Archive for October, 2015

The Bothwell Debacles

October 21, 2015

Battle of Bothwell Bridge, 1679

By Michael Daniels

Bothwell Bridge! Nothing conjures up so much pride but at the same time so much disappointment and self-loathing within the Covenanter heart. What is Bothwell Bridge? Well it was a battle that took place at the bridge at Bothwell in the 6th month on the 22nd day of the year 1679. It was fought between English non-covenanted unlawful troops and militant Covenanters. It is a battle that went down in infamy among Covenanters because of what transpired prior to the battle. But why does it conjure up so much pride but also so much self-loathing?

§Drumclog, The Background

Several weeks prior to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge was another battle, the Battle of Drumclog. The Battle of Drumclog was fought on 6th month of the 1st day of the year 1679, between a group of Militant Covenanters (Remonstrators) and the forces of John Graham of Claverhouse, at High Drumclog, in South Lanarkshire.

§Lawful Assassination of James Sharp

Following the lawful assassination of Archbishop James Sharp (a turncoat tyrant who persecuted Covenanters and had their hands and feet cut off and then put to death) on Magus Muir, and the Declaration of Rutherglen, the militant Covenanters were on the verge of open war. A large conventicle was planned to take place at Loudoun Hill in defiance of English tyrannical persecution of the Covenanters. On the Sabbath morning of the 6th month on the 1st day the Rev. Thomas Douglas broke off his sermon with the words “Ye have got the theory, now for the practice”, when it was reported that the dragoons of Claverhouse were heading to the area. Claverhouse, better known to his enemies as ‘Bluidy Clavers’.

§Battle of Drumclog

A group of around 200 armed Covenanters to a boggy moor near the farm of Drumclog. With about 40 mounted men, and armed with muskets and simple pitchforks, the Covenanter force was no rabble.

bloody banner covenanter banner with proper colors

Cameronian William Cleland led a force around the stank, and advanced rapidly. Despite heavy fire from the English troops, the attack was entirely successful. The line of Claverhouse’s force broke, and the dragoons were soon routed from the battlefield, leaving 36 dead.

The flag above is William Cleland banner flag during both Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge.

This was a great victory for the Covenanters and soon the news spread across Scotland and Covenanters came from many places to join the militia. Within weeks the militia had grown very rapidly from just around 240 men to well over 6,000. Such pride, such a glorious thing to see. A whole field of Scottish Covenanter countrymen coming to defend our land as well as our National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant that was sworn by three kingdoms and all their colonies.

“Within a week of Drumclog, the militants’ force rapidly grew to around 6,000 men: a level it broadly sustained throughout the Rising despite of the arrival and departure of numerous elements. Although smaller in size than the Covenanters’ armies of the 1640s, it was twice the size of the militant presbyterian Western Association of 1650.” -The United Societies: Militancy, Martyrdom and the Presbyterian Movement in Late-Restoration Scotland, I679 to I688 by Mark Jardine

The army was strong and had the chance of surprise to move forward quickly onto Bothwell Bridge and from there on toward Edinburgh.

§Bothwell Bridge

The Covenanters had established their camp on the south bank of the Clyde, north of Hamilton.

§Bothwell Debates

But then division broke out. As I have for many years heard the story that the Covenanters stalled prior to Bothwell Bridge to bicker around doctrine. This is where the self-loathing comes into play. I had never seen anything regarding what they actually fought over during the Bothwell Debates as I could never find anything to actually listed what they bickered over. It was always said that they bickered over many issues as well as minor doctrinal differences that could have been settled later. What the Bothwell Debates did do was stalled the military movement and it cost them dearly. It cost them the war.

But is this the whole story? I am afraid not. I have since learned the actual nature of the Bothwell Debates and what they actually bickered over. It is still true that the Bothwell Debates cost them the war for stalling but it was not some minor bickering or over minor doctrinal differences.

I lay the blame squarely on the Moderates (Protestors) within the party that led to the Covenanter defeat at Bothwell Bridge for stalling the military progression onto Bothwell Bridge and on Edinburgh. Apparently there was two main issues that arose during the weeks between Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge and the formation of two parties, the Moderates (Protestors) and the Militants (Remonstrators). The Moderates (Protestors) want to come to peace with the English Tyrants and have a settlement while the Militants (Remonstrators) wanted to quickly move onto Bothwell Bridge. That stall alone cost us the war. By the Moderates (Protestors) stalling, it allowed the English forces to get ready and prepare and come to attack the Covenanters. The other issue was how the army was going to write it’s Testimony.

“The militants … the narratives Wodrow used, … For them, the Debates had witnessed the undermining and betrayal of their cause by a few moderate lairds and the majority of the ministers. They were primarily concerned with the framing of the army’s testimony in the Debates and how what they perceived to be the failure to establish the correct testimony before the battle had brought down the Lord’s wrath on them and led to the Rising’s failure.” -The United Societies: Militancy, Martyrdom and the Presbyterian Movement in Late-Restoration Scotland, I679 to I688 by Mark Jardine

“In essence, the Debates were a power struggle for control over the Council between the militants, who were the majority on the council for most of the Rising, and more moderate elements, especially within the ministry who did not sit in the Council of War … the moderates were able to impose a new strategy, suggested by sympathetic presbyterian gentry in Edinburgh close to Monmouth, of drafting a supplication to Monmouth in the hope of achieving a negotiated settlement.” -The United Societies: Militancy, Martyrdom and the Presbyterian Movement in Late-Restoration Scotland, I679 to I688 by Mark Jardine

In the end, the Moderates were able to replace the majority of the Militants on Council of War and was able to draft ‘The Hamilton Declaration’ which was rejected by the Militant faction.

§The Bothwell Delcarations
The following are all the Declarations that got published during the Bothwell Debates:

Short Declaration to the Army, 6th Month on the 6th day, 1679.

Proclaimed at Glasgow by the militant leadership on the Council of War. It is styled in Wodrow as the ‘Declaration from the Covenanter’s Camp published to their army’.

“We who are here providentially convened in our own defence, for preventing and removing the mistakes and misapprehensions of all, especially of those whom we wish to be, and hope are friends, do declare our present purposes and endeavours to be only in vindication and defence of the true reformed religion in its profession and doctrine, as we stand obliged thereunto by our national and solemn league and covenants, and that solemn acknowledgement of sins, engagement to duties, made and taken in the year 1648, declaring against popery, prelacy, Erastianism, and all things depending thereupon.” -Wodrow, History, III, 91.

The Hamilton Declaration, 6th Month, 13th day 1679.

The Declaration was publicly rejected by the militant faction in 1680.

“As it is not unknown to a great part of the world how happy this church of Scotland was while she enjoyed the ordinances of Jesus Christ in purity and power, of which we have been deplorably deprived by the establishment of prelacy; so it is evident, not only to impartial persons, but to professed enemies, with what unparalleled patience and constancy the people of God have endured all the cruelty, injustice and oppression, that the wit and malice of prelates and malignants could invent and exercise, and being most unwilling to act any thing which might import opposition to lawful authority, or engage the kingdom in war, although we have been along groaning under the overturning the work of reformation, corruptions of doctrine, slighting of worship, despising of ordinances, changing the ancient church discipline and government, thrusting out of so many of our faithful ministers from their charges, confining, straitly imprisoning, exiling, yea, and putting to death many of them, and intruding upon their flocks a company of insufficient and scandalous persons, and fining , confining, imprisoning, torturing, tormenting, scourging, and stigmatizing poor people, plundering their goods, quartering upon them by rude soldiers, selling their persons to foreign plantations, horning and intercommuning many of both; whereby a great number in every corner of the land were forced to leave their dwellings, wives, children, and relations, and made to wander as pilgrims, still in hazard of their life, none daring to reset, harbour or supply, (though starving) or so much as to speak to them, even on death-bed, without making themselves obnoxious to the same punishments; and these things acted under colour of law, in effect tending to banish, not only all sense of religion, but also to extinguish the natural affections, even amongst persons of nearest relations, and likewise groaning under the intolerable yoke of oppression, in our civil interests, our bodies, liberties and estates, so that all manner of outrages have been most arbitrarily exercised upon us, through a tract of several years bypast, particularly in the year 1678, by sending against us an armed host of barbarous savages, contrary to all law and humanity, and by laying on us several impositions and taxes, as formerly, so of late by a meeting of prelimited and overawed members, in the conventions of estates in July 1678, for keeping up of an armed force, intrusted as to a great part of it, into the hands of avowed papists, or favourers of them, whereby sundry invasions have been made upon us, and exorbitant abuses and incredible insolencies committed against us, and we being continually sought after, while meeting in houses for divine worship, ministers and people frequently apprehended, and most rigorously used; and so being necessitate to attend the Lord’s ordinances in the fields, in the most desert places, and there also often hunted out, assaulted, to the effusion of our blood, and killing of some, we were inevitably constrained , either to defend ourselves by arms, at these meetings, or be altogether deprived of the gospel preached by his faithful ministers, and made absolute slaves; at one of which meetings, upon the first day of June instant, (being the Lord’s day) captain Graham of Claverhouse being warranted to kill whomsoever he found in arms at field conventicles making resistance, did furiously assault the people assembled; and further to provoke, did cruelly bind, like beasts, a minister, with some other people, whom he had the very same morning found in their houses, and severals being killed on both sides, and they knowing certainly, that by law they behoved to die, (if apprehended) they did stand to their own defence, and continued together, and thereafter many of our friends and countrymen being under the same oppression, and expecting the same measures, did freely offer their assistance. We therefore thus inevitably, and of absolute necessity, forced to take this last remedy (the magistrate having shut the door by a law against any application, that what ever our grievances be, either in things civil or sacred, we have not the privilege of a supplicant) do judge ourselves bound to declare, that these, with many other horrid grievances in the church and state, (which we purpose to manifest more fully hereafter) are the true causes of this our lawful and innocent self-defence. And we do most solemnly in the presence of almighty God the searcher of hearts, declare, that the true reasons for us continuing in arms, are candidly and sincerely these. 1st The defending and securing of the true protestant religion, and presbyterian government founded on the word of God, and summarily comprehended in our confessions of faith and catechisms, and established by the laws of the land, to which king, nobles and people are solemnly sworn, and engaged in our national and solemn league and covenants, and more particularly the defending and maintaining of the kingly authority of our Lord Jesus Christ over his church against all sinful supremacy, derogatory thereto, and encroaching thereupon. 2ndly. The preserving and defending the king’s majesty’s person and authority in the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdom, that the world may bear witness, with our consciences, of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts nor intentions to diminish his just power and greatness. 3rdly. The obtaining of a free and unlimited parliament, and of a free general assembly, in order to the redressing of our forsaid grievances, for preventing the danger of popery, and extirpation of prelacy. This therefore being the cause we appear for, and resolved, in God’s great name to own (hereby homologating all the testimonies of our faithful sufferers for truth in Scotland, these eighteen years) together with acknowledgment of sins, and engagement of duties, we do humbly request the king’s majesty would restore all things as he found them, when God brought him home to his crown and kingdoms; and if that cannot be obtained, then we heartily and humbly invite, intreat, beseech, and obtest, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, all who are under the same bonds with us, to concur in the defence of the common cause and interest, and that they would not stand still, and see, not only us oppressed, but the forsaid cause ruined, adversaries highly and proudly insult against God and all good men, friends of the truth discouraged, yea, the protestant cause in Britain and Ireland, and even yourselves, within a little time, made prey of. Or else forced, when we are broken, (which the good Lord prevent) dreadfully to wrong your consciences. Finally. Because we desire no man’s hurt or blood, we request our countrymen, now the standing forces of the kingdom, some of them being our friends and kinsmen, not to fight against us, lest in doing so they be found fighting against the Lord, whose cause and quarrel we are sure he will own and signally countenance, seeing we fight under his banner who is the Lord of hosts.” -Wodrow, History, III, 94n.

Enumerations of Public Defections, 6th Month, 16th through 18th day, 1679.

Draft declaration of public defections, or the sins of the land, created by the militant leadership.

“As to those before the restoration, we refer to the ‘Causes of God’s Wrath’. Since the year 1660 we reckon, 1. The universal rejoicings, bonfires, and riotings that were almost everywhere throughout the land, at the king’s return, and yearly since; and many public abuses then committed, and frequent profaning of the Lord’s name. 2. The establishing of, and complying with abjured prelacy. 3. The neglecting of public testimonies and protestations against the erecting of that tyrannical abjured hierarchy, and against the defacing of the Lord’s glorious work, and overturning the right government of this house 4. The great and public sin of many, in taking unlawful bonds, called bonds of peace, &c. Which are contrary to our solemn oaths and covenants. 5. The paying of unlawful cess and taxations, imposed and levied for keeping up sacrilegious supremacy, and for maintaining soldiers to suppress the gospel. 6. The complying with abjured Erastianism; ministers appearing at the court of usurping rulers, and accepting from them warrants and instructions (founded upon that sacrilegious supremacy) to admit them to, and regulate them in the exercise of their ministry; their leading blindfold alongst with them many of the godly in that abjured course; their indulgence becoming a public sin and snare, both to themselves and many others.” -Wodrow, History, III, 92.

§The Battle of Bothwell Bridge

Flag of the East Munkland Covenanter battle of bothwell bridge june 1679

But the Bothwell Debates did not fracture the army. The Militants (Remonstrators) remained and the army was united. The militants (Remonstrators) had grudgingly accepted the reality of their situation, but from their perspective, the defeat of the presbyterian army the next day would demonstrate the Lord’s displeasure with the army’s moderate platform.

The preacher Donald Cargill and William Cleland, the victor of Drumclog, were present, as were David Hackston of Rathillet and John Balfour of Kinloch, known as Burley, who were among the group who lawfully assassinated Archbishop Sharp on 5th month 3rd day. The government army numbered around 5000 regular troops and militia, and was commanded by Monmouth, supported by Claverhouse and the Earl of Linlithgow.

bloody banner covenanter banner with proper colors

Monmouth’s army arrived the next morning. In the parlay before the battle, the moderates’ hopes of a negotiated settlement vanished, as Monmouth’s terms insisted that they would have to lay down their arms and hand over known fugitives, which meant most of their leadership.

Even though the Covenanter Militant (Remonstrators) and Moderate (Protestors) factions had been bitterly divided, they had come to a form of agreement and remained together on the battlefield. However, in the delay caused by the parlay, Monmouth deployed his cannon. Monmouth’s army soon got the upper hand and won the day by killing or capturing a quarter of the Covenanter soldiers.

Many fled into nearby Hamilton Palace, seat of Duchess Anne, who was sympathetic to the Presbyterian cause, and it was in this area that the final engagements took place. The numbers of Covenanters who were killed were around 700. Around 1200 were taken prisoner were taken to Edinburgh and held on land beside Greyfriars Kirkyard, an area now known as the Covenanters’ Prison. Many remained there for several months. Many had their hands and feet cut off and then executed, some were sent to the colonies to be enslaved and work on plantations.

§My Own Ancestor at Bothwell bridge

nimmo crestMy own ancestor James Nimmo (my eighth great grandfather) joined the insurgents at Drumclog, and was among those defeated at Bothwell Bridge in 1679. One of a very few who managed to escape from the aftermath of Bothwell Bridge he fled to the north of Scotland and hid until he joined up with Richard Cameron and his men who would do Guerrilla Warfare against the English.

“But qn I came I was not halfe ane hour thr until I feared the Lord was not wethm seeing no Authroretie in discipline, & being ten dayes wtthm I observed I could neer gett liberty in secret, qeh made me wt other thinges fear the ishew, percaving much devision among those tht should have guided the rest; houever upon 22nd we was brock by the enmy & wholly disperst & maney killed & taken, my selfe by the marcifull hand of God saflie brought off tho for sometime was in the place of greatess danger & a cannon ball kild a horse under a man hard by me, & oft hes tht word been sweet to me tht hee was a cover to me in the day off battel, so I stayed hidnly some times in on place some times in ane other in much hazerd. About three dayes after we wer brocke, ane alarome came qr I was tht a pairtie of the enemie was coming, it being the night time I was made to rise & goe to a corn field & hide my selfe qr in the morning getting my selfe somqt composed desired to adress my self to the Lord by prayer; & thrin hee fully did satisfie my mine tht we wer brock & thtit was not yet time nor we wer meet for deliverance, & consdiering the devisiones was amonst thm, made to bliss rthe Lord we wer brock rather thr qn we should have destroyed on ane other. I was oftn made to ly in cold barnes tht winter thrafter, yet injoyed much pleasant qwayetness in my mind tho cold and bad dyet & not timlie did affect my bodie.” Diary of my 8th Great Grandfather James Nimmo.

Nimmo quite confirms the accounts which Wodrow and others have given of the divisions which arose in the Covenanter camp during the Bothwell Debates.

§Richard Cameron and the Cameronians

The Covenanter minister Richard Cameron (1648-1680), known as the Lion of the Covenant, and twenty of his Cameronians, then issued the Sanquhar Declaration (1680) disowning ungodly royal authority:

“Although we be for government and governors, such as the word of God, and our covenants allows; yet we for ourselves and all that will adhere to us, the representatives of the true Presbyterian church and covenanted nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under sin any longer, do, by these presents, disown Charles Stuart, who hath been reigning these years bygone (or rather we may say tyrannizing) on the throne of Britain, as having any right, title, or interest to, or in the said crown of Scotland or government; as forfeited several years since, by his perjury and breach of covenant with God and His Church, and usurpation of His crown and royal prerogative, and many other breaches in matters ecclesiastic, and by his tyranny and breaches in the very leges regnandi in matters civil.

For which reasons we declare that several years since he should have been denuded of being king, ruler, or magistrate, or having any power, or to be obeyed as such. As also we, under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ the Captain of salvation, do declare a war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of these practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ and His cause and covenant, and against all such as have any way strengthened him, sided with, or acknowledged him, in his usurpation, civil and ecclesiastic: yea, and against all such as shall any way strengthen, side with, or acknowledge him, or any other in the like usurpation and tyranny; far more against such, as would betray or deliver up our free reformed church into the bondage of Antichrist, the pope of Rome.”


So let us take from this history and learn from our mistakes so that they don’t get repeated. When we have a chance to strike and the Blessed Lord has open up the way for us to take the ground for the sake of the defense of religion as well as self-defense, let us not stop and bicker. Let us not divide ourselves at such a crucial moment and stall but let us swiftly strike and do what is right and honorable and according to Divine precept. Divided we fall but united we stand! Do not repeat past mistakes by being chronological snobs or we are doomed to repeat the same failures. As an old saying goes, “History flows like a river and repeats itself”, so stand firm and stand with the Lord, do not be afraid and we will not repeat past mistakes but win the day. “The grass withers and the flower fades but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.” Psalm 68:1-3

“O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Lord. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Yahovah, art the most high over all the earth.” -Psalm 83:14-18



Hugh Dickie and the 4th Article in the 23rd Chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith

October 20, 2015

bloody banner covenanter banner with proper colors

The dying Testimony of Cameronian Hugh Dickie of the Continuing Societies shows that there has been a very large disagreement on how Westminsterians have taken that article of the 23rd chapter concerning infidelity and difference in religion does not take away the magistrate’s power clause. And that the Cameronian position has been for a very long time that the common or modern understanding of that article of chapter 23 has been totally misconstrued and taken wrongly and that it is made use of for a completely different end. It should be taken completely different then how we have taken it today. I plan in the future to write a blog post on how it should be taken and how it has been taken historically through 3 various views since the Westminster Assembly.

The 4th article is not as simple as it may seem to be for many people.

Hugh Dickie, who died in 1728, decades before the Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1741 and the Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761 wrote and Testified,

“I own the Confession of Faith, (saying nothing of that article of the 23d chapter, concerning infidility, and difference in religion, not taking away the magistrate’s power; but only that it is mis constructed and made use of for another end, than ever the honest and faithful ministers of Jesus Christ had before them, when they gave their approbation of the same,) also, I own the Catechisms Larger and Shorter, Sum of saving Knowledge, and Directory for Worship, &c.”

-Hugh Dickie.’ (A Collection of Dying Testimonies, 241-6.)

§A little background on Hugh Dickie

Hugh Dickie was one of the Society people who survived the killing times of the 1680s and when on to join the Continuing Society people who refused to accept the Revolution Settlement of church and state of 1689 to 1690. Dickie was a Cameronian dissenter who would only accept a covenanted settlement of church and state.

The Patristic Christian Belief of the Beard: A Scriptural and Historical Analysis

October 11, 2015


“A woman with a beard looks like a man. A man without a beard looks like a woman.”

Ancient Hebrew Proverb

§A Word of Warning

I do not believe facial hair or hair length is a salvation issue. We are not saved by our law keeping. But with that said I do believe it to be a moral issue and not ceremonial as the early church taught. It was a God given sign of gender distinctions between men and women. But because you break it does not mean you are a false convert or unbeliever. Christians sin every day but we are to strive for holiness and keep His commandments but we are all growing in progressive sanctification and at different stages. And I am sure I have some sin in my life as well… Some I know about and other I might be ignorant of… Working on them through Sanctification. There are many things I believe Modern Christianity is in sin on…. some larger and then others… but sinful nevertheless. But please do not assume that I believe you have to have beard to be saved or a certain length of hair. I am Reformed in my view of the law, not a legalist!

§Being careful with our words and not calling people rashly by names for things we may disagree on

So I came out and declared I have to take a medical exemption on the Facial Hair Law of Lev. 19:27 for men and because I declared the law to be Moral and not Ceremonial and I get called a Judaizer, someone who wants to obey Ceremonial law and even implicitly a Pharisee. They think I am nuts and that such a view is nutty. But we need to be careful when the Church with Orthodox Theologians have upheld something and declare it nutty just because it is something we have never heard of before in our day. Many people balk at women wearing head veils in our day and consider it nutty and stupid and even to the point of calling it judaizing. Yet many Covenanter women wear the head veil, why? Because it is both in Scripture, we hold it to be moral law and the majority of the church has held to the same principle. I could sit here and list a whole bunch of topics that we Covenanters get called Judaizing, Pharisaical, and nutty on.

The Sabbath Day – Judaizer
No Tattoos – Judaizer
Exclusive Psalmody – Judaizer
No Musical Instruments in Worship – Pharisee (or Judaizer if the person happen to know the Synagogue pattern here)
Synagogue Model for the Church – Judaizer
National Covenanting – Judaizer
Establishment Principle – Judaizer and Pharisees
Magistrate Upholding Both Tables of the Law – Judaizer
Qualifications for Civil Magistrates from Ex. 18 – Judaizer
Head Veiling – Judaizer and Pharisees
Paedobaptism – Judaizer
No Images of the Triune God or even of the Cross – Judaizer
No Man-Made Holy Day – Pharisee
Post Millennial – Judaizer
Common Cup with Fermented Wine – Pharisee, YUCK Factor
No Coitus during a Woman’s Time of Flowering – Judaizer

So I believe that we Covenanters need to be a little more careful, knowing what we are called for in various matters, to be more generous and charitable toward others and not do the same thing to them. Yes it might seem nutty by today’s standards but it has not been novelty in the history of the Church..

§Moral versus Ceremonial, Corporate Interpretation versus Private

There are tons of historic testimony by orthodox theologians that has held that Lev. 19:27 to be morally binding and not ceremonial law. Is it not funny (ironically) that we Covenanters love to quote historical testimony and believe in a corporate interpretation of scriptures until it is something we do not like and then all of the sudden we switch to private interpretation? When it comes to all the topics I listed above we absolutely will quote dozens of quotes to show that they are not novelty in the church. That they are not nutty and that the majority of the church has held to those things above. But when it comes to some other things we do not like we instantly go straight to private interpretation and say that the church was wrong since the beginning and either I am right privately or my denomination is right privately.

I am not talking here about one or two theologians. I am also not talking here about one age of the church over another age of the church. I am talking about a consensus on a particular issue by numerous orthodox theologians and across the ages.

§The Moral Components, What Does the Scripture Say apart from any Historical Testimony or Commentary?

Okay, fine! Let us remove the historical testimony for a moment. Let us consult only the Scriptures and be Anabaptistic for a moment.

Lev. 19:27 reads ‘Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.’

Now prove to me strictly from the Scriptures that this law is ceremonial! Don’t use any commentary or quote from any theologian. You cannot use modern commentaries that like to say “this is ceremonial law to separate the nation of Israel from all other nations and from heathen practice”!

Where does the Scripture declare this law to be Ceremonial law? Where does it state it to be temporary? Where does it state it to have ended? Where in the book of Hebrews does it state that this law was part of the Ceremonial law and abrogated? Where does it state that this law was only for separating the nation of Israel from all other nations? Or are we reading between the lines now? In the Book of Hebrews we get a pretty good picture of what the Ceremonial law is. We see the Temple, the Temple Rituals and Sacrifices, the Priesthood and various others aspects that are connected with the Temple. These were types and shadows of Christ and His redemptive work.

But you want to another something else. The Old Testament also states these things to be temporary. It was declared way before the New Testament that the Ceremonial law was temporary. The Temple was to be destroyed (Psalm 79) and the Messiah to set up a new heavenly temple (Zech. 6). The physical sacrifices were to cease in the week of the Messiah (Daniel 9:27). The Priesthood was to be altered (Psalm 110).

Ceremonial laws are types and shadows of the Messiah and His redemptive work. But there is no type or shadow is attached to the beard for the man. There is no ceremonial component in the beard that I can see from scripture. In addition before the modern era the church never saw a ceremonial type, shadow, or component in Lev. 19:27. I also cannot see any temporariness attached to Lev. 19:27 in the Old Testament nor do I see any abrogation of it in the New Testament.

So what do we see in the Scriptures. We see that the beard was a natural god-given distinction of genders between men and women. God endowed man with a beard and not woman. As one early church father declared, “the beard is his covering” as quoted by William Ames in his paragraph on Headveiling for women. The beard showed the man’s manliness and strength and God commanded it not to be cut nor marred.

I am not saying that a man who has a beard is more holy than one who does not have a beard. And I am not saying that a man who does not have a beard is less holy than one who does have a beard. Nor am I saying that a man who cannot grow any part of the beard is in sin. Such a one is in providentially hindered.

§The shamefulness of marring, cutting, or unkemptness of the beard

During the time of King David, it was believed that no man in good health of body and mind, would thus defile what was esteemed so honorable as the beard. King Saul was after David, and David said, “The time is going to come that I’ll fall by the hand of Saul.” So he escaped into the hand of Achish who was a Philistine. I Samuel 18:6-7, “And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

Well, David saw he was in hot water, so he feigned himself mad. He acted out the nature of a mad man and slobbered all over his beard and let it run down. He scrabbled awkwardly and irregularly by marking on the wall. You see, in that day people were booked as “crazy” who would mark on a wall, and mess up his beard as David did. They would say, “Look at him! that man is crazy. Get him out of here, he’s insane.”

§Wars have started over beards

Did you know many battles have been fought over a man’s beard? For to pull a beard in ancient time was to inflict indignity. In the year 1764 a pretender to the Persian throne named Kerib Khon, sent an ambassador to Mer Mahena, the Prince of Bendervick on the Persian Gulf. Kerib Khon demanded tribute from Mahena but Mahena in turn cut off the Ambassador’s beard. Kerib Khon was so enraged at this that he went the next year with a large army and made war upon this prince and took the city and almost the whole of his territory to avenge the insult.

II Samuel 10:1-7, “And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead. Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon. And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return. And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.”

They started it by mutilating the beards of David’s servants. It was a disgrace, according to the Word of God, to have the beard forcibly mutilated.

§Christ our Lord had a beard and was shamefully plucked out as a sign of shame

Also of great importance is the prophecy regarding our Lord and Savior who is shown to have a beard and it was plucked out in shame. And it was a shameful act and He did not hid his face it says.

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)

It was an extremely shameful act that they plucked off his beard and it was shameful enough for our Lord to declare it shameful though He hid not His face from the shame.

§The beard signifies life unto God, submission unto God and also blessing of God

In Psalms 133 we see, the beard not only signifies life unto God, and submission unto God, but it also signifies the blessing of God. Psalms 133, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”
So the beard signifies the blessing of God upon the child of God.

The beard in Scripture teaches three simple things:
1. To pull it is to inflict indignity.
2. To have it forcibly cut off or mutilated is a symbol of disgrace.
3. To stroke it is to express the importance of one’s words or value or weight.

§Medical exemptions and Providentially Hindered

So what if one is sick and have both skin infections and other aliments that prevent a beard from growing like I currently have right now? Some friends said that if this is a moral commandment then there are no exceptions to it. I beg to differ. In the same way that there are exceptions on the Sabbath Law “Mercy and Necessity” and there is also exceptions to this for medical reasons. And I am not just pulling this out of thin air here. Lev. 14:9 actually is an explicitly command to remove the beard and other hairs if you have a skin infection. So there is an actual exception here to the rule.

So everything we see in scriptures is that it is a gender distinctive image between men and women much like very long hair on a women is (1 Cor. 11). We see that it is an act of indignity to inflict harm or to pull on a beard. And we also see that it is disgraceful and shameful to cut off or mutilate the beard. All of these examples from Scripture (and only Scripture) gives me an understanding that the command is moral in nature and not ceremonial. This is just from a bare reading of the Scriptures without taking into account presuppositions and modern commentaries that we have all read from.

And if the beard commandment of Lev. 19:27 is not moral neither is long hair for women in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Of course I am sure modern Christians would love to hear that.

§The Need to be extremely careful on how we define Moral Law and Ceremonial law

We need to be extremely careful on what we define as moral law and what is ceremonial law. As I read through the history of the Christian church one thing that I have come to know is that every generation the list of what is ceremonial law tends to grow larger and larger. The reason behind this of course is our sinful nature. We don’t want to obey God. We don’t like to obey rules. And if we don’t like certain commandments we are going to find some what or every way out of obeying them which includes re-labeling it ceremonial law. Just so we don’t have to obey them. The Sabbath? Ceremonial law! Exclusive Psalmody? Ceremonial law! National Covenanting and Christian Nationhood? Ceremonial law! Sodomy Laws? Ceremonial law! Yes we have people today who want to claim that Lev. 18 regarding the natural use of men and women are ceremonial law and totally abrogated for today. We need to be careful and we need to know how to define what is ceremonial law and what is moral law in Scriptures. What is abrogated and what is not and not according to our presuppositions or our desires.

§Why does Beards matter to God? That seems so trivial and my God would never be so nit-picky

First it must be granted that this is a lesser matter of the law. This is not some fundamental of the faith! But with that being said, if God wrote about it in His word then it matters. It doesn’t matter how small a matter seems to be in our eyes or how trivial an issue is. The fact of the matter is that God did write something in His word about it and therefore it does mean it matters to God and we must obey. No matter how trivial a matter might seem if God in His infinite wisdom decide to put something in His word then we are to have no doubt and simply obey. We are to obey not just the weightier matters of the law but also the lesser matters of the law. (Matthew 23:23. If God commanded that we all have to wear green ties for His Sabbath worship He has the right and pejorative to do so without question from us.

For Reformed Christian, life on earth is about absolute submission to Christ the kingly Redeemer and diligent work to extend that kingship in the earth.

Careful, even minute, observance of the law should not set aside “the weightier matters.” But neither should “the weightier matters” set aside the careful, minute observance of the law. “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

As the Great Puritan Richard Rogers (1551-1618) said, “Sir, I serve Precise God” and as the Great Covenanter Commentator Matthew Poole wrote, “What Galen said of Physics is even truer of religion. There is nothing small and trivial in it.”, he continues elsewhere, “God esteems nothing small in his worship and service, and … he expects his will should be observed in the minutest circumstances.”

So now that we have discussed the Scripture argument by itself. Apart from any Corporate Interpretation. Let us now turn to the historical testimony of the church.

§Historical Testimony

We should keep in mind the word of John Calvin when we consider the Patristic testimony of the Church.

That of course does not mean that the fathers were infallible.. Only Scripture is infallible but we must seriously consider what they said.

John Calvin admitted, “there is much that is admirable and wise in the writings of those Fathers, and while in some things it has fared with them as with ordinary men “ -Preface, Institutes of the Christian Religion

But John Calvin also spoke of the Early church as a purer age when he said, ““It is a calumny to represent us as opposed to the Fathers (I mean the ancient writers of a purer age)” -Preface, Institutes of the Christian Religion

He also spoke of the Early church as a purer age as well as a means of support in his work, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, “But, besides the clear testimonies which are everywhere met with in Scripture, we are also supported by the authority of the ancient Church. All the writers of a purer age”

Calvin also said that we are not to remove the ancient landmarks of the Early Church when he was writing about those who accuse the Reformed church of doing so, “It is not without cause (remark our opponents) we are thus warned by Solomon, “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set” (Prov. 22:28).” -Preface, Institutes of the Christian Religion

And finally Calvin spoke of embracing the early church with reverence, “In this way, we willingly embrace and reverence as holy the early councils, such as those of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus I, Chalcedon, and the like, which were concerned with refuting errors—in so far as they relate to the teachings of faith. “ -Preface, Institutes of the Christian Religion

And to remember the words of Puritan Richard Baxter:

“The writings of divines are nothing else but a preaching of the gospel to the eye, as the voice preaches it to the ear. Vocal preaching has the pre-eminence in moving the affections, and being diversified according to the state of the congregation which attend it: this way the milk comes warmest from the breast. But books have the advantage in many other respects: you may read an able preacher when you have but a average one to hear. Every congregation cannot hear the most judicious or powerful preachers: but every single person may read the books of the most powerful and judicious; preachers may be silenced or banished, when books may be at hand: books may be kept at a smaller charge than preachers: we may choose books which treat of that, very subject which we desire to hear of; but we cannot choose what subject the preacher shall treat of. Books we may have at hand every day. and hour; when we can have sermons but seldom, and at set times. If sermons be forgotten, they are gone; but a book we may read over and over, till we remember it: and if we forget it, may again peruse it at our pleasure, or at our leisure. So that good books are a very great mercy to the world: the Holy Ghost chose the way of writing, to preserve His doctrine and laws to the ‘Church, as knowing how easy and sure a way it is of keeping it safe to all generations, in comparison of mere verbal traditions.” -Richard Baxter

Clement of Alexandria

“The hair of the chin showed him to be a man.” St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271

“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest–a sign of strength and rule.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275

“This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276

“It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.277

“For an ample beard suffices for men.”


“In their manners, there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced.” St Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.438

“The beard must not be plucked. ‘You will not deface the figure of your beard’.” (Leviticus 19:27) St. Cyprian, 5.553


“The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength.” Lactantius (c. 304-314, W), 7.288

Apostolic Constitutions

“Men may not destroy the hair of their beards and unnaturally change the form of a man. For the Law says, “You will not deface your beards.” For God the Creator has made this decent for women, but has determined that it is unsuitable for men.” Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 90 – 300, E) 7.392. (1)


“Of course, I am a man, and being envious of women, am banished them completely from their own domain. Are there then, somethings that to men are also not permissible. If we are god fearing and have a due regard for gravity? There are indeed. … My own sex recognizes some tricks of beauty which are peculiar ours, for example, to cut the beard sharply, to pluck it out in places, to shave round about the corners … But all these tricks are rejected (by Christians) as being frivolous and hostile to modesty as soon as the knowledge of God has destroyed the wish to please.” Tertullian (160-225 A.D.) On the Apparel of women, Section – Men Not Excluded from these Remarks on Personal Adornment.

Augustine of Hippo

“There are some details of the body which are there for simply aesthetic reasons, and for no practical purpose – for instance, the nipples on a man’s chest, and the beard on his face, the latter being clearly for a masculine ornament, not for protection. This is shown by the fact that women’s faces are hairless, and since women are the weaker sex, it would surely be more appropriate for them to be given such a protection.” City of God (c. 410) book 22, chapter 24

“The beard signifies the courageous: the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man.” -Augustine of Hippo, (354-430 A.D.)

Stoglav Council of 1551

“What? Does not the Old Testament also condemn those who shave off their beards? “Do not shave off your beards; such is proper to women but out of place for men. Such has God, who made man in his own image, so decreed on this matter.” “Let no razor touch your beard, for this practice is repugnant to God”, said Moses”


Jerome wrote against the removal of the beard (The Jewish Encyclopedia 612).

Fourth Council of Carthage

In 398, the fourth council of Carthage prohibited clergymen from removing the beard (The Jewish Encyclopedia 614).


“only men with a beard can enter the monastery, not boys “with female faces.”” -Euthymius, 411 A.D.

William Tyndale

In 1528, Tyndale pointed out that shaving “is borrowed of the heathen” and proclaimed that “the shaven nation hath put Christ out of his room” (Oxford English Dictionary XV, 194f).

-Reformed Christian Attitudes

It should also be pointed out that most of the Reformers grew out there beards and to extreme long lengths. We cannot know for certain the absolute reason behind their beard growths but we can at least see that they had some natural law understanding of beards for men.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther wrote to Spalatin from Wartburg on May 14, 1521 the following:

“After being captured I was stripped of my own clothes and dressed in a knight’s cloak. I am letting my hair and beard grow so that you will hardly know me…Now I am living in Christian liberty.”

Westminster Assembly

It appears that even though some divines like George Gillespie has portraits that has no facial hair but by the time of the Westminster Assembly all but the Anglicans divines did have facial hair.

“”After service the members of the Assembly, ‘three score and nine’ [1429] (twenty-nine more than the required quorum), repaired for organization to the Chapel of Henry VII., that ‘most gorgeous of sepulchres,’ where the Upper House of Convocation used to meet. The mediæval architecture formed a striking contrast to the Puritan simplicity of worship and dress. The divines appeared in black coats or cloaks, skull-caps, and Geneva bands in imitation of the foreign Protestants, [1430] with the exception of a few Royalists and Episcopalians, who in their canonical gowns seemed ‘the only non-Conformists.’ [1431] Add to this apparel their solemn looks, the peaked beards and mustaches, and the broad double ruff around the neck, and we have a spectacle of a synod differing as much from a modern Presbyterian Assembly as from an Episcopal Convocation or a Roman Catholic Council. [1432]” [1429] This is about the average attendance of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury,–Stanley, Memorials of Westminster Abbey, p. 507. [1430] Neal and Stoughton. [1431] Fuller. [1432] M’Crie and Mitchell compare it to a synod of Huguenots as pictured on the title-page of the first volume of Quick’s Synodicon. But there the Frenchmen wear broad-brimmed hats.” -Note in Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes about the Westminster divines.

Westminster Annotations

“V. 27 Of the beard] Because a decent growth of the beard, is a sign of manhood, and a remarkable difference of the male, from the female sex; and this was forbidden to be done in that superstitious manner which Heathens used; who consecrated to their gods not onely their locks, but their beards also; especially the first doune of it. Plutarch. in Theseo, and Sueton. in Nerone. 1.12.” -Westminster Annotations on Leviticus 19:27

The annotations used both the natural law and the heathen practice for the beard passage.

North Carolina Orange Presbytery, 1830

*** Quote Deleted. I got this quote from a trusted friend many years ago which was given to me in terms of facial shaving. It is not that the quote was false but that it is not dealing with shaving in terms of hair but note shaving in usury of which I had no idea of what note-shaving was until someone pointed out to me that this is about usury and I had to go research note-shaving.  I can perfectly understand why this friend misunderstood what the Presbytery meeting was in reference to as I did not know what note-shaving is either.

Charles Spurgeon

“From personal experience I venture with some diffidence to give this piece of advice. If any of you possess delightfully warm woolen comforters, with which there may be associated the most tender remembrances of mother or sister, treasure them–treasure them at the bottom of your trunk, but do not expose them to any vulgar use by wrapping them round your necks. If any brother wants to die of influenza let him wear a warm scarf around his neck, and then one of these nights he will forget it, and catch such a cold as will last him the rest of his natural life. You seldom see a sailor wrap his neck up. No, he always keeps it bare and exposed, and has a turn-down collar, and if he has a tie at all, it is but a small one loosely tied, so that the wind can blow about his neck. In this philosophy I am a firm believer, having never deviated from it for these fourteen years, and having before that time been frequently troubled with colds, but very seldom since. If you feel that you want something else, why, then grow your beards! A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. One of our brethren, now present, has four years found this of great service. He was compelled to leave England on account of the loss of his voice, but he has become as strong as Samson now that his locks are unshorn.” – CH Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (repr., Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1954), 125.

“At 34 years of age was he sacrificed for our sins; he was then hale and strong, although his body may have been emaciated by suffering, and his face more marred than that of any other man yet was he then in the perfection of manhood. Methinks I see him then. His goodly beard flowing down upon his breast, I see him with his eyes full of genius, his form erect, his mien majestic, his energy entire, his whole frame in full development,-a real man, a magnificent man-fairer than the sons of men, a lamb not only without blemish, but with his powers fully brought out. Such was Jesus Christ–a Lamb of the first year-not a boy, not a lad, not a young man, but a full man, that he might give his soul unto us.” Spurgeon, C. H. (1998). Vol. 2: Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 2.

”You cannot measure a man’s grace by the length of his beard, nor by the number of his years.” Spurgeon, C. H. (1998). Vol. 41: Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 41 .

”One of the old Puritans said that some men are born with beards; and, certainly, there are some believers who, almost as soon as they are converted, seem to take great strides, and to make speedy advances, so that they soon become very useful, and are able even to teach things which others only learn after long years of experience.” Spurgeon, C. H. (1998). Vol. 44: Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 44

James Ward

In 1859, an Englishman, James Ward, wrote Defence of the Beard, a pamphlet which listed eighteen reasons why a man was “bound to grow a beard, unless he was indifferent as to offending the Creator and good taste” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 442).

One year later, a longer work was published, entitled Shaving a breach of the Sabbath and a hinderance to the spread of the Gospel. In this book, the author defended the beard on the grounds that it was “a Divinely provided chest-protector.” “Were it in any other position,” the writer reasoned, “its benefit and purpose might be doubted” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 442).


So let us be more charitable to those with whom with disagree with. Let us not call each other names and let us not allow our presuppositions to get in the way of what the Scriptures has taught just because it goes against everything we have been taught the whole of our lives. Let our speech with seasoned with salt and speak with love toward one another.This is also no novelty and so therefore we should give it some serious thought in our considerations.

As a good friend of mine once said,

There are three things unbecoming, yea four that are unseemly: A roebuck wanting his rack; A lion without his mane; The peacock stripped of his plume; and a man shorn of his beard.”

– Jason Robert Schuiling, A pogophile proverb

Reformers on the godly examples of the kings of Israel to be imitated by Christian Magistrates in the Reformation of Religion

October 4, 2015

Martin Bucer on the implicit godly examples of the kings of Israel are to be imitated by Christian magistrates.

“Worthy of Your Majesty’s consideration and conscientious imitation are the examples of men like David, Solomon, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Nehemiah, whom the Scriptures praise resoundingly for their piety and the sound administration of their kingdoms. When true religion had seriously fallen apart in their times and the priesthood was perniciously corrupted, these men personally undertook the task of the renewal of religion as a matter of royal right and duty. For this holy and difficult purpose, they gathered around them as advisers and assistants some priests, prophets, and other devout men, who, they thought, gave promise in their knowledge of God and in their zeal of accomplishing very much indeed. They then took care before all else that the law of God was very energetically declared and explained to the people. The next step was to persuade all, after they had professed obedience to the law, once more wholeheartedly to accept and truly to reverence the Lord’s covenant. Then, finally, they reorganized and renewed the estate and ministry of priests and Levites and the entire administration of religion, according to the law of God; and they watched most vigilantly that no one should destroy what they had done. In regard to the efforts and attempts of these devout princes to reestablish the Kingdom of God for their people, passages of divine Scripture quite appropriate for pious reading and reflection are the following: concerning David, II Sam., ch. 6, and I Chron., chs. 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, and the three following chapters; concerning Solomon, I Kings, ch. 8, and II Chron., chs. 5, 6, and 7; concerning Asa, II Chron., ch. 15; and concerning Hezekiah, II Kings, ch. 18:1-7, and II Chron., chs. 29 and 31; concerning Josiah, II Kings, chs. 22 and 23, II Chron., chs. 34 and 35; concerning Nehemiah, the entire book of that name. In these examples and histories, Your Majesty will clearly see, first, that it is within his official capacity to undertake the renewal of the important priestly order and office, just as the care for other estates and offices is within his prerogative.” -Martin Bucer, De Regno Christi, 1557

It goes hand in hand with John Knox’s quote on the same subject.

“But the facts of Hezekiah, and of Josiah, do more clearly prove the power and duty of the civil magistrate in the reformation of religion. Before the reign of Hezekiah, so corrupt was the religion that the doors of the house of the Lord were shut up, the lamps were extinguished, no orderly sacrifice was made. But in the first year of his reign, the first month of the same, did the king open the doors of the temple, bring in the priests and the Levites, and assembling them together, did speak unto them as follows: “Hear me, O ye Levites, and be sanctified now, and sanctify also the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth from the sanctuary all filthiness”­ he means all monuments and vessels of idolatry (1 Chron. 29). “For our fathers have transgressed, and have committed wickedness in the eyes of the Eternal, our God; they have left him, and have turned their faces from the tabernacle of the Lord, and therefore is the wrath of the Lord come upon Judah and Jerusalem. Behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, our sons, daughters, and wives are led in captivity. But now have I purposed in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that he may turn the wrath of his fury from us. And therefore, my sons” ‘he sweetly exhorts’ “be not faint: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand in his presence, and to serve him.”

Such as be not more than blind, clearly may perceive that the king does acknowledge, that it appertained to his charge to reform the religion, to appoint the Levites to their charges, and to admonish them of their duty and office, which thing he more evidently declares, writing his letters to all Israel, to Ephraim, and Manasseh, and sent the same by the hands of messengers, having this tenor: “You sons of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he shall return to the residue that resteth from the hands of Assyria. Be not as your fathers, and as your brethren were, who have transgressed against the Lord God of their fathers, who hath made them desolate, as you see. Hold not your heart therefore, but give your hand unto the Lord; return unto his sanctuary; serve him and he shall show mercy unto you, to your sons, and daughters, that be in bondage: for he is pitiful and easy to be entreated” (2 Chron. 30:6-9).

Thus far did Hezekiah by letters and messengers provoke the people declined from God to repentance, not only in Judah where he reigned lawful king, but also in Israel, subject to another king. And albeit that by some wicked men his messengers were mocked, yet as they lacked not their just punishment (for within six years after Samaria was destroyed and Israel led captive by Shalmanesar), so did not the zealous King Hezekiah desist to prosecute his duty in restoring the religion to God’s perfect ordinance, removing all abominations.

The same is to be read of Josiah, who did not only restore the religion, but did further destroy all monuments of idolatry, which of long time had remained (2 Chron. 34). For it is written of him, that after the book of the law was found, and that he had asked counsel at the prophetess Huldah, he sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem; and standing in the temple of the Lord, he made a covenant that all the people, from the great to the small, should walk after the Lord, should observe his law, statutes, and testimonies, with all their heart and all their soul, and that they should ratify and confirm whatsoever was written in the book of God. He further commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the inferior order, that they should carry forth of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made to Baal, which he burnt, and did carry their powder to Bethel. He did further destroy all monuments of idolatry, yea, even those that had remained from the days of Solomon. He did burn them, stamp them to powder; whereof one part he scattered in the brook Kidron, and the other upon the sepulchres and graves of the idolaters, whose bones he did burn upon the altars, where before they made sacrifice, not only in Judah, but also in Bethel, where Jeroboam had erected his idolatry (2 Kings 23). Yea, he further proceeded, and did kill the priests of the high places, who were idolaters and had deceived the people; he did kill them, I say, and did burn their bones upon their own altars, and so returned to Jerusalem. This reformation made Josiah, and for the same obtained this testimony of the Holy Ghost, that neither before him, neither after him, was there any such king, who returned to God with his whole soul, and with all his strength, according to the law of Moses. ” -John Knox, The Appellation, 1558

As well as the words of Thomas Cranmer

“Your majesty is God’s vicegerent, and Christ’s vicar within your own dominions, and to see, with your predecessor Josiah, God truly worshipped, and idolatry destroyed; the tyranny of the bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed. These acts are signs of a second Josiah, who reformed the church of God in his days. You are to reward virtue, to revenge sin, to justify the innocent, to relieve the poor, to procure peace, to repress violence, and to execute justice throughout your realms. For precedents on those kings who performed not these things, the old law shows how the Lord revenged his quarrel; and on those kings who fulfilled these things, he poured forth his blessings in abundance. For example, it is written of Josiah, in the book of the Kings, thus: ‘[And] Like unto him there was no king [before him], that turned to the Lord with all his heart, [and with all his soul, and with all his might,] according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.’ This was to that prince a perpetual fame of dignity, to remain to the end of days.” Thomas Cranmer, Writings of Edward the Sixth, William Hugh, Queen Catherine Parr, Anne Askew, Lady Jane Grey, Hamilton, and Balnaves: Volume 3: of British reformers (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1836), 5, 6.