In the context of the English-speaking Atlantic world during the 18th century, many of the oppressed were African enslaved persons. Yet during this time many enslaved Africans became Christians partly because of the Great Awakening. There is evidence from the mouths and pens of enslaved African Christians that they gospel that they heard and the Christianity that they believed was from a Reformed perspective. My focus in this post is on an enslaved African James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw.
We know Gronniosaw through his, A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, published in 1772 in London. In fact, this was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, English-language slave narrative. Gronniosaw was born in the kingdom of Bornu, a major West African kingdom in what is now Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. He gives his audience no date or year of birth since West Africans societies didn’t mark time by years or months. "W. Shirley," who wrote the Preface to the work, reckoned that Gronniosaw was sixty in 1772 and had been captured when he was fifteen. So Gronniosaw would have been born ca. 1710, and captured ca. 1725. What illustrates that the sin of chattel slavery was no respector of persons was the remarkable fact that Gronniosaw’s grandfather was the King of Bornu, which, of course, made him a prince.
This young prince's enslavement came through a bit of subterfuge. A merchant from the Gold Coast who traded in Bornu noticed convinced Gronniosaw, his parents, and his grandfather that living with him on the coast would serve him well. The trader assured Gronniosaw and his family that he would return. That never happened, of course. The merchant sold Gronniosaw to the captain of a Dutch ship off the coast of West Africa. After surviving the Middle Passage and arriving in Barbados, the captain sold him to a man from New York City, where he ventured became a house servant. Then, in what is a perplexing fact for us to look back upon, a minister named "Freelandhouse" purchased Gronniosaw. It was in that minister’s household that Gronniosaw learned about God and how to pray. He also accompanied his master to public worship each Lord’s Day. And it was during those Lord's Day sermons that Gronniosaw became convinced of his sin.
In his Narrative, Gronniosaw credits the Lord in bringing him to faith through ordinary means in that he recalled the gospel, especially that Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God. He also found solace in a relationship with his schoolmaster, and in reading Richard Baxter’s A Call to the Unconverted. Through reading Scripture, prayer, reading good literature, and being discipled, Gronniosaw felt his sins forgiven. He related an occasion in which he saw a light from heaven that shone only on him while he prayed for about a minute. He wrote: “I continued on my knees, and joy unspeakable took possession of my soul. --The peace and serenity which filled my mind after this was wonderful, and cannot be told.” He also thought on the text from Jeremiah 32:40: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me.” Following this he went to his old school master to tell him, and they both rejoiced. Shortly after, his master died, and upon his deathbed set Gronniosaw free. After some years in freedom but still working for his master’s family, he landed in England.
What we can reflect on is here is the Lord's providence in the life of an African slave who served in a Dutch Reformed household in New York City. From the text of the Narrative it is clear that this particular Dutch Reformed slaveholding family included slaves in their household piety. Records show that there were other slaveholding households that operated in the same way. In these contexts, slaves received catechetical instruction at home and went to public worship. We have evidence of slaves being full communicant members of Dutch Reformed churches in New York. As full members of the church, this meant that they were able to baptize their babies.
Yet, we also need to acknowledge that the Reformed understanding of the time allowed for slaves to be members of the churches but to remain slaves. This was their (mis)understanding of New Testament passages such as 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and Paul's letter to Philemon. Many lacked an 18th century application of those passages, failing to question the premise that chattel slavery was the same as ancient slavery/servitude in the Graeco-Roman world. While Gronniosaw received his freedom from slavery at his master's death, the majority of African slave captives who became Christians and communicant members of the Dutch Reformed Church, remained enslaved, and would so for another 1oo years.
Assistant Professor of History 
& Director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Minor
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
A quest for “Truth According to Scripture” drove the Westminster "divines" (theologians) and should drive us today. Why? Because it’s biblical.
When Paul left the church in Ephesus, he warned that false teaching would arise (Acts 20:29-30). Sure enough, it did, and Paul’s beloved congregation soon became divided by “vain” doctrine. What did Paul command Timothy, who was sent to the church, to do in the face of this false teaching? To train himself in the truth (1 Tim. 4:7). To pursue knowledge of Christ. Paul knew that the antidote for false teaching was sound doctrine–and for Paul, growing in the knowledge of that truth was not an option; it was a requirement. He warned the Ephesians that if they remained unskilled in their knowledge, they would be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning” (Eph. 4:14).
Not unlike Ephesus in the 1st century, England in the early years of the 17th century was exploding with new and strange doctrines. These decades saw the rise of Quakers, antinomians, Arminians, Levellers, and Fifth-Monarchy Men, all intent on gaining a following. The reformers of this era knew what Paul taught—that sound doctrine was the key weapon to wield against falsehood. Thus, as early as 1641, repeated petitions were sent to the House of Commons to appoint “a general synod of the most grave, pious, learned and judicious divines of this island.” These men were to take the current documents of the Church of England and revise them to be more in line with scripture as the documents did “necessarily require a further and more perfect Reformation.” The reformers lamented that the current lack of knowledge of the truth in the nation dishonored God and they asked Parliament “most speedily” to consider how to set up Christ more gloriously.
Parliament called the Westminster Assembly as a result of these petitions. Parliament tasked the Assembly with “settling” the Church’s doctrine “as shall be most agreeable to the Word of God” and according to the example of the “best Reformed churches.” Anything found in the old documents “contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness” was to be revised. After much labor, the divines produced a carefully worded and theologically precise Confession of Faith and catechisms, designed to be used throughout the nation for the instruction and growth in knowledge of everyone, from the theology professor at Cambridge to the children of the poorest laborer. The divines knew that producing clear, rich, and deep theological statements was the best way to lead to a reformation of the hearts and minds of men and women. 
Training is hard work! It involves effort and toil; Paul tells Timothy that it is a battle. In their pursuit of reformation, the Westminster divines endured great hardship. King Charles I, at war with Parliament, declared that anyone who dared attend the Assembly faced imprisonment. Yet the Assembly met anyway. For 10 long years, the divines searched for the most accurate wording of theological truths while violent, and sometimes fatal, riots related to the war occurred outside Westminster Abbey. Assembly members continued to meet and live in London, while their families, loved ones, estates, and churches underwent rough treatment by troops. The divines faced an ultimate affront in 1660 when the restored monarchy rejected their work and re-instated Anglican episcopacy. The Confession of Faith was publically burned and repudiated by England’s leaders as the Church of England returned to pre-1640 theology. 
Today, the rejection of truth continues and false teaching abounds. Many do not see value of pursuing the hard work of training their minds in the beauty and complexity of theological truths—they favor a “simple gospel” devoid of doctrinal weight. Yet, in the face of false teaching, we must run to sound doctrine, not away from it. Paul commands it; the Westminster divines did it; we must do it too. As we actively seek for further reformation, we grow in our knowledge of Christ and so bring God glory, who called us out of darkness into the knowledge of his Son.
Dr. Whitney G. Gamble
Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies
Providence Christian CollegePasadena, California
Back in 2005 America’s new “pastor,” Rick Warren, said, “The first Reformation was about doctrine; the second one needs to be about behavior. We need a reformation not of creeds but deeds. It’s time to stop debating the Bible and start doing it . . . This is the new reformation I’m praying for.” Sadly, what used to be a hallmark attitude of Protestant liberalism is now a pious platitude of so-called Bible-believing evangelicals that is fit for Hallmark. The classic refutation of this that is so relevant today remains J. Gresham Machen’s, Christianity and Liberalism. To pit doctrine against duty, theology against community, faith against life is unbiblical. For example, Paul spoke of “the truth, which accords with godliness” (Titus 1:1). This is why our forefathers defined theology as theologia est doctrina Deo vivendi, “Theology is the doctrine of living to God” [William Ames, Medulla Theologica, 1.1] This is also unhelpful. How are we to live for God unless we know God? It’s the same in relationships. How can a husband and wife live and love unless they know each other? How can friends have a deep bond unless they know each other?
I say this because when it comes to the truth of the Holy Trinity, we say it is true, but we also say it is not “practical.” After all, how can the Trinity be of any use to me in my daily struggles in the Christian life? As Dorothy Sayers once lamented the attitude of her time concerning the doctrine of the Holy Trinity: “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the whole thing incomprehensible” [“The Dogma is the Drama,” p. 25]. So how in any way is the Holy Trinity vital for my faith and life? Let's pick up in our series through the Westminster Larger Catechism with Q&A 9-10:
Q. 9. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.
Q. 10. What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?
A. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity.
Adoring God’s Mystery
The Trinity is vital for me first and foremost because it brings me back to the basic Christian posture of adoring God’s mystery. We so often think, speak, and act as if we know God so well that we can then get busy with other things. The Triune nature of God reminds us that just to think of God’s oneness and his threeness is to enter into the deepest of Christian mysteries. When we think of the One, we are led to think of the Three; and when we think of the Three ,we are led to think of the One. This leads to adoration: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3); “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).
The one “Godhead” is Three, and these Three are One. Historically we have called this the “Trinity,” which comes from a Latin word, trinitas, meaning, “threeness.” The Trinity is a mystery in both senses of the word. It is a mystery because it is an incomprehensible, transcendent truth that only God himself knows fully. It is a mystery in the biblical sense of a truth that was hidden in shadows in the Old Testament, but is now exposed to the light of Jesus Christ in the New. This is why Augustine said, “In the Old [Testament] the New [Testament] is concealed, and in the New [Testament] the Old [Testament] is revealed (In Vetere Novum latet, et in Novo Vetus patet) [Augustine, Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, 2.73].
The adorable mystery of our Triune God led the Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, to say, “This is a divine riddle, where one makes three, and three makes one. Our narrow thoughts can no more comprehend the Trinity in Unity, than a nut-shell will hold all the water in a sea” [Watson, A Body of Divinity, 109].
Knowing God’s Story
The vitality of the Trinity is also seen because it helps us in knowing God’s story. In reading and meditating on the Word of God, we come to know who God is in eternity and how he has acted in human history.
We come to know something of his own personal story in terms of how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to one another as the one true God. In the Larger Catechism we are asked, “What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?
” The answer is that “it is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity” (Q&A 10). God reveals himself to us in human terms—all the while communicating eternal realities and relationships—so that we earthly creatures can know him.
We also come to know in the Word his story in terms of how he relates to us. We confess with our forefathers in the wilderness that God is one: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). This one God’s name is placed upon us in Christian baptism, with mention of each of the persons: “Baptizing them in the name [oneness] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (threeness) (Matt. 28:19).
Participating in God’s Community
This leads to another way in which the Trinity is vital for us. When we adore the Triune God and come to know him more in his Word, we are participating in God’s community. What does this mean? 
First, because God is a Trinity fellowship with God is possible (John 10:14–15). We place a personal faith in a personal God, who has fellowship within the Godhead, and amazingly, with us.
Second, because God is a Trinity, worship is enjoying fellowship with a Trinitarian God (Matt. 28:19; Rev 4–5). Because there is one God, we the people of that God are to worship him alone. And when we worship the one God, we worship each Person of the Godhead equally.
Third, because God is a Trinity we share in fellowship with him as a community. The “let us make man” language of Genesis 1:26–27 resulted in those whom God created as being social beings. Besides fellowship with God, what higher fellowship can we have in this life than with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
So, this leads us back to where we started? Do we need a new Reformation? Yes. What kind of reformation do we need? Is it to be one not of doctrine but of behavior? Is it to be one not of creeds but deeds? What the church in our time needs most of all is an ever-deepening knowledge in head and heart of our classic doctrines so that we might live for the glory of God with more passion. What meditating on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity does is to lead us to a vital relationship with each Person, thus proving the ancient Christian dictum, theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit, “theology is taught by God, teaches of God, and leads to God.”
Works Cited
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Whimsical Christian (1969; repr., New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1978), 25.
Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (1692; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2000).
King James VI of Scotland (1566–1625) recorded his advice to Prince Henry (1594–1612), his son and heir, in a 1599 volume entitled Basilikon Doron, “The Royal Gift” (repr., 1887).  Amidst other advice on how to operate effectively as a monarch, James warned his son against presbyterians, who had been his chief adversaries for more than a decade.  He informed Henry that presbyterians, whom he called “Puritanes, verie pestes in the Church and common-weill of Scotland,” taught that “all Kings and Princes were naturally enemies to the liberty of the Church” (48–49). Presbyterians sought “Paritie in the Church,” which James considered to be the “mother of confusion and enemie to Unitie, which is the mother of ordour” (48–49). He advised Henry to combat the presbyterian “poyson” by advancing learned men to bishoprics and benefices. This would “bannish their Paritie (which cannot agree with a Monarchie)” (50–51).
Pests in the church? Presbyterian Poison? If King James were alive today, he would make a certain presidential candidate with funny hair seemed restrained! Despite his colorful rhetoric, we should not take James’s words against presbyterians too seriously. Like most politicians, he was prone to hyperbole. Above all, James was a pragmatist. Although he likely would not invite presbyterians to a backyard barbecue, he would stand with them against a common enemy, namely, the Roman Catholic Church.
James became king of England in 1603 and, despite his disgust for presbyterian government, began a partnership in 1609 with Pierre du Moulin (d. 1658). This might not seem very significant to us but, at the time, it was kind of a big deal, as Ron Burgundy would say. You see, du Moulin was pastor of the French Reformed congregation in Charenton, near Paris. And the Confession of Faith of the French Reformed churches, developed in 1559 through the influence of John Calvin, outlined a presbyterial (or synodical) form of government. The confession affirmed the parity of all pastors and called for the election of superintendents to govern (articles 30, 32). The French Reformed synods at Gap (1603) and La Rochelle (1607) affirmed the parity of ministers (a feature of church government in direct contrast to episcopalianism) and the permanency of superintendents (J. Quick, Synodicon in Gallia Reformata [London, 1692], i. xiii, 227, 266; J. Aymon, Tous Les Synodes [The Hague, 1710], i. 259, 303). The question is why would a staunch episcopalian like James partner with a presbyterian like du Moulin.
Du Moulin wrote to King James in the dedication to his 1610 work, A Defence of the Catholicke Faith: “We have held it necessary to declare unto the world that that religion which you defend is the same which we professe.” Despite their differences in ecclesiology, du Moulin did not believe that James professed a different religion (or faith). The pastor had come to the assistance of the king in the treatise war that James was waging with Roman Catholic theologians following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. James, credited with declaring “No bishop, no king,” at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, overlooked du Moulin’s ecclesiology and enlisted his aid. Prior to reaching out to du Moulin, James only had enlisted theologians within the Church of England to assist him in what became known as the Oath of Allegiance controversy. Du Moulin was the first foreign theologian and, of course, the first adherent of presbyterial government that James commissioned for service. Apparently, du Moulin’s reputation as a formidable polemicist had made its way to the king. James was in the midst of an assault by a seemingly endless number of Roman Catholic theologians, including Cardinal Robert Bellarmine and Cardinal Jacques Davy du Perron, and looked to Reformed churches beyond Britain for aid. The king was able to overlook du Moulin’s presbyterian ecclesiology, which he loathed, in order to join forces against the formidable Roman Catholic threat. The partnership that began as a joint defence of Reformed theology against Roman Catholic assaults would soon transition into a plan to unite all Protestant churches in Europe and, ultimately, to re-form Christendom.
This story illustrates that most Reformed Protestants in the seventeenth century did not believe ecclesiastical polity to be a barrier to cooperation. And this was not just a personal belief. Reformed theologians of both presbyterian and episcopalian polities assembled at the Synod of Dort in 1618–19. Presbyterians and Independents, most of whom had ministered within the episcopal Church of England, gathered at the Westminster Assembly in the 1640s.  
A point of application for Reformed Protestants today is to reflect on whether or not ecclesiastical polity alone should prevent cooperation between individuals, congregations, and denominations. While the majority of Reformed Protestant denominations have presbyterian (or synodical) government—at least in North America and Western Europe—there are many independent congregations around the world that confess the Westminster Standards or Three Forms of Unity. How can we work together toward a common goal? Furthermore, multiple Reformed churches in Eastern Europe (Hungary, Romania, etc.) have had episcopal polity for centuries. How can we work within their structures to bring a new reformation to these nations? And there are many within the Church of England, such as Lee Gatiss, who could confess much, if not the majority of the Westminster Confession. How can we encourage them in their efforts to return their church and nation to a commitment to the Word of God?
The partnership of King James and Pierre du Moulin can serve as a model for both episcopalian and presbyterian (okay, fine, and independent!) Reformed Protestants of today in combatting the common enemy of false religion in its various forms.
The partnership of King James and Pierre du Moulin can serve as a model for both episcopalian and presbyterian (okay, fine, and independent!) Reformed Protestants of today in combatting the common enemy of false religion in its various forms. In a future post, we'll explore how James and du Moulin envisioned this in their time.
Mr. Dan Borvan
Keble College, Oxford
Under Care of the Presbytery of the Midwest, Orthodox Prebyteryian Church
Co-founder, John Owen Society

Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was called "the king of preachers" at his funeral. Anyone that has ever used his expositions of James or Jude for their sermon preparation knows this to be true. He is consistently deep, thorough, and memorable in his exposition of Scripture. All told, his Works comprise twenty-two volumes and over 10,500 pages, most of which are sermons. These reprinted volumes are available online via Google Books.

Among his expositions of Scripture are "Christ's Temptation and Transfiguration Practically Explained and Improved in Several Sermons” (Volume 1 , pages 258–336). This is a series of seven sermons through Matthew 4:1-11 that are full of Christology and practical piety. I'd like to lead you through them in the weeks to come. So grab volume 1 of Manton's Works or click on the GoogleBooks link above.

Sermon 1 is on Matthew 4:1: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." As you read, notice how Manton followed the classic Puritan "plain style" of preaching, opening with the "scope" or focus of the text (on this see Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 2:206-223), structuring his sermon along the lines of the text itself, deriving doctrines, and offering uses of those doctrines for his hearers' souls' sake (on this method see Bob McKelvey's post, "Puritan Preaching: The Art of Prophesying").

If you've not read "Puritan" writings before, I hope one thing that sticks out to you is just how much this sermon is full of biblical imagery. I know that's one of the things that impressed me most when I picked up my first copy of John Owen and later men like Manton. And then this saturation of biblical imagery leads to explaining doctrine which ultimately leads to our comfort. Listen to this line as Manton expounded the lesson that temptations come not by chance but from God himself: "If tempted, when we are in Satan's hand, remember Satan is in God's hand" (Works 1, 259). Beautiful! Sounds like the famous line attributed to Martin Luther: "The devil is God's devil."

In expositing the point that Christ's temptation occurred immediately before he entered his prophetical office and minsitry, Manton offerd the following lesson: "Experience of temptations fits for the ministry" (Works 1, 261). Manton did not merely moralilze this principle out of thin air to perk up his congregations' attention, but he derived it from the Christology of the text itself. His point was that we as ministers are prepared for the ministry just as Christ was prepared for his prophetic office by means of temptation. Why? What was the purpose of Christ's being tempted first, and congruously, what is our purpose in undergoing temptations? God's purpose for Christ as for us was "for the recovery of poor souls out of their bondage into the liberty of the children of God" (Works 1, 261). In a word, Christ was tempted that he might help those who are tempted (Heb. 2).

And the same is true of us as ministers of the gospel. We cannot help those in bondage to sin unless we ourselves know what it is to be filthy, depraved sinners who constantly feel the Devil's breath upon the back of our necks. Manton went on to say that God gave his Son to temptation by the Devil that "he should experimentally feel the power of the tempter" that assaults and endangers our souls (Works 1, 261). Have we as ministers come to grips with just how depraved our sinful nature is? Are we in a constant and conscious war with Satan? We must for we minister best what we know and need ourselves. As Manton concluded:

Ministers should not only be men of science, but of experience.

It was the great nineteenth-century evangelical Anglican, bishop J. C. Ryle (1816–1900), who said that Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was “a man who could neither say, nor do, nor write anything without being observed” (“An Estimate of Manton”). Yet he is a man about whom hardly anything has been said, done, or written. The first biography of him was not written until William Harris’ "Memoir" nearly two hundred years after his death in 1870, when his Works were reprinted. In the same year J. C. Ryle wrote his “Estimate.” A brief biography was then included in the Dictionary of National Biography in 1893 (vol 36). Recently his commentaries on James and Jude have been reprinted as well as his sermons on The Temptation of Christ and The Life of Faith. Hughes Oliphant Old has devoted a section to Manton in volume 4 of his massive seven-volume series on the history of preaching. Even more telling is that there is only one doctoral dissertation on Manton, written in 2008 by Derek Cooper, who also wrote a biography of Manton, which I was able to commend.
Why is Manton Forgotten?
So why has Manton been forgotten? The simplest explanation is the one Carl Trueman has given concerning John Owen. All those Non-Conformists were on the losing side of England’s theological history. Since Manton was not only a Puritan but also a Presbyterian, he was on the losing side against the Church of England. This meant that after the “Great Ejection” of 1662 those within the Church of England ignored him in England’s intellectual history. Along with the rest of those outside the Church of England, he was exiled from political position, cultural influence, and the intellectual life of English Universities (Trueman, The Claims of Truth, 1–2; John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man, 1–2). In a word, to the victor of the religious and political wars of the seventeenth century go the spoils.
Is He Worthy of Our Study?
So is a forgotten man worthy of our time and study? Let me answer this by quoting from the estimates of Manton by others:
  • C. H. Spurgeon said the works of Manton contained “a mighty mountain of sound theology” and his sermons were “second to none” to his contemporaries. He went on to say, “Manton is not brilliant, but he is always clever; he is not oratorical, but he is powerful; he is not striking, but he is deep” (Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, iii).
  • J. C. Ryle said of him, “I do not regard him as a writer of striking power and brilliancy, compared to some of his contemporaries . . . I do not regard him as a writer of such genial imagination . . . Learning again does not stand out as conspicuously in Manton’s writings as in the works of some of the Puritans . . . Manton’s chief excellence as a writer, in my judgment, consists in the ease, perspicuousness, and clearness of his style." He also said he was “facile princeps [easily first] among the divines of the Puritan school” ("An Estimate").
  • Maurice Roberts said, “Among Puritan pulpit giants, none was more esteemed than Thomas Manton” (“Introduction,” in Temptation of Christ, 8).
Manton’s Enduring Importance
So what is Manton’s enduring importance? Like all the Puritans, Manton is an example of one who had a profound theology that had a heartfelt impact on the Christian life, the church, and the world around. I think J. I. Packer summarizes Manton’s legacy best, in the following description of Puritanism in general, that communicates what Manton was all about: Puritanism was “an evangelical holiness movement” and its piety was “centred upon regeneration and repentance, self-suspicion and self-examination, rational Biblicism and righteous behaviour, discursive meditation and rhetorical prayer, faith in and love to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, recognition of the sovereignty of God in providence, grace, and judgment, the comfort and joy of a well-grounded assurance, the need to educate and cherish one’s conscience, the spiritual war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, the ethic of discipline and duty, and the saints’ hope of glory” (J. I. Packer, “An Anglican to Remember—William Perkins: Puritan Popularizer,” in Pilgrims, Warriors, and Servants: Puritan Wisdom for Today’s Church, ed. Lee Gatiss, St. Antholin Lectures Volume I: 1991–2000 [London: The Latimer Trust, 2010], 143).
We see this in the fact that of his twenty-two volume collected Works, almost all of them are sermons. There are series of sermon such as on Romans 8, John 17, Matthew 4, and 2 Thessalonians 2. There are fast day sermons intended to rouse the leaders of the nation. There are occasional sermons. There are series that were turned into books like his commentary on Jude and his sermons on Colossians 1 against the Socinian doctrine of Christ. As a preacher and pastor, then, he is eminently readable and understandable.
Let me conclude with Packer’s words about Manton: “Anyone who means business with God will find that Manton grabs, searches, humbles, and builds up in a quite breath-taking way” (“Introduction,” in James, x).

Congratulations to Kasey I. of Solon, OH, who is the winner of our first book giveaway for J.I. Packer's, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.

Don't forget to enter our new giveaway for one of two copies of Wayne Spear's, Faith of Our Fathers: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Enter here.

Thanks to our friends at Crown & Covenant, we have two (2) copies of Dr. Wayne Spear's, Faith of Our Fathers: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The deadline for entering is two weeks from today, Friday, April 8. The winner will be announced Monday, April 11.

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We are at the third (see part 1 and part 2) of our reading the Puritan Paperback, Sermons of the Great Ejection. This title is a collection of nine sermons recalls one of the great turning points in English Christianity—when two thousand ministers were deposed from the established Church in what was called “The Great Ejection.” The were unable for the sake of their conscience to conform to a series of Restoration Parliament laws of the Clarendon Code. The third sermon in the collection is one preached by John Collins. Collins is interesting for a number of reasons. 
The first is his early years. Although born in England, he was raised in America, in New England, graduating from Harvard in 1649. He was a teaching fellow there for four years. He then returned to England serving as a military chaplain.
The second is his ministry. He was a “lecturer.” Lectureships we separately endowed parish teaching/preaching positions that enabled ministers to avoid the canonical restrictions on parish clergy. Lectures were additional services set aside at times other than the required Book of Common Prayer services. They were led by sympathetic Anglican Puritan ministers who were contracted by a “corporation,” a committee of laymen. What is fascinating about the lectureships is how they gave the laity an authority in doctrine and ministry that rivalled that of bishops and is evidence of their desire to hear sermons throughout the week. After the Ejection a number of London corporations established lectureships and halls for ejected ministers and their congregations that would open, serve a congregation for a time, be raided by Crown officers only to reopen in another location in the City.
The third is the context of the sermon itself. It was preached at Pinner’s Hall in 1672 (the Pinmaker’s Company was a corporation made up of pin manufacturers that appointed Collins as one of the lecturers there) when the ejected were able to worship freely without fear of arrest during a period of general amnesty for religious non-conformity. Charles II, a king sympathetic to Roman Catholicism that converted to Rome on his death-bed, used various acts of religious amnesty in his political manouvers against parliament to ease restrictions against Roman Catholics. Ejected ministers and their congregations had to endure being the political football between kings and parliaments from 1660-1689. Collins’ sermon gives us a glimpse of the believer’s life in the midst of the 26 years of persecution that followed the Great Ejection. I recommend for further reading Gerald Craig’s classic, Puritanism in the Period of the Great Persecution 1660-1688 for a detailed history of the times.
Collins’ sermon text is Jude 3b: “…earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” and follows the pattern of exegesis of the text to biblical doctrine(s) in the text to application or usuages of the doctrine to the believer. It is clear throughout the sermon that the ten-year persecution of ejected ministers and their congregations has taken its toll. Fewer are remaining faithful to the gospel. It seems it is one thing to participate in a doctrinal disagreement with the majority that dismissed you as being foolish before the Great Ejection, it is quite another thing to be considered morally dangerous to the realm by that same majority afterwards. They will simply not allow you to go about your daily business unhindered as before. Many conformed. Collins gives four arguments that former believers used to rationalize their abandonment of the gospel:
  1. The list of essential biblical doctrines keeps changing. So many doctrines seem to be indifferent. Why would I risk so much when the position I now hold may be one that turns out to be non-essential?
  2. I am willing to give up much for my Savior, but there is a limit. When it comes to “collateral damage” the burden is too great. How can I allow others to be endangered by their association with me?
  3. News has come to me that another trusted church leader has changed his mind and now conforms. Many have come to faith in Christ under their ministries. I have read his sermons on other matters and they seem biblically sound to me. Why shouldn’t I follow him into conformity?
  4. It does no good to stand out. What point does my suffering prove? How is the gospel ministry to survive if we are all locked up in prison or worse?
How would you respond to these arguments today? What would your answers be?
In our first and second posts on James Durham’s essay, "Concerning Ministerial Qualifications," we saw that the prerequisites “for the complete qualifying of a Minster” were “Gifts, Learning, and Grace.” And we spent some time looking at Durham’s understanding of ministerial gifts. This short series continues with Durham’s thoughts on the necessity of an educated ministry. In our age of the self-appointed and self-taught internet "theologian," Durham's words are so relevant.
What is Learning and Why Does it Matter?
Durham defined learning as an “acquaintance with Scripture and with the divine and heavenly things in it.” And by "acquaintance with Scripture" he meant Scripture in its original languages. Unpacking this Durham noted this learning entails “a fitness to reason for Truth and against error, to draw conclusions from premises, to open hard places, to reconcile seemingly contradictory places, and to answer objections etc.” Durham also said ministers should be widely and broadly learned, not just in relation to the scriptures and theology.
Sufficient learning to “reason against gainsayers and to open the mysteries of the gospel” is, Durham noted, “required in all ministers.” Aptness to teach, and the learning that necessitates, is a non-negotiable (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9). But why is learning necessary? Well, one great purpose of the ministry is to explain those things in Scripture which “are hard and not easily understood, which the unlearned and ignorant are ready to pervert to their destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). So, the ministry has to help the congregation understand difficult and hard things in Scripture. But without learning this will not be possible. Unless ministers themselves have studied these “difficult” and “hard” things they will not be able to help their congregation understand the scriptures and so grow in grace.
But, as well as for the congregation, learning is also important for the minister himself. The minister as a “teacher of the law” has to “understand what he is saying” (1 Tim. 1:7). The minister has to “hold fast … the pattern of sound words” that they have been taught (2 Tim. 1:13). And to do this they need to be learned. But why? Well, yes, so they can help their congregation. Yes, so they can convince doubters. But Durham also noted it is also important so that ministers themselves can avoid “being turned aside foolish unlearned questions” which will only bring “strife” (2 Tim. 2:23). It is by giving heed to doctrine or teaching that the minister saves himself as well as his hearers (1 Tim. 4:16). It is no act of kindness to the minister himself, as well as no act of kindness to the congregation, to allow an uneducated ministry.
How is Learning Acquired?
So learning is good. An educated ministry is necessary for the minister himself, and for his congregation. But how do we get a learned ministry? Well, there has to be a basic level of intellectual gifts, there has to be the raw materials given by God to work with.
But the duty of the man of God is to “stir up the gift that is in them” (2 Tim. 1:6). Natural gifts have to be cultivated. Hard work has to be put in. A learned ministry does not happen overnight by some “immediate” gifting of God—as Durham noted, the age of the charismata is over. Rather we get a learned ministry by “the way of studying, by reading, and by being brought up by others in knowledge.” This may not be glamorous, it may not be in step with the “I want it now” spirit of our age. But if we want a ministry that will build up the church we cannot neglect learning. A few years have to be devoted to the hard yards of intensive study or many years of trouble may follow. As Durham notes, “the many sad fruits of ignorance, error and confusion, which flow from this neglect of study, show the necessity of this.”
So we need an educated ministry. And therefore we need places that educate ministers. But it is one of the remarkable things in church history that seminaries or universities have so often been the breeding ground for error in the church. As the devil knows their importance, so he has so often attacked them, and brought ruin into the church. So let me ask you to pray for the many seminaries that seek to cultivate a “learned ministry.” Pray that they would be kept faithful, and pray that through their work a generation of men would be raised up who would be genuinely “learned” in the Scriptures.