Fair Market, Price Setting Commission, Oppressing the Poor, Monopolies, Price Gouging, & Concerning Scarcity and Supply

July 18, 2016

capitalism

Michael Daniels

7/18/2016

 

Ah, Free-Market Capitalism and Socialism; both modern day evils of the world’s economics. Many people think they are the only options open to us.  But there are other options and ones that are biblical. Such as the Fair-Market option that the Protestant Reformer taught in their day.

 

Within Free-Market Capitalism there are many things that are contrary to divine law and many Christians today do not even know are wicked and oppressive. Did you know that even our Westminster Standards claim forth that enhancing prices, engrossing commodities, oppressing especially the poor, enriching ourselves by unjust and sinful ways of withholding from our neighbors and all other ways whereby we unduly prejudice our own outward estate which are all forms off Unjust weights and measures within Commerce? Did you also know that divine law gives sanctions to the Civil Magistrate to enforce commerce and commercial and trade regulations?

Socialism you say? No way! But also not Free-Market Capitalism but all parts of Fair-Market Trade.. If you are a Reconstructionist you may be bulking at these ideas at the moment but these are things that are explicitly spelled out within our Reformed Confessional Standards as well as the Covenanter position on the Economic Commerce.

 

The Westminster Larger Catechism explicit states the following in Question and Answer 142,

 

“Q. 142. What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?

 

  1. The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery,… fraudulent dealing,  false weights and measures, … oppression, … engrossing commodities to enhance the price; … and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbour what belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; …  and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate …”

 

The Scripture references are according to Vos’ Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism,

 

  1. Fraudulent Weights and False Weights and Measures: Thess. 4:6; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 20:10; Amos 8:5.
  2. All forms of Oppression, or taking advantage on the helplessness of others for our own profit: Lev. 25:7; Matt. 23:25; Ezek. 22:12 & 29; Psalm 15:5.
  3. The Attempt to Establish Monopolies: Isa. 5:3; Mic. 2:2; Proverbs 11:26.
  4. All ways of enriching ourselves at the expense & withholding of others: Luke 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:5; Col. 3:2; Proverbs 23 :5; Psalm 62:10; Matthew 6:25, 31 34; Eccl. 5:12.

 

I can hear it now, “But Gary North says … !” Gary North is not always right. Adding to this is he is just one person and not a confessional standard and some of his ideas are not Reformed or Scriptural.

 

As I already stated these are all forms of False Weights & Balances in Measurements and falls within the realm of the civil magistrate and regulation.

 

“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” – Lev. 19:35-36

 

While many thinks of this passage as dealing with currency (and it does) but it is not restricted to currency standards and deals with all forms of trade and commerce.  This passage actually encompasses a much greater span of transactions. All commodities traded and sold, as well as precious metals used as money, were required to be measured and weighed according to established standards.  Their measure in length, capacity, volume, weight, and value all had prescribed units (e.g., shekel, bath, omer, ephah, cubit, gerah, dram, etc.), which no one was allowed to deviate from.

 

The command for just weights and measures assumes that there are recognized standards (including prices that are fair and not inflated or gouged) for calculating weight, capacity, and length in a given marketplace and society.

 

It was stressed in the Torah that you have ONE ephah, and that it be clean and untainted, so that the measure was the same everywhere anyone traveled. This is a form of price setting and done by the government to be the same everywhere anyone traveled.

 

From the earliest period of their history the people of God understood the necessity of an accurate system of weights and measures, and an honest handling of them.  Food supplies and other goods were obtained through barter in the marketplace or purchased with weights of precious metals (silver and gold). The first legislation in the interest of economic righteousness in general is found in Leviticus 19:35 and Deuteronomy 25:13–16, and the prophets constantly denounced the use of false measures in later history (see Amos 8:5; Hos. 12:8; Micah 6:10; see also Prov. 11:1; 16:11; 20:10).

 

The use of a false weight or measure involves both deceit and theft; deceit, because it is purported to be what it is not; theft, because it leads the buyer to spend more money than the commodity is actually worth and thus punishable by the civil magistrates as a form of theft and a violation of the Law of God.

 

Using false weights and measurements often transcends mere fraud and becomes outright oppression. It is the job of the magistrate to regulate just weights and measures,

 

“’Thus says the Lord GOD, “Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness Stop your expropriations from My people,” declares the Lord GOD. “You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.” Ezekiel 45:9-10

 

“The people of the land have violently oppressed by spoiling and robbing, and have vexed the poor and the needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger against right. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” – Ezekiel 22:29-31

 

So it is the job and function of the Civil Magistrate to regulate as well as fix prices that are fair within the economic markets of the nation.

 

The Reformer Martin Luther stated regarding Price fixing and preventing price gouging and oppressing the poor by withholding necessities of life (such as food, medicine, clothing, shelter, etc) from them,

 

“For  when this rogue’s eye and greedy belly of a merchant finds that people must have his wares, or that the buyer is poor and needs them, he takes advantage of him and raises the price. He considers, not the value of the goods or what he has earned by his trouble and risk, but only the other man’s need; not that he may relieve it, but that he may use it for his own profit, to raise the price of goods, which he would not have raised if it had not been for his neighbour’s need. Because of his greed, therefore, the wares must have a price proportioned to his neighbour’s need for them, and his neighbour’s need, like his own wares, must have a valuation. Pray, is not that unchristian and inhuman conduct? Is not that selling a poor man his own poverty? If, because of his need, he has to buy his wares so much the dearer, it is just the same as if he had to buy his own need; for what is sold is not the wares as they are, but the wares plus the fact that he must have them. This and like abominations are the necessary consequence when the rule is: I may sell my wares as dear as I can.

 

The rule ought to be, not: I may sell my wares as dear as I can or will, but: I may sell my wares as dear as I ought, or as is right and proper. For your selling ought not to be a work that is entirely within your own power and will, without law or limit, as though you were a god and beholden to no one; but because this selling of yours is a work that you perform toward your neighbor …

 

But in order not to leave this question entirely unanswered, the best and safest way would be for the temporal authorities to appoint over this matter wise and honest men who would appraise the cost of all sorts of wares and fix accordingly the outside price at which the merchant would get his due and have an honest living, just as at certain places they fix the price of wine, fish, bread and the like. …

the next best thing is to hold our wares at the price which they bring in the common market or which is customary in the neighbourhood. In this matter we can accept the proverb: “Do like others and you are no fool.” Any profit made in this way, I consider honest and well earned, since there is risk of loss in wares and outlay, and the profits cannot be all too great.

 

But when the price of goods is not fixed either by law or custom, and you must fix it yourself, then indeed no one can give you any other instructions except to lay it upon your conscience to be careful and not overcharge your neighbour, and seek not avaricious gain, but only an honest living. …

 

In deciding how much profit you ought to take on your business and your labour, there is no better way to reckon it than by estimating the amount of time and labour” –Martin Luther, On Trade

 

So yes, I support Price fixing for a Fair-Market System through a Price Fixing Ministry of Justice and believe it is based on Scriptural law both explicit as well as good and necessary inference. It is better to be decided in the multitudes of people in counsel then in the greedy mind of one as long as that counsel of people are not bought by businesses and corporations to also enforce their form of price gouging and monopolies.. That also must be prevented! In fact I question that legitimacy of the concept and idea of corporations in the first place based on divine law but that I will leave for another day to write about.

 

It is also extremely wicked to raise the prices of products just because of scarity or a shortage in supply.

 

Again Martin Luther stated,

“there are some who sell their goods at a higher price than they command in the common market, or than is customary in the trade; and raise the price of their wares for no other reason than because they know that there is no more of that commodity in the country, or that the supply will shortly cease, and people must have it. That is a very rogue’s eye of greed, which sees only one’s neighbour’s need, not to relieve it but to make the most of it and grow rich on one’s neighbour’s losses. All such people are manifest thieves, robbers, and usurers.” Martin Luther, On Trade
It is manifest thievery and wickedness to oppress the poor in such ways as to fill ones purse with money made in such a way. It is as Martin Luther called it a rogue’s eye of greed.

 

Even more heinous is to purposefully buy up entire supplies of goods so as to engross the price or create a monopoly in such wares as to fix your own price of what YOU think is fair or to corner the market by the preventing of others to sell similar like products or even at a lower cost.

 

Martin Luther states,

 

“Again, there are some who buy up the entire supply of certain goods or wares in a country or a city, so that they may have those goods solely in their own power and can then fix and raise the price and sell them as dear as they like or can. Now I have said above that the rule that a man may sell his goods as dear as he will or can is false and unchristian.  It is far more abominable that one should buy up the whole commodity for that purpose. Even the imperial and temporal laws forbid this and call it “monopoly,” i.e., purchase for self-interest, which is not to be tolerated in city or country, and princes and lords would stop it and punish it if they did their duty. Merchants who do this act just as though God’s creatures and God’s goods were made for them alone and given to them alone, and as though they could take them from other people and set on them whatever price they chose. ” Martin Luther, On Trade

 

These are all issues and matters that are explicitly and categorically condemned within our confessional standards and a Christian as no business practicing any of these practices. These are issues that are required to be suppressed at the national levels and ARE within the realm of civil magistracy.

 

Such monopolies of commodities, especially of the necessities of life, are so clearly unjust that they are to be prohibited by civil legislation..

 

Other passages that deal with False Weights and Balances and How Abominable they are to Yahovah,

 

“Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales, So as to buy the helpless for money And the needy for a pair of sandals, And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?” Amos 8:4-6

 

“A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, He loves to oppress. And Ephraim said, “Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors they will find in me No iniquity, which would be sin.” Hosea 12:7-8

 

“Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD.” Proverbs 20:10

 

“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” Proverbs 11:1

 

“A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.”  Proverbs 16:11

 

“Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, And a false scale is not good.” Proverbs 20:23

 

Sadly, many people are so caught up in Americanism they can’t see any other way and call others who advocate such as socialist but which is furthest from the truth.  And it should be pointed out that America or even American ways are not always the right or biblical way.

The Great Heresies of Antinomianism and Neonomianism

June 30, 2016

blog antinomianism tzitzit

 

Remember the Commandments of God

Michael Daniels

Antinomianism and Neonomianism must be fully rejected and considered to be very great heresies. It equally applies to that false doctrine NCT (New Covenant Theology).

Christ constantly appealed to the law and prophets. It is “written” was His warrant for all He said and did. He did not assume to Himself the authority of abrogating that holy, perfect, and spiritual rule of life, which was contained in the law given from God by Moses.

He began His Public ministry with the most solemn protest against such a supposition.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

If we attend to Christ’s preaching from the Mount in Matthew 5, we shall find Him a most zealous advocate for the law of God as delivered by Moses.

“It comes in the section of the Sermon on the Mount in which our Lord is showing the relationship of His kingdom and teaching to the law of God that was given through Moses to the children of Israel. He begins by saying that He has not come to destroy but to fufil; indeed He says, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. Then comes the following: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ He then proceeds to display His teaching in the light of this background. Bearing all that in mind, let us also remember that in these six contrast which our Lord draws, He is comparing not the law of Moses, as such, with His own teaching, but rather the false interpretation of this law by the Pharisees and scribes. Our Lord obviously does not say that He had come to correct the law of Moses, because it was God’s law, given by God Himself to Moses. No; our Lord’s purpose was to correct the perversion, the false interpretation of the law which was being taught to the people by the Pharisees and scribes. He is therefore honouring the law of Moses and displaying it in its great fullness and glory.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

In Matthew 23 Christ declared,

“Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. …”

And then He declared in verse 23 that while we do the lesser matters of the law we are not to forget about the weightier matters of the law but to do them both not leaving either undone. We are not free from the law, even the lesser matters of the law but while doing the lesser matters of the law don’t leave undone the greater matters of the law.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

“He came into the world to be subject to it in all things, and so to fulfill the whole righteousness of it.” (Matthew 3:15)

He did not come to abolish or do away with the Law of His Father, but it was prophesied that He would come,

“To magnify and make it honourable.” (Isaiah 42:21)

Christ delights to do the will of the Father and that the Law is within His heart,

“Lo- I come- in the volume of the book it is written of me- I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, Thy Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8)

Christ, not to add the apostles, suspended the truth of his mission and doctrine on the infallibility and holiness of the Old Testament. His appeal is ever to them. He cites Moses and the prophets as though he thought their testimony must be the end of strife.

In John 5:46-47, Christ tells us – “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Christ commanded the Jews to search the Scriptures, that they might as He said, think they had eternal life in them but they were sadly mistaken. In vain were they referred to the Hebrew Scriptures as testifying of Him. And not one word is there found in the Scriptures of the Old Testament of His appearance upon the Earth as a repealer and abrogater of the Moral Law of Moses or an enacter and establisher of a new rule of life in it’s place.

And Christ declared that He does not speak of His own, nor is His doctrine or commandments His but the one who send Him, nor does he do anything himself,

“My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.” (John 3:34)

If any man will do His will, he shall known of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:16, 17)

“I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19)

“I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12: 49, 50)

Christ declared the greatest laws to be the Law of God which is summarized in the Ten Commandments and further summarized under the headings of the Two Greatest Commandments. The First Commandment is the summary of the First 4 Commandments in the Ten Commandments and the Second Commandment is the last 6 Commandments in the Ten Commandments.

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

The Apostle Paul

“The law is holy, and the commandment holy- just- and good.” (Romans 7:12)

Verse 14, “The law is spiritual- enter not into judgment with thy servant”

The Bereans

The Scriptures that the Bereans (Acts 17:11) were told to search must have been the scriptures of the Old Testament; because no others, if written, could then have come to their hands; but they compared the New testament as preached by Paul with that of the Old Testament of Moses and the Prophets. That they might judge whether the things he declared to them were of divine authority, answerable to revelations that preceded by the Mind and Will of God or not.

New Law

If it is possible to produce a single law of Christ which opposes the law of the Old Testament, all his claim to the character of the Messiah is at an end; for the Messiah was,

“to be made of a woman made under the law” Galatians 4:4

Subject to it’s very precepts, obedient to every command which includes,

“Ye shall not Add to the Word I commanded you, neither shall ye Diminish aught from it” Deuteronomy 12:32 and Deuteronomy 4:2

So important was this commandment that it was given twice.

If a New Law is to be found or that the New Testament contained a more excellent law or rule of life it then follows irresistibly that Jesus Christ was either mistaken or he was dishonest. Absit impietas. In either case, he is no Redeemer for us and we must continue to wait for the first coming of the Messiah.

Consider what is said of the Law of God,

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalm 19, 7-11

Psalm 119

“1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.

25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.

27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.

28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.

29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.

30 I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame.

32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.

53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

55 I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law.

56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

57 Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words.

58 I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.

62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.

63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.

65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.

66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

69 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.

70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?

83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.

84 How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?

85 The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.

86 All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.

87 They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.

88 Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.

89 For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.

90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.

91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.

92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.

93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

94 I am thine, save me: for I have sought thy precepts.

95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.

96 I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.

97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.

103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.

107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.

108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me thy judgments.

109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.

110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.

112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.

113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.

114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.

116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.

119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.

120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

121 I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.

122 Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.

123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.

124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.

125 I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.

126 It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.

127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.

132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.

133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.

135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.

136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

137 Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.

138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

139 My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.

140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

141 I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.

142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.

143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.

144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.

145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord: I will keep thy statutes.

146 I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.

147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.

148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.

150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.

151 Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.

152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.

154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.

156 Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord: quicken me according to thy judgments.

157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.

158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.

159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness.

160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.

164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

166 Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.

168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.

170 Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

171 My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.

172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.

175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.

176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.” (Psalm 119-1-175)

There is a perpetual obligation of the moral law. The immutability of the Law of God is extremely important. The law is based on God’s own attributes which are themselves immutable, so that what it once forbad it always forbids and what it did not forbid can never be forbidden. It is a point of such infinite consequences.

“He should not disgrace what Moses once permitted to the children of God, for anything once allowed by God and not subsequently prohibited in Scripture remains valid.” Martin Bucer (Reformer, 1530s)

So sure is that idea of a more excellent law, or rule of life is replete with folly. It is goes beyond folly, it borders upon madness and is complete down right Blasphemy!

To contend for Christ enacting any new law, contrary to the Old Testament, is to call in question His veracity and to place Him in rank of imposture even below Muhammad.

Cloud of Witnesses

Christ brought nothing new into the law of the fathers, but He made fresh the old commandments, and did away with human traditions. — Huldrych Zwingli

“Jesus Christ has not changed the external economy, but added justice only, and life everlasting, for reward. He teaches the true way of obeying God, and endeavors to repair the corruption of nature.” -Martin Luther

“All the faithful have had alway one and the self-same Gospel from the beginning of the world, and by that they were saved”-Martin Luther

Christ hath added no new command to the Law of Moses; and whatsoever is a sin now in moral things, was also then… There is a dangerous book, called, The practical Catechism, that venteth much Socinian poison, and in this particular, among other things, that Christ added to the law, and perfected it, filled up some vacuities in it; Certainly, the Law of God being perfect, and to which nothing must be added, cannot be said to have vacuities in it; and Christ is said to fill the law, in respect of the Pharrisees, who by their corrupt glories had evacuated it. Anthony Burgess, Vindiceae

“To be Christians under the law of grace does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law, but to be engrafted in Christ, by whose grace we are free from the curse of the law, and by whose spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts.” –John Calvin

Covenanter Sisters- Infinity Scarf Veiling

June 20, 2016

hijab 1

 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy veil”

Song of Solomon 4:1

 

Although I have written very little about veiling on my blog it may some as a surprise to my readers that I hold to full time veiling for our sisters. This will definitely not be a surprise if you know me from facebook.

I do have a upcoming book on the subject that I am publishing so I will not be getting into the nitty gritty of my doctrinal reasoning behind the veiling as well as for full time veiling but to give some advice for our veiling sisters.

To those who are unaware the Historic Reformed faith has by the majority supported a veiling very similar to Islamic Hijab and not just during worship. The Patristics and some of the Reformation theologians took it even further but it is not my point to get into that today.

All the Reformers held that the whole head should be veiled. The veil does not consist of a small piece of fabric like a doily on top the of head showing most if not all of the entire head and most of the hair. The veil that the Reformer showforth was a whole veil that looked very much like a Hijab.

The great Covenanter Commentator James Durham said it also includes the neck.

“Wantonness and lightness in them [i.e., clothes and dressings], which is especially in nakedness, as to such and such parts of the body, which in modesty are to be hid; for women having clothes for a cover, ought to make use of them for that end; and it is more than probable, that that walking with stretched-out necks, there reproved, relateth to women, their making more of their necks, and their breasts bare, than should be, or is decent, they affected to discover or raise their gorgets, when God commendeth modesty, and nature is best pleased in its own unaffected freedom, yet they stretched them out” -James Durham, ‘The Seventh Commandment’, The Law Unsealed, pp 306-308.

*gorgets- Part of the woman’s veil covering the throat and chest. Old French gorgete, diminutive of gorge, throat.

But we aren’t plain people like the Amish!

And we aren’t Islamic that we must all match in one solid color!

Covenanter sisters do not have to look ugly or plain nor do they have to cover with a bag. There is nothing wrong with beautiful veils. There is absolutely no prohibition against beautifulness. There is no prohibition on colors and patterns. You may have a beautiful scarf with all sorts of flowery patterns with many colors..

So why settle for a plain small triangle handkerchief or doily?

Many veils are also expensive (trust me I have search high and low for good scarfs for my own family). You shouldn’t have to pay and arm and a leg for a good quality larger veil.

Many veils can be hard to tie or take some time of finagling to put on.

But I have discovered the Infinity scarf which is a nice inexpensive larger scarf that is connected at both ends (therefore when opened up it looks like an O) that is pretty cheap and reasonable ranging between $3 and $7 a piece. I bought two in a single pack for $3 this week for my family.

Not only that they can be very stylistic with all assortment of patterns and designs. They are also extremely easy to don quickly with not much ado.. One can be donned in less then 30 seconds.

In addition they are light weighted. So you don’t have to feel weighed down, stuffy or hot to wear especially in the summer time!

Being veiled with such scarfs that have such designs and patterns with so many bright colors it is very unlikely you would get mistaken for a plain mennonite or amish girl as  well as the radical Islamic women that mostly stick with plain light blue, black or white and you will still bare modesty that is of a historic Christian belief and practice..

It is high time to bring back the Reformed & Patristic Veil for modesty. You Covenanter sisters are like precious pearls and like the pearl which is modestly veiled by God in the sea with it’s shell wrapped around it, so you to should be veiled for your honor, dignity and submission under which God have greatly given you. You are a price far above rubies and pearls. I might add that the veil gives a bit of a mysteriousness & intrigue to you. Your head and hair are your glory and should be reserved for intimacy. Your body is to be honored and respected. Why allow it to be plundered and disrespected by revealing your body thus belittling you and causing shame unto you? Why give yourself such little honor and respect by revealing all before the world? Clothing and the veiling gives you respect. They are to conceal what God commands to be concealed.

Be Mysterious.. Be Veiled O Sisters… Honor & Dignity and Respect are yours.

There is nothing like a veiled mysterious woman seen in beautiful colorful patterns concealing herself & where her cloths are deeply covered and filled in deep scents of Frankincense, Myrrh  and Aloes.

 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” Psalm 45:8

She is intriguing with a touch of modest allure. She is sophisticated and she respects and honors herself and she will receive respect and honor from men.. Your garden will be more protected and well attended.

“A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Song of Solomon 4:12

So how does one veil an infinity scarf?

Here is a video that will give you 5 example styles that are quick and easy.. (Yes I know it is an Islamic women but it is still a good tutorial).

Infinity Scarf Veiling

 

 

America, Americans & Our Foundation, Atheistical to the Core

June 18, 2016

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

 

Some say that America & many Americans Christians but John Brown of Haddington (A minister from 17th century Scotland) will show forth that most Americans have dangerous and serious atheistical principles and that to the very core and foundation of America is atheistical which cannot be denied.

 

“The correspondent warrant of conscience which we mean to impugn, if honestly expressed, would run thus:

“I Conscience, as the great deputy of The Most High GOD, Lord, and Lawgiver of the world, implanted in every man’s breast, for his temporal, spiritual, and eternal advantage, Do hereby, In God’s name and authority, and in the exercise of my power which is wholly derived from him, and to be exercised for his glory, in trying all things by his law, and approving and holding fast that which is good,—Warrant and authorize all and every one of you, sons and daughters of men, to devise, believe, openly and obstinately profess, and zealously propagate every damnable heresy, and blasphemous opinion, and to practise and propagate every absurd and abominable form of idolatry, which Satan, who deceiveth the world, and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and given up of God to strong delusion, belief of lies, vile affections, and a reprobate sense, can make you think innocent or proper.—And, I do hereby, In the same name and authority,—Grant you my sacred claim of right to all manner of liberty and protection from the civil magistrate in so doing,—providing always, that you commit such injury and outrage only against God, your infinitely excellent, high, and gracious Proprietor and Superior, and do no civil injury to the body, character, or property of your fellow creatures.”

Such is indeed the toleration which many praise or plead for; and this I proceed to impugn, by the following arguments.

  1. Men’s pleadings for it do, all of them, necessarily proceed on their adopting such atheistical principles as the following,

(1.) Men’s natural or civil rights to their property, liberty, profits and honours, are not originally derived from God,—and ought to protect them in their most outrageous sinning against him

(2,) Men’s consciences have a right and authority, underived from, and independent of God, by which it can warrant them to think and speak of, or act towards God, as insolently and blasphemously as they please.

(3.) That, if the law of God, be any rule to men;  it is not so, in respect of any intrinsic meaning affixed to it by him, but merely as it is understood by every man, particularly in that which relates to their behaviour towards God.

(4.) All men being ready to mistake, we ought always to believe that our opponents may have as just a view of the scriptures as ourselves,  and never to condemn them for that which they do not own to be blasphemy, idolatry, or heresy.

(5.) Magistrates right and authority to govern others, doth not originate in God as the Creator, Preserver, and King of nations, but in magistrates themselves, or in their subjects; and so may be exercised as they please, particularly in requiring or allowing their subjects to belie, blaspheme, or rob God.

(6) Magistrates may be moral governors deputies or lieutenants, under God, without having any power or authority relating to religion, or his honour.

(7.) Not the law of God natural or revealed, but the laws of nations ought to be the supreme standard of all civil government.

(8.) Not the declarative glory of God, as the Most High over all the earth, but the civil peace and prosperity of nations, ought to be the chief end of magistrates in all their acts of government.

(9) Men’s natural rights of conscience, or their civil rights, or the authority of magistrates, may or ought to empower, warrant, or protect them in gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, or other outrageous abuse and injury of God; but can by no means warrant or protect them in calumny, theft, murder, or any other injuries against men.

(10.) There is no real difference between moral good and evil, at least in things pertaining to God; and so true and false religion are equally calculated to promote the welfare of civil society, and the virtues which render men good, peaceable, useful, and honourable rulers or subjects,—and hence heretics, blasphemers, and idolaters may be good subjects.

(11.) The favour or indignation of God is of no importance to civil society; and therefore magistrates ought to use no means to procure his favour by the encouragement of true religion, or to avert his indignation by the restraint of gross heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry,—but only labour to procure the friendship of men, and prevent their injuring the character, property, or bodies of their subjects—

That all these propositions are really atheistical, is manifest. They all give up with the necessary existence, infinite Excellency, and absolute supremacy of God, without any of which, he cannot be God at all.”

–John Brown of Haddington, The Absurdity and Perfidy of all Authoritarian Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy, Idolatry, Popery in Two Letters

Now be honest, how many of the 11 points of assertions given above do you hold to and therefore holding forth atheistical principles, that is totally contrary to the Word of God?

It is time to reform our thoughts have to biblical standards with Divine Law as given to the Holy Scriptures.

The Ancient Synagogue to The Christian Synagogue: A Continuity

May 2, 2016

The Ancient Synagogue to The Christian Synagogue: A Continuity! A Historic Reformed Position

Showing Forth

That the pattern and modal for the Government, Offices, Meetings Place and Worship of the Synagogue is the same as the New Testament Synagogue (Church)

ancient synagogue

 

Table of Content

§Places of Worship in the Old Testaments (Synagogue/Parishes, Houses of Prayer, Temple)

§Mosaic Origin of the Synagogue

§Of Synagogues & Sanhedrins

§The Testimony of the Mosaic Origin of the Synagogue by the Apostles at the Jerusalem Councils

§Offices of the Synagogue

§Council & Bench of Elders (Consistory) along with Ruling Elders

§Chazan, Angel of the Congregation – Parnas (Pastor) (Preaching Elder)

§Doctor Elder

§Deacons – Levites

§Christian Synagogues – A Continuation of the Old Testament Synagogue

§Worship Elements and Patterns of the Synagogue

 

 

§Places of Worship in the Old Testaments (Synagogue/Parishes, Houses of Prayer,Temple)

 

Within the Old Testament Economy there were at least 3 places of worship, Synagogues, (Oratorie or Promarius in Greek) and the Temple. The Temple was the national place of worship where the Jewish people were required to all travel to Jerusalem to attend the Temple only three times per year. The Temple was the ceremonial cultus which were types and shadows of the law that was temporary to show forth the person, work and attributes of Christ to the saints prior to His human investuring. The Synagogue and it’s corresponding worship was the moral worship of the people of God that was to be done weekly every seventh day on the Sabbath. The elements of worship for the Synagogue did not consist of any ceremonial components but only the moral aspects of what is required in the worship of God. More on this moral components of worship will be discussed further in a little while. But there was a third place of worship for the people of God in the Old Testament. This place was called a Pomarius. The Pomarius was strictly a house of prayer for daily prayers.

Synagogues were places within the “Sabbath Day’s Journey” which is a 2 or 3 mile walk so that people would be able to attend to worship even if they had no other transportation then by foot. And since no servile work was to be done on the Sabbath they could walk more to and fro from the Synagogues. There was also Sabbath Houses connected with the Synagogues where people could go and eat and rest inbetween the Morning and Evening services much like the Puritans did in New England.

It was commanded to have fixed hours of prayers, 3rd, 6th, and 9th, which was corresponding to morning noon and night prayers, daily with the people of God. We see such examples as Daniel during such times of prayer but we also see the Apostles in the New Testament praying at this appointed times. So the people of God needed to be able to meet within a shorter distance of location then the Synagogue for daily prayer at those appointed times.

The Patristic Confession of Faith, Apostolic Constitutions states,

XXXIV. Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing: in the morning, returning thanks that the Lord has sent you light, that He has brought you past the night, and brought on the day; at the third hour, because at that hour the Lord received the sentence of condemnation from Pilate; at the sixth, because at that hour He was crucified; at the ninth, because all things were in commotion at the crucifixion of the Lord, as trembling at the bold attempt of the impious Jews, and not bearing the injury offered to their Lord; in the evening, giving thanks that He has given you the night to rest from the daily labours; at cock-crowing, because that hour brings the good news of the coming on of the day for the operations proper for the light. But if it be not possible to go to the church on account of the unbelievers, you, O bishop, shall assemble them in a house, that a godly man may not enter into an assembly of the ungodly. For it is not the place that sanctifies the man, but the man the place. And if the ungodly possess the place, avoid it, because it is profaned by them. For as holy priests sanctify a place, so do the profane ones defile it. If it be not possible to assemble either in the church or in a house, let every one by himself sing, and read, and pray, or two or three together. For “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.””

To walk to Daily Prayer, 3 times a day, to the Synagogue you would be spending most of your day walking back and forth to Prayer meetings. So Promarius or Oratories (in Hebrew) with later name change to Chapels (Gentile Church) in the Patristic and Medieval times period.That way you return to servile work or domestic work without much walking and be able to attend to all the prayer meetings. So they were smaller and more numerous throughout the community, town or city.

John Weemes states:

“They had a place wherein they prayed only. Acts 16:13. It is called (greek language inserted), a house of prayer. It was a place different from their Synagogues and Temple. In it they prayed only; in their Synagogues they prayed, and interpreted the Scriptures; in the temple they prayed, interpreted the Scriptures, and sacrificed. This might properly be called an Oratorie.

The Synagogue was reckoned a more holy place by the Jews, then the place of prayer: for in the their Synagogues they might do no servile work, they might make no reckonings in them: but in their house of prayer, after the prayer was ended, they might do any civil work. He to whom the (greek word inserted), or house of prayer belonded, was called Pomarius…” John Weemes -The Christian Synagogue

There were also Parishes of the Synagogue. Parishes are smaller bodies then the city or town congregation. It is Presbyterianism going down in scale in addition to going up in scale. So as we have Regional Courts and National Courts in the higher scale, the local city or town Congregation is broken down into small Parishes meeting in various locations across that city or town. The preaching elder of the local Congregation would go throughout the day to various Parishes around the city and preach to those smaller Parishes.

In the Acts of the Apostles we see the local church over a city like the church of Jerusalem. But you do really believe that in Acts 21:20 that tens thousands were gathered in one building or even in one home? No, the local city churches were broken up into smaller parishes between 10 to 15 families that lived around each other. Each parish was placed within a simple walking distance between a group of families or what we sometimes call a Sabbath Day’s journey. Each parish has a session of elders which were governed by a consistory of all the parish elders of that city which were governed by a presbytery of all the elders of the consistories within a region which were governed by a synod of all the elders of all the presbyteries in nation which were governed by a general assembly of all the elders of of all the synods internationally. This is Court structure that Christ instituted which represents all the elders of the church without seniority. We see the Parish model in all of the epistles but you can clearly see it mentioned in Corinth. Paul speaks of the church which is at Cenchrea Romans 16:1 Cencherea was a sea port in the city of Corinth but we also see a parish in the city proper of Corinth. Both are called the church at Corinth. Not everyone in all ages has the transportation that we have today and we may not have the same or better transportation in the future. The church needs to be within a walking distance for all men and women even for the poor that can not travel across the city to reach the church. We need smaller bodies of believers that the elders and shepherds can know personally and care and for the body of believers to act like a family together. When a church grows to a certain number for the sake of argument lets say 50 or 80, those people may not even get to really know one another. I have see in such bodies that some people will never talk to or meet someone else who goes to the same church for years. That is not family. That is not the model we are given in the scriptures.

The Second Book of Discipline of Scotland, 1578 talks about Parishes,

“The first kind and sort of assemblies, although they are within particular congregations, yet they exercise the power, authority, and jurisdiction of the kirk with mutual consent, and therefore bear sometimes the name of the kirk. When we speak of the elders of the particular congregations, we mean not that every particular parish can, or may, have their own particular elderships, especially to landward; but we think three or four, more or fewer, particular kirks may have one eldership common to them all, to judge their ecclesiastical causes. Albeit this is meet, that some of the elders be chosen out of every particular congregation, to concur with the rest of their brethren in the common assembly, and to take up the delations of offences within their own kirks, and bring them to the assembly. This we gather from the practice of the primitive kirk, where elders, or colleges of seniors, were constituted in cities and famous places. “

“First, seeing the whole country is divided into provinces, and these provinces again are divided in parishes, as well in landward as in towns; in every parish and reasonable congregation there would be placed one or more pastors to feed the flock, and no pastor or minister to be always burdened with the particular charge of more kirks or flocks than one only.

And because it will be thought hard to find out pastors or ministers to all the parish kirks of the realm, as well in landward as in towns, we think by the advice of such as commission may be given to, by the kirk and prince, parishes in landward or small villages may be joined, two, or three, or more, in some places together, and the principal and most commodious kirks to stand, and be repaired sufficiently, and qualified ministers placed thereat; and the other kirks which are not found necessary may be suffered to decay, their kirk yards always being kept for burial places; and in some places, where need requires, a parish, where the congregation is over great for one kirk, may be divided into two or more. “ Second Book of Discipline of Scotland 1578

But we are more interested today in the Synagogue and the Synagogue pattern of Worship and Government.

§Mosaic Origin of the Synagogue

The Synagogue was instituted by the command of God through the hand of Moses. It will be admitted that modern scholar have rejected this view, placing the institution of the Synagogue in the time of Ezra in the Babylonian Captivity. But this view must be rejected. Besides the fact that the modern scholar are strictly relying on archeological evidence (something that cannot prove or disprove something since things can be destroyed) but they are highly tainted by higher criticism. But the scripture itself shows forth the institution of the Synagogue as well as the Sanhedrin by the hand of Moses through the commandments of God.

§Of Synagogues & Sanhedrins

The Church (ekklesia) existed prior to the NT, Acts 7:38 “This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel (Christ) which spake to him in the mount Sinai”.

The Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament uses the word Ekklesia in place of the Hebrew word “Qahal”.

The synagogue is a Greek word used for the God ordained (miqra) is translated into English as Holy Convocation (Lev. 23:3) on the Sabbath.

Synagogues and Sanhedrins are of the same substance the difference is between the various lower and higher courts of the Lord. The Synagogue is a local council of elders while the Sanhedrins were a council of elders from all the local councils through regional and national levels. This is in very real sense the system of Presbyterianism. Synagogues, Regional Sanhedrin, National Sanhedrins to Christian Synagogues (Churches), Regional Presbyteries to National Synods. So the Sanhedrin are the higher courts of the council of elders that start at the Synagogue level.

The Greek word (presbyterion) is used for the Jewish Elders sitting in a (synedrion) (Luke 22:66) which is a continuing Judicial Court for the Church (1 Tim. 4:14, Acts 15).

The Greek word (presbuteroi) which is used in the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament for the (zaqen) Church Elders in the Old Testament. It is also used for Church Elders in the New Testament.

There was also a Civil Sanhedrin ordained on Mount Sinai for the civil government (Exodus 18). Which is God’s ordained civil council for all governments.

Presbyterianism is a governmental structure which consist of a council of elders. It is derived from the Greek word presbuterion. The New Testament speaks of a presbuterion meeting in a sanhedrin in Luke 22:66. Two Sanhedrins/Presbyteries were ordained on Mount Sinai, one for civil government in Ex. 18:13-26, and one for the church or Ecclesiastical government in Numbers 11:17-25. So the Presbytery is a continuation of the governmental structure of the Sanhedrins, which is a council body of church elders from all the churches. Paul uses the word presbyterion in 1 Timothy 4:14 for Christian ministers being ordained and we see the church gathering for a presbyterion council in Acts 15. All confirming the continuation and the ordinary function of the Presbyterian governmental structure.

So the council of elders were ordained of God in Numbers chapter 11 while the actual Synagogues (the places of worship) were ordained in Leviticus 23:3.

Numbers 11:16-17,

“Then the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the Elders of Israel, whom thou knowest, that they are the Elders of the people, and governors over them, and bring them unto the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and let them stand there with thee. And I will come down, and talk with thee there, and take of the Spirit, which is upon thee, and put upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee: so thou shalt not bear it alone.”

Here we see the actual origin of the Elders of the people and of the Synagogues. Moses actually started with a National Council of Elders which at that time was 70 men of God.

In Leviticus 23:3 we see the creation of the places of worship, ordained by God through Moses.

“Six days shall work be done, but in the seventh day shall be the Sabbath of rest, a holy convocation: ye shall do no work therein, it is the Sabbath of the Lord, in all your dwellings.”

First we must know and see that every Sabbath day there was to be a HOLY convocation. A convocation is a sacred assembly, not just any common assembly. Secondly we must see and understand that it is to be done in all your dwellings. This word ‘dwelling’ has thrown off many modern people thinking that they kept the Sabbath day strictly in their home dwellings but that is not what this means. This is the ‘Dwellings of Jacob’ which was the Holy Convocation places of worship. In other words this is the Synagogue that the Holy Convocation met at every Sabbath and they were not to leave their dwellings, i.e. the Synagogues throughout the land but to worship Him throughout the day. We must also point out that this verse is NOT talking about the Temple worship or the other feast days. It is speaking solely of the Sabbath day. The Temple was only required to attend three times per year and not every Sabbath day. It would have been near impossible for every person in Israel to attend to the national temple of worship every Sabbath day. But we also see that in verses 4 through 38 we see what, when and how the Temple and other festival days were to be celebrated which is distinuished from verse 3 prior.

Leviticus 23: 4-38,

“These are the feasts of the Lord, and holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the first month and in the fourteenth day of the month at evening shall be the Passover of the Lord. And on the fifteenth day of this month shall be the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Also ye shall offer sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord seven days, and in the [f]seventh day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the Priest, And he shall shake the sheaf before the Lord, that it may be acceptable for you: the morrow after the Sabbath, the Priest shall shake it. And that day when ye shake the sheaf, shall ye prepare a lamb without blemish of a year old, for a burnt offering unto the Lord: And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, for a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord of sweet savor: and the drink offering thereof the fourth part of an Hin of wine. And ye shall eat neither bread nor parched corn, nor green ears until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: this shall be a Law forever in your generations and in all your dwellings. Ye shall count also to you from the morrow after the Sabbath, even from the day that ye shall bring the sheaf of the shake offering, seven Sabbaths, they shall be complete. Unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days: then ye shall bring a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations bread for the shake offering: they shall be two loaves of two tenth deals of fine flour, which shall be baken with leaven for firstfruits unto the Lord. Also ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of one year old, and a young bullock and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, for a sacrifice made by fire of a sweet savor unto the Lord. Then ye shall prepare an he goat for a sin offering, and two lambs of one year old for peace offerings. And the Priest shall shake them to and fro with the bread of the firstfruits before the Lord, and with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord, for the Priest. So ye shall proclaim the same day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be an ordinance forever in all your dwellings, throughout your generations. And when you reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not rid clean the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou make any aftergathering of thy harvest, but shalt leave them unto the poor and to the stranger, I am the Lord your God. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say, In the seventh month, and in the first day of the month shall ye have a Sabbath, for the remembrance of blowing the trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein, but offer sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, The tenth also of this seventh month, shall be a day of reconciliation: it shall be an holy convocation unto you, and ye shall humble your souls, and offer sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work that same day: for it is a day of reconciliation, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For every person that humbleth not himself that same day, shall even be cut off from his people. And every person that shall do any work that same day, the same person also will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner work therefore: this shall be a law forever in your generations, throughout all your dwellings. This shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall humble your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say, In the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be for seven days the feast of Tabernacles unto the Lord. In the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and in the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you, and ye shall offer sacrifices made by fire unto the Lord: it is the solemn assembly, ye shall do no servile work therein. These are the feasts of the Lord (which ye shall call holy convocations) to offer sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, as burnt offering, and meat offering, sacrifice, and drink offerings, every one upon his day, Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your free offerings, which ye shall give unto the Lord.”

So we see there is a distinction between the holy convocations in their dwellings in verse 3 and the Temple and other festival days in verses 4 through 38.

But does this have any historical testimony? Why yes it actually does!

William Pynchon, 1652 wrote,

“Whether were the Jewes Synagogues particular churches of Jesus Christ or no?

Teacher, It is evident to me that the Jewes Synagogue Assemblies were particular Churches of Jesus Christ because it was the Angel of the Covenant, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ that did ordain and institute not only all the twelve Tribes into one National Church but also that did divide and distribute the said twelve Tribes into several particular Churches. I say, Jesus Christ did institute both these kind of Churches in Israel: he was the Angel Jehovah that first spake unto Moses out of the bush, Exod 3.2 called also the God of Abraham, verse 7. and he is also called the God of Glory, that first appeared to Abraham while he was an Idolater in his Fathers house in Mesopotamia, Acts 7.2. Joh. 24.

This God of glory did now appear unto Moses in the bush and sent him to bring his People out of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage, Exod. 20. therefore Christ was that Jehovah that said unto all Israel, Thou shalt have no other Gods but me; Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven Images, thou shalt not bow down to them; but thou shalt worship me alone. with such outward worship as I have already appointed at this Mount Sinai, or which I shall hereafter appoint, when the Throne of my Tabernacle shall be reared up.

So then, Christ was that Jehovah that first promised the Land of Canaan, unto Abraham and his seed, Gen. 12. and that sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt, and that kept them company in the wilderness, by going before them in a cloudy pillar by day, and in a fiery pillar by night, until he brought them into the land of Canaan: And the Apostle Paul doth tell us plainly, that it was Christ that caused the rock to supply them with Water in the wilderness, 1 Cor. 10.4. Therefore it follows that it must needs be Jesus Christ that did not only unite the twelve Tribes, into one National Church, but also that did distribute them into several particular Church-assemblies: And therefore it was Christ that appointed all the Ordinances of his worship by Moses, both their national, and in their particular Church-Assemblies.

Scholar, How do you prove that Jesus Christ did distribute the twelve Tribes into several particular Church-Assemblies.

Teacher, I prove it by a place of Scripture, that is both plain and pregnant, Lev. 23.1,2,3/ Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying. Speak unto the sons of Israel, and say unto them, &c and in verse 3. he saith thus, Six days shall work be done, but in the seventh day shall be a Sabbath of Sabbatism, a convocation of holiness, ye shall not do any work, it shall be a Sabbath to Jehovah in all your dwellings.

In this Text, Jesus Christ is called Jehovah, he bade Moses (the chief Magistrate) to speak unto the sons of Israel, that is to say, to the chief Sons or Elders of Israel; as he doth explain his meaning in Levit. 9.1, 3. There Moses bids Aaron to speak unto the sons of Israel; that is to say the 70. to the Senate of Israel in the first place, that so by their means all the other sons of Israel might understand the commandment of Christ, concerning the time and manner of his public worship. And so it was Christ also, that bade Moses to set the judicial Laws before them, Exod. 21. 1. that is to say, before the chief sons of Israel in the first place, and so by their means before all the people also, and by this orderly way, Christ did communicate all his Laws, and Ordinances to all the people, see Ains. in Exod. 4.29. & 12.3 compared with 21. & with Num 5.1 & 30.1.

Then Christ by Moses bade these chief sons of Israel to proclaim Convocations of Holiness, that all the people might know the appointment of Christ: and Christ did command these chief sons of Israel to proclaim unto the people the observation of two several kinds of holy Convocations.

First, particular Convocations of Holiness or particular Church-Assemblies which they must observe every seventh Day in all their dwellings, Levit. 23:3.

Secondly, By general Convocations of Holiness, or general Church-Assemblies, which they must observe before his Sanctuary three times a year, verse 4. and so to thee and of the Chapter

Now, the first sort of these holy Convocations spoken of, verse. 3. must needs be understood of their particular Church-Assemblies for this phrase, In all your dwellings: cannot be understood neither of their Family-Assemblies nor yet of their National Church-Assemblies; therefore it must be understood of particular Church-Assemblies.

First I say, that this Convocation which Christ commanded them to keep every seventh Day in all their dwellings, cannot be understood of their Family-Convocations. It is a gross conceit for any man to think that Christ did by this phrase, command every Family to stay at home to keep a Convocation in every private Family. Secondly, it is as gross a conceit to think, that Christ did by this phrase command all the twelve Tribes to keep a general Convocation before the Sanctuary every seventh Day, especially after they were settled in the Land of Canaan, in their several Inheritances: any man that hath but half an eye, may see that such a Convocation was impossible to be observed every seventh Day. Therefore it follows by necessary consequence that the holy Convocation which Christ did command them to keep every seventh Day in all their dwellings, must be understood of such particular Church-Convocations, as were made of several Families, in a convenient distance of place for every ones dwelling. The truth of this Interpretation will the better appear, if we do but consider two circumstantial differences. 1. Of Time. 2. Of Place. First, of Time: This Convocation spoken of in verse 3 is expressly commanded to be observed every Sabbath, or seventh Day through all the year, even during the time of their travel in the wilderness; therefore this Convocation cannot be understood of their general Church-Convocations for their general festival Convocations were commanded to be observed only three times in the year: neither were they bound to observe their festival Convocations in the time of their travels in the wilderness, but the observation of those Convocations were adjourned until they were settled in rest. in the Land of Canaan, Numb. 15.2.

Secondly, this Convocation of holiness, Levit. 23.3. Differs from their National-Convocation in respect of place because their National-Convocation was commanded to be observed only before the Tabernacle or Temple, which place was a great way off from the most part of their dwellings after they were setled in Canaan. But this Convocation of holiness, in verse 3. is at hand, and therefore it is commanded to be observed in all their dwellings; that is to say not far off, but nigh to every ones dwelling, so that all forts of persons might resort thither with ease every Sabbath or seventh Day, without breaking the rest of the holy Sabbath by long toil of travel; for the Text saith plainly, Yee shall not do any work, it shall be a Sabbath to Jehovah in all your dwellings; but if all the twelve Tribes had been commanded to repair to the Tabernacle, or Temple every Sabbath or seventh Day, they must have toiled hard, and so have broken the rest of the holy Sabbath.

Therefore seeing this Convocation in verse 3. is so expressly limited. 1. To the time of the Sabbath or seventh Day. And 2. to the place of their dwellings; that is to say in a convenient nigh distance to their dwellings. It doth necessarily follow that this Convocation of holiness spoken of in verse 3. must needs be understood only of their particular Church-Assembles, which Christ ordained as well as their general Church-Assemblies.

It is said in Psalm 87.2. That Jehovah loveth the Gates of Zion, above the dwelling places of Jacob.

That is to say, Christ did more delight to manifest his visible Presence in the Cloud of his presence, between the Cherubim upon Mount Sion, then in their Synagogue-Assemblies: but he did graciously bless their Synagogue-Assembles with his Spiritual presence to the conversion of souls, as he did the place of his visible presence in Mount Sion.

But I chiefly alledge this place in Psal. 87. to note out unto us, that their particular Church-Assemblies, were called the dwelling places of Jacob, because they were many and conveniently dispersed in all the Towns and Villages of Israel.

Secondly, if Jesus Christ had left his people to their own liberty and discretion, whether they would have met together in particular Church-Assemblies, to worship him every Sabbath or not at all the while they were in their travels in the wilderness, which was for the space of thirty eight years together; Then doubtless they would have used that liberty to the increasing of Idolatry, and profaneness, as experience doth teach us in all places where the strict exercise of Gods worship in particular-assemblies hath been neglected; and then the generation that entered into Canaan, would have been worse then those that came out of Egypt, but they must be better instructed before they could enter into Canaan, therefore there was a necessity that Jesus Christ should enjoyn them to observe particular Convocations of holiness by particular Church-Assemblies every Sabbath or seventh Day, even whiles they were in their travels in the Wilderness.” -The Jewes synagogue: or, A treatise concerning the ancient … manner of worship used by the Jewes in their synagogue-assemblies, Volume 1, William Pynchon, 1652

The Sanhedrin which was the ordained Council of Elders created in Numbers chapter 11 are the Council of Elders in the local Synagogues but also the higher Courts of the Lord within the Regional and National levels.

Westminster divine George Gillespie wrote,

“In the third place we take an argument from the example of the Jewish Church, for as in their Common-wealth there was a subordination of civil courts, every City having its proper court, which did consist of seven magistrates, if we believe Josephus, the talmudic tradition makes two courts to have been in each city, the lesser of the Triumvirat, and the greater of the twenty three Judges. Besides these, they had their Supreme Consistory, the Civil Sanhedrin, which governed the whole Nations, and had authority over the inferior courts. So was there also a subordination of Ecclesiastical courts among them, they had a Consistory in every Synagogue, for their Synagogues were appointed not only for prayer and praising of God, and for reading and expounding of the Scriptures, but also for public correction of offenses, Acts. 26:11. They had besides, a Supreme Ecclesiastical court, where unto the whole nation, and all the Synagogical Consistories were subject. This court having decayed, was restored by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 19.8 and it had the name Sanhedrin, common to it with the supreme civil court. From this court did the reformation of that National Church proceed, Nehem. 6.13. On the Second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests and the Levites, unto Ezra the Scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law, etc. Whether there was yet another Ecclesiastical court, in the middle betwixt the Synagogue and Sanhedrin, called Presbytery, Luke 22.66, Acts 22. 5, and make up possibly out of the particular Synagogues within the cities, I leave it to learned men to judge; howsoever, it is plain from Scripture that there was at least a twofold Ecclesiastical court among the Jews the Synagogue and the Sanhedrin, the latter having authority above the former.” George Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the points of Ruling-elders, etc.

Dutch Reformed Campegius Vitringa wrote,

“The Synagogue, in its early state, was governed by a Council; so was the early Church, There is a striking correspondence between the Councils of the Church, and those of the Synagogue. And 1. In the names given to the member of these Councils. Thus, the Rulers of the Synagogue are called by St. Luke Presbyters; the very same name is given, by the same Evangelist, to the ministers of the Christian Church. … again, the name, Parnas (Pastor) was frequently given to the members of the Jewish Councils “-Campegius Vitringa, The Synagogue and the Church, P. 145-146, 1693-1723

§The Testimony of the Mosaic Origin of the Synagogue by the Apostles at the Jerusalem Councils

Even the Apostles declared that Moses was the one who set up Synagogues in every city in Acts 15:21. So we know that the Synagogue was set up according to divine revelation given to Moses and it was set up from the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

We have now seen both from Scripture and from the historical testimony of the church that the Synagogue and the Sanhedrins are ordained by God and that they were both set up through the hands of Moses.

§Offices of the Synagogue

The offices of the Synagogue were a council of Elders who were designated by several titles. Of course there were the Ruling Elders who were the governors of the Synagogue but there was also the Chazan who was also known as the Angel (Messenger) of the Congregation as well as the Parnas (pastor). There were also the Doctors who were the scribes of the Synagogues who taught doctrine, presided in the Catechumen schools as well as the School of the Prophets (Seminary) and the Hebrew Schools for the children.

Westminster divine George Gillespie wrote,

“The Jewish Church, not as it was a Church, but as it was Jewish, had a high Priest, typifying our great high Priest Jesus Christ. … But as it was a Church, and not as Jewish, It had four sorts of ordinary office-bearers, Priests, Levites, Doctors, and Elders, and we conformable have Pastors, Deacons, Doctors and Elders. To their Priest and Levites, Cyprian doth rightly liken to our Pastors and Deacons, for howsoever sundry things were done by the Priests and Levites, which were typical and Jewish only, yet may we well parallel our Pastors with their Priests, in respect of perpetual Ecclesiastical office common to both, viz. The teaching and governing of the people of God, Mal. 2.7. 2 Chron. 19.8, and our Deacons with their Levites, in respect of the care of Ecclesiastical goods, undo f the work of the service of the house of God in the materials and appurtenances thereof, a function likewise common to both, 1 Chro. 26. 20. & 23.24. 28. The Jewish Church had also Doctors and Schools, or colleges for the preservation of true Divinity among them, and of tongues, arts, and sciences, necessary thereto, 1 Chron. 15. 22. 27, 2 King. 22.14, 1 Sam. 19.20, 2 Kings 2.3.5, Acts 19.9. These office-bearers they had for no typical use, but we have them for the same use and end for which they had them. And all these sorts of office-bearers among us we do as rightly warrant from the like sorts among them as other while we warrant our baptizing of infants from their circumcising of them, our churches by their Synagogues, etc..” -George Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the points of Ruling-elders, etc.

§Council & Bench of Elders (Consistory) along with Ruling Elders

The Synagogue had a Council and Bench of Elders in every Congregation that was ordained in Numbers chapter 11.

Dr. Samuel Miller states,

“The following specimen of the representation given on this subject in various parts of the Old Testament will suffice at once to illustrate and establish what is here advanced. Even while the children of Israel were in Egypt they seem to have had Elders in the official sense of the word, for Jehovah in sending Moses to deliver them said Go and gather the Elders of Israel together and say unto them, “The Lord hath visited you and hath seen what is done to you in Egypt, Exodus iii 16. In the wilderness the Elders of Israel are spoken of as called together by Moses appealed to by Moses and officially acting under that divinely commissioned leader on occasions almost innumerable. These Elders appear to have been of different grades and endowed of course with different powers, Exodus xvii 5; xviii 12; xxiv 1-9; Numbers xi 16; Deut xxv 7-9; xxix 10; xxxi 9-28. From these and other passages it would seem they had seventy Elders over the nation and besides these Elders over thousands over hundreds over fifties and over tens who were all charged with inspection and rule in their respective spheres.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

Dr. Miller continues,

“Again, we find inspectors and rulers of the people under the name of Elders existing and on all public occasions acting in their official character in the time of Joshua during the period of the judges under the kings especially during the most favored and happy season of their kingly dominion probably during the captivity in Babylon and beyond all doubt as soon as they returned from captivity and became settled in their own land.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“Now whatever might have been its origin, nothing can be more certain than that from the earliest notices we have of the institution and through its whole history its leading officers consisted of a bench of Elders, who were appointed to bear rule in the congregation, who formed a kind of Consistory or ecclesiastical judicatory to receive applicants for admission into the Church to watch over the people as well in reference to their morals as their obedience to ceremonial and ecclesiastical order to administer discipline when necessary and in short as the representatives of the Church or congregation to act in their name and behalf to bind and loose and to see that every thing was done decently and in order.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“Accordingly we find various passages in the New Testament history which refer to these Ruling Elders as belonging to the old economy then drawing to a close and which admit it would appear of no other interpretation than that which supposes their existence. The following specimen will suffice, Mark v: 22. ‘And behold there cometh one of the rulers of the Synagogue Jairus by name and when he saw him he fell at his feet.’Acts xiii: 15, ‘And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the Synagogue sent unto them saying ye men and brethren if ye have any word of exhortation for the people say on.’ On this latter passage Dr Gill an eminent master of oriental and especially of rabbinical learning in his Commentary writes thus, ‘The rulers of the Synagogue sent unto them that is those who were the principal men in the Synagogue the Ruler of it together with the Elders for there was but one Ruler in a Synagogue though there were more Elders and so the Syriac version here renders it the Elders 0f the Synagogue.’ By this language as I understand the Doctor he does not mean to intimate that the other Elders of whom be here speaks did not bear rule in the Synagogue but that there was only one who by way of eminence was called the Ruler of the Synagogue that is who presided at their meetings for official business. It is plain however that even in this assertion he is in some degree in error for more than once we find a plurality of persons in single synagogues spoken of as Rulers. The learned Vitringa who undoubtedly is entitled to a very high place in the list of authorities on this subject is of the opinion that all who occupied a place with the bench of Elders in the Synagogue were of one and the same rank or order that they all received one and the same ordination and were of course equally authorised to preach when duty or inclination called them to this part of the Public service as well as to rule. And in this opinion he is joined by some others whose judgment is worthy of the highest respect.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“This is quite sufficient for our purpose. If it be conceded that there was in every Synagogue a bench of Elders who as a judicial body were entrusted with the whole government and discipline of the congregation that a majority of these Elders seldom or never preached but were in fact whatever right they might have had chiefly occupied as ecclesiastical rulers and that all ecclesiastical matters instead of being discussed and decided by the congregation at large were constantly committed to the judicial deliberation and decision of this Eldership if these things be granted and they are granted in substance by every writer entitled to be referred to as an authority with whom I am acquainted it is all that can he considered as material to the purpose of our argument.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

§Chazan, Angel of the Congregation – Parnas (Pastor) (Preaching Elder)

The Pastor of the Synagogue, the first among equals was called a Chazan Hakeneseth, that is the Bishop of the Congregation and also called Sheliach Tsibbor the Angel of the Church. He was also called a Parnas which actually means ‘Pastor’.

“But at the same time this eminent man freely grants that a majority cf the Elders of the Synagogue were not in fact ordinarily employed in teaching or preaching that this part of the public service was principally under the direction of the Chief Ruler or Head of each Synagogue who attended to it himself or called on one of the other Elders or even any other learned Doctor who might be present and who was deemed capable of addressing the people in an instructive and acceptable manner and that the chief business of the mass of the Elders was we rule.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“These officers of the Synagogue were called by different names as we learn from the New Testament and from the most respectable Jewish authorities. The most common and familiar name perhaps was that of Elders as before stated at large. They were also called Rulers of the Synagogue a title of frequent occurrence in the New Testament as applied to the whole bench of the Elders in question but which would seem from some passages to have been at least sometimes applied by way of eminence to the principal ruler in each Synagogue which principal ruler appears however to have been of the same general rank or order with the rest and to have had no other precedence than that which consisted in presiding and taking the lead in the public service These officers were further called Heads of the Synagogue, Overseers or Bishops, Presidents, Orderers or Regulators of the affairs of the Synagogue, Guides, etc, etc. These titles are given at length by Vitringa, Selden, and others with the original vouchers and exemplifications of each showing that they all imply bearing rule as well as the enjoyment of preeminence and dignity as these Elders were distinguished from the common members of the Synagogue by appropriate titles indicating official honor.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The first quotation shall be taken from Bishop Burnet, ‘Among the Jews says he, he who was the chief of the Synagogue was called Chazan Hakeneseth, that is the Bishop of the Congregation and Sheliach Tsibbor the Angel of the Church. And the Christian Church being modelled as near the form of the Synagogue as could be as they retained many of the rites so the form of their government was continued and the names remained the same.’ And again, ‘In the Synagogues there was first one that was called the Bishop of the Congregation. Next the three Orderers and Judges of every thing about the Synagogue who were called Tsecenim … These ordered and determined every thing that concerned the Synagogue or the persons in it. Next to them were the three Parnassin or Deacons whose charge was to gather the collections of the rich and to distribute them to the poor. The term Elder was generally given to all their Judges but chiefly to those of the great Sanhedrim So we have it Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31, 14: 43 and15:1; and Acts 23:14. A great deal might be said to prove that the Apostles in their first constitutions took things as they had been modelled to their hand in the Synagogue … But the Apostles rather speak as those who give rules for the ordering and directing of what was already in being from all which it seems well grounded and rational to assume that the first constitution of the

Christian Churches was taken from the model of the Synagogue in which these Elders were separated for the discharge of their employments by an imposition of hands as all Jewish writers do clearly witness.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The second testimony shall be that of the Rev Dr Thomas Goodwin, an English divine of great erudition especially in oriental learning. In his well known work entitled ‘Moses and Aaron’ we find the following passage, ‘There were in Israel distinct Courts consisting of distinct persons the one principally for Church business the other for affairs in the commonwealth the one an ecclesiastical Consistory the other a civil Judicatory. The secular Consistory was named a Sanhedrim, or Council, the spiritual a Synagogue. The office of the ecclesiastical court was to put a difference between things holy and unholy and to determine appeals in controversies of difficulty. It was a representative Church, Hence is that Dic Ecclesie Matt 18:16.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The next question shall be taken from Dr Lightfoot, another Episcopal divine still more distinguished for his oriental and rabbinical learning. ‘The Apostle says he calleth the minister Episcopus or Bishop from the common and known title of the Chazan or Overseer in the Synagogue.’ And again, ‘Besides these there was the public minister of the Synagogue who prayed publicly and took care about reading the law and sometimes preached if there were not some other to discharge this office. This person was called first the angel of the Church and the Chazan or Bishop of the congregation.’

The Aruch gives the reason of the name of The Chazan, says, he is the angel of the Church or the public minister and the Targum renders the word mm by the word n 1 one that oversees. For it is incumbent on him to oversee how the reader reads and whom he may call out to read in the law. The public Minister of the Synagogue himself read not the law publicly, but every Sabbath he called out seven of the Synagogue, on other days fewer who he judged fit to read. He stood by him that read with great care observing that he read nothing either falsely or improperly and called him back and correcting him if he had failed in anything. And hence he was called Chazan that is Emmqrog Bishop 0r Overseer. Certainly the signification of the words Bishop and Angel of the Church had been determined with less noise if recourse had been bad to the proper fountains and had not vainly disputed about the signification of taken, I know not whence. The service and of the temple being abolished as being ceremonial God transplanted the worship and public of God used in the Synagogues which was into the Christian Church viz the public public prayers reading God’s Word. Hence the names of the ministers of gospel were the very same the Angel of the Church, the Bishop which belonged to the Ministers in Synagogues. There was in every Synagogue an order of three. This bench consisted of three Elders and by imposition of hands preferred. There were also three Deacons or on which was the care of the poor.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“In another place the same learned orientalist (Dr. Lightfoot) says describing the worship in the Jewish Synagogue, ‘In the body of the Church the congregation met and prayed and heard the law and the manner of their sitting was this The Elders sat near the Chancel with their faces down, the Church and the people sat one form behind another with their faces up the Church toward the Chancel and the Elders. Of these Elders there were some that had rule and office in the Synagogue and some that had not. And this distinction the Apostle seemeth to allude unto, in that much disputed text, 1 Tim v:18, where the Elders that ruled well are set not only in opposition to those that ruled ill but to these that ruled not at all We may see then whence these titles and epithets in the New Testament are taken namely from the common platform and constitution of the Synagogues where Angelus Ecclesie and Episcopus were terms of so ordinary use and knowledge. And we may observe from whence the Apostle taketh his expressions when he speaketh of some Elders ruling and laboring in word and doctrine, and some not namely from the same platform and constitution of the Synagogue, where the Ruler of the Synagogue was more singularly for ruling the affairs of the Synagogue and the minister of the Congregation laboring in the word and reading the law and in doctrine about the preaching of it. Both these together are sometimes called jointly the Rulers of the Synagogue, Acts xiii:15; Mark v:22, 4, being both Elders that ruled but the title is more singularly given to the first of them.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The fourth quotation shall be taken from Bishop Stillingfleet who in his Iremcum, maintains a similar position with confidence and zeal the following is a specimen of his language. ‘That which we lay then as a foundation whereby to clear what apostolical practice was is that the Apostles in forming Churches did observe the customs of the Jewish Synagogue.’ And in support of this position particularly in reference to the Eldership of the Synagogue he quotes a large number of the most distinguished writers both Jewish and Christian. It is due to candor indeed to state that Stillingfleet does not admit that any of the Elders either of the Synagogue or of the primitive Church were lay Elders, but thinks they were all invested with some kind of clerical character. This however as before remarked does not at all affect the value of his testimony to the general fact that in every Synagogue there was a Consistory or Judicatory of Elders and that the same class of officers was adopted both name and thing in the apostolic Church which he unequivocally asserts and proves. In the same general doctrine Grotius and Salmasius of Holland decisively concur with. By Grotius the following strong and unqualified language is used, ‘The whole polity or order regimen of the Churches of Christ was conformed to the model of the Jewish Synagogue.’ And again, speaking of ordination by the imposition of hands, he says ‘This method was observed in setting apart the Rulers and Elders of the Synagogue and thence the custom passed into the Christian Church. Salmasius also and other writers of equally profound learning might be quoted as unequivocally deciding that the Synagogue had a bench of Ruling Elders and that a similar bench after that model was constituted in the Christian Church. Especially he contends that the Elders of the Church were beyond all doubt taken from the Eldership in the Synagogues.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The learned Spencer a divine of the Church of England in the seventeenth century teaches the same general doctrine, when he says, ‘The Apostles also that this reformation the change from the Old to the New Testament dispensation might proceed gently and without noise received into the Christian Church many of those institutions which had been long in use among the Jews. Among the number of these may be reckoned the imposition of hands, bishops, elders, and deacons, excommunication, ordination and other things familiar to learned men.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

“The Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke whose eminent learning no competent judge will question also bears testimony that, ‘in every Jewish Synagogue at the time of the coming of Christ and before there was an ecclesiastical judicatory or little Court whose duty it was to conduct the spiritual government of each congregation.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

§Doctor Elder

There is yet also another sub-office under the category of Elders. That of the Doctor which is distinct from Preaching Elders and Ruling Elders.

Westminster divine George Gillespie wrote,

“Now Elders are of three sorts, 1. Preaching Elders, or Pastors. 2. Teaching Elders or Doctors. 3. Ruling Elders. All these are Elders, because they have a voice in Presbyteries, and all assemblies of the Church, and the government of the Church is incumbent to them all: not only to the Pastor and Elder, but to the Doctor also. … The Doctor being an Elder, as said is, should assist the Pastor in the government of the Kirke, and concur with the Elders, his brethren, in all Assembled, by reason the interpretation of the Word, which is only judge in Ecclesiastical matters, is committed to his charge. But they differ, in that the Pastor laboureth in the word of exhortation, that is, by the gift of wisdom applies the Word to the manners of his flock, and that in season and out of season, as he knows their particular cases require. The Doctor Labors in the Word of Doctrine, that is without such application as the Pastor uses, by simple teaching he preserves the truth and sound interpretation of the Scriptures, against all heretics and error. The Ruling Elder both neither of these, but laboureth in the government and polices of the Church only.” George Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the points of Ruling-elders, etc.

The Second Book of Discipline of Scotland, 1578, states in Chapter 5,

“Doctors would be appointed in universities, colleges, and other places needful, and sufficiently provided for; to open up the meaning of the scriptures, and to have the charge of schools, and teach the rudiments of religion. “

Again the Second Book of Discipline of Scotland states,
“Of Doctors and Their Office, and of the Schools

1. One of the two ordinary and perpetual functions that travail in the word is the office of the doctor, who also may be called prophet, bishop, elder, catechiser: that is, teacher of the catechism and rudiments of religion.

2. His office is to open up the mind of the Spirit of God in the scriptures simply, without such applications as the minister uses, to the end that the faithful may be instructed, and sound doctrine taught, and that the purity of the gospel be not corrupted through ignorance or evil opinions.

3. He is different from the pastor, not only in name, but in diversity of gifts. For the doctor is given the word of knowledge, to open up, by simple teaching, the mysteries of faith; to the pastor, the gift of wisdom, to apply the same, by exhortation to the manners of the flock, as occasion craves.

4. Under the name and office of a doctor, we comprehend also the order in schools, colleges, and universities, which has been from time to time carefully maintained, as well among the Jews and Christians, as among the profane nations.

5. The doctor being an elder, as is said, [he] should assist the pastor in the government of the kirk, and concur with the elders, his brethren, in all assemblies; by reason the interpretation of the word (which is [the] only judge in ecclesiastical matters) is committed to his charge.

6. But to preach to the people, to minister the sacraments, and to celebrate marriages, pertains not to the doctor, unless he is otherwise orderly called. Howbeit the pastor may teach in the schools, as he who has also the gift of knowledge oftentimes meet therefore, as the examples of Polycarp and others testify. “

The Presbyterial Form of Church Government within the Westminster Standards also states,

“Teacher or Doctor.

THE scripture doth hold out the name and title of teacher, as well as of the pastor.

Who is also a minister of the word, as well as the pastor, and hath power of administration of the sacraments.

The Lord having given different gifts, and divers exercises according to these gifts, in the ministry of the word; though these different gifts may meet in, and accordingly be exercised by, one and the same minister; yet, where be several ministers in the same congregation, they may be designed to several employments, according to the different gifts in which each of them doth most excel. And he that doth more excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching sound doctrine, and in convincing gainsayers, than he doth in application, and is accordingly employed therein, may be called a teacher, or doctor, (the places alleged by the notation of the word do prove the proposition.) Nevertheless, where is but one minister in a particular congregation, he is to perform, as far as he is able, the whole work of the ministry.

A teacher, or doctor, is of most excellent use in schools and universities; as of old in the schools of the prophets, and at Jerusalem, where Gamaliel and others taught as doctors. ”

These Doctors or teachers are distinct of that of the office of Preaching Elder. They teach more Doctrinally. They set up Catechumen Schools for new converts, they run the Seminaries of training men for the office and they set up schools such as Hebrew schools during the week for the children of the Church.

§Deacons – Levites

The office of deacon is the successor to the Levites.

Isaiah speaking of New Testament times when the Gentiles will be brought into the church,

“And I will take of them for Priests, and for Levites, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:21

By understanding that the Deacons are the Levites of the New Testament explains why there is so little data in the NT regarding deacons. Also by only rely on New Testament commentary then deacons are limited strictly to mercy. Taking care of church property is not given to them as well as other functions of the office of Deacon. The apostles, as the Newer Patriarchs and Prophets, discovered that they needed Levites, and moved to elect deacons. It also explains Acts 6, which says “Males.” when electing Deacons since the Levites as well were restricted to men thereby doing away with all of the peripheral references to diakonos, diakonoi, etc., because they get relegate to the status of helper. But this is not some mere novelty but has an ancient testimony throughout the church even in the Reformed Church.

Westminster divine George Gillespie wrote,

“The Jewish Church, not as it was a Church, but as it was Jewish, had a high Priest, typifying our great high Priest Jesus Christ. … But as it was a Church, and not as Jewish, It had four sorts of ordinary office-bearers, Priests, Levites, Doctors, and Elders, and we conformable have Pastors, Deacons, Doctors and Elders. To their Priest and Levites, Cyprian doth rightly liken to our Pastors and Deacons, for howsoever sundry things were done by the Priests and Levites, which were typical and Jewish only, yet may we well parallel our Pastors with their Priests, in respect of perpetual Ecclesiastical office common to both, viz. The teaching and governing of the people of God, Mal. 2.7. 2 Chron. 19.8, and our Deacons with their Levites, in respect of the care of Ecclesiastical goods, undo f the work of the service of the house of God in the materials and appurtenances thereof, a function likewise common to both, 1 Chro. 26. 20. & 23.24. 28. The Jewish Church had also Doctors and Schools, or colleges for the preservation of true Divinity among them, and of tongues, arts, and sciences, necessary thereto, 1 Chron. 15. 22. 27, 2 King. 22.14, 1 Sam. 19.20, 2 Kings 2.3.5, Acts 19.9. These office-bearers they had for no typical use, but we have them for the same use and end for which they had them. And all these sorts of office-bearers among us we do as rightly warrant from the like sorts among them as other while we warrant our baptizing of infants from their circumcising of them, our churches by their Synagogues, etc..” George Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland in the points of Ruling-elders, etc.

Westminster divine John Lightfoot (1602-1675) states in his commentary on Matthew 4 that the office of deacon was not necessarily something new that comes about in Acts 6. Rather he states and defends that the synagogue had deacons.

“Again he (Thomas Goodwin) says, ‘In all the Jew’s Synagogues there were Parnasin Deacons or such as had care of the poor. Whose work it was to gather alms for them from the congregation and to distribute it to them. That needful office is here Acts vi translated into the Christian Church.’” -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

But it was also found within the Patristic Church.

Clement of Rome (96 A.D.)

“The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus the Christ was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God and the Apostles from Christ. In both instances, the orderly procedure depends on God’s will. And so, the Apostles, after receiving their orders and being fully convinced by the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and assured by God’s word, went out in the confidence of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News that God’s Kingdom is about to come. They preached in country and in city and appointed their first converts after testing them by the Spirit, to be the BISHOPS and DEACONS of future believers. Now this was not any novelty, for Scripture had mentioned bishops and deacons long before. For this is what Scripture says somewhere, ‘I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith.'” (1). “The high priest is given his particular duties: the PRIESTS are assigned their special place while, on the LEVITES, particular tasks are imposed. The layman is bound by the laymen’s code.” . Each of the brothers, “in his own rank,” must win God’s approval and have a clear conscience. We must not transgress the rules laid down for our ministry, but must perform it reverently”. (1) quotation mentioned is from the Septuagint of Isaiah 60: 17.

“They therefore that make their offerings at the appointed season are acceptable and blessed; for while they follow the institutions of the Master they cannot go wrong. For unto the high priest his proper services have been assigned and to the priests their proper office is appointed, and unto the Levites their proper ministration is laid. The layman is bound by the layman’s ordinances. Let each of you, brethren, in his own order give thanks unto God, maintaining a good conscience, and not transgressing the appointed rule of His service, but acting with all seemliness.” -Ib. a. xl, xli; but cf. a. xliv.

Jerome, Ep. 146

Bishops, presbyters and deacons occupy in the church the same positions as those which were occupied by Aaron, his sons, and the Levites in the temple.

Athanasius

‘The great Athanasius in his sermon to the newly baptized says this:’

“You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table.” -Sermon to the Newly Baptized” 373 A.D

Zephyrinus, To the Bishops of the Province of Egypt.

The Decretals

“Ordinations of presbyters and Levites, moreover, solemnly perform on a suitable occasion, and in the presence of many witnesses; and to this duty advance tried and learned men, that ye may be greatly gladdened by their fellowship and help. Place the confidence of your hearts without ceasing on the goodness of God, and declare these and the other divine words to succeeding generations: “For this is our God for ever and ever, and He will guide us to eternity.” Given on the 7th November, in the consulship of the most illustrious Saturninus and Gallicanus.”

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians Chapter III

“In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrim of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church.”

So there is very little doubt that the office of Deacons is a continuation of the office of Levite and have similar functions except where aspects of the ceremonial law is abrogated.

§Christian Synagogues – A Continuation of the Old Testament Synagogue

The Church (ekklesia) existed prior to the NT, Acts 7:38 “This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel (Christ) which spake to him in the mount Sinai”.

The Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament uses the word Ekklesia in place of the Hebrew word “Qahal”.

The synagogue is a Greek word used for the God ordained (miqra) is translated into English as Holy Convocation (Lev. 23:3) on the Sabbath.

The New Testament in James 2:2 calls Christian Assembly buildings (synagōgē).

As Reformed Christians our worship practices must be built upon the whole Bible. We must take our instruction from all 66 books of Holy Scripture. It is a single book, a single coherent revelation of God’s mind. And it has always been, therefore, a single worship of God’s people: the same grateful praise, confession, submission offered to a holy God by sinners saved by grace. Also, we must regulate our worship according to the precepts, principles, and examples found within the totality of God’s Word. And through his unity and application of the entire scriptures we see a continuity and continuation of the Synagogue for the New Testament saints. The Synagogue being the moral holy convocation of the saints throughout the Old Testament time period.

The New Testament church is based on the model of the Synagogue and continues the Synagogue. It was the weekly gathering of the saints throughout the Old Testament. It was set up by God through Moses in Lev. 23:3 which is the Holy Convocations (Miqra) that God appointed on the weekly bases. Even the Apostles declared that Moses was the one who set up Synagogues in every city in Acts 15:21. So we know that the Synagogue was set up according to divine revelation given to Moses and it was set up from the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.
Matthew Poole speaking on the Ancient Use of the Synagogue states,

“All the synagogues of God in the land, i.e. all the public places wherein the Jews used to meet together to worship God every sabbath day, as is noted, Acts 13:27, and upon other occasions. That the Jews had such synagogues is manifest, both from these and other places of Scripture; and from the testimony of the Hebrew doctors, and other ancient and learned writers, who affirm it, and particularly of Jerusalem, in which they say there were above four hundred synagogues; and from the nature and necessity of the thing; for seeing it is undeniable that they did worship God publicly, in every sabbath, and other holy times, even then when they neither did nor could go up to Jerusalem, both conscience and prudence must needs direct them to appoint convenient places for that purpose.” -Matthew Poole on Synagogues in Ancient Israel

Campegius Vitringa wrote,

“The places of meeting, of both Christians and Jews, were called by the same name, viz. (Synagogues), we have proof of this in the Epistle of St. James; Grotius, in his Commentary on the Acts, shows, that this was the name generally given to Christian places of worship. The usual appellations of the Synagogue were likewise applied to the Churches of Christians; thus Eusebius calls them, “Venerable schools of virtue,” the very appellation by which Synagogues are designated by Philo.” -Campegius Vitringa, The Synagogue and the Church, pg. 140, 1693-1723
“The Synagogue, in its early state, was governed by a Council; so was the early Church, There is a striking correspondence between the Councils of the Church, and those of the Synagogue. And 1. In the names given to the member of these Councils. Thus, the Rulers of the Synagogue are called by St. Luke Presbyters; the very same name is given, by the same Evangelist, to the ministers of the Christian Church. … again, the name, Parnas (Pastor) was frequently given to the members of the Jewish Councils “-Campegius Vitringa, The Synagogue and the Church, P. 145-146, 1693-1723
“The word translated Church, (Ecclesia,) … always conveys some idea of the nature of the assembly; it answers to the Hebrew word Kahal, which denotes an assembly legally convened. Thus Jewish people, when assembled as a body politics to receive the law, are called Kahal; and St. Stephen, referring to this assembly, styles it Ecclesia. … The followers of Christ may be so dispersed, so scattered throughout the world, as to have no opportunity of meeting together; they then cease to be a congregation (Sunagoge), but they do not cease to be a Church (Ecclesia); they have still their legal bond of union, they have still the same Head, they are united by the same faith, supported by the same hope. The Greek words rendered Synagogue, and Church … the word Synagogue signifies in general, the place of assembling, whereas the word Church, … is used to denote, not the place of assembling, but the believing servants of Christ, congregated together for the worship of God, and for mutual edification. ““-Campegius Vitringa, The Synagogue and the Church, P. 1-3, 1693-1723
Westminster divine Anthony Burgess wrote,

“The opinion of the Socinians and others is very wicked, which makes them before Christ, only to hope in temporal good things, and the notion of the Papist observing that the Church under the New Testament is called Ecclesia, but never Synagoge; & the meeting of the Jews, called always Synagoge, but never Ecclesia, doth suppose that the Jews were gathered together as so many beasts, rather than called together as men. But this notion is judged false; and they instance Heb. 10 and James 2 where the Church of the Christians is called Synagoge…” Anthony Burgess, Vindiceae, pg 252

Dr. Samuel Miller, whom we have already used in another section states,

“Now in all these respects, and in many more which might be mentioned the Christian Church followed the Synagogue model and departed from that of the Temple. Could we trace a resemblance only in one or a few points it might be considered as accidental but the resemblance is so close so striking and extends to so many particulars as to arrest the attention of the most careless inquirer. It was indeed notoriously so great in the early ages that the heathen frequently suspected Christian Churches of being Jewish Synagogues in disguise and stigmatized them as such accordingly. And when it is considered that all the first converts to Christianity were Jews that they had been accustomed to the offices and service of the Synagogue during their whole lives that they came into the Church with all the feelings and habits connected with their old institutions strongly prevalent and that the organization and service of the Synagogue were of a moral nature in all their leading characters proper to be adopted under any dispensation while the typical and ceremonial service of the Temple was then done away when these things are considered will it not appear perfectly natural that the Apostles themselves native Jews should be disposed to make as little change in converting Synagogues into Christian Churches as was consistent with the spirituality of the new dispensation. That the Synagogue model therefore should be adopted would seem beforehand to be the most probable of all events. Nor is this a new or sectarian notion. Whoever looks into the writings of some of the early Fathers of the Reformers and of a large portion of the most learned men who have adorned the Church of Christ subsequently to the Reformation will find a very remarkable concurrence of opinion that such was the model really adopted in the organization of the apostolic Church. Most of the distinguished writers whose names are mentioned in the preceding chapter are as we have seen unanimous and melons in maintaining this position. Accordingly as soon as we begin to read of the Apostles organizing Churches on the New Testament plan we find them instituting officers of precisely the same nature and bestowing on them for the most part the very same titles to which they had been accustomed in the ordinary sabbatical service under the preceding economy. We find Bishops, Elders, and Deacons every where appointed. We find a plurality of Elders ordained in every Church. And we find the Elders represented as overseers … as rulers in the house of God and the members of the Church exhorted to obey them and submit to them as to persons charged with their spiritual interests and entitled to their affectionate and dutiful reverence.“ -Dr. Samuel Miller, An Essay on the Warrant, Nature and Duties of the Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church

And Miller and another work of his,

“The service and worship of the Temple being abolished as being ceremonial, God transplanted the worship and public adoration of God used in the Synagogues which was moral into the Christian Church viz the public ministry, public prayers, reading God’s word and preaching.” -Dr. Samuel Miller, A continuation of letters concerning the constitution and order of the Church

Hugo Grotius states,

“The whole polity regimen of the Christian Church was conformed to the pattern of the Synagogue.” Hugo Grotius, -Commentary on Acts 11:30

And in his Commentary on 1 Tim 5:17 Grotius has the following passage,

“Formerly in large cities as there were many Synagogues so there were also many churches or separate meetings of Christians. And every particular Church had its own President or Bishop who instructed the people and ordained Presbyters. In Alexandria alone it was the custom to have but one President or Bishop for the whole city who distributed Presbyters through the city for the purpose of instructing the people as we are taught by Sozomen.”

So we see that the Biblical and the Reformed position is that the New Testament church is a continuation of the Synagogue and that our assembly, our meeting places, our offices, our constitution and our worship are based and modeled on the Old Testament Synagogue.

§Worship Elements and Patterns of the Synagogue

As I have already stated, as Reformed Christians our worship practices must be built upon the whole Bible. We must take our instruction from all 66 books of Holy Scripture. It is a single book, a single coherent revelation of God’s mind. And it has always been, therefore, a single worship of God’s people: the same grateful praise, confession, submission offered to a holy God by sinners saved by grace. Also, we must regulate our worship according to the precepts, principles, and examples found within the totality of God’s Word.

But we must also understand there is a nuance of various types of worship within the sacred Scriptures and not every type of worship that is being described is for the Sabbath Day Corporate Worship service.

The Reformed also hold to nuance understanding of worship throughout Scripture. We distinguish between Synagogue and Temple Worship with the Synagogue model and the Synagogue pattern of worship for the church. We distinguish between Civil Celebrations such as Miriam and the Red Sea and Corporate Sabbath Worship. We distinguish Between Private, Family and Corporate Sabbath Worship and we distinguish between things that were temporary such as the Corinthian passage about let every one who has a prophecy, etc which was Apostolic and not for today. We also distinguish between Elements of worship, Substances of worship and Forms of Worship and circumstances of worship with the Elements, Substance and Forms being totally required by Scripture command and example and Circumstances being first by biblical example and then by the light of nature and good Christian prudence. So for us it is not a free for all but depending on context, nature, and what is required per ordained worship. Not all that is required for corporate worship is permitted in Family or Private worship (such as the sacraments). What is allowed for Civil Celebrations may not be permitted for Private, Family or Corporate worship (such as dancing and certain musical instruments). What was required and permitted for the Temple may not be done for the Synagogue/Church (Musical Instruments, Incense, etc).

Worship is giving due adoration, devotion, and homage to God who is Lord and Sovereign over the entire universe.

Within Scripture there is Synagogue Worship and Temple Worship. Figuring out which type of worship is important because we figure out and are told how to worship from all of Scripture and not just the New Testament. The Temple Worship was required 3 times per year while the normal weekly Sabbath worship was required in the Synagogue. The Temple was a type or shadow of Christ and His work and was set to come to an end at their pre-appointed time which was at the first advent. Then we must figure out if it is Family worship, private worship, or Corporate Synagogue Worship, to determine which worship pattern we are to follow.

The Synagogue only had the non-sacrificial/rituals of the temple. The Synagogue worship consisted of Prayer, Reading and Hearing the Word of God, Exposition of Scripture, Singing of Psalms without Musical Instruments.

This is why we do not have musical instruments within our Divine worship. The musical instruments were part and parcel with the Temple and Burnt Offerings. They were done by the Levites with very particular instruments all of which is abrogated for us today. The Synagogue did not have musical instruments, they only had the singing of Psalms without instruments because the instruments were so tied to the Temple and Temple Worship.

Alex Hislop stated,

“With the abrogation of the “worldly sanctuary,” the instrumental music, which, as much as the offering of sacrifice, was identified with it, and which was not used in the service of the synagogue, was equally abrogated. So certain is it that the instrumental music of Judaism was identified with the Temple service, that the Jews themselves have, ever since the destruction of the Temple, till very recently, held it utterly unlawful to introduce such music into their synagogues. … THE scriptural argument in regard to the identification of the instrumental music in the Old Testament dispensation with the temple worship, stands thus:—We find an express appointment by Divine authority of the use of musical instruments for the temple service, and in connection with the offering of sacrifice; (Numbers 10:10; 1. Chronicles 15:16, and 16:4-6,) the very families being specifically named that could alone use these musical instruments. (1 Chronicles, 25. to the end.) We find no appointment, or the least hint of the appointment, of any such instrumental music in the service of God anywhere else.“ -Alex Hislop, The Scriptural Principles of the Solemn League and Covenant

The whole of worship is made up of a number of parts. The Regulative Worship is the “what” of worship, while the Dialogue Worship makes up the “When” or the order of worship and the “Who” or in other words, who is it whom is speaking during worship. Together they combine to form the “How” of worship.

Worship must also be reverent and with a holy fear. It must not be flippant or without trembling. Worship is not about silliness or childish antics that often passes for modern evangelical worship today. It must be serious, with a reverence and a solemn fear . Psalm 2 says “Rejoice with trembling”, and “With reverence and a godly fear” Hebrew 12:28. And why must this be? Hebrews 12:29 tells us , “For our God is a consuming fire.” We must tremble at his Word. Isaiah 66:1-2.

The Regulative Principle teaches that there are Elements of Worship, and those Elements consist of substance and form. There are also circumstances. The Regulative Principle regulates the Elements, Substances and Forms to their very form. The Circumstances are those things that do not pertain to the Elements of Worship but are common to humans such as if we have air conditioning, microphone for amplification, whether we have carpeting or stone flooring. Though the Circumstances are not as regulated, they are still to be determined first by biblical example and second by good christian prudence.

The Westminster Confession of Faith states the regulative principle well in the first paragraph under “Worship and the Sabbath Day”

“The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”

What are the elements of Worship? Our Confession go further and states the elements of worship. The elements of Worship are Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Prayer, Reading and Hearing of the Word of God, Preaching the Word of God, Covenant Vows, and Singing Psalms with Grace.

The warnings of Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 stress God’s demand that whatever he commands, especially in worship, “you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to them nor take away from it.”

The pattern as seen in Nehemiah chapter 8 is a good example of a worship pattern found in Scripture.

“… And Ezra the scribe stood upon upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, &c. . . . . on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, &c. . . . . And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, (for he was above all the people,) and when he opened it, all the people stood up; and Ezra blessed the Lord the great God; and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands, and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua . . . . and the Levites caused the people to understand the law; and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understanding the reading.” We have in these verses a perfect model of the synagogue. 1st. The pulpit of wood, elevated above the people. 2d. The reading of the law by Ezra and the other doctors. 3d. The explanation of the law. 4th. Praise and Thanksgiving. 5th. The people answering, Amen.” -Campegius Vitringa, The Synagogue and the Church, pg. 40-41, 1693-1723

There is also a Covenantal pattern to our worship through a Covenant Ceremony.

Call to Worship – Israel’s first assembly took place at Sinai at God’s call for a feast and to serve God when He came to them (Ex. 3:12; 5:1; 19:10ff). The call to assemble before our Covenant Lord comes from God, naming Him as the one who calls, and the saints as those called to gather. The Lord says, “Gather my saints together before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifices. Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Ps. 50:5, 14).

Response of Praise through the Singing of Psalms – Saints meeting with their King respond to His call to meet with praise, thanksgiving, and offerings as well as confession of sin. God is pleased with the sacrifice of praise and with the good deeds of sharing this world’s goods (Heb. 13:15-16). And He instructs His people to give Him thanks: Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing Psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! (Ps. 105:1-3)

Reading of the Old and New Testament, The Covenant History, giving reasons for covenanting (Ex. 19:4), summarizing Exodus 1-18, pointing back to all of Genesis. What is the reading of Scripture in God’s worship but recounting the history by which God brought His people home to Himself? The giving of the Law under the Old Testament began by recounting God’s saving Israel: I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Ex. 20:1-2). Likewise, in the New Testament, God’s saving acts in Christ are proclaimed in the gospel. God in Christ has vanquished the enemies of his people: the power of sin, Satan, and the last enemy, death itself (Col. 1:13-14).

Reading of the Law – Stipulations (Ex. 20:1-17; 21:1–23:19): The Ten Commandments are permanent principles applied to specific matters in Ex. 21:1–23:19.

Confession of Sins – As subjects appearing before our Lord, we must seek pardon for past sins. In the solemn assemblies of the Church, the saints properly respond to God’s call to meet with a confession of sin and hear God’s assurance of forgiveness for Christ’s sake. Apart from Christ’s sacrifice, there can be no appearing in God’s presence.

Assurance of Pardon – Blessings (Ex. 23:20-33)

Instruction – Preaching of the Word, Covenant Document (Ex. 24:4). Instruction in how to serve God follows the history of His salvation. Scripture instructs and exhorts God’s people to obey their sovereign Lord in everything at all times. In the reading and preaching of the Word, the saints hear God Himself speak to them. They hear warnings and encouragements. The hands that hang down, and the weak knees, are strengthened. Their feet are given straight paths to run in. The unregenerate are left without excuse, the unrepentant face God’s correcting chastisement. Weighty church discipline takes place within the assembly (1 Cor. 5:4-5). The saints all add their Amen to His Word, mixing faith with God’s Word, showing they believe and embrace it

Oath (Ex. 19:8; 24:3): “All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient.”

Prayer and Praise of Thanksgiving – All the saints share in teaching and admonishing one another. Even newborn babes in Christ, even those weak in faith, even those who have been caught in a fault, even those with no gift of preaching join the assembly in singing psalms. Through the psalms the Word of God dwells richly in His people, so that each instructs all how to praise God, how to confess sin, how to handle adversity, and how to remember God’s covenant. Just as all sing to God, so all pray. When the minister leads in prayer, each adds his Amen to it. In the church’s prayers, the covenant is again remembered and affirmed as the church offers up its desires to God, with thanksgivings and confessions of sin.
Covenant Meal (Ex. 24:9-11): They saw God and ate and drank. When the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is administered it seals God’s love to His people. In communion, as in baptism and in the preaching of the Word, grace and salvation are held forth in fullness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations (Confession, 7.6).

The Benediction – The benediction expresses the blessings of the covenant, while the warnings against unbelief (Heb. 4:1) and the exercise of church discipline in its gatherings remind the Church of the curses attached (see 1 Cor. 5:4-5; 11:29). A parting benediction conveys God’s blessings on the saints in the week to come. They leave the assembly with “grace, peace, and mercy from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” They also leave with the hope of the resurrection and the life to come and the promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Here we see the Synagogue patterns and elements of worship, here we see the same pattern and elements of Worship for the Christian Synagogue. It is a Holy Worship, a Holy Convocation and it is Covenantal.

“We must understand that the earth is profaned when God’s worship is polluted and when his holy name is dishonoured, and that the land in which he wants us to live is polluted and cursed, or will soon be. But since God has given his children the right to remove idolatry from their country, if they don’t do it they provoke him to anger and bring his vengeance upon themselves.”

John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, The Sabbath, 1555

The Encounter and Convocation of Alexander Peden and James Renwick

April 20, 2016

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Alexander Peden, known as the Prophet of the Covenant, was one of the leading figures in the Covenanter movement in Scotland. After becoming an outlaw and rebel he wore a mask when going out in public preaching the gospel throughout all of Scotland. The following is a true account of the encounter and convocation between Alexander Peden and James Renwick another leading Covenanter after the death of James Cameron.

 

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“Wrote Paul to Timothy, when about to die, ‘Take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry.’ It was not always so. There was a time when Paul had little use for the young man who ‘went not with them to the work’ But there came about a blessed change, and such an one as ‘Paul the aged’ would have with him, in the Roman prison, John Mark.

And old Alexander Peden, the Prophet of the Covenant, ‘in deaths oft’, was truly dying now in his cave, but of whom he had believed some hard things.

james renwickJames Renwick

 

By all his afflictions, Puir Auld Sandie was hastening on to the joy of his Lord, and he sent for James Renwick. Patrick Walker tells the fine old story:

He said to James Wilson, that from the time he drank in these false reports, and followed these unhappy advices, it had not been with him as formerly; and when he was a-dying, he sent for Mr. Renwick, who hasted to him and found him lying in very low circumstances, overgrown with hair, and few to take care of him, as he never took much care of his body, and seldom unclothed himself, or went to bed. When Mr. James came in, he raised himself upon his bed, leaning upon his elbow with his head upon his hand, and said,

“Well Sir,” said Mr. Peden, “turn about your back,” which he did in his condescending temper. Mr. Peden said, “I think your legs too small, and your shoulders too narrow, to take on the whole Church of Scotland on your back; sit down, sir, and give me an account of your conversion, and of your call to the ministry, of your principles, and the ground of your taking such singular courses, in withdrawing from all other ministers;”

Which Mr. Renwick did in a distinct manner; of the Lord’s way of dealing with him from his infancy, and of three mornings successive in some retired place in the King’s Park, where he used to frequent before he went abroad, where he got very signal manifestations and confirmations of his call to the ministry, and got renewed in Holland a little before he came off; a distinct short account of his grounds upon which he contended against tyranny and defections, and kept up an active testimony against all the evils of that day. When ended, Mr. Peden said,

“Ye have answered me to my soul’s satisfaction, and I am very sorry that I should have believed any such ill reports of you, which have not only quenched my love to you, and marred my sympathy with you, but made me express myself too bitterly against you, for which I have sadly smarted. But, sir, ere you go you must pray for me, for I am old, and going to leave the world;”

Which he did with more than ordinary enlargement; when ended, he took him by the land, and frew him to him, and kissed him and said,

“Sir, I find you a faithful servant to your Master, go on in a single dependence upon the Lord, and ye will win honestly through and cleanly off the stage, when many others that hold their head high will fall and lie in the mire, and make foul hands and garments;”

Then prayed, that the Lord might spirit, strengthen, support and comfort him in all duties and difficulties. James Wilson was witness to this, and James Nisbet, who then lied in that countryside, could have asserted the truth of this.’

They never met again. Peden ever a phantom to the troopers, evaded them to the last, but forty days after he was buried, they dug him up as he said they would, and hung him on a gallows, and out of contempt for him, reburied him at the gallows foot.”

-Fair Sunshine, Jock Purves

 

Think! No more in the old graveyard,
Will anyone bury his dead!
They carry them high to the Gallows Hill
And lay them there at his head.

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The Mask of Alexander Peden

Civil Modesty Law How Does Clothing Pertain to Civil Magistrates

April 11, 2016

 

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I have come to a very carefully thought out conclusion. It is my first large theology change in a year or so. It happens to deal with the issue of modesty but in more respect to the role of civil government with it. All of the Reformers, Puritans and Covenanters all held that the government had a role in outlawing immodesty and they even passed laws within their societies to deal with the issue of lewdness and immodesty.

Such examples of Puritan modesty laws of New England were such as the following,

“In 1639, the General Court made another order prohibiting the wearing upon garments ‘any manner of lace’, and in the same order it was provided ‘that hereafter no garment shall be made with short sleeves, whereby the nakedness of the arm may be discovered in the wearing thereof and such as have garments already made with short sleeves shall not hereafter wear the same, unless they cover their arms to the wrist with linen or otherwise’.”88 Daniel Wait Howe. The Puritan republic of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. (Indianapolis: Bowen – Merrill, 1899), 98.

But up to this week I have not been convinced from Scripture that the government has a role within this issue. I just could not see it The Scripture definitely speaks to the issue of modesty and what is permitted and what is not permitted. It even defines explicitly and implicitly the details of gender distinctions. But where does it give authority for the civil magistrate (an ordained minister of God) to punish such vices? Where does it spell out the just punishment for the infraction of this wickedness?

Of course, the Social Theocrats would say well it doesn’t but the magistrate is to punish all sin and wickedness that it discovers. Of course that is an argument that I cannot buy. It is rift with issues and massively prone to abuse that can dive quickly into tyranny.

Of course the Recon RPG (Regulative Principle of Civil Government) is also incorrect. We do not need for everything a strict explicit command for the magistrate to punish wrath against the evil doers. We may also go by implicit examples in scripture as well as inference. I call this a Covenanter RPG. I sort of straddle the middle of the two extremes.

Even so, up to this week I could not derived an implicit example or even inference from Holy Scripture for the role of the civil magistrate to punish the wicked and abominable act of immodesty.

That has all been changed. I have taken a week to go deep into this subject and I believe I have the only proper and correct way to derive the principle that the civil magistrate is to punish immodesty. As a friend told me this week, if it is not in that passage then there is no where else to go in Scripture.

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§Leviticus 18

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.”

Here in the beginning of this chapter we are told speak unto the children of Israel, DO NOT do after the heathen nations around you. We are not to adopt their way, practices, even their clothing. This verse alone throws out the oft repeated mistake that we are to fit in with our culture and that we must adopt the clothing from the culture and be cultural relevant. No we are to be distinct from the heathens even if that means looking like the strangest person in the world. We are to keep these ordinances as well as the judgments (civil law) and walk after them and live in them.

“None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.”

§Nakedness

Now we are given a list of people we are not to present our nakedness to. But wait? Doesn’t this entail incest? I thought we were talking about Modesty Laws? Yes, it does include incest but it is not limited to incest.

This chapter is dealing with generality of nakedness. We are not to come before these people with a three-fold view of particular prohibitions.

Here is what Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says,

“This verse contains a general summary of all the particular prohibitions; and the forbidden intercourse is pointed out by the phrase, “to approach to.” In the specified prohibitions that follow, all of which are included in this general summary, the prohibited familiarity is indicated by the phrases, to “uncover the nakedness” [Le 18:12-17], to “take” [Le 18:17, 18], and to “lie with” [Le 18:22, 23].”

The law prohibits 1. Uncover Nakedness, i.e. Nudity, 2. Take and 3. to Lie with. So it is not just dealing with Incest. Another chapter deals explicitly with incest which I will explain in a minute.

Nakedness translated in the passage is the Hebrew word ‘ervah’. In addition to the standard knowing of sexual incest there it also includes the following, “nakedness, nudity, shame, pudenda, pudenda (implying shameful exposure) nakedness of a thing, indecency, exposed”.

So this is dealing with modesty in addition to incest.

One will quickly ask, “But these are dealing with particulars of family members and not general public? Well first there is a Synecdoche, more is meant then just the bare reading. But more to the point if you are dressing immodesty in your home before you come out into public you will be before your mother, father, brother, sister, etc within your house. Even before you walk out that front door you will be interacting with family members. Everybody has a mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, an uncle and various other family members. It is very unavoidable to go out in public before coming before one of your relatives which is expressively prohibited here. Doing so in private or public would be off limits and therefore punishable by the civil magistrates with what is prescribed in these passages, added to this the Westminster Larger Catechism places modest apparel in the Seventh Commandment, a type of sexual sin…

I was reading John Calvin on this chapter and right in the middle of his diatribe he also recognized that there is a modesty component here. In this is discusses veils for women.

“Paul, on a very trifling point, sets before our eyes the law of nature; for, when he teaches that it is shameful and indecorous for women to appear in public without veils, he desires them to consider, whether it would be decent for them to present themselves publicly with their heads shorn; and finally adds, that nature itself does not permit it. ”

Someone will then ask, “Okay, what is nakedness? How do we determine what we can dress?” I am not planning on tackling that particular nuance within this article. I don’t want to get bogged down with specifics at this time. Let us discuss and come to agreement on the general application here before diving into specifics of what is permitted and what is not permitted and what is punishable by the magistrate and what is not punishable by the magistrate… I will cover that subject in the future (No pun intended).

§Just Recompense Punishment

Finally someone will ask, “So what is the punishment for immodest in the civil realm?”

“For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.”

Does that mean that death is required for immodesty? Oh, I can hear the name calling now.. Taliban, Islamic, ISIS who cut off heads or pinch off large hunks of skin for immodesty. I am not a stranger to being called such names as Tartan Taliban, Christian Ayatollah, etc. People will do what people do. Such name calling does not fear me or even bother me. haha

Thankfully it does not mean the death penalty.

According to John Gill, Cut off from the people doesn’t mean death but excommunication from church, removal of citizenship from the state and perhaps banishment from the land if they are habitual…

“shall be cut off from among the people; be removed from their church state, and deprived of ecclesiastical privileges, and from their civil state, and reckoned no more of the commonwealth of Israel; and if known and convicted, to be punished by the civil magistrate, and if not, by the immediate hand of God.” – John Gill

Death is prescribed for some of the acts in this chapter especially for incest. But this chapter does not determine that and not all of them are requiring of death.

Ellicot Commentary says,

“Shall be cut off.—That is, in case the transgression escapes the ken of the tribunal, God himself will inflict the punishment upon the criminals, since some of the crimes specified in this chapter are, according to Leviticus 20, to be visited with death by the hand of man”

So some are by death and other not.. the death would be depended on Lev. 20 and what it prescribes for explicit “lie with”.

§Differences between Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20

See the difference between Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 is Leviticus 18 uses the term “nakedness” which is a general term for various acts and sub acts while Leviticus 20 uses the term “Lie with” which is more explicit for incest and the actual action and not other things such as nakedness.

Leviticus 20 proscribes death for certain acts of lying which is different then cut off from the people…

It is also possible for ringleaders and habitual modesty breakers that the following make apply as per the courts decision as per what George Gillespie argues in Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, 1644,

“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.” Deuteronomy 25: 1-3

§Conclusion

All in all I think this is one of the best argumentation for civil modesty laws and if it is not found here there is nowhere else it can be derived. But I believe it is a pretty convincing argument although I know many people will disagree. Many by emotionalism, fear and a plain ‘I don’t want to’. This was not an easy topic to cover nor some of the outcomes and logical conclusions. But I think it makes the best case from Scripture and the Reformed Faith.

People need guidance and they need rules and laws. Seeing what we see in our culture today as well as the many arguments I have been into online, I am convicted ever so strong that people are sheeples and need guidance and laws and even punishments to deter even in these areas.

Why I Would Abstain From Grape Juice in the Eucharist

March 29, 2016

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I was recently asked, Why I would abstain from Grape Juice if it was given in the Eucharistic Meal. I started to write up a response and it turned out it was too long to post in a Facebook Comment so I decided to turn it into a Blog Article. The Following is my reponse.

Fruit of the Vine

Fruit of the Vines does not mean grape juice. It was a specific Jewish Liturgical phrase that only ever meant Fermented Wine.

With regards to the “Fruit of the Vine” I am going to quote from “Given for You” by Keith Mathison and foreworded by R.C. Sproul…..

“Having examined what scripture teaches about wine in general, we must next examine what it says about the use of wine in the Lord’s Supper. As we have already seen, the institution of the Lord’s Supper is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. In each of these accounts, Jesus identifies the contents of the cup as the “fruit of the vine”. Because the Lord’s Supper was instituted during a Passover Meal, it can hardly be denied that this “fruit of the vine” was the same wine that was used at the Passover. And, as Joachim Jeremias notes, “to genema tes ampelou (‘the fruit of the vine’) for ‘wine’ is in the Judaism of the time of Jesus a set liturgical formula at the blessing of the cup, both before and after the meal.” In other words, when the historical and grammatical context is taken into account, there are simply no grounds to conclude that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper with anything other than the same wine that was used in the Passover meal.”

It is entirely irrelevant to point out that grape juice comes from the fruit of the vine and is therefore also permissible. Many fruits and berries grow on vines. Why limit ourselves to the juice of grapes?

I believed that Christ did tell us to use fermented wine by the phrase “Fruit of the Vine”. Because the phrase Fruit of the Vine was a special Jewish liturgical usage of the phrase fruit of the vine. The Jews only knew that term for fermented wine and nothing else. It was only used for fermented wine… So that is our key passage of Christ telling us directly… When Christ instituted the Holy Supper everyone present knew exactly what fruit of the vine meant… It meant fermented wine…

Fermentation Changes the Nature of the Beast

Fermentation changes the entire product of grape juice. It is a completely different beast. It is no longer chemically Grape Juice but Wine.

Grape and Yeast: Wine is not just grapes but it is grapes and yeast. it is 2 products. The yeast is naturally on the outside of the grape. thus when you smash it it immediately starts to become wine which gives a gladdening effect that is suppose to be part of the supper. Pasteurization is the process to remove yeast and make sure it is only one produce. Thus grape juice is never wine. Therefore grape juice was never given for communion.

The following process is a description that is taken from a Winery…

“After the harvest, the grapes are crushed and allowed to ferment. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of red or black grapes that undergo fermentation together with the grape skins, while white wine is usually made by fermenting juice pressed from white grapes, but can also be made from must extracted from red grapes with minimal contact with the grapes’ skins. Rosé wines are made from red grapes where the juice is allowed to stay in contact with the dark skins long enough to pick up a pinkish color, but little of the tannins contained in the skins.

During this primary fermentation, which often takes between one and two weeks, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol). After the primary fermentation, the liquid is transferred to vessels for the secondary fermentation. Here, the remaining sugars are slowly converted into alcohol and the wine becomes clear. Some wine is then allowed to age in oak barrels before bottling, which add extra aromas to the wine, while others are bottled directly. The time from harvest to drinking can vary from a few months for Beaujolais nouveau wines to over twenty years for top wines. However, only about 10% of all red and 5% of white wine will taste better after 5 years, compared to after one year.”

The juice is no longer Grape Juice but a Fermented Wine which has added a molecular composition of CnH2n+1OH

Grapes have the unique quality of having a natural yeast fungi on their skin, which is a leaven that causes the grape juice to ferment. Natural. grape juice, be it fresh or cooked, has this leaven in it. The only way to totally free grape juice of it’s leaven, is to allow it to completely ferment. In the process of fermentation, the leaven or other impurities of grape juice, are separated, as wine is produced. Impurities settle to the bottom, and the wine (pure) can be drawn off.

Pasteurization removes the yeast from the juice thereby preventing the fermentation of the product into Wine. Thereby Grape Juice is Grape Juice and Wine is Wine and are two completely different beasts.

Gladdening the Heart

I believe that the gladdening effect of Wine is suppose to be and required to be part of the Cup of the Lord and of the Eucharist.

John Gill wrote,

“the Cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 1 Cor iv. 6 and it is a symbol of it, not as in his veins, but as shed from the various parts of his body, particularly his hands, feet, and side, when pierced; and as wine is squeezed out of the grape in the wine-press, so the blood of Christ was pressed from him, when it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and when he trod the wine-press of divine wrath; and as wine cheers the heart of man, so the blood of Christ, applied by the Spirit, speaks peace and pardon to guilty minds, and puts joy and gladness into broken hearts and wounded spirits”

So first we see the squeezing of the grape which represents the squeezing of his blood from His body. But we also see a gladdening an as wine cheers the heart of man so the blood of Christ and it puts joy and gladness into our hearts.

It is the perfect way to understand wine, as how it affects the human body, and relating that to the same affects of the blood of Christ. You just can’t make that association with other beverages, especially since the sacraments are meant to be sensory, so that we can see them, touch them, and in the case of wine in the Supper, taste it, and sense the warming, nourishment, the refreshment, etal. With little thimbles of grape juice, you can taste it, but there is no warmth, no nourishment, no gladdening of the heart. You just wet your whistle and taste the sweet.

The Psalmist states, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God gave wine to men as a gift to make their hearts glad (Ps. 104:15). Why leave the “gladdening” element of alcohol out of wine if it is a divinely given gift and part of the gladdening aspect of the Supper of the Lord?

Marion Lovett wrote,

“What better analogies and illustrations could the Lord have used for His own blood than wine? Wine has the color of blood. By the virtue of the alcohol in it, wine has power in it. The blood of Jesus which cleanses His people from our sins has power in it (Romans 1:16). Wine gladdens the hearts of man. For this reason, wine is used for feasting and joyous occasions. His blood gladdens the hearts of His people, and is the occasion for our feasting and celebration. Such an occasion is observed at every communion.

When the Lord instituted baptism, He did so with water. Water is the essential element in a biblical baptism. It symbolizes washing and cleansing from sin. The Scripture says, “ . . . arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). The sign must be correct in order to accurately signify the grace which is communicated. Therefore, it is not biblical to baptize with any substance other than water.

The same principle is held forth in the Lord’s Supper. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine. Therefore, the symbols must be biblical in order to accurately signify the grace which is communicated. When Christ observed the Lord’s Supper in the upper room with His disciples at Passover time, he used real fermented wine, not grape juice or de-alcoholized wine. ”

Means of Grace

Within the Sacrament like other elements there is a means of grace.

“The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” Shorter Catechism answer 88

How in the world are we suppose to receive the Means of Grace by Grape Juice if what Christ instituted as the Means of Grace was Fermented Wine?

If you just drink Grape Juice then you really are NOT receiving the Means of Grace. Only the proper elements that Christ instituted convey the Means of Grace. Drinking Grape Juice is nothing more then drinking Grape Juice and conveys nothing. Fermented Wine is what conveys the Means of Grace. In addition drinking Grape Juice at the Supper is a break in the Regulative Principle of Worship and therefore an act of disobedience. That is reason enough to abstain from drinking Grape Juice and Crackers for the Eucharistic meal. So not only do you not receive the Means of Grace, you are also acting in disobedience to the Second Commandment.

The Bread and the Fermented Wine are the Substance of the Elements of the Eucharist. These are extremely vital to the Element itself and the lack of these will change the Eucharist Element to nothing.

Now some people will ask? What about the Common Cup? What about the Common Table? These are breaks in the Regulative Principle, so should we abstain from the Eucharist if the Congregation does not have these things?

I totally agree it is a break in the Regulative Principle of Worship. But these are Forms of the Eucharist and does not alter or change the Element or Substance of the Eucharist. So it is still the Eucharistic Meal but done in bad Form. It is my belief that though these are breaks in the Regulative Principle and need to be corrected and Reformed it does not invalidate the Eucharistic Meal as if the Substance of the Elements were changed.

So I cannot agree to take Grape Juice in the Eucharistic Meal and I would abstain from the Eucharist if I was placed in such a circumstance.

Martin Luther said,

“When somebody inquired whether, when a sick person wished to have the sacrament but could not tolerate wine on account of nausea, something else should be given in place of the wine, the doctor [Martin Luther] replied, “This question has often been put to me and I have always given this answer: One shouldn’t use anything else than wine. If a person can’t tolerate wine, omit it [the sacrament] altogether in order that no innovation may be made or introduced.” Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther’s works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (54:438). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

The Covenanter’s Personal Run-in with George Washington

March 18, 2016

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In 1777, David Reed who was born in 1747, his brother John Reed, brother-in-law Samuel McBride (husband of David Reed’s sister Lydia) and several other Covenanters, moved from Lancaster County to what later became Washington County, Pennsylvania, to take possession of land that they believed to have purchased lawfully from a Colonel George Croghan. Colonel George Croghan had established an early British American trading post here during the French and Indian War. Calling themselves the Covenanters, they identified themselves with the Scotsmen who in the 1640s had opposed King Charles I’ efforts to tax and rule them without their consent.

But apparently there was a problem. In September 1784, Washington traveled into western Pennsylvania to survey the 2,813 acres the British government had awarded him for his service in the French and Indian War. But already there, the Covenanter families had already settled on the lands since they bought it from George Croghan in 1777 and when these Covenanters had arrived in the early 1770s, the area was a trackless forest, still considered by many to be part of the sprawling colony of Virginia. These frontier families had cleared the land; built fences, log cabins and barns; and endured the risk of Indian attacks. They had grown their own corn and wheat, raised cows and other farm animals, and hunted wild game.

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George Washington was not happy to say the least, the general feared that the loss of even a single parcel to squatters would have a cascading effect, and that he and other legitimate investors might lose hundreds of thousands of acres. Washington had hoped to attract settlers to western Pennsylvania as part of a tremendously ambitious plan for development of the new nation. The retired general was planning a grandiose scheme of canals and roads that would link Lake Erie to the Ohio River to the Potomac River to the Atlantic Ocean, a system that would carry the wealth of the nation’s interior to himself and his home state of Virginia.

These Covenanters, now, years later, were being confronted by an absentee landlord who they believed was not the true owner of the land they had purchased. But Washington had kept track of every acre he owned and calculated every shilling of rent that he believed was due.

The Covenanters operating on the assumption that those who improved the land had stronger legal and moral claim to ownership than someone who simply possessed a paper title, they refused to grant Washington occupancy and were unimpressed by his revolutionary war credentials.

Washington was convinced that the squatters had taken advantage of him, penalizing him for the years he had led his country’s army in its fight for independence.

“Indeed, comparatively speaking I possess very little land on the Western Waters,” he wrote to his attorney. “To attempt therefore to deprive me of the little I have, is, considering the circumstances under which I have been and the inability of attending to my own affairs, not only unjust, but pitifully mean.” He had little sympathy for this “grazing multitude,” who “set forth their pretensions” to his land, and attempted to “discover all the flaws they could in my Deed.”

Washington was intent on enforcing his legal rights to collect back rent. Attempts were made to arrive at a peaceful solution. On September 14, 1784, Washington met with the squatters met at his gristmill near present-day Venice. On September 20, 1784, a second meeting was held between Washington, Reed and a group 13 of other squatters (Washington’s term for these Covenanters). The efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

The meeting was recorded in Washington’s journal thusly:

“September 20, 1784 dined at David Reed’s, after which Mr. James Scott and Squire Reed began to enquire whether I would part with the land, and upon what terms; adding that, though they did not conceive they could be dispossessed, yet, to avoid contention, they would buy if my terms were moderate. I told them I had no inclination to sell; however, after hearing a great deal of their hardships, their religious principles which had brought them together as a society … and unwillingness to separate or remove, I told them I would make them a last offer and this was The whole tract at 25 shillings per acre. The money to be paid in three annual payments with interest or to become tenants upon leases of 999 years at the annual rental of 10 pounds per C per annum, etc.”

These were stiff terms. None of the thirteen squatters was interested in the lease. When they asked Washington if he would sell the land at his asking price over a much longer period of time and without any interest, he refused, at which point they formally declared that they did not recognize his ownership.

George Washington decided to proceed with a law suit. The ensuing lawsuit dragged on for two years. In October 1786, a trial on the issue was held in Washington, Pennsylvania, with Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas McKean riding circuit as the presiding judge.

When the jury came back with a verdict in favor of the general, he became the proprietor of thirteen separate plantations. Washington won the suit.

Abandoning the homes they had built over many years, they all moved away. Several obtained warrants for land adjacent to or near Washington’s land, cleared it, and built new plantations. The Reed brothers acquired farms in Cecil township in Washington County. Samuel McBride settled on a farm in what later became Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.

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What happened to the land? Washington would keep his grip on the land for another decade. In 1796, with western land speculation in full collapse, he sold the entire tract to a local agent for the modest sum of $12,000. When the agent defaulted on the mortgage, the general then retained the land until his death.

George Washington was being extremely unfair. These Covenanters purchased the land lawfully and settled it. They also had the moral high ground by which they had improved the land for more then a decade and Washington was absent and not present. Washington was apparently gifted this land by the British Government of which no longer had any claims in the territory. The Covenanters were willing to compromise and buy the land of which they already owned but Washington demanded far too stiff of terms. Thus was the run in of Covenanters with America’s First President.

Holiness and Holiness Standards Among Reformed Covenanters

March 18, 2016

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Do Reformed Covenanters have Holiness Standards? Well maybe not so much today (this is an issue and spiritual matter we must recover). But historically Covenanters have had Holiness Standards. “Gasp! Someone may say, blah such legalism” but Holiness and Holiness Standards are not optional for a true believer nor is it legalism. Reformed Christians have always believe in the continuing force of God’s moral law, not for Justification but Sanctification, as a rule of life.

Nor is having Scriptural derived standards, legalistic. We are not adding to the law of God. So whether it is a holiness matter that deals with worship, or the holiness of the Sabbath to even the lesser matters of the law, modesty, sobriety, moderation, head veiling, makeup, tattoos, hair length and other matters of the law. We believe we must strive for holiness and to pursue holiness, “Be Holy For I am Holy”. We are required to live a separated life.

Some may even think this is unique to Pentecostalism. It is not! It is rooted in the Reformed Faith since the beginning of the First Reformation and way before the modern Pentecostal movement begin.

Practical or outward holiness for believers do involve certain ‘holiness standards’ that dictate, among other things as modest apparel and gender distinction. We Covenanters believe wholeheartedly in dressing modesty (not by cultural standards or norms) with restraints and limits as well as moderation which requires avoiding excesses..

Covenanter Rev. Prof. R.J George, D.D. wrote in 1898,

“In our Church Covenant the requirements of the separated life are set forth in a most solemn vow of surrender of the life to God and consecration to holy living. Aiming to live for the glory of God as our chief end we will in reliance upon God’s grace and feeling our inability to perform any spiritual duty in our own strength diligently attend to searching the Scriptures religious conversation the duties of the closet the household the fellowship meetings and the sanctuary and seek in them to worship God in spirit and in truth. We do solemnly promise to depart from iniquity and to live soberly righteously and in this present world commending and encouraging by our example temperance charity and godliness.

All through her history the Church of the Covenanters has given expression to her doctrine of separated life by certain beautiful and forms in connection with the observance of Lord’s Supper which are in a good degree peculiar to herself. The first is on the Saturday the Sacrament is observed there is an official exhibition of the terms of her ecclesiastical fellowship and an authoritative distribution of tokens of admission to the Lord’s table by the Session constituted in the name of Christ. The other immediately preceded the of communicants to the holy table of the Lord was called by our fathers ‘Fencing the tables’.

The doctrine underlying these Covenanter is the doctrine of the separated life as expressed.

The Scripture,

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”

“Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.”

“Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit, thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.”

The charge has often been made by the enemies of the martyrs of the Covenant that their devotion was simply to the externals of religion, while they lacked the real separated life which consists in consecration to holy living and complete surrender to the will of God. Those who make this charge either have little acquaintance with the lives of these godly men and women, whom they thus reproach, or they have little regard for truth.

From a great cloud of witnesses I can only give the testimony of two of the most noted, namely Donald Cargill, The author of the Queensferry Paper and of the Torwood Excommunication; and James Renwick, the organizer of the Society People and the last of Scotland’s martyrs.

In his dying testimony Cargill said: I have followed holiness; I have taught truth; and I have been most in the main things; not that I thought the things concerning our times little, but that I thought none could do anything to purpose in God’s great and public matters till they were right in their own conditions.

What a testimony to the need of holiness in order to service. The words might well be inscribed over the doors of a theological seminary– “No one can do anything to purpose in God’s great and public matters till they are right in their own conditions.”

Renwick bore testimony to the excellence of holy living. And after speaking of the trials through which the persecuted remnant had passed, and the still greater trials awaiting them, he adds: “What is for us this day, but that we make Christ sure for ourselves, and spend our days here below in admiring the loveliness and condescension of our Beloved, and our happiness in enjoying such a portion. But this is a great work. Time is not equal for it, therefore we shall get eternity for it. O let us study the increase of the beauty of holiness, for happiness is inferior unto it. It is by holiness we are made like unto God; and is not this true nobility? O what is like unto it! If we knew more of this study and attainment desertion would be less of our exercise, and we should enjoy more of the smilings of His sweet countenance and the breathings of His spirit.”

Now listen to Renwick’s appeal for a life wholly consecrated to God:

“Oh, who would not choose Him?” he says, “Who would not give away themselves to Him” Let man look through heaven and earth, and seek a portion where he will, he will not find the like of Christ. O, then, let us be altogether His and nothing our own. Our time, let it be His; our understanding let it be His; our will let it be His; our affections, let them be His; the travail of our souls, let it be His; our strength, let it be His; our names, our lives and enjoyments, let them all be His. Let us be fully surrendered and entirely consecrated unto Him.”

Again, I say the words might well be inscribed over the doors of a theological seminary. And what can be more sublime than his message from Holland to the Societies:

“My longings and earnest desires to be in that land and with the pleasant remnant are very great. I cannot tell what may be in it, but I hope that either the Lord has some great work to work, or else is minded to call for a testimony at my hand. If He give me frame and furniture I desire to be ready for either.”

Noble words! Work or martyrdom! They recall that ancient seal which had for its symbol an ox standing between a pIow and an altar, and underneath the legend– Ready for EITHER. If the modern doctrine of a ‘separated life’ comprehends anything beyond that in the way of full consecration and entire surrender of the life to God, I know not what it is.

While, for the purpose of exhibiting the scope of the dominant principles of our Church, I have presented the subject under three heads, yet true it is, that they all may be comprehended under one, for the second and third, are correlates of the first, and the one grand imperial principle the Church of the Covenanters, from which she had her birth, which reappears at every crisis in her history, and which moulds and controls her government, worship, discipline and service, is the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rev. J. M’C Cromie, in his address before the Glasgow Convention in 1896, on Reformed Presbyterian Literature, said:

“The monuments and literature of ancient Egypt teach us that the men who produced them were under the dominion of one idea; they believed the one real business of life was preparation for death.

Upon the whole literature of the Covenanters is graven, with a pen of iron, one idea: the Supreme Headship of Lord Jesus Christ in all matters sacred and civil. In fact, the whole literature of the Covenants is simply the expansion of one idea– ‘The World for Christ’”

-Covenanter Rev. Prof. R.J George, D.D. in Christian Nation: Righteousness Exalts a Nation, 1898, Vol. 29

So Be Holy and live a separated life.

 

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