Having laid down the foundations of who God is and the rule of faith (Scripture is the final authority, supported by the creeds), the Thirty-Nine Articles continue with specific questions of salvation from article 9 to article 14—with article 11 on the justification of man at its center. There is a pattern here of guilt, grace, and gratitude that we should not miss as it also forms the structure of the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer. Articles 9 and 10 examine our guilt, our actual condition before God in two aspects: our original sin and our need of atonement, and the limitations on our free will and our need of God’s grace. Then comes grace, article 11 on justification, declaring what God does for us and how we receive Christ’s work. Articles 12, 13 and 14 examine the nature of our gratitude in response. Article 12 shows the proper sphere for our works after salvation; articles 13 and 14 set the limits and illustrate the perversion of works, the one seeking independence from God that compromises his grace towards us, the other condemning the view that works can go beyond God’s requirements. Both underlining how no human being can attain to God’s commands except Christ alone.
IX—Of Original or Birth-Sin 
Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, “Phronema Sarkos”, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin. 
Article 9 begins with the point that to understand the extent one must first understand the source of Original Sin. It’s not in our nurture (copying the bad examples from our parents or others around us, tracing their way back to Adam) that shapes our tabula rasa, our “neutral” human nature. This is the false teaching of the Welsh monk Pelagius (as the Pelagians do vainly talk). The article affirms that every single person born in Adam’s race is “inclined to evil.”
Our nature is now utterly corrupted at the deepest level as a result of the fall of Adam. It is of its nature inclined to evil and continually wars against God. We are all rebels against God. We are not as we should be. Even our noblest ‘natural’ desires that are weighed in the balance of God’s righteousness are found wanting.
The article continues next with the consequence of our rebellion: "and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." God, our creator, call us to account for our guilt in Adam and our attitudes and actions. He will not allow our rebellion to go on forever. We are judged as being very far gone from our original righteousness. His judgment is to withdraw from us, to separate us from himself, but since God is the source of life, being cut off him means death. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). We have “no hope and [are] without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). 
The article then concludes in examining the continuing presence of original sin in the believing Christian (in them that are regenerated). When we are born again by the Holy Spirit in repentance and faith, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom. 6.14), but the presence of our sinful human nature remains. We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). We are at war with the sinful presence that remains. Sustained by the Holy Spirit, we are moved ever deeper to the roots of our sinfulness. We are to resist submitting to our sinful desires (as the Apostle [Paul] doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin).
Our Anglican forebears began with the bad news in Article 9 “Of Original or Birth Sin” that shows how far our sinful corruption extends. And the Book of Common Prayer underlines the doctrine again and again in phrases like, "There is no health in us," God alone being "from whom all holy desires do proceed," and "We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves," or "can do no good thing without Thee." One thing that has got North American Anglicanism in the superficiality that it is in is that we have just not wanted to talk or examine this doctrine of how far the fall of man truly is. Indeed, the history of theology is a history of softening the sharp edges of Genesis 3. One only need to compare the confession in Morning and Evening Prayer of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with the confession in the Penitential Order that may preface Holy Communion Rite One in the 1979 Book of the Episcopal Church. Reformation Anglicans pray daily: 
“Almighty and most merciful Father… there is no health in us: But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders…”
American Episcopalians may pray occasionally:
Almighty and most merciful Father…      But thou, O Lord…
Notice what’s missing? The modern liturgy has air brushed away what we are, even as believers! We are people who are continually dependent on God's mercy, waging continual warfare between the presence of sin that remains by our human nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:1-8:30). We do not want to accept how far east of Eden we are! It has been said that the greatest doctrine to come out of the sixteenth century was not the solas of grace, Christ, faith, scripture, but the doctrine of the revealed fall of man because without it you don’t even look. “And anything defective and inadequate in this respect will assuredly bear upon the question of redemption, for in our consciousness of the nature and power of sin will tend not merely to a superficial statement of the Atonement of Christ, but to the destruction of the idea of atonement itself” (W.H. Griffith-Thomas, Principles of Theology, 170).
For previous articles in this series, see:
  1. Introduction
  2. One God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity (Art. 1)
  3. The Incarnation and Atonement (Art. 2)
  4. The Work of Christ (Arts. 3-4)
  5. The Holy Spirit (Art. 5)
  6. The Rule of Faith: Part 1 (Art. 6)
  7. The Rule of Faith: Part 2 (Art. 7)
  8. The Rule of Faith: Part 3 (Art. 8)
Synopsis Purioris Theologiae: Synopsis of a Purer Theology, by Walaeus et al., ed. Roelf T. te Velde, trans. Reimer A. Faber, 3 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2015). 659 pages. Volume 1.
This translation introduces a historically important Reformed orthodox text to the English-speaking world. Four professors at the University of Leiden (Walaeus, Polyander, Thysius, and Rivetus) produced this text in 1625 in order to present a “purer” alternative to the theology of the recently expelled Arminians at the Synod of Dort. This is the first of three projected volumes, which include parallel Latin and English texts. Since this text remained important in the Reformed world at least through the end of the nineteenth century, modern students of Reformed theology should use it as a means of connecting them to historic Reformed teaching.
This work has many useful qualities. It is inherently important as a summary of Reformed theology of the time. Beginning theological students today are ordinarily surprised to learn that most Reformed authors in the past wrote their major theological works in Latin. This means that many modern readers are cut off from what is arguably the most significant era in the development of Reformed theology. Some sections in the Synopsis, such as disputation twenty-one on the Sabbath, express largely Dutch debates. However, most of the chapters will help readers better understand the substance and structure of Reformed orthodoxy from the doctrine of the knowledge of God and Scripture, through creation, man and sin, to the relationship and differences between the Old and New Testaments. The footnotes scattered throughout this volume will also help many readers understand better philosophical, theological, and historical references in the original text. 
The Synopsis, however, has some surprising deficiencies. Many discussions are incomplete or qualified inadequately. For example, Thysius mentioned, but largely omitted, the sufficiency of Scripture in his treatment of the perfection of Scripture, in favor of combating papal views of unwritten tradition (107). The definitions of theology, which occupied such a prominent place in other systems at the time, are stated and passed by on the first pages of the book in order to develop the doctrine of Scripture more rapidly. Sin is described as the absence of good having no metaphysical reality. However, this point can mislead readers without explaining that Reformed authors generally treated sin as an action directed to a wrong end instead of as non-being. Other topics, such as fundamental articles, the decrees of God (subsumed and renamed under providence), and the covenant of redemption, are omitted entirely. Covenant theology comes to bear directly only on disputation twenty-three, which addresses the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Covenantal terminology is not explained fully enough to be an adequate source for understanding the nuances of the Reformed development of the doctrine. Many doctrinal treatments in this work are too brief to help modern readers understand the theology standing behind these statements. Several positions are simply stated without argumentation from Scripture. Both of these points, surprisingly, stand in contrast to the shorter Compendium Christianae Theologiae from the same time period by Johannes Wollebius.
The Synopsis is a very important work of Reformed theology historically. While it is a must-read text from the time period, it will not likely be the best starting point for readers new to reading primary sources in Reformed orthodoxy. It is a synopsis of a broader theological tradition. Its primary value lies in teaching readers what questions to ask and where to look for theological expansion in other Reformed literature. It is possible as well that the English portion of this work might appear separately eventually at a lower cost, which would make it more accessible to a wider audience.
Synopsis Purioris Theologiae: Synopsis of a Purer Theology, by Walaeus et al., ed. Roelf T. te Velde, trans. Riemer A. Faber, 3 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2016). 738 pages. Volume 2.
Volume 2 of the Synopsis treats a wide range of issues including predestination, Christology, the application of redemption, and the doctrine of the church and her ministers. The translation is clear and accurate. The inclusion of the Latin text alongside the English translation makes this volume even more useful, since many key theological terms are difficult to translate in a way that retains the technical vocabulary current in Reformed orthodoxy. For example, the translator renders, habitus spiritualis, as, “spiritual disposition” (276-277). While the translated text captures the meaning of this term correctly, readers unfamiliar with Latin theological terminology will not likely pick up on the technical language of habits and acts that was rooted in Medieval theology and flowed seamlessly into Reformed thought. Comparing key terms in the original text with their English equivalents enables readers to build a Reformed theological vocabulary in a way that furnishes them with vital vocabulary and its meaning and function in seventeenth-century theology. The footnotes added by the editors are helpful as well, since they provide historical background related to the authors cited, they explain the historical context at key points, and they include comparisons to contemporary authors across confessional lines. This increases the value of the translated text by making it serve as an introduction to early seventeenth-century High Orthodox theology. 
One useful feature of the Synopsis is the consistent application of trinitarian theology to the entire theological system. The authors appeal to the doctrine of the Trinity and to the appropriate works of all three divine persons in relation to each locus treated. Doing so was a standard feature of Reformed orthodox systems of theology that gradually disappeared in later times. This fact provides insight into the robust way that Reformed orthodox authors employed trinitarian theology in relation to the entire system of doctrine, which should offset the common criticism Reformed theology treated the Trinity merely as an appendix to the doctrine of God. 
As I noted in relation to the first volume, this work does not include a full treatment of every relevant scholastic question in relation to each locus. Its authors often included less material than the much shorter and slightly earlier, Compendium of Wollebius, as well in comparison to longer and later works, such as the Institutio of Francis Turretin. Questions that other authors addressed at length with extensive proofs and arguments, the Synopsis sometimes stated in a single sentence. However, the subjects treated by its authors clarify many important theological distinctions by providing clear definitions of terms and their use in Reformed thought. This means that while the Synopsis is somewhat incomplete compared to comparable Reformed systems, it nevertheless introduces readers to many key concepts in the context of the early seventeenth-century.
In spite of the cost of these volumes, this ongoing translation has potential to serve a diverse body of students. It will be invaluable to scholars of Reformed orthodox thought. Those familiar with the Latin language can use this publication to gain access to a carefully developed semi-critical text. The translated text will provoke thought and fruitful research as scholars interact with the Latin original. This work can serve Reformed pastors as well. The fact that many Reformed ministers no longer gain proficiency in the Latin language in their theological training means that they are effectively cut off from most of the classic systems of theology in their own theological tradition. It is important to understand how this system developed historically if ministers hope to understand where expressions in historic Reformed creeds came from and what they mean. Such material is also vital for evaluating continuities and discontinuities between classic and modern Reformed thought. This provides readers with more theological options to draw from as they grapple with interpreting Scripture in conversation with the church. For both of these audiences, these volumes are a welcome addition to Reformed literature in the English-speaking world for those who are willing and able to obtain and read them.
One of the great benefits of reading the Puritans is that they open our eyes to how wonderfully useful and practical doctrine is. "Theology," William Ames famously wrote, "is the doctrine of living unto God." The doctrine of union and communion with Christ is certainly no exception to this. In their sermons on this doctrine, they provided, as they were wont to do in their sermons, a number of practical uses. Also, some harnessed this doctrine in order to bring help and comfort to Christians in their time of need. Edward Reynolds expounded it in order to assure and comfort repentant Christians who had fallen into sin. Thomas Case, a Westminster divine, explained it in a work that he wrote to bring comfort to himself and his family on the death of his 10-year-old grandson, Benjamin, whom he was raising because the boy’s mother (Case’s daughter) had died in childbirth. In this article, I want to discuss two practical uses of this great doctrine, one for non-Christians and one for Christians.
One use for non-Christians is to motivate and exhort them to be united to Christ by faith. Reynolds said that “absolute necessity lies upon us having Christ because with him we have all things, and can do all things: without him, we are poor and can do nothing.” Thomas Jacomb made a similar point in one of his sermons on Romans 8. He urged his audience “to get into Christ” because union with Christ opens the floodgates. In terms of salvation applied, it is the fundamental blessing. Jacomb wrote:
“To enforce the exhortation [to endeavour to get into Christ], I will give you but one motive, but that will be a very comprehensive and considerable one: it is this, Union with Christ is the foundation of all good by and from Christ. It is the fundamental blessing, I mean with respect to application. There can be no application of what Christ hath purchased without antecedent union with his person; it is the very basis upon which all is built—the leading blessing—the inlet to all the grace of the gospel—the ground of all communion and communication. Ah, sinner! thou canst hope for nothing from Christ unless thou beest in Christ; without Christ and without hope go together, Eph. 2:12.”
According to Reynolds, heeding the exhortation to be united to Christ is all the more necessary and the neglect of it all the more sinful because Christ will not reject any person who sincerely comes to him. Indeed, Christ calls, invites, entreats and commands all to come to him.
One use of this doctrine for Christians is to assure and comfort them when they feel burdened by their sin. Reynolds encouraged repentant Christians who were “seriously and searchingly humbled with the sense and consciousness of some great relapse” to consider their union and communion with Christ. In so doing they would be reminded that they are safe, secure and saved in Christ because in him they possess the death and merit of Christ, the life of Christ, the sonship of Christ, the victories of Christ, and the benefit of Christ’s intercession. If Christ is in us and we in him, who can be against us? Certainly not our sins. Reynolds wrote: 
“The sum of all is this. Since we stand not like Adam, upon our own bottom, but are branches of such a vine as never withers; members of such a head as never dies; sharers in such a spirit as cleanseth, healeth, and purifieth the heart; partakers of such promises, as are sealed with the oath of God; since we live not by our own life, but by the life of Christ; are not led or sealed by our own spirit, but by the spirit of Christ; do not obtain mercy by our own prayers but by the intercession of Christ; stand not reconciled unto God by our own endeavours, but by the propitiation wrought by Christ, ‘who loved us when we were enemies, and in our blood’ who is both ‘willing and able to save us to the uttermost,’ and to preserve his own mercies in us; to whose office it belongs to take order that none who are given unto him, be lost:--undoubtedly that life of Christ in us, which is thus underpropped, though it be not privileged from temptations, no not from back-slidings, yet is an abiding life: he who raised our soul from death, will either preserve our feet from falling; or, if we do fall, will heal our backslidings, and will save us freely.”
In the next article, I hope to consider some more practical uses of the doctrine of union and communion with Christ.

Our friends at Reformation Heritage Books have given us a giveaway copy of Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson.

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Thanks the our friends at The Latimer Trust in the U.K. we have four (4) copies of The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles by Dr. Gerald Bray to give away.

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Continuing in our series on Puritan preachers (parts #1, #2), we come to Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). One source in which he reveals his view of preaching is The Fountain Opened, a collection of his sermons on 1 Timothy 3:16 (Works, vol. 5), where he addresses the office of the preacher particularly when he comes to the phrase “preached unto the Gentiles.”
When a king is enthroned, both his nobles and his common subjects must know it. Therefore, it is not enough for Christ to be “seen of angels,” His heavenly nobility. His kingdom must also be proclaimed to the entire world, all men called to submit to Him. He must be preached before He can be “believed on in the world,” Sibbes writes, for “faith is the issue and fruit of preaching” (Works 5:504). Sibbes says, “Preaching is the ordinance of God, sanctified for the begetting of faith, for the opening of the understanding, for the drawing of the will and affections to Christ.” This is the ladder of heaven that we must ascend one step at a time: first preaching, then faith, then prayer (Works 5:514).
Sibbes advocates world missions, even though English exploration of other continents was in its infancy in his day. Taking up the words “preached unto the Gentiles,” he boldly says, “Hence we have a ground likewise of enlarging the gospel to all people, because the Gentiles now have interest in Christ; that merchants, and those that give themselves to navigation, they may with good success carry the gospel to all people.” The gospel, like the sun, is traveling from east to west until it shall illuminate all nations (Works 5:512). Though a people be “savages, ever so barbarous,” Christians must “labor to gain them for Christ.” Along these lines, Sibbes calls upon explorers and merchants not to compel people into Christianity by force: “There is nothing so voluntary as faith. It must be wrought by persuasions, not by violence” (Works 5:513). Preaching, not the sword, is the means by which the nations find Christ, whether in England or India.
Preaching is the instrument for the application of redemption. Christ is medicine that must be taken, clothing that must be put on, a foundation on which we must build, a treasure to be dug up, a light to be set forth, and a food that must be eaten. Therefore, the preacher must “open the mystery of Christ” in His natures; His offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; His state of humiliation to work our salvation for us; His state of exaltation to apply our salvation to us; and His promises, which are “but Christ dished and parceled out” (Works 5:505). Even when we listen to Sibbes preaching about preaching, we sense the centrality of Christ and the usefulness of imaginative and affectionate language.
He anticipates this question: “But must nothing be preached but Christ?” He replies, “Nothing but Christ, or that that tends to Christ.” The law serves Christ. The threats of the law bring men low so that Christ may lift them up. Moral duties show us what it means to walk worthy of Christ (Col. 1:10). Sibbes says, “The graces for these duties must be fetched from Christ; and the reasons and motives of a Christian’s conversation [or conduct] must be from Christ, and from the state that Christ hath advanced us unto.” This concern for solus Christus drove Sibbes’s opposition to Romanism: “Why is the Church of Rome so erroneous, but because she leaves Christ and cleaves to other things?” (Works 5:509–510)
Preaching is more than teaching; it is the language of divine love. Sibbes says that “it is not sufficient to preach Christ” merely by teaching people the doctrines of the Bible; rather, “there must be an alluring of them, for to preach is to woo” (Works 5:505). He compares the preacher to a friend of the Bridegroom, who seeks to win the soul to marry Christ (on this imagery, see John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2). On the one hand, marriage must be entered with eyes wide open, based on a factual knowledge of the other person. So the friend of the Bridegroom makes known to the woman both her desperate need and her heavenly Suitor’s riches and nobility (Works 5:514). On the other hand, this is not just an intellectual matter, so the preacher must “entreat for a marriage,” employing all his abilities and powers to woo a bride for Christ (Works 5:506).
Sibbes’s matrimonial language does not negate the necessity of preaching the law and its curses against sinners, but it does give a sweet purpose to severe preaching. Preaching of sin and misery is not an end to itself; it “makes way for the preaching of Christ.” Sibbes queries, “Who cares for Christ, that sees not the necessity of Christ?” Yet preaching the terrors of divine judgment should arise from a tender and humble heart. Preachers must “beseech” or beg sinners to be reconciled with God (2 Cor. 5:20); indeed, “Christ, as it were, became a beggar himself, and the great God of heaven and earth begs our love, that we would so care for our own souls that we would be reconciled unto him.” The fact that we should be the ones begging God for mercy makes God’s sweet beseeching of us all the more poignant (Works 5:506). Like Paul, who wept over the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18), preachers must preach with “grief and compassion” for lost sinners, “because they are led by the Spirit of Christ, who was all made of compassion” (“Exposition of Philippians Chapter III,” in Works 5:126).
Seeing preaching as divine wooing also highlights the power of the ministry of the Word above other means of grace. Sibbes commends the personal reading of the Bible to learn the truth, but “the truth unfolded hath more efficacy” (Works 5:507). Preaching not only offers Christ, but through it, Christ is given to the heart: “Together with it goes a power—the Spirit clothing the ordinance of preaching—to do all.” That is why Paul calls preaching of the gospel “the ministration of the spirit” in 2 Corinthians 3:8 (Works 5:514).
Some people might object that they already know enough and do not need more teaching. Sibbes says, “The word of God preached, it is not altogether to teach us, but, the Spirit going with it, to work grace, necessary to ‘strengthen us in the inward man’ (2 Cor. 4:16).” It is hard enough to learn how to talk and think rightly about the things of God—far harder than learning a trade, for which men train for several years. But true religion is not just the ability to talk and think, but a mysterious knowledge in the heart. We do not really know God’s grace until His grace is within us. This indwelling of grace is effected by preaching: “Preaching is the chariot that carries Christ up and down the world. Christ doth not profit but as he is preached” (Works 5:508). Preaching does more than inform; by God’s grace, it unites us to Christ.
Preaching is a profoundly relational act joining preacher and listener in Christ. This is part of the reason why God decided that mere men would preach His Word. That is not to say that the preacher wins his hearers by his personal charisma; he calls them to “obedience to the truth.” Nevertheless, in preaching, God aims to “knit man to man by bonds of love.” He does not terrify us by a cloud of fire or an angelic visitation, but magnifies His power by working through weak men like us. It helps “our weakness to have men that speak out of experience from themselves that preach the gospel, that they have felt the comfort of [it] themselves.” When Paul and Peter preached, they did so as men humbled by their sins and astonished by the mercy of God. Such preaching by redeemed sinners gives much hope to fearful sinners (Works 5:507).
Thus, Sibbes makes preaching a thoroughly experiential work, a vital triangle drawing together Christ, the preacher, and the hearers. It is a net thrown wide to catch the nations and a wooing of souls by the agent of a heavenly Lover. Preaching includes doctrinal teaching and goes beyond it, engaging the affections and most fundamental commitments of the will. In all this, the ministry of the Word is an instrument in the hands of the sovereign, electing God of grace.
The purpose of this series, “Bite-Size Bunyan,” is to share John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. Most Christians know such works as The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678, 1684), The Holy War (1682), and Grace Abounding (1666), but what about the foundational Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded (1659) or the antithesis to the Pilgrim’s Progress called The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680)?  My hope (in different installations and not all at once!) is to make these publications more accessible.
Our first “bite” concerns Bunyan’s first official writing, Some Gospel Truths Opened According to the Scriptures (1656), written at the tender age of 28 yet with a clear grasp of Reformation theology and the need to defend it from error. It arose out of earlier public debate with the Quakers or “Society of Friends,” a prominent sect in Bunyan’s Bedfordshire due to the toleration under the Cromwellian regime. The recently converted Bunyan had already become a popular lay preacher and one opposed by groups such as the Quakers who rejected his biblical orthodoxy. 
The Quaker movement was founded (1647) by George Fox who fled the vanities of organized religion to embrace the transforming light of the Christ within. Within this scheme, Christ teaches people directly through the Spirit and apart from the Scriptures as they strive for purity and the realization of their salvation. This subjective focus pushed aside outward forms of religion (e.g. tithes and sacraments) and even rebelled against social order (e.g. customary etiquette). The Quakers (named for the trembling experienced during spiritual visitations) at times became violent as seen in the disruption of other groups’ worship services. Beginning with Cromwell but especially during Charles II’s Restoration, they faced severe persecution. 
Bunyan opposed them with his voice and pen informed by Scripture. More than simply attacking the Quakers, his book primarily defends orthodox Christology and soteriology. Still, without question, Bunyan targets the Quakers as seen in his frequent mention of them by name, his reference to their teachings, and his “Questions to the Quakers” at the very end of the book. These seven questions or “a few queries to those possessed with a spirit of delusion in this generation,” show knowledge of their major doctrines and what he regarded as a serious departure from the gospel.
In general, Bunyan deals with Quaker errors on Scripture, Christ, and salvation. For example, he mentions how the devil distorts the gospel of salvation in Christ by a “spirit of delusion,” which by pretending “some higher light” works upon the soul to “hold forth its new gospel; shewing the soul a new Christ, and new scriptures.” Most importantly, Bunyan in the work focuses on the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ. He literally and historically must be the Christ born of Mary, crucified, resurrected, ascended, seated, and coming again. In this way, the spiritualized and ahistorical “new and false Christ” of the Quakers must be opposed: “a Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within, in opposition to the Son of Mary, who was crucified without, dead without, risen again without, and ascended in a cloud away from his disciples into heaven without them (Acts 1:9-11).” 
Reminiscent of the ancient docetic heresy, Quaker theology eradicated the humanity of Christ. In fact, Scriptural mention of the body of Christ, as Bunyan attests, they saw as referring to “no other body but his church.” The most they could say was that Jesus became attached to a human body not truly a part of him. With John 1:9 in hand, they focused on Christ spiritually as “the true Light, which lighteth every man,” and to which every man must respond for the transformational realization of salvation. Thus, they swept aside the objective and historical elements of the Christian faith: the birth, life, death, ascension, intercession, and second coming of Jesus Christ. They trample rather than start with the grand “indicatives” (realities to embrace) to get to the “imperatives” (things to do) and, in the process, reject salvation by free grace alone and justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ. 
As in public debate, the Quakers would not sit in silence to such a book. So, in our second “bite,” we will turn to the response of Quaker Edward Burrough and (primarily) Bunyan’s to him.
This post is the final in a series of four (see #1, #2, #3), which outlines and annotates Patrick Gillespie’s (1617-1675) treatment of the Covenant of Works. In this section, Gillespie illustrates how Adam’s failure in the Covenant of Works paves way for the Covenant of Grace. I will conclude this section with some observations on his treatment of the Covenant of Works as a whole.
The material in [brackets] are my comments.
I. “How the breach of the covenant of works made way for the covenant of grace” (p. 207). [Mistakenly listed as “4” in Gillespie’s text]
A. Adam’s fall came by the Lord’s holy and wise providence. Adam did not fall by “bare permission” (207). [This affirms the Lord’s sovereignty over Adam’s Fall without alleviating his responsibility in breaking the covenant. See WCF 5.4 states similarly that God’s providence “extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with is a most wise powerful bounding … yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God…”]
B. Yet there was no necessity of Adam’s sin neither was God “the author and cause of sin” (207). [See the end of WCF 5.4] There was a necessity by way of decree, but without violating the liberty of Adam’s will, “for all necessity is not contrary to freedom, but that which destroyeth spontaneous acting” (208). Divine necessity was not the moral cause of Adam’s obedience, but the physical cause only.
C. Want of influence and help from God to stand could not excuse Adam’s sin (207).
1. God was not bound by obligation to help him.
2. Man was bound by duty to depend upon God’s help, but God was not so bound to help him. God’s supernatural influences are not the rule of duty, but are exercises of his Sovereignty (207-208). [See comments in my previous post].
3. Adam only lacked influences of divine help by his own will and neglect (208).
4. God’s withdrawal of help followed Adam’s willingness to sin. (209). Citing Rutherford, Influence of the Life of Grace, 1.
5. Adam sinned willingly without compulsion and with delight in his sin (209). Gen. 3:6. [See WSC 13; WCF 6.1, which point to Adam and Eve being left to the council of their own wills and succumbing to Satan’s temptation, respectively]
D. The nature of Adam’s sin is best determined by Scripture. It is unnecessary to determine whether it was pride, pleasure, unbelief, or the want of divine influences (209). [For example, Wilhelmus a Brakel chose unbelief towards God and faith in Satan as the cause of the Fall] Rom. 5 calls it simply disobedience. Citing Augustine, Calvin, and Rivetus, further citing A. Burgess, Ball, Rutherford, Roberts, and Cocceius in the margin for more detail.
E. No man was predestined to life by means of the Covenant of Works, but only by the “way of free Gospel grace” obtained through faith in Christ (210). The Covenant of Works was not meant to continue but it gave way immediately to the first promise of the Covenant of Grace Gen. 3:15. (211). [In his commentary on Genesis 1-3, Westminster divine John While argued that this text pitted the woman against the Serpent, Christ against Satan, and Christ’s people against Satan’s people. Petrus van Mastricht included a similar construction in his chapter on the Covenant of Grace, which revolves around this text]
1. Adam made that way of life impossible through sin. Rom. 10:3, 3:20. 8:3 (211).
2. God repealed all saving intent of the Covenant of Works in order to bring in the promise of eternal life by the Covenant of Grace (211-212). [See Herman Witsius on the Covenants for a similar point] Rom. 3:11; 4:15.
3. God took the occasion of Adam’s fall to bring life and immortality to light through the Gospel. 1 Tim. 1:10 (212). This was to the praise of God’s glory (Eph. 1:6) and to the increase of man’s happiness beyond his unfallen state. 1 Cor. 15:47.
4. The Lord used this opportunity to show the designs of his love in free grace (212).
a. By “setting up a new court of righteousness and life” through faith. Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22, etc.
b. If man will “come under the Covenant of Grace he shall be loosed from the sentence of the law.” Lk. 1:77-78; Rom. 7:4 (213).
c. The Lord keeps the Covenant of Works in force to convict men of their state of sin (213). Gal. 3:24-25; Rom. 10:4. [This explains why the commands and threats of the Covenant of Works remain under the Mosaic covenant, even though that Covenant was itself abolished as a way of life. Since the moral law constituted the terms of the Covenant of Works, the moral law always reminds sinners of the broken Covenant of Works without being conflated with that Covenant]
II. Uses (214)
A. The Covenant of Works shows the woeful condition of Adam’s posterity (214). Rom. 5; Jn. 5:24.
B. To humble man’s flesh and to beat down his pride under the consideration of what he lost through Adam (214). Rom. 7:24 (215).
C. “To admire the unsearchable riches of the Wisdom and Grace of God” (215). 2 Cor. 4:6. “Who but God could have raised man by his fall to a greater height of glory and happiness, could bring life out of death?” Rom. 5:20.
D. To excite us to change our covenant state “from Nature to Grace” (216).
1. All unregenerate man since the Fall continue under the Covenant of Works (217). Rom. 5:12. This includes both Original Sin and corruption of nature. [Original Sin entails the guilt of Adam’s first sin as well as the corruption of nature. Actual sin then flows from Original Sin as from a fountain. WSC 18]
2. A “short view” of those remaining under the Covenant of Works in order to alarm them to get out of that state (217).
a. He is in a state of bondage. Gal. 4:22ff, etc.
b. They are cut off from the hope of internal inheritance. Gal. 4:30; Eph. 2:12 (218).
c. They are under a covenant without a Mediator (218).
d. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” Heb. 10:30-31 (218).
1. They must bring perfect obedience to God (219). Gal. 3:10.
2. Sin is imputed to them (219).
3. They have judgment without mercy and wrath without mixture (219).
4. This covenant rejects even their best works (219).
5. The Lord hates those who are under the Covenant of Works for their works’ sake (219).
6. All things become a curse to them (219). Ps. 69:22; Deut. 28:7. These things are preludi judicii futuri. [Trans: preludes to future judgments]
This last part of the outline brings Gillespie’s treatment of the Covenant of Works to practical resolution. It illustrates that Adam is responsible for the guilt of his sin under divine sovereignty and that those who have died in Adam are condemned in him as well. Yet the Covenant of Works was not the last word for fallen mankind. Not only did it result in the need for the Covenant of Grace, but the broken Covenant of Works paved the way for more excellent fellowship with God through redemption in Christ and our union with him through faith. The bottom line is that the gospel employs the Covenant of Works to drive sinners to Christ. The Covenant of Works could never serve this end apart from the gospel. We must recognize and acknowledge our sinfulness and misery in order to turn to Christ, who delivers us into “an estate of salvation” from both as our Redeemer (WSC 20).
We first mentioned Article 8 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion in our discussion of Article 2. We saw how the articles as a narrative whole link Article 8 and Article 2 on understanding the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we can also see how Article 8 concludes the triad of the Anglican rule of faith in a clear statement that the three central creeds of Anglicanism are the hallmarks of an authentic Christian faith because they summarize the doctrines of the Scripture. 
VIII — Of the Three Creeds

The Three creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.
Article 8 is only slightly altered from the 1553 original by Thomas Cranmer. Archbishop Parker strengthens the quality of their reception in adding the phrase, "…and believed" after the clause, "ought thoroughly to be received." The Anglican divines understood that these three creeds were universally agreed across the Church, both east and west. They summarize the core doctrines of the catholic church. However, they also knew that merely having a creed is no guarantee that a church will be free from error. Creeds are not inspired, they are composed by sinful men (as Article 21 explains). Therefore, they must be subject to Scripture. The wording of the revision is important. The Latin original has the adverb omnino, “thoroughly,” “utterly,” “entirely." There is no room for disagreeing or even of taking exception at any point of the three creeds here. Grounded in sola scriptura, Anglicans are to uphold the three creeds ex animo in each and every clause they contain because "they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture."
When we search the historical formularies, we find that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer requires Anglicans to recite the Apostles Creed every day in Morning and Evening Prayer, and the Nicene Creed follows the reading of the Scriptures in the service of Holy Communion. Athanasius' Creed is required instead of the Apostles Creed on fourteen days during the Christian year that includes the five major gospel days of Christmas Day, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. However, problems arise when creeds or confessions like the Thirty-nine Articles, are ignored or reinterpreted. The rise of the parish communion movement in the 1960’s Episcopal Church and the displacement of Sunday worship by an increasingly secular society has brought about the loss of public services of morning and evening prayer for one service of Holy Communion in our Anglican churches. When we add those who have come from evangelical churches that have minimalist “statements of faith” that function like the creeds but are poorly or carelessly written, we can start to see how of the three creeds the Apostles and Athanasian became irrelevant to North American Anglicans.
Thus, far from being a measure of biblical faithfulness as they were intended, they are seldom heard or taught, leading to even deeper divisions within Anglicanism on this continent. A sobering fact, especially in light of the opening and closing words of the Athanasian Creed: "Whosoever will be saved must above all things hold the catholic faith, which except a man do believe wholly and undefiled, he shall perish everlastingly!" Why would the Athanasian Creed make such a claim? It is because our faith demands knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, an active assent, and a continual trust in our Savior described in these biblical truths. The act of knowing, consenting, and trusting to the biblical beliefs of the Church is necessary for salvation. This is more than a recitation of the creeds, but certainly not less than this! The creeds are not just a quiz. They are a point-by-point summary of how you are saved. We need to hear them every week, if not every day.
Consider the solidarity in fellowship that the three creeds provide for Christians today. In countries where Christianity is a minority religion or restricted by the government and culture, to recite the creeds, and the biblical affirmations they share is a witness and sign of protest. It is one of the most counter-cultural things they, or any Christian, can do. There are a gradual narrowing and clarity in the creeds that separate the biblical gospel from other religions of the world. The creeds give us specificity.
It is indeed a sad state of affairs when the revival of North American Anglicanism is defined more by our political views: "Oh, you’re the ones against gay clergy and gay marriage." Never once being pulled back as being biblically faithful, apostolically historical, and profoundly Trinitarian because we confess and affirm ("I believe") the three creeds of Christendom. They are our pledge of allegiance. All three coming as they do in the structure of the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer after our confession of sin and hearing the refreshing good news of the gospel in the reading of the Scriptures and the singing of psalms, the three creeds bring us to the adoration of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
For previous articles in this series, see:
  1. Introduction
  2. One God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity (Art. 1)
  3. The Incarnation and Atonement (Art. 2)
  4. The Work of Christ (Arts. 3-4)
  5. The Holy Spirit (Art. 5)
  6. The Rule of Faith: Part 1 (Art. 6)
  7. The Rule of Faith: Part 2 (Art. 7)
Thanks to the leadership of Dr. Joel Beeke, the name of William Perkins (1558-1602) is becoming known again. The first two video addresses from the recent conference on Perkins are now available online (with several more to follow here):
As well, Reformation Heritge Books is in the process of re-packaging and re-publishing the massive Works of Perkins in ten volumes. The first four volumes that make up his exegetical works are now available on special offer for $130.
For more details on this new/old series of Perkins' works can be found at www.worksofperkins.com.