, rather than the distinguished doctrines, history and legacy of the Particular Baptists.

My Journey Of Grace With The Lord

I was converted to Christ at the age of eight and became a member of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in London, England. Historically, the chapel belonged to the 19th century high-Calvinist circle of churches. However, by the 1980’s, it had adopted a moderate view of sovereign grace, subscribing to the doctrines of Duty Faith, the Free Offer and Law Sanctification. I was appointed the Pastor of this church at the age of twenty-two. For the first ten years of my ministry, I nurtured views similar to those under which I had been taught and trained for the gospel ministry. However, I never identified as a Reformed Baptist, neither did I refer to the church under my care by that name. Even though we and the Reformed Baptists shared similar views on moderate-Calvinism, it was quite clear, having been brought up in a Strict and Particular Baptist church, that the Reformed Baptists were not in alignment with that circle of churches. First, they held strong Protestant (rather than Baptist) views on the nature and function of the church. For instance, they opened the communion table to a wider group of recipients, replaced the Pastor with a plural eldership and pledged allegiance to local associations and elder fraternals, all of which resembled a Presbyterian style governance. Second, most (though not all) abandoned the Authorized Version of the Scriptures, believing certain modern translations to be the most reliable (or more readable) Bibles. On both issues, that of the church and of the Scriptures, I felt the Reformed Baptists had lost their way, imbibing teachings which undermined the authority of the church and the integrity of the Scriptures. In addition, I was quite concerned with the way the Reformed Baptists were conducting themselves. They were obviously a new group of Baptists, holding views which differed significantly from the Strict and Particular Baptists, yet instead of organizing new churches around their teachings, they sought to “reform” the Strict and Particular Baptist churches. Many of the historic chapels were commandered by the Reformed Baptists. It was not a difficult task ‘reforming’ these churches, for the congregations were relatively small in number. Eventually, the name ‘Particular’ was replaced with ‘Grace’, and thus emerged the Grace Baptist churches of England. Putting these observations and concerns to the side, it wasn’t until the eleventh year of my pastorate that I came to embrace sharper views of sovereign grace, leading to an understanding and conviction in high-Calvinism. It was then that the church I pastored returned to her roots, subscribing once again to the high-Calvinistic views around which she had been organized in the 19th century. It was also at that time the fallacy of the Reformed Baptists came into full view, which only confirmed my earlier observations—they are an entirely separate group from the Strict and Particular Baptists.

Here are ten reasons I am not a Reformed Baptist.

1. The Reformed Baptist Teachings Are A Protestant Interpretation Of Baptist Ecclesiology.

Strict Baptists maintain (1) the church is by nature a local and visible body of baptized believers, (2) the polity is congregational, with the oversight of a bishop, assisted by deacons, (3) and the Lord’s Table is restricted to those in membership with the local assembly. Reformed Baptists, however, (1) emphasize a…

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The Reformed Baptists have more in common with Presbyterianism, than their Particular Baptist brethren. Those who believe themselves to be aligned with the history and heritage of the Particular Baptists are either ill informed or historically and doctrinally dishonest.

The Particular Baptists emerged in England during the 17th century and continue as a distinct grouping of churches to this day, whereas the Reformed Baptists emerged in England during the 20th century with divergent teachings.

The Particular Baptists retain their identity and legacy through historic churches that have never amalgamated with other groups, whereas the Reformed Baptists have either hijacked many of these historic chapels or branded modern churches with the name, thereby seizing that identity and appropriating their legacy.

The Particular Baptists sought to distinguish themselves from Presbyterianism, whereas the Reformed Baptists seek to conform themselves to it.

The Particular Baptists continued to “reform” their teachings on sovereign grace and the covenants during the 18th and 19th centuries, whereas the Reformed Baptists believe all “reforms” ended in 1689 with the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.

The Particular Baptists are authentically and unapologetically sovereign grace Baptists, whereas the Reformed Baptists are sheepish congregationalists and befuddled sovereign gracers.

I served for twenty years as the pastor of a historic Particular Baptist church in London, England. If you are a Reformed Baptist, curious to explore the history and the teachings of the Particular Baptists, then may I suggest you speak to those who belong to that circle of historic churches?

Jared Smith

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Preface

29 Nov 2022, by

The 1646 Westminster Confession Of Faith, Article 7, Paragraphs 2&3:

”The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”

The 1689 Second London Baptist Confession Of Faith, Article 7, Paragraph 1:

“Man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”

The language of the 1646 Confession is representative of the Presbyterian view of covenant theology, whereas that of the 1689 Confession represents the view of the Reformed Baptists. Both groups subscribe to a conditional covenant of grace, believing that God has made a covenant with sinners in time, requiring of them faith in Christ in order to be saved. This teaching sometimes goes by the name of Duty-Faith, and is often accompanied by the free offer of the gospel. It is on the basis of this conditional covenant that the foregoing groups have constructed their frameworks of covenant theology.

Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), one of the leading Strict and Particular Baptist pastors in London, endorsed the 1689 Confession, as his name appears with thirty-six other representatives “in the name of and on the behalf of the whole assembly”. However, three years later, he preached two sermons rejecting the notion of a conditional covenant of grace. In so doing, he destroyed the foundation upon which the Presbyterians and the Reformed Baptists have built their covenant theology.

The sermons were occasioned by the death of…

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Gospel Standard Magazine
No. 102 — June, 1844 — Vol. 10, Pages 161-165

[The letters below were written to our departed friend W. Gadsby, and would have appeared earlier but from the pressure of other matter. Mr. Booth’s letter will, we think, be found to contain an interesting account of our American brethren. We do not mean to say that we approve of all that is contained in it; but we did not consider ourselves at liberty to alter or omit. It is to the “Old School Baptists”[1] that James Osbourn, whose experience we have reviewed, belongs; and in several of his works which we have read, (and we believe we possess them all,) he frequently speaks of them, and seems to be fully united in spirit with the ministers and churches..—Editors.]

Letter 1

Dear Brother Gadsby,—I write a line by way of introducing Mr. Booth, a messenger from the church of God in Miammi County, State of Ohio, in North America. His having spoken among our people, I give my judgment of him as a man that fears the Lord, and that what information he gives you relative to the churches there is a truth, which I thought would be pleasing for you to hear.

Hoping you are well, I remain, your affectionate brother in Christ Jesus,

Russell-Street, Bermondsey, Jan. 14, 1844.

THOMAS GUNNER.

Letter 2

My dear Sir, [Brother Gadsby]—Mr. Gunner’s kind introduction will supersede the necessity of my saying much about myself; but, lest his using the term “messenger” should convey a wrong impression, I would state that my visit to England is on private business, not as a delegate from the American churches, bearing with me only a “travelling letter.” The error was unintentional on Mr. G.’s part; but, as it has been common for the popularity churches in America, in carrying out schemes of carnal religion, to appeal to their brethren in England by begging deputations, I feel the more anxious to disavow a charac­ter of that kind, believing, as I do, that the “Old School Baptists” of America will never adopt such a course—at least while the Lord keeps them true to their professed principles. At the same time, I think they would be glad to enjoy a fraternal correspondence and intercourse with English churches of like faith and order, that they might be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and them.

“The Lord reigns,” and has a people to serve him “in all the earth.” I do not refer to mere professors, hut to those who, being the subjects of the same almighty, distinguishing, sovereign, free grace, “worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh;” in whom “the same afflictions are accom­plished in the world;” and who not only “love Him that begat, but also love all those that are begotten of him;” proving, by these “fruits,” that they are all equally the objects of everlasting love, and part and parcel of the same heavenly family. Yet perhaps it is too much the case, that the people of God located in one part of the world are apt to act, and speak, and think as though themselves alone composed the household of faith, and were unmindful and unconscious that there are “brethren beloved of God” elsewhere. Whether it was so in the apostolic time; I cannot presume to decide; though it seems highly probable that the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Rome, Spain, &c., not merely were aware of each other’s existence, but had and cultivated reciprocal intercourse. It is in the hope of paving the way for such an intercourse between the churches of the living God in England and America, that I wish, through you, to introduce the latter to the knowledge of the former, not to make a fair show in the flesh, and a noise in the world, but that each may he filled with joy and thanksgiving to the Lord, by hearing of the grace of God manifested in the other.

The body of Christians of which I undeservedly am a member, is commonly known by the term “Old School Baptists,” to distinguish them from those who advocate indefinite atonement, and who are called “New School Baptists.” The “Old School” men are also honoured by several nicknames, as “Hard-heads,” “Iron-jackets,” &c., from their unflinching adherence to ancient Baptist principles, and their uncompromising hostility to modern doctrines and inventions.

Roger Williams laid the foundation of the Baptist denomination in America, about 150 years ago; and, notwithstanding severe and repeated persecutions, their principles spread, and they became one of the most numerous bodies in the country. After the Revolution, when the nation began to prosper, and the churches had increased, and were exempted from outward trials, they fell into worldliness, imbibed the sentiments of Andrew Fuller, and adopted the expedients for popularity and display which have ever marked a carnal, Arminianized church. Into this snare nearly all the churches fell, especially those in cities and towns, only a few here and there “contending for the faith once delivered to the saints;” and these, finally, were constrained to “come out from among” the corrupt Baptists, “and be separate,” suffering loss of property, and being “evil spoken of everywhere.” They were few in number, generally poor, and much scattered; and, as may be readily supposed, their ministers were still fewer and farther between. They still remain in nearly the same condition, comparatively to the new party; but there are indubitable evidences, from time to time, that the Lord is mindful of them, exhibiting his sovereign grace in converting sinners, restoring wanderers, and raising up young Timothys to supply the place of the aged Pauls whom he is pleased to remove from the church below.

I speak particularly of the “Old School Baptists” in the State of Ohio, who, I think, may be considered as fairly representing those throughout the United States, as to condition and circumstances. In that State there are nine associations; i.e., the Miami, the Muskingum, the Scioto, the Mad-river, the Greenville, the Sandusky, the New­ market, the Clover, and a recently-formed one, whose name I forget; to one or the other of which every church is attached. I send you the last minutes of the Mad-river Association, which held its anniversary a fortnight before I left home. You will see that it embraces seventeen churches and three hundred and fifty-eight members, including seven ordained ministers and six licentiates. Only one of those ministers (S. Williams) is devoted wholly to the ministry; another (J. Morris) is very aged, as is also one of the licentiates; all the rest have to labour (generally in farming) for their living. As the licentiates have no ministerial charge, the actual number of efficient ministers is only six; each of whom has the care of three or four churches, often from ten to thirty miles distant from his home, besides making frequent preaching journeys through the country, sometimes extensive; during which he generally preaches every day, once or twice. The churches meet statedly once a month (so arranged as to suit the preachers), transacting business (after preaching) on Saturday, and attending public worship twice on Lord’s day. At any of their meetings, should a visiting minister be present, he is expected to speak as well as the pastor; so that it is not uncommon to have two sermons in succession. Of the above associations, the Muskingum is three times as large, the Miami and Scioto twice as large, all the rest not half as large, as the Mad-river. The Miami, Muskingum, and Scioto, are better supplied with ministers than the Mad-river Association; the others not so well.

Most of the “Old School Baptists” are quite plain-taught men, and so are their ministers. They are often objects of contemptuous remark by the “New School” men, who consider a college education essential to make an efficient preacher of the gospel. Our brethren are far less favoured with outward privileges than English Christians, being frequently without the public ministration of the word, and very deficient in books of sterling character. Here and there a tract of Huntington’s, &c., is met with; but most of the precious works common in this country they know nothing of. In New York State, two “Old School” periodicals are published; one entitled, “The Signs of the Times” and the other, “The Christian Doctrinal Advocate, and Spiritual Monitor.” With the editor of this last (Elder D. E. Jewett) I have the privilege of personal acquaintance. He is a most excellent Christian, a good scholar, and a decided champion for special, sovereign grace experienced in the heart; withal, suffering much from carnal professors and pecuniary embarrassments. He would be highly pleased, if the Gospel Standard could be forwarded to him as published.

With regard to the doctrinal sentiments of the “Old School Baptists” of America, they “contend earnestly” for particular, unconditional election, man’s total depravity and helplessness, particular redemption, effectual calling by sovereign grace, justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, the final perseverance of the saints, &c. &c. A personal experience of these doctrines in the heart, by the teaching of the Spirit, they deem essential. Any profession of religion, however fair, which falls short of this, they consider the work of nature, and not of grace. They also strenuously maintain believer’s baptism by immersion only, strict communion, the Bible the only rule of faith and practice, &c. They reject all the so-called benevolent institutions of the day, as not warranted by the word of God; viewing them as engines of Satan, to foster and build up the kingdom of antichrist. They receive none to baptism but on a relation of experience, at a church meeting, to the satisfaction of every member present. A consistent walk is insisted on; and when cases for discipline occur, they endeavour to carry out the rule laid down in Matt 18.

Although we cannot, and do not wish to boast of great “revivals,” after the manner of our “New School” neighbours, some of whom boast they can get up a “revival” whenever they please; yet we can say that the Lord is pleased to manifest his presence in our midst, to the rejoicing of his people, and, during the last year or two, has poured out of his Spirit, in a remarkable manner, when unlooked for, and at places distant from each other; so that “numbers have been added to the Lord, both of men and women.” But, generally, it must be confessed that our churches are in a dull, stand-still condition, though, I trust, waiting to “see the salvation of the Lord.”

I have been much gratified and edified in hearing Mr. Gunner, Mr. Cowper, Mr. Godwin (of Wiltshire), &c., during my sojourn in London. Such preaching would be highly acceptable to the “Old School Baptists” of America; and should such men, or any of their brethren, ever visit the United States, I hope they will try to find us out; but let them beware of the “New School” folks, who often profess to be “Old School,” to deceive the unwary and increase their numbers.

In Philadelphia,[2] I preached for brother Lewis, who is pastor over a small church in that city. He is, I believe, known to you, as he offered me a letter of introduction, if I expected to visit Manchester. In New York city there is also a small church, under the pastoral care of Elder Goble.

Any further information which you may wish, I will, with pleasure, give, as far as able to do so.

Sound works being so scarce with us, I take the opportunity to say, on my own responsibility, that should you feel disposed to send the brethren a few pamphlets, tracts, or Standards, I will gladly take charge of them, if addressed to me by the end of January.

I remain, dear Sir, yours very sincerely in the bonds of the gospel of a precious Jesus,

London, Jan. 10, 1844.

WM. BOOTH.

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[1] This extended footnote is added by Jared Smith, purposed to provide a historic and doctrinal context for the Strict and Particular Baptists in England and the Old School or Primitive Baptists in America.
••••••••••
The Fullerite Controversy which broke out in England during the latter half of the eighteenth century quickly surfaced among the Baptist churches in the United States. In the early part of the nineteenth century, several American Baptist Associations separated from all groups subscribing to Fullerism, whether it be in principle or practice. These churches became known as the “Old School Baptists”, or, the “Primitive Baptists”. The Fullerite churches became known as the “New School Baptists”, or, “Missionary Baptists”.
Mr. Gilbert Beebe, a well-known gospel preacher, was one of the men who represented the Primitive Baptists. In 1832, he started a magazine in America called the “Signs of the Times”, which espoused similar teachings to that of the Strict and Particular Baptists of England. Mr. William Gadsby, another well-known gospel preacher, was one of the men who represented the Strict and Particular Baptists. In 1835, he started a magazine in England called the “Gospel Standard”.
Mr. Booth, the author of the above letter, made reference to the “Signs of the Times”, whose correspondence was subsequently published in the “Gospel Standard”.
Mr. Booth’s letter was sent to Mr. Gadsby in January of 1844, but it pleased the Lord to take Mr. Gadsby to glory on the 27th of that month. Interestingly enough, Mr. Beebe published Mr. Gadsby’s obituary in the March issue of the “Signs of the Times”, 1844. The explanatory note reads:
••••••••••
“DEATH OF ELDER WILLIAM GADSBY, OF MANCHESTER ENGLAND. Since the…

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Theological Dictionary

by Charles Buck

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Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. The first edition was printed in 1802, followed by fifty reprints. Buck writes:[1]

“I had been for some time employed in preparing for the press my Theological Dictionary, a work which cost me much labour day and night, and no one to assist me, except now and then the bare copying of an article. The vast variety of books to be consulted, the discriminations to be made, the difficulty of seizing those accurate definitions I wanted, the various opinions of authors on the same subject, the including every article in Ecclesiastical History, Theology, and Morals, rendered it rather a formidable work for one man, and that a weak one. The fact was, I began it for my own use, without ever thinking of making it public to the world: but as I advanced, it still grew of more importance. On showing it to some friends, they were of opinion that such a manuscript should not be locked up in obscurity, and that the sooner it was given to the public the better, being a distinct thing from all other dictionaries which had been published. I have said it was a work of labour, but I must add also that it was a work of pleasure. Here indeed I realized the motto Labor ipse voluntas. It seems as if it were to be done; for though often interrupted by indisposition, I shall never forget the ardour, the eagerness I felt in passing from one article to another, until the whole was done. On looking back to some of my papers, I found this memorandum, which the reader, perhaps, will not think it superfluous for me to record:

Dec. 11, 1802.— This evening, after near four years, I finished the last article in my Theological Dictionary. I desire to be thankful for health and strength given me to finish it. O! Father of mercies! let it be a lasting blessing to thy church, and to all who shall peruse it! During the time I have been employed in it, I have met with some of the greatest trials both in body, mind, and circumstances I ever experienced, yet hitherto the Lord hath helped me. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Should my life be spared, may it be still employed in some useful service; that while I live, I may live for God, as well as to him. Amen.”

The work was published. It met with the approbation of the public, far beyond any hopes I could indulge; and I here desire to offer my most unfeigned thanks to Almighty God, for the usefulness with which it has been attended, and that my life has been spared to correct and enlarge, and greatly to improve it in succeeding editions.”

According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the “Theological Dictionary”:[2]

“Ryland’s passion for book-making once or twice involved him in pecuniary difficulties. Neither printer, publisher nor engraver could turn out their work half as fast enough for him. As his friends James Harvey I714-1758) and Augustus Toplady told him, he would have done more had he done less. With James Ferguson (1710-1776) he issued ‘An Easy Introduction to Mechanics,’ 1768, 8Vo, and ‘A series of Optical Cards.’ He contributed to the ‘Baptist Register,” edited by John Rippon, wrote many of the articles for Buck’s ‘Theological Dictionary,’ London, 1802, 8Vo, and edited Edward Polihill’s ‘Christus in Corde,’ Quarles’s ‘Emblems,’ Jonathan Edward’s ‘Sermons’ (1780), and Cotton Matther’s ‘Student and Preacher’ (1781).”

As suggested by his friendships with James Hervey and Augustus Toplady, John C. Ryland belonged to a circle of High(hyper)-Calvinist churches. It is therefore telling, but not surprising, that Buck commissioned him to write articles for the Dictionary. I say it is not surprising, because Buck acknowledged his admiration for Ryland in his journals and letters. Buck writes:[3]

“In July, this year, I went one evening to hear Mr. Abdy preach at Bow Church. During his sermon I found my mind rather suddenly, but very strongly impressed with the thought of entering into the ministry. I am no advocate for sudden impulses; but so it was, that this impression remained and I mentioned it to my friend and companion, who gave me every encouragement, and promised to do all that he could in due time to further the object. He also lent me a book, entitled “Eades’s Gospel Ministry,” from which I trust I derived profit. About this time the life of Mr. Whitfield fell into my hands; this fired me beyond measure, and strengthened my desires for the ministry exceedingly. A sense of its importance and difficulties at times rather appalled me, but encouraged by some serious friends, I still kept the object in view.

My heart was now set on doing good in every way I possibly could. With a friend I visited Newgate, to see a young man under sentence of death for house-breaking. He appeared on the whole penitent and attentive; but I was shocked to observe others in the same situation, in the condemned yard, apparently careless, playing at fives, as if nothing was the matter. The young man we visited was afterwards executed with several others. He came upon the scaffold first, and, looking up towards heaven, began singing and seemed to die penitent. As these cases are sometimes doubtful, I must leave the decision to the Great Judge of all the earth.

My desire for entering the ministry continuing, I was very anxious to cultivate my mind. My young friend was now removed to a distant academy to prepare him for that great work. I was connected with no society where I could exercise my gift, I therefore licensed a room in Black-horse Court, Fleet Street, and opened it on the 21st of January 1788, with an exhortation from 2 Chron 15:7—“Your work shall be rewarded.” Our numbers increased, and I was assisted by several other speakers, having exhortations twice a-week. This Society lasted about ten years. Many ministers occasionally assisted, and I have great reason to believe good was done.

About this time I was introduced to the late Rev. John Ryland. His eccentric manner, his venerable appearance, his vehement language, so overwhelmed me, that I was scarcely able to give any account of myself. By degrees, however, we became familiar, and as he resided near my place of abode for a short season, I attended him at six o’clock in the morning, and became his amanuensis. He was a man of genius, of a most vivid imagination, a determined enemy to the doctrines of Socinus, and possessed a fund of anecdote and information which rendered his company very entertaining. Had he applied himself to any one subject he would have been a proficient; but he wanted to grasp everything —his life of Hervey is a curious specimen of this. He was also perhaps too sanguine in his plans of teaching a shorter way to science; perhaps he thought he had discovered the royal road so much desired by some of the kings of antiquity. There are many anecdotes told of him which I believe are not altogether correct. The advice he gave me, I suppose, was the same he gave to many others;—”1. Don’t buy too many books, for that will hurt your pocket.—2. Don’t sit up late at night to study, for that will hurt your constitution.—3. Don’t go a courting, for that will hurt your mind.”

In another entry, Buck writes:[4]

“Tuesday, May 18. — Was much delighted in reading Mr. Ryland’s sermon, preached at Broad Mead, August 28, 1780, being the day of the Annual Meeting of the Bristol Education Society; found many remarks worthy of notice. He has discovered himself to be a man of sound judgment, a capacious understanding, great ingenuity, and a good definer of terms.”

In a letter dated the 8th August, 1792, Buck writes concerning Ryland’s death:[5]

“———— “The last letter I received from London, brought me the unwelcome intelligence of your being indisposed; but I hope this will find you much recovered. Alas! How precarious is health, how soon are our frail tabernacles disordered; how suddenly arrested by pain, how easily invaded by sickness. I cannot say I have reason to complain at present, though my animal frame is enervated, and my hand trembles while it writes; yet I would bless my God that it us, as it is. I find his voice in this, yea in all my afflictions to be “Arise and depart, for this is not your rest.” Indeed we have need of perpetual monitors to remind us of the inconsistency of being too warmly attached to sublunary things, and to show us that “inordinate affection is the way to inordinate affliction.” And have we not, my dear friend, ere now been ready to take up our abode here? Have we not imagined ourselves to be surrounded with delights, and thought that prosperity attended our steps; when lo! in the midst of all, we have no sooner endeavoured to pluck some sweet flower, but it hath withered in our hands; or some sharp thorn was hid behind, in order to create a pain with our pleasure? What then, shall not these grievous, and I may say repeated repulses teach us that all on earth is shadow; shall it not induce us to write mutability on every object? Shall it not lead us to depend on him in whom is no variableness or shadow of turning! It is true wealth may be agreeable, abilities may be desirable, and friendship may be sweet; but yet if these are the only sources of our joy we shall be very far from obtaining real peace and permanent pleasure. And however fanatical it may appear to an unthinking world to implore the Supreme Being for true happiness, yet let such remember that he is the alone author of it, and without his Spirit it is impossible to find it.

And cannot I congratulate my friend on his being sensible of this; and do not I see him imitating the Psalmist, and saying, “My soul wait thou upon God, for my expectation is only from him.” Yes, I trust he knows whose smile it is that makes a heaven; whose frown it is that creates a hell! To exhort you, therefore, would be needless, but to rejoice with you is my privilege.

I find that great man of God, Mr. Ryland, is gone home. I cannot say, but that I experienced some emotions of sorrow when I heard it, because I respected him as a man of grace as well as intellect. Where was the man that possessed such a capacious understanding; such a rich genius, such unaccountable fire and zeal, and a soul fitted with die noblest ideas of God; with such hatred to sin, with such love to holiness, with such unbounded desire to promote the glory of Christ? Though his body was debilitated, and he for some months rendered incapable of attending to public duty, yet I never was in any company, but I was sure to find something profitable; yea, what he has said I believe, will not be easily erased from my mind, while I am this side of the grave. But he is gone, and that to dwell with Him whom he ardently loved, and now incessantly adores. O let us be anticipating the happy time when we also shall be called away, to enter into that rest which remains for the people of God.

I now subscribe myself,

Your willing servant,

C. B.”

Buck’s “Theological Dictionary” is a helpful resource identifying the basic meanings of many biblical and religious terms. Generally speaking, the definitions are approached from a High(hyper)-Calvinist point of view, which renders the work helpful to those who nurture sharper views of sovereign grace.

In its original form, Buck arranged the terms in alphabetical order. For this online publication, I have rearranged the terms in topical order—(1) Being and Perfections of God; (2) Sovereignty of God; (3) Word of God and Theology; (4) Creation and General Topics; (5) Religions and Sects; (6) Covenant of Works; (7) Covenant of Grace; (8) Church of Christ; (9) World to Come; (10) Social Obligations and Expectations.

I have excluded a fair number of terms which do not fit into these categories. The reader is encouraged to obtain his/her own copy of the Dictionary, which can be downloaded online for free. It may then be asked, “Why upload to the online resources of the AHB an abridged version of the Theological Dictionary?” The dictionary will serve as a companion to Robert Hawker’s “Morning Devotion”, which will appropriately be called the “Daily Definition”.

To that end, it is my prayer Buck’s “Theological Dictionary” will be blessed of the Lord, building up His people in their most holy faith.

Jared Smith

——————————-
[1] John Styles, “Memoirs And Remains Of The Late Rev. Charles Buck” (1817), 310-312
[2] Sidney Lee, “Dictionary Of National Biography: Vol 50” (1897), 56,57
[3] Styles, “Memoirs And Remains” (1817), 39-41
[4] Styles, “Memoirs And Remains” (1817), 57
[5] Styles, “Memoirs And Remains” (1817), 158-160

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As it is my goal to align John Gill’s “Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity” with the Framework of Sovereign Grace, I have rearranged the eleven branches of theology, together with the individual chapters, in order to demonstrate how they fit together in the grand scheme of God’s masterplan for the ages.

I have reduced the original eleven “Books” (or branches) to three main headings—(1) Of God; (2) Of God’s Revelation; (3) Of God’s Works. I have also reduced the original one hundred fifty-six chapters to one hundred fifty-one, having subtracted the five chapters belonging to the Appendix (a dissertation on the baptism of Jewish Proselytes).

Under the first heading, “Of God”, there are thirty chapters. The first nine speak on the Godhead in general, whereas the last twenty-one speak of His attributes in particular. As God is a spirit Being, so Gill arranged the divine attributes under the following headings—(1) God, as a spirit being, is uncreated, one chapter; (2) God, as a spirit being, is active, two chapters; (3) God, as a spirit being, is rational, two chapters; (4) God, as a spirit being, is volitional, one chapter; (5) God, as a spirit being, is affectionate, seven chapters; (6) God, as a spirit being, is virtuous, five chapters; God, as a spirit being, is majestic, two chapters.

I. Of God

1. His Being (Existence)
2. His Nature (Spirituality and Simplicity)
3. His Unity
4. His Godhead (Plurality)
5. His Personal Relations
6. Personality of the Father
7. Personality of the Son
8. Personality of the Holy Spirit
9. His Names

10. His Attributes and Immutability

1. God, as a Spirit, is Uncreated.

11. His Infinity

2. God, as a Spirit, is Active.

12. His Life
13. His Omnipotence

3. God, as a Spirit, is Rational.

14. His Omniscience
15. His Wisdom

4. God, as a Spirit, is Volitional.

16. His Sovereign Will

5. God, as a Spirit, is Affectionate.

17. His Joy
18. His Love
19. His Grace
20. His Mercy
21. His Long-suffering
22. His Hatred
23. His Anger and Wrath

6. God, as a Spirit, is Virtuous.

24. His Goodness
25. His Holiness
26. His Justice and Righteousness
27. His Veracity
28. His Faithfulness

7. God, as a Spirit, is Majestic.

29. His Sufficiency and Perfection
30. His Blessedness

Under the second heading, “Of God’s Revelation”, there are three chapters. While it is obvious why the “Scripture” has been classified under this heading, it may not be so clear as to why God’s “Creation” and “Providence” are placed into the category. Within the context of the Framework of Sovereign Grace, the Lord makes Himself known by what He has made (Creation), what He does (Providence) and what He says (Scripture). Of course, the Lord also makes Himself known, and especially so, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, but the chapters dealing with this special revelation to the heart are reserved for the third heading, “Of God’s Works”.

II. Of God’s Revelation

31. Creation (General)
32. Providence
33. Scripture

Under the third heading, “Of God’s Works”, there are one hundred eighteen chapters. The first sixteen deal with God’s eternal decree, whereas the last one hundred and two chapters deals with God’s providential orderings in time. All that God has decreed from eternity, is the blueprint for what He brings to pass throughout the course of history. In other words, God’s providential orderings in time are based upon His immutable decree from eternity. Absolute predestination is to providence, what a set of blueprints are to a house.

With reference to God’s providential orderings, there are seven main sections—(1) Creation of angels and humans, three chapters; (2) Covenant of Works, eight chapters; (3) Covenant of Grace, sixty-two chapters; (4) Christian and church relations, fourteen chapters; (5) Domestic and governmental relations, four chapters; (6) Death and the afterlife, three chapters; (7) World to come, eight chapters.

With particular reference to the Covenant of Grace, there are three main sections—(1) Dispensations of the covenant, seven chapters; (2) In the fulness of time, the Son is sent, twenty-three chapters; (3) At the appointed time, the Holy Spirit is sent, thirty-two chapters.

III. Of God’s Works

1. Eternal Decree

34. Works of God in General
35. Special Decrees of God
36. Decree of Rejection
37. Eternal Union of Elect unto God
38. God’s Eternal Act of Justification
39. Everlasting Council of the Godhead
40. Everlasting Covenant of Grace
41. Role of Father in the Covenant
42. Role of Son in the Covenant
43. Christ as Covenant Head of the Elect
44. Christ as Mediator of the Covenant
45. Christ as Surety of the Covenant
46. Christ as Testator of the Covenant
47. Role of Holy Spirit in the Covenant
48. Properties of the Covenant of Grace
49. Delight of God in Himself

2. Providential Orderings

(1) Angels and Humans

50. Creation of Angels
51. Confirmation of Elect Angels
52. Creation of Man

(2) Covenant of Works

53. Man in State of Innocence
54. Law Given to Adam
55. Sin and Fall of First Parents
56. Nature and Effects of Sin of Man
57. Imputation of Sin to Adam’s Posterity
58. Corruption of Human Nature
59. Actual Sins and Transgressions
60. Punishment of Sin

(3) Covenant of Grace

(i) Dispensations of the Covenant

61. Administration of the Covenant of Grace
62. Covenant of Grace—Patriarchal
63. Covenant of Grace—Mosaic
64. Covenant of Grace—Kings
65. Introduction of the New Covenant
66. Of the Law of God
67. Of the Gospel

(ii) Fulness of Time, Son Sent

68. Kingly Office of Christ
69. Prophetic Office of Christ
70. Priestly Office of Christ
71. Incarnation of Christ
72. Humiliation of Christ
73. Active Obedience of Christ
74. Passive Obedience of Christ
75. Redemption by Christ
76. Causes of Redemption
77. Objects of Redemption
78. Texts Which Seem to Favour Universal Redemption
79. Satisfaction of Christ
80. Propitiation and Reconciliation by Christ
81. Pardon and Forgiveness of Sin
82. Justification
83. Adoption
84. Burial of Christ
85. Resurrection of Christ
86. Ascension of Christ
87. Christ at Right Hand of Father
88. Intercession of Christ
89. Blessings of Christ
90. Scriptural Reign of Christ

(iii) Appointed Time, Holy Spirit Sent

91. Regeneration
92. Effectual Calling
93. Conversion
94. Sanctification
95. Good Works in General
96. Liberty Of The Sons Of God
97. Ten Commandments
98. Object of Worship
99. Internal Worship, Godliness
100. Communion with God
101. Knowledge of God
102. Faith in God
103. Fear of God
104. Repentance toward God
105. Trust and Confidence in God
106. Grace of Hope
107. Grace of Love
108. Spiritual Joy
109. Peace and Tranquility of Mind
110. Contentment of Mind
111. Thankfulness to God
112. Humility
113. Self Denial
114. Resignation to the Will of God
115. Patience
116. Christian Fortitude
117. Zeal
118. Wisdom and Prudence
119. Godly Sincerity
120. Spiritual Mindedness
121. Good Conscience
122. Perseverance of the Saints

(4) Christian and Church Relations

123. Gospel Church
124. Baptism
125. Duties of Church Members
126. Church Discipline
127. Church Officers, Particularly Pastors
128. Duties of Members Towards Their Pastor
129. Office of Deacon
130. Place and Time of Public Worship
131. Lord’s Table
132. Public Ministry of the Word
133. Public Hearing of the Word
134. Public Prayer
135. Lord’s Prayer
136. Singing Psalms

(5) Domestic and Governmental Relations

137. Duties of Husband and Wife
138. Duties of Parents and Children
139. Duties of Masters and Servants
140. Duties of Magistrates and Subjects

(6) Death and Afterlife

141. Death of the Body
142. Immortality of the Soul
143. Separate State of the Soul

(7) World to Come

144. Second Coming of Christ
145. Resurrection of the Body
146. Conflagration of the Universe
147. New Heaven and New Earth
148. Millennium—Reign of Christ
149. Last and General Judgment
150. Final State of Wicked in Hell
151. Final State of Saints in Heaven

By arranging the chapters of Gill’s Divinity in this order, I hope to demonstrate how each branch of theology fits together according to the Framework of Sovereign Grace.

Jared Smith

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John Gill’s “Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity” was originally published in four volumes.

The first two volumes were published in 1769, and were entitled, “A Body Of Doctrinal Divinity”. They were divided into seven “Books”, each of which dealt with a particular branch of doctrinal theology—Book 1: Of God, His Word, Names, Nature, Perfections And Persons; Book 2: Of The Acts And Works Of God; Book 3: Of The External Works Of God; Book 4: Of The Acts Of The Grace Of God Towards And Upon His Elect In Time; Book 5: Of The Grace Of Christ In His States Of Humiliation And Exaltation, And In The Offices Exercised By Him In Them; Book 6: Of The Blessings Of Grace, And The Doctrines Of It; Book 7: Of The Final State Of Men.”

The last two volumes were published in 1770, and were entitled, “A Body Of Practical Divinity”. They were divided into four “Books”, each of which dealt with a particular branche of practical theology—Book 1: Of The Worship Of God; Book 2: Of External Worship, As Public; Book 3: Of The Public Ordinances Of Divine Worship; Book 4: Of Private Worship, Or Various Duties, Domestic, Civil And Moral.” The last volume includes an Appendix with a dissertation concerning the baptism of Jewish Proselytes.

The order in which these “Books” and chapters appear are as follows:

“A Doctrinal Body Of Divinity”

Book 1: Of God, His Word, Names, Nature, Perfections And Persons

Chapter 1—Of The Being Of God
Chapter 2—Of The Holy Scriptures
Chapter 3—Of The Names Of God
Chapter 4—Of The Nature Of God
Chapter 5—Of The Attributes Of God In General, And Of His Immutability In Particular
Chapter 6—Of The Infinity Of God, His Omnipresence And Eternity
Chapter 7—Of The Life Of God
Chapter 8—Of The Omnipotence Of God
Chapter 9—Of The Omniscience Of God
Chapter 10—Of The Wisdom Of God
Chapter 11—Of The Will Of God, And The Sovereign Of It
Chapter 12—Of The Love Of God
Chapter 13—Of The Grace Of God
Chapter 14—Of The Mercy Of God
Chapter 15—Of The Longsuffering Of God
Chapter 16—Of The Goodness Of God
Chapter 17—Of The Anger And Wrath Of God
Chapter 18—Of The Hatred Of God
Chapter 19—Of The Joy Of God
Chapter 20—Of The Holiness Of God
Chapter 21—Of The Justice Or Righteousness Of God
Chapter 22—Of The Veracity Of God
Chapter 23—Of The Faithfulness Of God
Chapter 24—Of The Sufficiency And Perfection Of God
Chapter 25—Of The Blessedness Of God
Chapter 26—Of The Unity Of God
Chapter 27—Of A Plurality In The Godhead; Or, A Trinity Of Persons In The Unity Of The Divine Essence
Chapter 28—Of The Personal Relations; Or, Relative Properties Which Distinguish The Three Divine Persons In The Deity
Chapter 29—Of The Distinct Personality, And Deity Of The Father
Chapter 30—Of The Distinct Personality, And Deity Of The Son
Chapter 31—Of The Distinct Personality, And Deity Of The Holy Spirit

Book 2: Of The Acts And Works Of God

Chapter 1—Of The Internal Acts And Works Of God; And Of His Decrees In General
Chapter 2—Of The Special Decrees Of God, Relating To Rational Creatures, Angels, And Men; And Particularly Of Election
Chapter 3—Of The Decree Of Rejection, Or Some Angels, And Of Some Men
Chapter 4—Of The Eternal Union Of The Elect Of God Unto Him
Chapter 5—Of Other Eternal And Immanent Acts In God, Particularly Adoption And Justification
Chapter 6—Of The Everlasting Council Between The Three Divine Persons, Concerning The Salvation Of Men
Chapter 7—Of The Everlasting Covenant Of Grace, Between The Father, And The Son, And The Holy Spirit
Chapter 8—Of The Part Which The Father Takes In The Covenant
Chapter 9—Of The Part The Son Of God, The Second Person, Has Taken In The Covenant
Chapter 10—Of Christ, As The Covenant Head Of The Elect
Chapter 11—Of Christ, The Mediator Of The Covenant
Chapter 12—Of Christ, The Surety Of The Covenant
Chapter 13—Of Christ, The Testator Of The Covenant
Chapter 14—Of The Concern The Spirit Of God Has In The Covenant Of Grace
Chapter 15—Of The Properties Of The Covenant Of Grace
Chapter 16—Of The Complacency And Delight God Has In Himself, And The Divine Persons In Each Other, Before Any Creature Was Brought Into Being

Book 3: Of The External Works Of God

Chapter 1—Of Creation In General
Chapter 2—Of The Creation Of Angels
Chapter 3—Of The Creation Of Man
Chapter 4—Of The Providence Of God
Chapter 5—Of The Confirmation Of The Elect Angels, And The Fall Of The Non-Elect
Chapter 6—Of Of The Honor And Happiness Of Man In A State Of Innocency
Chapter 7—Of The Law Given To Adam, And The Covenant Made With Him In His State Of Innocence; In Which He Was The Federal Head And Representative Of His Posterity
Chapter 8—Of The Sin And Fall Of Our First Parents
Chapter 9—Of The Nature, Aggravations, And Sad Effects Of The Sin Of Man
Chapter 10—Of The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin To All His Posterity
Chapter 11—Of The Corruption Of Human Nature
Chapter 12—Of Actual Sins And Transgressions
Chapter 13—Of The Punishment Of Sin

Book 4: Of The Acts Of The Grace Of God Towards And Upon His Elect In Time

Chapter 1—Of The Manifestation And Administration Of The Covenant Of Grace
Chapter 2—Of The Exhibitions Of The Covenant Of Grace In The Patriarchal State
Chapter 3—Of The Exhibitions Of The Covenant Of Grace Under The Mosaic Dispensation
Chapter 4—Of The Covenant Of Grace, As Exhibited In The Times Of David, And The Succeeding Prophets, To The Coming Of Christ
Chapter 5—Of The Abrogation Of The Old Covenant, Or First Administration Of It, And The Introduction Of The New, Or Second Administration Of It
Chapter 6—Of The Law Of God
Chapter 7—Of The Gospel

Book 5: Of The Grace Of Christ In His States Of Humiliation And Exaltation, And In The Offices Exercised By Him In Them

Chapter 1—Of The Incarnation Of Christ
Chapter 2—Of Christ’s State Of Humiliation
Chapter 3—Of The Active Obedience Of Christ In His State Of Humiliation
Chapter 4—Of The Passive Obedience Of Christ, Or Of His Sufferings And Death
Chapter 5—Of The Burial Of Christ
Chapter 6—Of The Resurrection Of Christ From The Dead
Chapter 7—Of The Ascension Of Christ To Heaven
Chapter 8—Of The Session Of Christ At The Right Hand Of God
Chapter 9—Of The Prophetic Office Of Christ
Chapter 10—Of Priestly Office Of Christ
Chapter 11—Of The Intercession Of Christ
Chapter 12—Of Christ’s Blessing His People As A Priest
Chapter 13—Of The Kingly Office Of Christ
Chapter 14—Of The Spiritual Reign Of Christ

Book 6: Of The Blessings Of Grace, And The Doctrines Of It

Chapter 1—Of Redemption By Christ
Chapter 2—Of The Causes Of Redemption By Christ
Chapter 3—Of The Objects Of Redemption By Christ
Chapter 4—Of Those Texts Of Scripture Which Seem To Favor Universal Redemption
Chapter 5—Of The Satisfaction Of Christ
Chapter 6—Of Propitiation, Atonement, And Reconciliation, As Ascribed To Christ
Chapter 7—Of The Pardon Of Sin
Chapter 8—Of Justification
Chapter 9—Of Adoption
Chapter 10—Of The Liberty Of The Sons Of God
Chapter 11—Of Regeneration
Chapter 12—Of Effectual Calling
Chapter 13—Of Conversion
Chapter 14—Of Sanctification
Chapter 15—Of The Perseverance Of The Saints

Book 7: Of The Final State Of Men

Chapter 1—Of The Death Of The Body
Chapter 2—Of The Immortality Of The Soul
Chapter 3—Of The Separate State Of The Soul Until The Resurrection, And Its Employment In That State
Chapter 4—Of The Resurrection Of The Body
Chapter 5—Of The Second Coming Of Christ, And His Personal Appearance
Chapter 6—Of The Conflagration Of The Universe
Chapter 7—Of The New Heavens And Earth, And The Inhabitants Of Them
Chapter 8—Of The Millennium, Or Personal Reign Of Christ With The Saints On The New Earth A Thousand Years
Chapter 9—Of The Last And General Judgment
Chapter 10—Of The Final State Of The Wicked In Hell
Chapter 11—Of The Final State Of The Saints In Heaven

“A Practical Body Of Divinity”

Book 1: Of The Worship Of God

Chapter 1—Of The Worship Of God, Or Practical Religion Of The Object Of Worship
Chapter 2—Of Internal Worship, And Of Godliness The Groundwork Of It
Chapter 3—Of The Knowledge Of God
Chapter 4—Of Repentance Towards God
Chapter 5—Of The Fear Of God
Chapter 6—Of Faith In God And In Christ
Chapter 7—Of Trust And Confidence In God
Chapter 8—Of The Grace Of Hope
Chapter 9—Of The Grace Of Love
Chapter 10—Of Spiritual Joy
Chapter 11—Of Peace And Tranquility Of Mind
Chapter 12—Of Contentment Of Mind
Chapter 13—Of Thankfulness To God
Chapter 14—Of Humility
Chapter 15—Of Self-Denial
Chapter 16—Of Resignation To The Will Of God
Chapter 17—Of Patience
Chapter 18—Of Christian Fortitude
Chapter 19—Of Zeal
Chapter 20—Of Wisdom Or Prudence
Chapter 21—Of Godly Sincerity
Chapter 22—Of Spiritual Mindedness
Chapter 23—Of A Good Conscience
Chapter 24—Of Communion With God

Book 2: Of External Worship, As Public

Chapter 1—Of The Nature Of A Gospel Church, the Seat Of Public Worship
Chapter 2—Of The Duties Of The Member Of A Church To Each Other
Chapter 3—Of The Officers Of A Church, Particularly Pastors
Chapter 4—Of The Duties Of Members Of Churches To Their Pastors
Chapter 5—Of Of The Office Of Deacons
Chapter 6—Of The Discipline Of A Church Of Christ

Book 3: Of The Public Ordinances Of Divine Worship

Chapter 1—Of Baptism
Chapter 2—Of The Lord’s Supper
Chapter 3—Of The Public Ministry Of The Word
Chapter 4—Of The Public Hearing Of The Word
Chapter 5—Of Public Prayer
Chapter 6—Of The Lord’s Prayer
Chapter 7—Of Singing Psalms, As A Part Of Public Worship
Chapter 8—Of The Circumstances Of Public Worship, As To Place And Time

Book 4: Of Private Worship, Or Various Duties, Domestic, Civil And Moral

Chapter 1—Of The Respective Duties Of Husband And Wife
Chapter 2—Of The Respective Duties Of Parents And Children
Chapter 3—Of The Respective Duties Of Masters And Servants
Chapter 4—Of The Respective Duties Of Magistrates And Subjects
Chapter 5—Of Good Works In General
Chapter 6—A Compendium Or Summary Of The Decalogue Or Ten Commandments

Appendix: A Dissertation Concerning The Baptism Of Jewish Proselytes

Chapter 1—A Dissertation Concerning The Baptism Of Jewish Proselytes Of The Various Sorts Of Proselytes Among The Jews
Chapter 2—The Occasion Of This Dissertation
Chapter 3—The Proof Of The Baptism Of Jewish Proselytes Inquired Into; Whether There Is Any Proof Of It Before, At, Or Quickly After The Times Of John And Christ
Chapter 4—The Proof Of This Custom Only From The Talmuds And Talmudical Writers
Chapter 5—The Reasons Why Christian Baptism Is Not Founded On, And Taken From, The Pretended Jewish Baptism Of Israelites And Proselytes

The four volumes of Gill’s “Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity” contains a total of eleven “Books”, or, branches of doctrinal and practical theology, with one hundred fifty-six chapters combined.

Jared Smith

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In the year 1999, I became the pastor of Bethesda Chapel, a Strict and Particular Baptist church[1] in London, England. I was a Moderate-Calvinist for the first ten years of my ministry, although I refused to identify with the Reformed Baptist Movement.[2] In the year 2010, the congregation came under internal and external pressures to adopt a plural eldership.[3] I resisted this pressure for scriptural, historical and practical reasons, but at the time, I was not well informed on the issues. Three years later, I completed an exhaustive study on the subject, resulting in an unpublished book, in excess of a thousand pages. My initial resistance to the Reformed Baptists’ views on plural elderships was confirmed and staunchly defended.

It was at that time, early in my research of the origin and development of the Strict and Particular Baptist churches in England, that I came across a surprising fact. Bethesda Chapel was organized around Hyper-Calvinist views.[4] What is more, Bethesda Chapel belonged to a large circle of churches which subscribed to the same teachings. Needless to say, I was startled by this information, especially because I had been told by the Moderate-Calvinists that Hyper-Calvinism is a false gospel, embraced only by those who have lost all measure of common sense and biblical balance. But if that were true, then how could so many Strict and Particular Baptist churches have subscribed to those teachings? And, what exactly were those teachings which made them Hyper-Calvinists? Thus began my journey in grace, leading to deeper and sharper views of the gospel of Christ.

During the early part of this journey, I frequently got lost in the details of the issues, often ending with much confusion and frustration. I therefore changed my approach—first, discover God’s masterplan for the ages, then, consider how the details fit into that overview. I was familiar with the elaborate charts of Dispensationalism drawn up by men such as Scofield and Larkin. Although I did not agree with that framework of history and doctrine, I appreciated the way those teachings were illustrated. I was also familiar with the intricate diagrams of Covenantalism drawn up by men such as Perkins and Bunyan. Although I did agree with this framework of history and doctrine, it did not set out the teachings in the exact way I understood them. I therefore began the lengthy process of drawing up my own diagrams, none of which provided a sufficient or accurate overview of the gospel. Eventually, while studying the scriptures, I was captured by the analogy of a potter and the clay. I wondered whether this picture could serve as an overview of God’s masterplan. I gathered together all scriptural references to the analogy, after which two texts stood out with distinction—Romans 9 and 2 Timothy 2. Within minutes, a diagram of the potter and the clay took shape, with every word of both texts fitting perfectly together in what appeared to illustrate the grand scheme of God’s purpose in creation and redemption. Having secured this basic overview of history and theology, I returned to the detailed issues of sovereign grace. To my delight, every branch of theology, together with every event of history, fit perfectly together. Only then did I begin a careful study of John Gill’s “Doctrinal and Practical Body of Divinity”. It was a joy to discover the close alignment between the diagram and Gill’s teachings. This diagram became known as the Framework of Sovereign Grace.[5]

By the year 2014, I fully embraced the viewpoints of Hyper-Calvinism, using as a teaching tool the Framework of Sovereign Grace for my private and public ministries. Such was my passion to help others on their journey with the Lord, that I began the slow and tedious project of modernizing each chapter of Gill’s Divinity. Over the next four years, I completed a large portion of this work. However, in 2018 the project came to a grinding halt. This was largely due to a season of discouragement, having not received much support from peers or elder ministers. It was around that time I spoke with Don Fortner[6] regarding an unrelated matter. In the course of the conversation, I made an indirect reference to the work I was undertaking with Gill’s writings. Bro Fortner explained he had been asked by a publisher, several years prior, to do a similar project on Gill’s Divinity, but that he declined the request for three reasons. First, tampering with Gill’s writings will necessarily change his intended meaning—it is best to leave the reader to interpret the original text; Second, it is impossible for an editor to modernize Gill without his own prejudices standing in the way—it is best to let Gill represent himself in his own words; Third, a gospel preacher should focus on communicating his own convictions, rather than echoing that of others—people want to know what you (the living preacher before them) believes. Bro Fortner suggested it is far better to present to others my view of the gospel, rather than rewriting the works of Gill.

As one might imagine, my initial feeling to Bro Fortner’s feedback was not that of encouragement. Had my time and effort for four years been in vain? I sat on Bro Fortner’s counsel for several months, not knowing what I should do next. Around that time, I was conversing with another preacher on some of Gill’s teachings. We took different views on Gill’s position. However, having already meticulously examined and rewritten every line of Gill’s chapter on the subject, I was well informed on his point of view. I explained this in some detail, ending with my friend conceding the issue. It was then I realized, the time and effort given to modernizing Gill’s Divinity was intended by the Lord to be a benefit to me, rather than to others. The last four years of work was not in vain. Like a warm blanket on a cold night, there was a peace that ran over my soul which to this day remains a stay and comfort. Bro Fortner was correct! I would not meddle with Gill’s writings, unless it be strictly for personal use.

Four years later, in the year 2022, I began teaching a series of studies on Bible Doctrine. The first twenty to thirty sessions are preliminary in nature, dealing with the significance of systematic theology, establishing definitions for commonly used labels and setting forth a historic backdrop of the Strict and Particular Baptists. After these preliminary studies are finished, I will begin examining the major branches of theology. As a supplement to these teachings, I will be aligning the chapters of Gill’s Divinity with my own studies on those topics. Not only will this provide a helpful resource to venture deeper into the various branches of the gospel, but it can also serve as a guide to the teachings of Gill. I will be showing how each of Gill’s chapters fit within the Framework of Sovereign Grace. In this way, I hope to honor Bro Fortner’s counsel—to present my view of the gospel, while promoting Gill’s Body of Divinity, without making changes to his writings.

If the Lord is pleased to make any part of my gospel labor profitable to the souls of His people, then I will find the utmost joy in knowing my work in the Lord is not in vain.

Jared Smith

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[1] Bethesda Chapel, Kensington Place, organized in 1866. In the early 1870’s, the first pastor of the church (David Crumpton) spearheaded the inception of the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches. Between the 1870’s and the 1950’s, virtually all of the churches belonging to the Association were Hyper-Calvinists. I believe William Styles was the Secretary of this Association in the latter part of the 19th century. In his “Guide to Church Fellowship”, he points out on pages 78,79, “Duty-faith is the doctrine that it is the duty of natural men to exercise spiritual Faith in the Lord Jesus, and so to obtain salvation. Its emphatic denial is a distinguishing feature of the Strict and Particular section of the Baptist denomination.”
[2] Dr. Kenneth Dix (Baptist Historian) traced the Reformed Baptist Movement to the 1950’s, with the influences of such men as Ian Murray, Sidney Norton and Erroll Hulse. Together with the publications of the Banner of Truth Magazine (Est 1955) and Reformation Today (Est 1970), Baptist churches were Presbyterianized and the “Hyper” elements of Calvinism repressed.
The Reformed Baptists eventually commandeered the Strict and Particular Baptist chapels, revising their…

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A Body Of Doctrinal And Practical Divinity
Or,
A System Of Practical Truths Deduced From The Sacred Scriptures
By John Gill
1815

Preface

John Gill was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England, on November 23rd, 1697. At age 12, he was converted to Christ under the preaching ministry of William Wallis. However, he waited six years before agreeing to be baptized, after which he became a member of his local church. At the age of 23, he was inducted as pastor of the Strict and Particular Baptist Horselydown church, the office of which he held until his death on October 14th, 1771. His 50 year pastoral ministry was accompanied by a prolific written ministry. He was the first Baptist to write an exhaustive theological treatise, which remains the definitive statement on Baptist doctrine to date.

Particular Baptist history has been treated in modern times, in much the same way present-day journalists report the news—it is skewed according to one’s prejudicial viewpoint. I am old enough to remember a time when ethical standards required historians and journalists to report the facts, without bias or bigotry. Objectivity is no longer the goal, leaving us with fake news and fake history.

Here is a case in point. Moderate-Calvinists (particularly, the Reformed Baptists) view Particular Baptist history as a single stream of Moderate-Calvinism to which the majority of churches belonged. Every now again, a small number of these churches would fall outside the mainstream, chasing after “hyper” views of Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism, therefore, is unorthodox in teaching, and does not directly share in the mainstream heritage of the Particular Baptists.

As you can see, by framing the history in this form, the Moderate-Calvinists are able to deny the Hyper-Calvinists a legitimate existence among the Particular Baptists, thereby giving themselves the high ground when denouncing Hyper-Calvinism as a false gospel. It should be evident to every objective researcher, that if a historian is driven by a bias to undermine the views of others, then he/she is a partisan and disingenuous reporter. A historian should not seek to denigrate and/or deny the existence of other groups, in an effort to defend his/her own doctrinal convictions. Yet this tends to be the modus operandi of the Moderate-Calvinists.

What does an unbiased and objective view of Particular Baptist history look like?

The origin of the Particular Baptists in England dates back to the early 17th century. There is manifold evidence the churches of that time were widely split on many issues, including that of moderate and hyper views of Calvinism. Of course, at that time, these issues had not yet been refined by the controversies, and therefore no clearcut definitions established. This changed in 1707, when a Congregational minister named Joseph Hussey published a book against free offers of the gospel. It is naive to believe Hussey invented this view, or that he was the only man to hold the view at the time of his publication. As is the case today, views generally tend to be held by others before someone articulates them in writing. It is interesting to note, that when Hussey published his book, there was a ready people among the Particular Baptist churches who had ears to hear and eyes to see the scripturalness of that position. Sixty-two years later, John Gill published his Doctrinal Body of Divinity in 1769, which not only affirmed the teachings of Hussey on the matter, but also set those teachings within an iron-clad framework of Covenant Theology. Suddenly, a clear line was drawn among the Particular Baptist churches. A large number of congregations subscribed to Gill’s view, and became known as Hyper-Calvinists, or Gillites. As for the other congregations, a Baptist preacher named Andrew Fuller articulated their views in a book entitled, “The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation”, published in 1785. These churches became known as Moderate-Calvinists, or Fullerites. Far from there being a single stream of Particular Baptist churches embracing Moderate-Calvinism, there were two mainstreams, one subscribing to high views of grace, the other to moderate views of grace. However, it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that these doctrinal differences were clearly defined in the writings of John Gill and Andrew Fuller.

My dear friends, this is an unbiased and objective view of Particular Baptist history. Both groups of Calvinists have existed side by side from the beginning. There is no need to revise history in order to gain the high ground over one or the other of these groups. Let us recognize the legitimacy of both, having their roots among the Particular Baptists of the 17th century, and from this historic standpoint, discuss the doctrinal differences between them. This, of course, brings us to John Gill’s Body of Divinity. It is my hope and prayer the teachings of Gill will be examined with an unbiased mind and unprejudiced heart, judging for one’s self, in the light of the scriptures, whether those things be true or false.[1]

“Let every [person] be fully persuaded in [his/her] own mind.”

Jared Smith

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The label “Hyper-Calvinist” has a historic and theological meaning, revolving around three controversial issues:
(1) Duty Faith—Arminians believe it is the saving and moral duty of the unregenerate to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls; Moderate-Calvinists believe it is the moral duty of the unregenerate to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls; Hyper-Calvinists believe only those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, and therefore brought experientially under the authority of the covenant of grace, have a saving and moral duty to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls.
(2) Free Offer—Arminians and some Moderate-Calvinists believe since it is the saving/moral duty of the unregenerate to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls, the gospel must be freely offered to all sinners in order to give them the opportunity to accept God’s gift unto salvation; other Moderate-Calvinists replace the notion of a free offer with that of a divine command (or gospel call) to savingly believe and repent; Hyper-Calvinists believe since it is the saving/moral duty of the regenerate to believe on Christ to the saving of their souls, so the gospel should be freely and fully preached to all sinners, and those who have ears to hear will hear.
(3) Believer’s Rule of Conduct—Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists believe the regenerate’s rule of conduct is either the heart law under the authority of the covenant of works, or the moral law (ten commandments) under the authority of the Mosaic covenant; Hyper-Calvinists believe the regenerate’s rule of conduct is the gospel law under the authority of the covenant of grace.
The label “Hyper-Calvinism” also has a modern and erroneous meaning. The Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists exchange the aforementioned definitions for a set of self deductions. They argue—if Hyper-Calvinists do not believe saving faith is the duty of unregenerate sinners, this means they don’t believe faith is necessary in salvation (or that unbelief is a sin); if Hyper-Calvinists do not believe in the free offer of the gospel, then they do not nurture a love for souls or preach the gospel to unbelievers; if Hyper-Calvinists do not believe the moral law (ten commandments) is the rule for a believer’s conduct, then they are Antinomians. Although none of these deductions are true, yet they are the definitions Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists attach to Hyper-Calvinism.
If one wishes to know what a Hyper-Calvinist believes, it is a wise policy to speak with a Hyper-Calvinist.

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Arminians evangelize, right? Low-Calvinists evangelize, right? Moderate-Calvinists evangelize, right? Hyper-Calvinists don’t evangelize, right? Wrong! The Hyper-Calvinists are the only persons who evangelize. The other groups proselyte. In a recent study on Hyper-Calvinism[1], I distinguished between evangelizing and proselyting.

In his book, “Hyper-Calvinism”: Is It True?”, Stanley Philipps differentiates between the two systems. On page 63, he writes:

“(Proselytizing and evangelizing are not the same thing! Modern “evangelism” is a misnomer – it is blatant “proselytizing.”) The Hyper-calvinists never utilized man-made institutions to improve on God’s Word. They never turned to the world of the ungodly for financial support or for church members. Finding no “free offer” – not even once – in the Scripture, they give none. To them, the true Gospel is a…

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High-Calvinism may be defined as that set of teachings which denies duty faith, rejects the free offer and renounces the moral law as a rule of conduct for the believer’s life. Stated positively, High-Calvinism is that set of teachings which promotes the preaching to all sinners of a full, free and fruitful gospel. By a full gospel, I mean it is the good news of the three branches of the gracious covenant—the electing love of the Father, the redeeming grace of the Son and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. It is on this basis we reject the pernicious doctrine of the free offer. By a free gospel, I mean there are no conditions or requirements placed upon the sinner in order for him/her to be born again. It is on this basis we reject the pernicious doctrine of duty faith. By a fruitful gospel, I mean the rule for the believer’s life is his/her spiritual union with Christ (the gospel law), wherein He is made all things to His people, the Spirit of God infusing the graces of Christ into the soul. It is on this basis we reject the moral law as a rule of conduct for the Christian life. In essence, High-Calvinism understands the masterplan of God for the ages to revolve around two perpetual covenants (that of works of grace), and all members of the human race are responsible to God under one or the other of these covenants.

Now, the foregoing definition does not satisfy the Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists, for they do not understand its meaning. As they approach the gospel from a free will perspective, failing to grasp the significance of the covenants, they interpret High-Calvinism from a humanistic standpoint, thereby drawing the erroneous dichotomy between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. From this false presupposition, they proceed to create a caricature of High-Calvinism, describing its adherents as those who…

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What Is Hyper-Calvinism? This same question appears as the title for an article written by Ronald Hanko for the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRCA). You may view the full article here.

Hanko admits that his group (PRCA) is often maliciously charged with being hyper-Calvinists, because it rejects the well-meant offer of the gospel. However, he argues the historic definition for hyper-Calvinism is restricted to those who deny the doctrine of duty-faith, rather than those who reject the free-offer. He writes,

“Historically, the name has been applied to those who deny that the command of the gospel to repent and believe must be preached to all who hear the gospel.”

He goes on to explain:

“A hyper-Calvinist (historically and doctrinally) is…one who believes rightly in sovereign, double predestination and in particular redemption – who denies a universal love of God and a will of God to save all men. Yet he concludes wrongly that because God has determined who will be saved, sent Christ for them only, and gives to them salvation as a free gift, therefore only the elect should be commanded to repent and believe in the preaching of the gospel. This, we believe, is a serious error. It is an error that effectively destroys both gospel preaching and evangelism – an error that must be avoided.”

My Response:

First, I appreciate Hanko’s effort to distance himself from a fringe group of Calvinists often maligned as “hypers”. After all, who would want to be identified with those who have presumably pushed the gospel beyond the boundary? Having said that, the article leaves me questioning whether Hanko has a clear enough understanding to write against hyper-Calvinism.

Second, if it be true that mainstream Calvinism has historically rejected the well-meant offer of the gospel, then he makes a strong case that the PRCA cannot be called hyper-Calvinists. However, I do not believe he is correct on the matter. Mainstream Calvinism, especially that of the last few hundred years, has subscribed in one form or another to…

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Those who follow my teaching ministry will know that I am not a fan of Gospel Tracts, such as the Romans Road to Salvation or the Sinner’s Bridge of Salvation. First, these tracts misrepresent the gospel and the sinner’s duty towards God; Second, these tracts are designed to serve as proselyting tools, rather than evangelistic helps; Third, these tracts are used as crutches by those who do not have the knowledge or confidence to speak the truth in their own words.

I have been asked on occasion (in various ways), “If you do not believe Gospel Tracts should be used for evangelism, then how would you present the simplicity of the gospel, during a five minute visit at the hospital, to an unregenerate sinner on his/her deathbed?”

First, I would point out to the one asking the question that the salvation of the one on his/her deathbed does not depend on me sharing the gospel to him/her. If that person is numbered among God’s elect people, then he/she is already set apart as a special object of the Father’s love. Likewise, that person has already been freely justified by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. All that remains is the…

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Churches are among the only communities in the world which view ‘elders’ as an appointed or elected office. The universal and historically recognized meaning of the term refers to unofficial leaders of a community, distinguished by their age, wisdom, wealth and influence. They are not appointed or elected to an office of eldership. Rather, they assume an…

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In an article entitled, “The Need For Persuasion In The Preaching Of The Gospel”, Peter Masters wrote:

“The hyper-Calvinist regards the regenerating work of the Spirit as a total and complete work of conversion carried on in the heart by the Spirit in a direct manner…Believing that the whole of regeneration and conversion is accomplished by a direct work of the Spirit in the heart, and that repentance and faith are the fruit and evidence of a soul already saved, the preacher has no exhortation left to make!”

This is a classic Reformed (Fullerite) Baptist position. I respond:

First, the “hyper-Calvinist” does believe the regenerating work of the Spirt is total and complete.

Second, the “hyper-Calvinist” does believe that repentance and faith are the fruit and evidence of a soul already saved.

Third, the “hyper-Calvinist” distinguishes between the work of regeneration and that of conversion—regeneration is the Spirit of God working in the sinner both to will and to do of His good pleasure (impartation of a new nature); conversion is the…

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Winning Souls

15 May 2019, by

This teaching video is part of a daily series I publish entitled “Daily Breads”. Selected videos are uploaded to the online resources of the AHB.

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The leading issue which distinguishes a High-Calvinist from the Arminians and Fullerites (Moderate-Calvinists) is the subject of God’s sovereignty and man’s relatedness to Him. Whereas the Fullerite embraces fairly high views of God’s sovereignty, yet he remains as confused as the Arminian on the subject of man’s relatedness to the Lord.

Two Requirements For Having A Relationship With God

There are two requirements if man is to have a relationship with God. First, man must be a spirit being. This gives man the ABILITY to have a relationship with God. God is a spirit, and if man is to know God, he must also be a spirit. This is what it means to be made in God’s image. God created only two species of spirit beings. On day one, the first creatures He made were…

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Jerom Zanchius, in the first chapter of his book, “Absolute Predestination”, has helpfully outlined five leading features of God’s wisdom and foreknowledge. In summary, he wrote:

First, God is, and always was so perfectly wise, that nothing ever did, or does, or can elude His knowledge. He knew, from all eternity, not only what He Himself intended to do, but also what He would incline and permit others to do. “Known unto God are all His works from eternity ” (Acts 15:18).

Second, consequently, God knows nothing now, nor will know anything hereafter, which He did not know and foresee from everlasting…

After reflecting upon these considerations, I jotted down the following thoughts:

1. If a student is to profit from theology, one of the key exercises must be meditation and reflection upon the truth. There is a framework of truth (a system) wherein all things fit together harmoniously and without contradiction. If there is conflict that occurs in one’s understanding of theology, the fault is not with the truth, but with the one attempting to understand it. The theologian, then, must be always conforming his/her views to the…

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