Law and Gospel

June 30, 2011

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin distinguished three uses, or purposes, in the Law: (1) the pedagogical use (to convict of sin and lead us to Christ); (2) the civil use (to restrain evil in society); and (3) the didactic use (to guide the elect in doing the will of God).

Calvin wrote:

“That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts.

First, by exhibiting the righteousness of God,—in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God,—it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him… (Inst. 2.7.6)

The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice… (Inst. 2.7.10)

The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. For although the Law is written and engraven on their hearts by the finger of God, that is, although they are so influenced and actuated by the Spirit, that they desire to obey God, there are two ways in which they still profit in the Law. For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge…” (Inst. 2.7.12)

Luther on Galatians

June 29, 2011

During his lifetime no fewer than six editions of Martin Luther’s lectures on Galatians were published. Of these six, five were in Latin, and one was in German. Two of these have been translated for inclusion in the American edition of Luther’s Works. The one is translated from the 1519 Latin edition (based on lectures in 1516-1517), published during the early years of Luther’s career, and the other is translated from the 1535 Latin edition (based on lectures in 1531), published at a later point in Luther’s life. [1]

Read online:

Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (1535) by Martin Luther
Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (1519) by Martin Luther

Patience is the Companion of Faith

June 20, 2011

John Calvin’s Commentary on Romans 8:19-25

19. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it

19 For the intent expectation of the creation, etc. He teaches us that there is an example of the patience, to which he had exhorted us, even in mute creatures. For, to omit various interpretations, I understand the passage to have this meaning — that there is no element and no part of the world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection. He indeed lays down two things, — that all are creatures in distress, — and yet that they are sustained by hope. And it hence also appears how immense is the value of eternal glory, that it can excite and draw all things to desire it.

Further, the expression, expectation expects, or waits for, though somewhat unusual, yet has a most suitable meaning; for he meant to intimate, that all creatures, seized with great anxiety and held in suspense with great desire, look for that day which shall openly exhibit the glory of the children of God. The revelation of God’s children shall be, when we shall be like God, according to what John says,

“For though we know that we are now his sons, yet it appears not yet what we shall be.” (1 John 3:2.)

But I have retained the words of Paul; for bolder than what is meet is the version of Erasmus, “Until the sons of God shall be manifest;” nor does it sufficiently express the meaning of the Apostle; for he means not, that the sons of God shall be manifested in the last day, but that it shall be then made known how desirable and blessed their condition will be, when they shall put off corruption and put on celestial glory. But he ascribes hope to creatures void of reason for this end, — that the faithful may open their eyes to behold the invisible life, though as yet it lies hid under a mean garb.

20. For to vanity has the creation, etc. He shows the object of expectation from what is of an opposite character; for as creatures, being now subject to corruption, cannot be restored until the sons of God shall be wholly restore; hence they, longing for their renewal, look forward to the manifestation of the celestial kingdom. He says, that they have been subjected to vanity, and for this reason, because they abide not in a constant and durable state, but being as it were evanescent and unstable, they pass away swiftly; for no doubt he sets vanity in opposition to a perfect state.

Not willingly, etc. Since there is no reason in such creatures, their will is to be taken no doubt for their natural inclination, according to which the whole nature of things tends to its own preservation and perfection: whatever then is detained under corruption suffers violence, nature being unwilling and repugnant. But he introduces all parts of the world, by a sort of personification, as being endued with reason; and he does this in order to shame our stupidity, when the uncertain fluctuation of this world, which we see, does not raise our minds to higher things.

But on account of him, etc. He sets before us an example of obedience in all created things, and adds, that it springs from hope; for hence comes the alacrity of the sun and moon, and of all the stars in their constant courses, hence is the sedulity of the earth’s obedience in bringing forth fruits, hence is the unwearied motion of the air, hence is the prompt tendency to flow in water. God has given to everything its charge; and he has not only by a distinct order commanded what he would to be done, but also implanted inwardly the hope of renovation. For in the sad disorder which followed the fall of Adam, the whole machinery of the world would have instantly become deranged, and all its parts would have failed had not some hidden strength supported them. It would have been then wholly inconsistent that the earnest of the Spirit should be less efficacious in the children of God than hidden instinct in the lifeless parts of creation. How much soever then created things do naturally incline another way; yet as it has pleased God to bring them under vanity, they obey his order; and as he has given them a hope of a better condition, with this they sustain themselves, deferring their desire, until the incorruption promised to them shall be revealed. He now, by a kind of personification, ascribes hope to them, as he did will before.

21. Because the creation itself, etc. He shows how the creation has in hope been made subject to vanity; that is, inasmuch as it shall some time be made free, according to what Isaiah testifies, and what Peter confirms still more clearly. It is then indeed meet for us to consider what a dreadful curse we have deserved, since all created things in themselves blameless, both on earth and in the visible heaven, undergo punishment for our sins; for it has not happened through their own fault, that they are liable to corruption. Thus the condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures. It hence also appears to what excelling glory the sons of God shall be exalted; for all creatures shall be renewed in order to amplify it, and to render it illustrious.

But he means not that all creatures shall be partakers of the same glory with the sons of God; but that they, according to their nature, shall be participators of a better condition; for God will restore to a perfect state the world, now fallen, together with mankind. But what that perfection will be, as to beasts as well as plants and metals, it is not meet nor right in us to inquire more curiously; for the chief effect of corruption is decay. Some subtle men, but hardly sober-minded, inquire whether all kinds of animals will be immortal; but if reins be given to speculations where will they at length lead us? Let us then be content with this simple doctrine, — that such will be the constitution and the complete order of things, that nothing will be deformed or fading.

22. For we know, etc. He repeats the same sentiment, that he might pass over to us, though what is now said has the effect and the form of a conclusion; for as creatures are subject to corruption, not through their natural desire, but through the appointment of God, and then, as they have a hope of being hereafter freed from corruption, it hence follows, that they groan like a woman in travail until they shall be delivered. But it is a most suitable similitude; it shows that the groaning of which he speaks will not be in vain and without effect; for it will at length bring forth a joyful and blessed fruit. The meaning is, that creatures are not content in their present state, and yet that they are not so distressed that they pine away without a prospect of a remedy, but that they are as it were in travail; for a restoration to a better state awaits them. By saying that they groan together, he does not mean that they are united together by mutual anxiety, but he joins them as companions to us. The particle hitherto, or, to this day, serves to alleviate the weariness of daily languor; for if creatures have continued for so many ages in their groaning, how inexcusable will our softness or sloth be if we faint during the short course of a shadowy life.

23. And not only so, etc. There are those who think that the Apostle intended here to exalt the dignity of our future blessedness, and by this proof, because all things look for it with ardent desire; not only the irrational parts of creation, but we also who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God. This view is indeed capable of being defended, but there seems to me to be a comparison here between the greater and the less; as though he said, “The excellency of our glory is of such importance even to the very elements, which are destitute of mind and reason, that they burn with a certain kind of desire for it; how much more it behoves us, who have been illuminated by the Spirit of God, to aspire and strive with firmness of hope and with ardour of desire, after the attainment of so great a benefit.” And he requires that there should be a feeling of two kinds in the faithful: that being burdened with the sense of their present misery, they are to groan; and that notwithstanding they are to wait patiently for their deliverance; for he would have them to be raised up with the expectation of their future blessedness, and by an elevation of mind to overcome all their present miseries, while they consider not what they are now, but what they are to be.

Who have the beginnings, etc. Some render the word first-fruits, (primitias,) and as meaning a rare and uncommon excellency; but of this view I by no means approve. To avoid, therefore, any ambiguity, I have rendered the word beginnings, (primordia, the elements,) for I do not apply the expression, as they do, to the Apostles only, but to all the faithful who in this world are besprinkled only with a few drops by the Spirit; and indeed when they make the greatest proficiency, being endued with a considerable measure of it, they are still far off from perfection. These, then, in the view of the Apostle, are beginnings or first-fruits, to which is opposed the complete ingathering; for as we are not yet endued with fullness, it is no wonder that we feel disquietude. By repeating ourselves and adding in ourselves, he renders the sentence more emphatical, and expresses a more ardent desire, nor does he call it only a desire, but groaning: for in groaning there is a deep feeling of misery.

Waiting for the adoption, etc. Improperly indeed, but not without the best reason, is adoption employed here to designate the fruition of the inheritance to which we are adopted; for Paul means this, that the eternal decree of God, by which he has chosen us to himself as sons before the foundation of the world, of which he testifies to us in the gospel, the assurance of which he seals on our hearts by his Spirit, would be void, except the promised resurrection were certain, which is its consummation. For to what end is God our Father, except he receives us after we have finished our earthly pilgrimage into his celestial inheritance? To the same purpose is what he immediately subjoins, the redemption of the body. For the price of our redemption was in such a way paid by Christ, that death should notwithstanding hold us tied by its chains, yea, that we should carry it within us; it hence follows, that the sacrifice of the death of Christ would be in vain and fruitless, except its fruit appeared in our heavenly renovation.

24. For by hope, etc. Paul strengthens his exhortation by another argument; for our salvation cannot be separated from some kind of death, and this he proves by the nature of hope. Since hope extends to things not yet obtained, and represents to our minds the form of things hidden and far remote, whatever is either openly seen or really possessed, is not an object of hope. But Paul takes it as granted, and what cannot be denied, that as long as we are in the world, salvation is what is hoped for; it hence follows, that it is laid up with God far beyond what we can see. By saying, that hope is not what is seen, he uses a concise expression, but the meaning is not obscure; for he means simply to teach us, that since hope regards some future and not present good, it can never be connected with what we have in possession. If then it be grievous to any to groan, they necessarily subvert the order laid down by God, who does not call his people to victory before he exercises them in the warfare of patience. But since it has pleased God to lay up our salvation, as it were, in his closed bosom, it is expedient for us to toil on earth, to be oppressed, to mourn, to be afflicted, yea, to lie down as half-dead and to be like the dead; for they who seek a visible salvation reject it, as they renounce hope which has been appointed by God as its guardian.

25. If then what we see not, etc. This is an argument derived from what the antecedent implies; for patience necessarily follows hope. For when it is grievous to be without the good you may desire, unless you sustain and comfort yourselves with patience, you must necessarily faint through despair. Hope then ever draws patience with it. Thus it is a most apt conclusion — that whatever the gospel promises respecting the glory of the resurrection, vanishes away, except we spend our present life in patiently bearing the cross and tribulations. For if life be invisible, we must have death before our eyes: if glory be invisible, then our present state is that of degradation. And hence if you wish to include in a few words the meaning of the whole passage, arrange Paul’s arguments in this way, “To all the godly there is salvation laid up in hope; it is the character of hope to look forward to future and absent benefits: then the salvation of the faithful is not visible. Now hope is not otherwise sustained than by patience; then the salvation of the faithful is not to be consummated except by patience.”

It may be added, that we have here a remarkable passage, which shows, that patience is an inseparable companion of faith; and the reason of this is evident, for when we console ourselves with the hope of a better condition, the feeling of our present miseries is softened and mitigated, so that they are borne with less difficulty.

Source: Commentary on Romans | Christian Classics Ethereal Library

And So…Nothing Happened

May 23, 2011

05/21/2011 – James White

As of the time of the posting of this article, Harold Camping has been proven a false prophet (again). Why? Because it is now 7pm standard time (yes, I remembered to factor in the daylight savings thing) in Guam, one of the first places on earth to experience the time of the “rapture” that Camping has predicted as a guaranteed biblical truth for years now.* And, according to the US Geological Survey (the clearing house for earthquake information from all over the world), no earthquake 10 or above on the Richter scale has taken place in that time zone…anywhere. Camping said the earthquake would be greater than anything known before, so I figure that’s at least a 10, probably more (since he said it would open all the tombs and throw the bodies of the dead out of their graves to be “shamed in God’s sight”). So, we begin the documentation,** which will continue through the day, of what some of us have been saying for a very, very long time: Harold Camping is a cult leader, a false teacher, and it is high time his followers finally admit it. (emphasis mine) Read more»

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The New Testament Documents and the Historicity of the Resurrection

April 26, 2011

Some very useful info here – The New Testament Documents and the Historicity of the Resurrection

I hope you all had a blessed Easter

Calvin’s Commentary on Daniel

April 12, 2011

In his introduction Wilbur M. Smith D.D., writes:

“Calvin himself lived in an age of ecclesiastical warfare, when many of the rulers of Europe at the time of the Reformation persecuted those who made the Word of God pre-eminent, and preached a gospel of free grace. In May 1546, Charles V, with the strong support, financial and otherwise, of Pope Paul III, began rigorously his foredoomed determination to stamp out Lutheranism in Germany. The end of that war, says Mr. A. F. Pollard, ‘had exhausted all classes in the nation, and an era of universal lassitude followed. Germany was a desert, and it was called a Religious Peace.’ Francis I attempted the same programme of fierce persecution in France, 1540-44, during which time occurred the shameful massacre of the Waldensians. In 1545 alone, twenty-two villages were burned, over three thousand men and women slain, ‘while the flower of the men were sent to the galleys.’ Many of the survivors fled to Switzerland. The year after Calvin’s work on Daniel first appeared, began the fearfully devastating Wars of Religion, eight of them, from where Europe did not recover for over two centuries. In Calvin’s time, belief meant something. It was then that any true Christian might expect to endure torture and death ‘for His Name’s sake‘. Calvin himself was an exile.

The experiences of Daniel and the Hebrew people in their captivity in Babylon, illustrated by such chapters in Daniel’s book as the casting of the three loyal Hebrew men into the fiery furnace, and Daniel’s own experience with Darius and his jealous colleagues, resulting in his being cast himself into the den of lions, gave Calvin opportunity to give expression to many things that were in his heart at this time. As he himself says in his Dedicatory Epistle, ‘I have the very best occasion of shewing you, beloved brethren, in this mirror, how God proves the faith of his people in these days by various trials; and how with wonderful wisdom he has taken care to strengthen their minds by ancient examples, that they should never be weakened by the concussion of the severest storms and tempests; or at least, if they should totter at all, that they should never finally fall away. For although the servants of God are required to run in a course impeded by many obstacles, yet whoever diligently reads this Book will find in it whatever is needed by a voluntary and active runner to guide him from the starting-post to the goal; while good and strenuous wrestlers will experimentally acknowledge that they have been sufficiently prepared for the contest…Here, then, we observe, as in a living picture, that when God spares and even indulges the wicked for a time, he proves his servants like gold and silver; so that we ought not to consider it a grievance to be thrown into the furnace of trial, while profane men enjoy the calmness of repose.’

…In a day like this, in which we are living, when the governments of the world are breaking up, in a day when a cast part of the earth is controlled by a merciless dictatorship, when multitudes of Christians have already known persecution, and many more will before this age ends, there is hardly any book in the Old Testament we could read with more profit than the book of Daniel, and scarcely a commentary on any portion of the Old Testament quite so profitable as Calvin’s two volumes on Daniel, for as Calvin says in his dedicatory preface, ‘Here we observe, as in a living picture, that when God spares and even indulges the wicked for a time, he proves his servants like gold and silver; so that we ought not to consider it a grievance to be thrown into the furnace of trial, while profane men enjoy the calmness of repose…For God shews how all earthly power which is not founded on Christ must fall; and he threatens speedy destruction to all Kingdoms which obscure Christ’s glory by extending themselves too much.’ As in Calvin’s day, so pre-eminently in ours, ‘Lo! storms and tempests now flow from another fountain! Because Rulers and Governors of the world do not willingly submit to the yoke of Christ, now even the rude multitude reject what is salutary before they even taste it. Some delight themselves in filth, like pigs, and others excited by fury rejoice in slaughter. The devil instigates by especial fury those whom he has enslaved to himself to tumults of all sorts. Hence the clash of trumpets; hence conflicts and battles.’”

Source: John Calvin, A Commentary on Daniel, trans. by the Calvin Translation Society (London: Banner of Truth, 1966), iii-iv, vi-vii.

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Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel, and their Ignorance Fest on Calvinism (James White)

April 6, 2011

Francis Turretin on the Threefold Office of Christ

April 5, 2011

The writings of John Calvin, especially his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559), established a pattern which would become widespread within Reformed Christology. The significance of Christ was explored using the model of the “threefold office,” which depicted him as prophet, priest and king. As a prophet, Christ declared the will of God; as a priest, he made atonement for sins; and as king, he rules over his people. The noted seventeenth-century Genevan theologian Francois Turrettini, [Ed. also known as Francis Turretin] a major exponent of the Reformed tradition, here sets out this understanding more fully, in a text originally published in Latin in 1679. See also 5.15;5:16.

Source: Institutio theologiae elencticae, topic 14, q. 5; in Institutio theologiae electrical, 3 vols (Rome: Trajecti, 1734), vol. 2, pp. 424-7.

“The office of Christ is nothing other than a mediation between God and humanity, which he was sent into the world by the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit to carry out. It embraces all that Christ was required to achieve during his mission and calling in relation to an offended God and offending humanity (erga Deus offensum et hominess offendentes), reconciling and uniting them to each other…This mediatorial office of Christ is distributed among three functions, which are individual parts of it: the prophetic, priestly and kingly. Christ sustained these together rather than separately, something which he alone was able to do. For what would, in the case of other people, be divided on account of their weakness (as no mortal could discharge them alone, so great are their dignity and responsibility) are united in Christ on account of his supreme perfection. There could indeed be people who were both kings and priests (such as Melchizedek) or kings and prophets (such as David), or priests and prophets (as in the case of some high priests) – but there is no other who perfectly fulfilled all three. This was the reserved for Christ alone, in that he was able to uphold the truth which is embodied in these types…The threefold misery of humanity resulting from sin (that is, ignorance, guilt, and the oppression and bondage of sin) required this threefold office. Ignorance is healed through the prophetic office, guilt through the priestly, and the oppression and bondage of sin through the kingly. The prophetic light scatters the darkness of error; the merit of the priest removes the guilt and obtains reconciliation for us; the power of the king takes away the bondage of sin and death. The prophet shows God to us; the priest leads us to God; and the King joins us together with God, and glorifies us with him. The prophet illuminates the mind by the spirit of enlightenment; the priest soothes the heart and conscience by the spirit of consolation; the king subdues rebellious inclinations by the spirit of sanctification.”

The above was taken from Alister E. McGrath, (Editor) (1995), The Christian Theology Reader, (Oxford/Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1995), 153-54.

The Triple Cure: Jesus Christ – Our Prophet, Priest, and King

April 4, 2011

By Kim Riddlebarger

It was John Calvin who brought the munus triplex, or the so-called “threefold office” of Christ into prominence. Picked up by most of the subsequent Reformed tradition, and adopted by many Lutheran theologians as well, the threefold office presents Jesus Christ as prophet, priest, and king, who in his saving work, fulfilled all the anointed offices of the Old Testament. (1) Calvin adopted this model to accomplish several things. First, it helped him give shape to his overall Christology, which focuses primarily on Christ’s work in terms of being mediator of a covenant of redemption, the one chosen by God to be the savior of the elect. Second, he used the threefold office to bind together Christ’s person as the eternal Son of God, fully human and fully divine, to his work as redeemer, as seen in his names “Christ” and “Messiah,” which themselves are indicative of his being the “anointed one.” (2) This means that for Calvin, “the Son of God, therefore, is not properly called Christ apart from his office, for it is there, in his official capacity, that he manifests as the true fulfillment of the offices of the Old Testament his threefold work as prophet, priest, and king.” (3) This model also offers an excellent way to connect redemptive history to systematic theology. Since Christ’s three offices, prophet, priest, and king, “represent the three offices of ancient Israel to which men were appointed as servants of God,” Calvin could connect the incarnation directly to Christ’s work as mediator. This means that “the prophet, the king, and the priest are united in Christ, are perfected, and are thereby fulfilled and brought to conclusion in the one who is both king and priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (4) In the threefold office, Calvin offers an excellent and compelling way to make sense of a large block of diverse biblical data.

Later Reformed theologians, such as Francis Turretin, introduce the threefold office of our Lord as the divinely revealed solution to the threefold disease of ignorance, guilt, and pollution described above. It is Christ, as prophet, priest, and king, who offers the threefold cure to our fatal disease. Read more»

The Doctrine of Perseverance and the Church of England

March 28, 2011
J.C.Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), first Anglican bishop of Liverpool

In the following extract J.C. Ryle convincingly argues that the Perseverance of the Saints is the old doctrine of the Church of England.

By J.C. Ryle

There are few subjects about which English people are so ignorant as they are about the real doctrines of the Church of England. Many persons know nothing of the theological opinions of the English Reformers, and of all leading English Divines for nearly a century after the Protestant Reformation. They call opinions old which in reality are new, and they call opinions new which in reality are old.

It would be a waste of time to inquire into the causes of this ignorance. Certain it is that it exists. Few people seem to be aware that those doctrines which now are commonly called evangelical, were the universally received divinity of English Churchmen throughout the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I. They are not, as many ignorantly suppose, new-fangled views of modern invention. They are simply the old paths in which the Reformers and their immediate successors walked. Tractarianism, High Churchism, and Broad Churchism are new systems. Evangelical teaching is neither more nor less than the old school.

The proof of this assertion is to be found in the Church history of the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, and in the writings of the divines of that period. Far be it from me to defend all the sayings and doings of theologians of that date. The student will find in their writings abundant traces of intolerance, illiberality, and bigotry, which I would be the last to defend. But that the vast majority of all Churchmen in that day held doctrines which are now called Calvinistic and Evangelical, is to my mind as clear as noon-day: and upon no point does the evidence appear to me so clear as upon the doctrine of perseverance.

(1) Is it not a historical fact, that in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, in the year 1595, the University of Cambridge compelled Mr. Barret, of Caius college, to read a public recantation and apology in St. Mary’s Church, for having denied the doctrines of final perseverance and election?—The Church of England’s old Antithesis to new Arminianism by William Prynne, page 56.

(2) Is it not a historical fact, that the Articles drawn up by the Vice-Chancellor and heads of the University of Cambridge, against the above-mentioned Barret, conclude with the following words? “This doctrine, being not about inferior points of matters indifferent, but of the substantial ground, and chief comfort and anchor ground of our salvation, hath been to our knowledge continually and generally received, taught, and defended in this University, in lectures, disputations, and sermons, and in other places in sermons, since the beginning of her Majesty’s reign, and is so still holden; and we take it agreeable to the doctrine of the Church of England—Edwards Veritas Redux, page 534.

(3) Is it not a historical fact, that in the same Queen Elizabeth’s reign, in the same year, 1595, the Lambeth Articles were drawn up and approved by Archbishop Whitgift and Bishop Bancroft (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury); and that they contain the following proposition: “A true living and justifying faith, and the Spirit of God who justifies, is not extinguished, falleth not away, vanisheth not in the elect, either finally or totally.” These articles were not added to our confession of faith; but Fuller’s words nevertheless are perfectly true: “The testimony of these learned divines is an infallible evidence what were the general and received doctrines of England in that age.”—Fuller’s Church History. Tegg’s edition. Third volume, page 150.

(4) Is it not a historical fact, that in the year 1604, in James the First’s reign, this doctrine of perseverance was considered at the Hampton Court Conference. The Puritan party wished the Lambeth Articles to be added to the Thirty-nine Articles. Their request was not granted: but on what grounds? Not because the doctrine of perseverance was objected to, but because King James thought it better “not to stuff the book of Articles with all conclusions theological While even Overall, Dean of St. Paul’s, whose soundness on this point was most suspected, used these remarkable words: “Those who are justified according to the purpose of God’s election, though they might fall into grievous sin, and thereby into the present estate of damnation, yet never totally nor finally fall from justification, but are in time renewed by God’s Spirit unto lively faith and repentance”—Fuller’s Church History, third volume, page 181.

(5) Is it not a historical fact, that the first exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, published after the Reformation, contains a full and distinct assertion of the doctrine of perseverance, in the part which treats of the Seventeenth Article? I allude to the work of Thomas Rogers, Chaplain to Archbishop Bancroft, to whom the book was dedicated, 1607.—Rogers on the thirty-nine Articles. Parker Society Edition.

(6) Is it not a historical fact, that in the year 1612, King James the First published a declaration written by himself, against one Vorstius, an Arminian divine, in which he calls the doctrine, that the saints may fall away, “A wicked doctrine, a blasphemous heresy, directly contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England.”—Prynne. Church of England Antithesis, etc., page 206.

(7) Is it not a historical fact, that the same King James the First, in the same year 1612, wrote a letter to the States of Holland, in consequence of a Dutch divine, named Bertius, having written a book on the Apostasy of the Saints, and sent it to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In this letter, the King speaks of Bertius as “a pestilent heretic,” and called his doctrine “an abominable heresy,” and in one place says, “he is not ashamed to lie so grossly as to avow that the heresies contained in the said book are agreeable with the religion and profession of the Church of England.”—Prynne. Church of England’s Antithesis to Arminianism, page 206.

(8) Is it not a historical fact, that the same King James the First, in the year 1616, visited with severe displeasure a clergyman named Sympson, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, for preaching before him at Royston, that true believers may totally fall away?—Fuller’s History of Cambridge, page 160.

(9) Is it not a historical fact, that in the Synod of Dort, in the year 1619, the doctrine of final perseverance was strongly asserted? Now several English Divines were formally deputed to attend this Synod and take part in its proceedings, and amongst others, Bishop Davenant, and Bishop Carleton. And is it not notorious that however much they differed from the conclusions of the Synod in the matters of discipline, they “approved all the points of doctrine?”—Fuller’s Church History, vol. 3, page 279.

(10) Last, but not least, is it not a historical fact, that all the leading Archbishops and Bishops in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, were thorough Calvinists in matters of doctrine? And is not a notorious fact that the final perseverance of the saints is one of the leading principles of the system that is called Calvinistic? Heylin himself is obliged to confess this. He says, “It was safer for any man in those times to have been looked upon as a heathen or publican than an anti-Calvinist.”—Heylin’s Life of Laud, page 52.

I lay these ten facts before my readers and ask his serious attention to them. I am unable to understand how any one can avoid the conclusion which may be drawn from them. To me it appears an established point in history, that the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is the old doctrine of the Church of England, and the denial of this doctrine is new.

Source: John Charles Ryle, Old paths being plain statements on some of the weightier matters of Christianity, (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1977), pp.518-520.