The Nature and Calling of Free Grace

Written by J.C. Philpot

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it.

My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it?

I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard’s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man?

You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone.

And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer’s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord!

Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His Dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus’ gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer’s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labors distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years.

How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savor he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the blood shedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love.

But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer’s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolaters, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; ! men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvelous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets!

Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us?

Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.

Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Savior, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to everyone that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them, and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869) was known as “The Seceder”. He resigned from the Church of England in 1835 and became a Strict & Particular Baptist. While with the Church of England he was a Fellow of Worchester College, Oxford. After becoming a Strict and Particular Baptist he became the Editor of the Gospel Standard magazine and served in that capacity for twenty years.

Educated at Oxford University, he was elected a fellow of Worcester College, and appeared to have a brilliant scholastic career before him. But he was brought into solemn concern spiritually and the Lord led him into the ministry. He first preached in the Established Church at Stadhampton (Oxfordshire). In 1835, however, he was constrained, for the truth’s sake, to sever his connection with the Church of England and to resign his curacy and his fellowship. The letter to the provost stating his reasons was published and went into several editions.

The same year, he was baptized by John Warburton at Allington (Wilts). The rest of his life was spent ministering among the Strict Baptists. For 26 years, he held a joint pastorate at Stamford (Lines) and Oakham (Rutland). In addition for over twenty years, he was editor of “The Gospel Standard”, where many of his sermons first appeared.


THE RIGHT OF SANCTUARY: Thoughts Taken From a Biblical, Religious, and Historical Context

Written by Dr. Metelille, 1884


The right of sanctuary…

…that is, the protection secured to persons in danger who fled to certain sacred places, appears very early in history. In one limited form it was divinely sanctioned, under the Mosaic law, by the establishment of the six Cities of refuge, fleeing to which a man who had killed another unwittingly and without evil intention, was saved from the avenger of blood, but might not return home until the death of the High Priest. (See Numbers 35:9-29; Deuteronomy 19:1-10; Joshua 20.) No holy place, however, might shelter a willful murderer. (Exodus 21:14).

Two instances of another manner of seeking sanctuary, not expressly sanctioned by the Law, occur at the beginning of Solomon’s reign. “When Adonijah, after his attempted usurpation, ‘caught hold of the horns of the altar’ before the tabernacle; he received a sworn promise from the King of safety if he did not offend again; but Joab, as being a murderer, was put to death even at the altar. (1 Kings 1: 50-53; 2:28-34).

Among the Israeli test, therefore, the places of refuge were instituted solely for the safety of the innocent…

…but among the heathen nations the sacredness of a locality was in many cases allowed to shelter even criminals. A temple, altar, or precinct which gave such protection was called in Greek Asylon, meaning ‘free from violence or spoliation.’ To drag a fugitive from his asylum was looked upon, by the Athenians at least, as an unpardonable sacrilege. This we see by the lasting horror with which they regarded the family of the Alcmaenidae after they had killed the partisans of Cylon at the altars on the Acropolis. It was, however, sometimes thought lawful to blockade a temple and starve the fugitive till he surrendered or died, as in the case of Pausanias. Romulus was said to have established an asylum in his newly founded city to which the discontented fled from all the neighboring communities.

In later times, several temples and altars in Rome gave sanctuary, and, although Augustus and Tiberius tried to check the growing abuses of the practice, their edicts seem to have had no lasting result. After the imperial government became Christian, the right of taking sanctuary in churches grew up during the fourth century. An edict of Theodosius in 392 confirms and regulates it as an already established custom. According to the Theodosian code all churches alike could give sanctuary, but under these restrictions: the right was refused to those who defrauded the State of its dues, and to all guilty of heinous crimes; it was not in general allowed to fugitive slaves, except those that were Orthodox Christians, and to whom heretical masters tried by force to rebaptise. Justinian extended the privilege to slaves who could prove that their masters cruelly ill-treated them. In fact, the Christian right of sanctuary was not at first intended to interfere with the course of the law, but to shelter those in danger from sudden, arbitrary violence or from false accusations, and to give the clergy time to plead for justice and mercy. In this sense the right was upheld by St. Basil, St. Ambrose, and other eminent bishops, and when Eutropius, the Minister of Arcadius, after giving a cruel and unjust extension to the law of treason, tried to take away the right of sanctuary, he was strenuously opposed by St. Chrysostom. Shortly afterwards, Eutropius, cast down from his power, himself fled for safety to the altar of St. Sophia, and who can forget the striking scene that followed, when Chrysostom, braving the anger of court and people, vindicated the privilege of sanctuary on behalf of the fallen oppressor who had tried to abolish it? The after-fate of Eutropius shows, however, that unscrupulous rulers resorted to deceitful oaths in order to lure their victims from the asylum which they dared not violate openly.

Later on, we find the Patriarch Kyriakos withstanding the tyrant Phokas, when he tried to drag the widow and daughters of the Emperor Maurice from St. Sophia, and exacting from him an oath to spare their lives if they left the church, and Phokas did in fact leave them unmolested until he was able to accuse them of a fresh conspiracy against him. Turning to Gaul, under the Merovingians we, see how the right of sanctuary worked in a state of society where lawless wickedness, violence, and bloodthirstiness prevailed to an extent rarely equaled. The only check upon the ferocity of the Franks was their fear of miraculous vengeance if they violated the privileges of the Church; therefore the Gallican clergy upheld, the right of sanctuary without limit or restriction; every one, innocent or guilty, who fled to a church was safe as long as he chose to remain there, and in the numerous instances which Gregory of Tours records, we find examples both of the use and abuse of the privilege; sometimes it protected persons unjustly pursued by their enemies, or ladies in distress; sometimes it enabled the bishop to intercede successfully with the King for those who had offended him; but it also sometimes gave impunity to murderers, and there “were cases of wretches, like Fredegund and others, who continued their crimes while in sanctuary, and even maltreated the clergy who sheltered them. Very few instances are mentioned during this period of any one being violently taken from sanctuary, but some of the persons being decoyed by false promises.

Pope Boniface V, in 602, first expressly extended the right of sanctuary to criminals. Charles the Great, though at first he disallowed it in cases of capital crime, afterwards sanctioned it in the fullest extent. The abuses became so great, that both in the 13th and 15th centuries, various popes ordered restrictions of it. Francis I so narrowed it in France as to practically abolish it. In Germany it was taken away in Protestant states at the Reformation; in some Catholic ones not until the wars of the French Revolution.

In England sanctuary or the “frith” of a church was recognized by the laws of Ethelbert, and more definitely by those of Ina, which decreed that if one guilty of a capital crime took sanctuary his life should be safe, but he should pay amends according to law; a lesser offender should be pardoned altogether. Alfred and later kings confirmed these laws. The general form in which the privilege was allowed in England during the Middle Ages was as follows: –It was denied to habitual criminals, and forfeited by misconduct while in sanctuary; it lasted for forty days only, during that time the fugitive might either surrender to take his trial or go before the coroner and ‘abjure the realm,’ that is, swear to leave the kingdom straightway, and never return without royal licence. If he chose neither of these courses, it was felony to supply him with food after the forty days had expired. In certain churches, however, especially Westminster Abbey, the privilege was not limited by these restrictions. A good historical example of the working of the right is the case of Hubert de Burgh. When Henry III was, by ill-advice, incensed against this faithful minister, and accused him of embezzlement and disloyalty, Hubert fled to the church of Merton, afterwards to that of Boisars, in Essex; he was dragged from the altar by armed men sent by the king, yet when the Bishop of London threatened to excommunicate the authors of the outrage, Henry had to restore the captive to his refuge, but caused him to be closely watched, so that when the forty days were out Hubert, refusing to abjure the realm, was obliged to surrender himself prisoner. He again escaped, and all these proceedings were repeated, except that a party of his friends carried him away to Wales before he was driven to a second surrender.

In the Wars of the Roses, the right of the sanctuary was often resorted to, and by the Lancastrians it was generally religiously respected: thus Elizabeth Woodville and several of her husband’s friends remained unmolested in the precincts of Westminster during the six months of Henry VI’s restoration in 1470, but Edward IV was less scrupulous, and in spite of the promise wrung from him by a courageous priest, he caused the Lancastrian chiefs to be dragged from Tewkesbury Church and put to death, Elizabeth Woodville again fled to Westminster with her daughters and younger son, when Richard of Gloucester assumed the protectorship, but on that occasion the council decided that a child whom no one wished to hurt might not be detained in sanctuary from his lawful guardian, and obliged the queen to give up her son; a decision they soon had cause to repent. Elizabeth and her daughters did not leave the sanctuary until a year later, when Richard made oath that they should be safe.

On the whole, in the notable historical instances, the right of sanctuary in England certainly worked beneficially. Its effect in the case of common crimes is another question; on the one hand, it cannot be denied that it enabled many murderers to escape deserved punishment, but in the case of lesser offences, the banishment for years or for life which ‘abjuring the realm’ entailed, may often have been a sufficient penalty.

The chief abuses arose in permanent sanctuaries, such as Westminster, whence refugees sometimes sallied forth to commit fresh crimes, and then returned with impunity to their asylum. Henry VIII substituted confinement to a sanctuary for life instead of ‘abjuration of the realm,’ and abolished the privileges in cases of treason. Under James I the ecclesiastical right of sanctuary was abrogated; but the precincts of Whitefriars and the Savoy retained a right of sheltering debtors, and became a resort of villains of all kinds, until their immunity was taken away in the reign of William III. In times of settled Law and order the privilege of sanctuary became an anomaly, though it had often worked for good in wild and violent ages.

LUTHER, Personal Reflections on Shattered Dreams

Taken from, “The Great Renunciation”
Written by, W. H. T. Dau.

Also from, “initium negocii evangelici”
Written by Martin Luther.


The place is Luther’s study at Wittenberg, and the time the summer of 1538…

Luther is writing the Preface to a collection of theses for theological debates on matters relating to the papacy which he had conducted at the University of Wittenberg, and which were published in the fall of that year.

Twenty-one years had passed since he had ventured into the arena of public debate as a timid searcher after light and truth. The questions which had agitated men’s minds at that time had meanwhile been brought to a decision. The Church which had been torn with the fiercest conflict in its history was settling, at least as far as the relation of the Evangelical party to Rome was concerned, into the condition of a permanent rupture. The decision had been reached; the schism had come, and Luther’s side had accepted it as a deplorable, yet unavoidable, solution of a baffling difficulty.

A small man looking backward over the illustrious path, that had been traversed during the last two decades might have been seized with the bragging spirit and given himself over to self-flattery. For the changes that had been wrought, not only in the external condition of the Church, but still-more in the inner life of its members, and in the social relations of mankind at large, were truly astonishing. A great blow had been struck in defense of the liberty wherewith Christ has made men free. The victor might have reclined on his laurels and condescended to receive the eulogies of his admirers.

In Luther’s instance the retrospect to which his mind was invited by the work before him in those dog-days of 1538 led to an introspection, and the somber reflections which crowding his thoughts were deposited into the Preface, in the form of the following confession:

“Dr. Martin Luther to the Pious Reader”


I permit the publication of my Disputations, or Theses, which have been discussed since the beginning of my controversy with the papacy and the leading sophists of the time, chiefly to the end that I may not become lifted up with the magnitude of the affair and the success which God has bestowed on it. For in these Theses my disgrace is publicly exhibited, that is, my weakness and ignorance, which compelled me at the beginning to enter upon this business with the greatest trembling and misgiving.

I was drawn into this affair alone, and without having foreseen it. While I could not retrace my steps, I not only yielded to the Pope in many and important articles of faith, but also continued to worship him. For at that time, who was I? An altogether miserable, insignificant little monk, more like a corpse than a living human being. And I was to run counter to the majesty of the Pope, before whom not only the kings of the earth and the entire world, but also heaven and hell (the threefold mechanism of the universe, as it has been called) stood in awe, and on whose nod everything hung!

All that my heart suffered in that first year and the year after, and how great my humility, which was not feigned, and my near despair was, alas! how little of this is known to those who later began, in proudest fashion, to assail the wounded majesty of the Pope. Although, to use Virgil’s phrase –they did not compose these verses, but they carried away the laurels; which, however, I do not begrudge them.

But while those people were spectators and left me in the lurch alone, I was not so cheerful, confident, and certain; for many things that I know now I did not know at that time. Yea, what indulgences were I did not know at all, nor did the entire papacy know anything about it. They were held in reverence merely because of an established custom and from habit Accordingly, my disputation was not for the purpose of abolishing them, but because, knowing full well what they were not, I desired to know what they might be. And since the dead or dumb teachers, that is, the books of the theologians and jurists, did not satisfy me, I decided to call in the living for counsel, and to hear the Church of God itself, in order that, if perhaps there were remaining anywhere instruments of the Holy Spirit, they might take pity on me, and, while profiting all, might also render me certain regarding the indulgences.

Now, many good men extolled my Theses, but it was impossible for me to acknowledge them to be the Church and instruments of the Holy Ghost. I looked up to the Pope, the cardinals, the bishops, the theologians, the jurists, the monks, and expected the Spirit from them. For I had gorged and filled myself with their teaching to such an extent that I did not realize whether I was awake or sleeping. And after I had overcome all arguments with the Scriptures, I could in the end, even with the grace of Christ, scarcely get over this one point, except with the greatest difficulty and anguish, viz., that we must hear the Church. For the Church of the Pope I regarded (and that with all my heart!) as the true Church, with much greater stubbornness and reverence than these abominable parasites are doing who are nowadays glorifying the Church of the Pope to spite me. If I had despised the Pope as his eulogizers are now doing, I would have believed that the earth must swallow me up that very minute, as it did Korah and his followers.

But to return to my subject,while waiting for the verdict of the Church and of the Holy Spirit, I was forthwith ordered to keep silent, and my superiors appealed to the prevailing custom. Frightened by the authority of the name of the Church, I yielded and declared myself ready to Cardinal Cajetan at Augsburg to keep silent, begging him humbly to impose silence also on the clamorous opposition party. But he not only refused my request, but added that if I did not recant, he would condemn me and all my teachings, whatever they might be. But at that time I had already been teaching the Catechism with no little success, and I knew that the Catechism must not be condemned, and that I must not permit this to be done, lest I should deny Christ.

I did not, however, intend at this time to relate my history, but I confess my foolishness, ignorance, and weakness, lest any man –to follow the example of Paul, should think of me above that which he sees me to be, and in order that no one may entertain a doubt –if that should be possible –that in those great conflicts I was human, and am still human. At the same time I would by my example scare those foolishly brave, inexperienced (I had almost said conceited), miserable writers who have not learned to know the cross and Satan, and who think it nothing now to overcome the Pope, yea, the devil himself. They, consider it their duty to attack Luther, and when they have vanquished him, Satan is an object of ridicule to them.

There spoke a great heart. No note of triumph steals even faintly into this reverie, but only the awe of chastened sorrow is allowed to speak before the wreckage of one of earth’s greatest idols that surrounds the speaker.

The Life-Force of the Seeker-Friendly Church

imagesYou enter a great mill driven by steam or water-power…

All the machinery is in motion, and what an incessant clatter it makes! It is whiz, whiz, dank, dank, until your sense of hearing is deadened by the confused din. The wheels revolve, the pistons play, the shuttles dart to and fro with lightning-like speed, the hammers descend with their thud, thud, or make the anvil ring, as the case may be. Now all that deafening noise and bewildering movement are produced by the pressure of an external force on lifeless things.

Step outside, and what a contrast presents itself!

The water glides smoothly along, the fish sport noiselessly in the stream; the cattle lounge peacefully in the meadow, the trees spread out their leaves to catch the showers or the sunbeams. No clatter or bustle here like as in the scene you have just left. And yet they are living things here, and dead things yonder.

These living things are also operated on by external forces.

But the living things have power to resist the external forces as the dead things have not. And the result is, that while the dead things are moved as the external powers determine, the living, in spite of them, are moved by an internal power in accordance with their own law of development.

So is it sometimes with churches…

They are full of noise and bustle which are signs of death rather than life. Their movements are those of a galvanized corpse. They are the result of an external pressure which they have not life and strength enough to resist They are produced by startling sights and sounds, and show no more life than when dead leaves are tossed about by the blasts of autumn, or your house is shaken to its foundation by the concussion of the thunder-peal.”

–Dr. William Landels, D. D.

A few words about the author as a Christian and part of your Christian heritage taken from the preface of, “A Memoir” written by his son in 1900: We see the real Landels, the Christian, the preacher, the pastor, the denominational statesman, the father, the man of God. The partiality of the son betrays itself, only in restrained praise and qualified admiration, never in estimates that outrun the facts, or in over-eager applause. He succeeds in laying bare his father s fervor and charm, his need of combat, his passion for intellectual adventure, the grasp and lucidity of his mental conceptions; his love of controversy, and his greater love of men; his devotion to the Church of his choice and his greater devotion to the catholic [universal]  faith, to social justice, to brotherhood, and to the universal instincts of the spiritual life.

In this hurrying age it is a good service to detain amongst us, if we can, the memorials of those who have served their generation according to the will of God. It reminds us of our debts. It rebukes the vanity that credits itself with the creation of the fulness of life in the modern world. It feeds the humility that recognizes the ever-working God; shows us we have not made ourselves or our world ; and traces before our eyes the processes by which God builds.

Baptists at this juncture in our history [1900] will specially welcome this book, for it contains an integral part of the narrative of our development. Dr. Landels has left an ineffaceable mark upon the Baptist denomination, upon its thought and spirit, and upon its organization and service. His influence will long survive him. Even those who thought him a dangerous “heretic” came to see and rejoice in the importance of his work, and to displace the thorns of the martyr by the aureole of the saint.

The professing church is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within, as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without… … Many ministers and parishoners live in a kind of mist or fog.

Written by J. C. Ryle

“Men that had understanding of the times” — 1 Chronicles 12:32

The times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine.

funny business manI cannot withhold my conviction that the professing church is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within, as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without. Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with color blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound.

If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest…

…they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error. Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Spirit or no Holy Spirit, future punishment or no future punishment, “high” church or “low” church or “broad” church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amiss to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it! Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody is going to be lost. Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is, that they dislike distinctness, and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!

These people live in a kind of mist or fog.

They see nothing clearly, and do not know what they believe. They have not made up their minds about any great point in the gospel, and seem content to be honorary members of all schools of thought. For their lives they could not tell you what they think is truth about justification or regeneration or sanctification or the Lord’s Supper or baptism or faith or conversion or inspiration or the future state. They are eaten up with a morbid dread of controversy and an ignorant dislike of “party spirit,” and yet they really cannot define what they mean by these phrases.

The only point you can make out is that they admire earnestness and cleverness and charity…

…and cannot believe that any clever, earnest, charitable man can ever be in the wrong! And so they live on undecided; and too often undecided they drift down to the grave, without comfort in their religion and, I am afraid, often without hope…..For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error. Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions; and let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party–spirited, narrow or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colorless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision…

…and take up a distinct, sharply cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

When You are Thoroughly Chastened and Corrected by Well-Meaning Pastors and Churchmen Who are Wrong.

An Example From the Reformers (Richard Sibbes and Thomas Goodwin).

Richard-Sibbes[I have NOT edited the following letter for thought and content, or even the 16th century grammar, as I usually strive to do. However, you should be mindful that the following is a personal and private letter. And even with the whole of the letter, we are left without the complete context. In this case, I want you to also see the emotional heart of the matter…  Goodwin has poured out his heart and soul to Sibbes and instead of receiving encouragment and support, Sibbes lashes out at Goodwin for “the haynousnesse of this sin.”

thomasgoodwinWith this in mind, I bring this letter to your attention (though it may take a little extra work to read) because it is between two great lights of the early Reformers; Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) and Thomas Goodwin D.D. (1600-1679), who has been designated the Atlas and patriarch of Independency from the Church of England. Sibbes is 25 years older than Goodwin and is acting as a senior pastor with a lot of experience in such matters.  Sibbes is also admonishing Goodwin, who he loves and respects, and so he is doing it to help, strengthen and turn Thomas Goodwin around, not to injure him, and that is important.  But the fact of the matter is, that Sibbes, in this instance, may indeed be grievously wrong. Others have correctly pointed out, that Sibbes would have acted more faithfully as well as more consistently, had he followed the example of his friends, Goodwin, John Cotton, John Davenport, Thomas Hooker, Samuel Stone, and their compatriots. The spirit that pervades his letter is worthier than his arguments.

The letter comes from the Memoir of Richard Sibbes, and it is a letter from him to “An Afflicted Conscience”, taken to be to Goodwin, on very good evidence that we shall not go into here. The letter sheds a fascinating light on the reasoning behind the thinking of the “Stayers” when confronted by the “Separaters” from the Church of England at a time when Popish ceremonies were being introduced by Bishops and King, and the ordained ministers are ordered to administer them, or face banishment, loss of goods, loss of livelihood, and even death.   Sibbes continued to preach the Gospel, did not give in to ritualism, but stays in by the powerful influence of his many friends, and though certainly, summoned before Star Chamber and High Commission, he holds on in his way of preaching the same gospel everywhere by means of his friends and the power of his sermons. That explains his remaining within the church. 

You and I can heartily understand that Goodwin could not have enjoyed listening and acting upon his conscience in opposition to Sibbes; an act which Sibbes describes to Goodwin as a “heinous sin”.  But scholars have pointed out that Goodwin’s reaction to Sibbes does not appear in any of Goodwin’s memoirs, which is much to his credit.  –MWP]

Deare Sir,

I understand by your Letter, that you have many and grevious tryals; some externall and bodily, some internall and spirituall: as the deprivall of inward comfort, the buffetings (and that in more then ordinary manner), of your soule, with Satan’s temptations: and (which makes, all those inward and outward, the more heavy and insupportable) that you have wanted Christian society with the Saints of God, to whom you might make knowne your griefes, and by whom you might receive comfort from the Lord, and incouragement in your Christian course.

Now that which I earnestly desire in your behalfe, and hope likewise you doe in your owne, is that you may draw nearer to God, and be more conformable to his command by these afflictions; for if our afflictions be not sanctified, that is, if we make not an holy use of them by purging out old leaven of our ingenerate corruptions, they are but judgments to us, and makes way for greater plagues: Ioh v. 14. And therefore the chiefe ende and ayme of God in all the afflictions which he sends to his children in love is, that they may be partakers of his holinesse, and so their afflictions may conduce to their spiritual! advantage and profit, Heb. xii. 10. The Lord aymes not at himselfe in any calamities he layes on us, (for God is so infinitely all-sufficient, that we can adde nothing to him by all our doings or sufferings) but his maine ayme is at our Melioration and Sanctification in and by them. And therefore our duty in every affliction and pressure, is thus to thinke with our selves: How shall we carry and behave our selves under this crosse, that our soules may reap profit by it? This (in one word) is done by our returning and drawing nearer to the Lord, as his holy Apostle exhorts us, Iames iv. 8. This in all calamities the Lord hath speciall eye unto, and is exceeding wroth if he finde it not.

The Prophet declares That his anger was not turned from Israel, because they turned not to him that smote them, Isa. i. 4, 5. Now it is impossible that a man should draw nigh to God, and turne to him, if he turne not from his evil wayes: for in every conversion there is Terminus a quo, something to be turned from, as well as Terminus ad quod, something to be turned to.

Now, that we must turn to, is God; and that we must turne from, is sinne; as being diametrally opposite to God, and that which separated betweene God and us.

To this purpose we must search and try our hearts and wayes, and see what sinnes there be that keepe us from God, and separate us from his gracious favour: and chiefly we must weed out our special bosom-sine. This the ancient Church of God counsels each other to doe in the time of their anguish and affliction, Lam. iii. 89, 40, Let us search and try our wayes, and turne againe to the Lord: for though sinne make not a final divorce betwixt God and his chosen people, yet it may make a dangerous rupture by taking away sense of comfort, and suspending the sweet inference of his favour, and the effectual operation of his grace.

And therefore (deare Sir) my earnest suit and desire is, that you would diligently peruse the booke of your conscience, enter into a thorow search and examination of your heart and life; and every day before you go to bed, take a time of recollection and meditation, (as holy Isaac did have private walkes, Gen. xxiv. 68), holding a privy Session in your soule, and indicting your selfe for all the sins, in thought, word, or act committed, and all the good duties you have omitted. This self-examination, if it be strict and rigid as it ought to be, will soone shew you the sins whereto you are most inclinable (the chiefe cause of all your sorrowes), and consequently, it will (by God’s assistance) effectually instruct you to fly from those venomous and fiery serpents, which have so stung you.

And though you have (as you say) committed many grievous sinnes, as abusing God’s gracious ordinances, and neglecting the golden opportunities of grace: the originall, as you conceive of all your troubles; yet I must tell you, there is another Coloquintida in the pot, another grand enormity (though you perceive it not) and that is you separation from God’s Saints and Servants in the Acts of his publike Service and worship. This you may clearly discern by the affliction it selfe, for God is methodical in his corrections, and doth (many times) so suite the crosse to the sinne, that you may reade the sin in the crosse. You confesse that your maine affliction, and that which made the other more bitter, is, that God tooke away those to whom you might make your complaint; and from whom you might receive comfort in your distresse. And is not this just with God, that when you wilfully separate your selfe from others, he should separate others from you? Certainly, when we undervalue mercy, especially so great a one as the communion of Saints is, commonly the Lord takes it away from us, till we learne to prize it to the full value. Consider well therefore the haynousnesse of this sin, which that you may the better conceive, First, consider it is against God’s expresse Precept, charging us not to forsake the assemblies of the Saints, Heb. x. 20, 25. Again, it is against our own greatest good and spirituall solace, for by discommunicating & excommunicating our selves from that blessed society, we deprive our selves of the benefit of their holy conference, their godly instructions, their divine consolations, brotherly admonitions, and charitable reprehensions; and what an inestimable boon is this? Neither can we partake such profit by their prayers as otherwise we might: for as the some in the naturall body conveyes life and strength to every member, as they are compacted and joyned together, and not as dis-severed; so Christ conveyes spiritual life and rigour to Christians, not as they are disjoyned from, but as they are united to the mysticall body, the Church.

But you will say England is not a true Church, and therefore you separate ; adhere to the true Church.

I answer, our Church is easily proved to be a true Church of Christ: First, because it hath all the essentialls, necessary to the constitution of a true Church; as sound preaching of the Gospel, right dispensation of the Sacraments, Prayer religiously performed, and evil! persons justly punisht (though not in that measure as some criminals and malefaetors deserve:) and therefore a true Church.

2. Because it hath begot many spiritual children to the Lord, which for soundnesse of judgemcnt, and holinesse of life, are not inferiour to any in other Reformed Churches. Yea, many of the Separation, if ever they were converted, it was here with us: (which a false and adulterous Church communicated.)

But I heare you reply, our Church is corrupted with Ceremonies, and pestered with prophane persons. What then? must we therefore separate for Ceremonies, which many think may be lawfully used. But admit they be evils, must we make a rent in the Church for Ceremonious Rites, for circumstantial evils? That were a remedy worse than the disease. Besides, had not all the true Churches of Christ their blemishes and deformities, as you may see in seven Asian Churches? Rev. ii. and iii. And though you may finde some Churches beyond Sea free from Ceremonies, yet notwithstanding they are more corrupt in Preachers, (which is the maine) as in prophanation of the Lord’s day, &c.

As for wicked and prophane Persons amongst us, though we are to labour by all good meanes to purge them out, yet are we not to separate because of this residence with us : for, there will bee a miscellany and mixture in the visible Church, as long as the world endures, as our Saviour shewes by many parables: Matth. xiii. If therefore we should be so overjust as to abandon all Churches for the intermixture of wicked Persons, we must salle to the Antipodes, or rather goe out of the world, as the Apostle speaks: so it is agreed by all that Noah’s Arke was a type and embleme of the Church. Now as it had been no lesse then selfe-murder for Noah, Sem, or Iaphet to have leapt out of the Arke, because of that ungracious Gains company; so it is no better then soule-murder for a man to cast himself out of the Church, either for reall or imaginall corruptions. To conclude, as the Angell injoyned Hagar to returne, and submit to her Mistris Sarah, so let me admonish you to returne your selfe from these extravagant courses, and submissively to render your self to the sacred communion of this truly Evangelicall Church of England.

I beseech you therefore, as you respect Gods glory and your owne eternall salvation, as There is but one body and one spirit, one Lord, one Baptisme, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all; so endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, Eph. iv., as the Apostle sweetly invites you. So shall the peace of God ever establish you, and the God of peace ever preserve you; which is the prayer of

Your rernembrancer at the Throne of Grace


As scholar and editor, Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart points out, “Who doubts for a moment, that, if his mouth had been shut, as was Goodwin’s, on the ‘one thing,’ that Sibbes would have placed himself beside his friend. Perhaps there would have been more of lingering effort on Sibbs part to get Goodwin above the difficulties.  Perhaps, Goodwin would have had more pain in sundering of the ties that bound him to the church, more sway given to heart than head. Still the final decision, beyond all debate, would have been the same as that of the ‘two thousand’ that were oppressed of 1662. The more shame to those in power who compelled such loyal lovers of ‘the church’ to leave her.” 

From “Works of Richard Sibbes” Volume One. 
Pub. James Nichol, Edinburgh 1862

The Sacred and the Shameful: Our Attendance and Conduct at Church

by John Stock

church-attendance-bible-versesWhen I speak of conduct in the church of Christ, do not suppose that in my view a Christian should be a different man in the church from what he is in the world.

A Christian is to be a Christian everywhere and always. Whatsoever he does, he is to do to the glory of God. He is to be governed by the principles of the gospel in all the relations of life. His character, lite the silver trumpets under the law, is to be all of a piece. Every act should be sanctified by a regard to Christ’s authority. He should find a temple everywhere. The best church is a church in the house.

Alas! too many professors [Christians] seem to regard religion as an affair of times and seasons. They put their godliness on and off with their Sunday clothes. But a holy life is a sweeter psalm of praise than any other: it is the loudest and most acceptable hallelujah that we can sing to the glory of our Redeemer.

Still our relation to the church of Christ, like every other, involves us in corresponding obligation. Suffer me, then, to give you a few earnest counsels,—” that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim. iii. 15.

RELBENCH_SA_C_^_SATURDAYStart with a holy resolution that you will diligently attend, as you have opportunity.

Neglect not assembling with God’s people, as the manner of some is. Heb. x. 25. Those who are living nearest to God in secret, will most value public ordinances. “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” Psa. lxxxvii.

Our Divine Redeemer bequeathed to us this gracious declaration, “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt, xviii. 19, 20. It must be blessed for us to be where Christ is. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; they shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Planted in the house of Jehovah, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age ; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that Jehovah, my rock, is upright, and there is no injustice in him.” Psa. xcii. 12—15. The stress of this beautiful passage is on the clause,—” Planted in the house of Jehovah.” Having likened the righteous to the stately palm-tree and the spreading cedar, the Psalmist proceeds to indicates the soil in which they are to grow;—The House Of Jehovah. The figure implies a constant and abiding love to divine ordinances. In this soil the roots of the divine life are to strike out their fibres, and to find nourishment. Firmly and fixedly Planted here, saints shall continue to bring forth fruit to their dying day. I have known many good people who have seemed to be thus really planted in God’s house. Its blessed means of grace have become as natural to them as the parent soil is to the tree which has been raised in »it. Their love for divine ordinances has appeared to grow with their years. As long as their tottering steps have been able to do so, they have trodden the path to God’s house. And such Christians have always been eminent ones: they have been fruitful even to old age.

On the other hand, the abatement of love for the sanctuary has always been, so far as my observation has gone, the indicator of declining piety;

6710623051_f9dcc67766_zand, in too many instances, the precursor of utter apostasy. I beseech you, then, resist the first temptation to forsake God’s courts. You cannot tell what you may lose by one absence. Thomas was not present when the disciples assembled after our Lord’s resurrection. “We are not told what kept him away. Perhaps it rained; perhaps his head ached; perhaps he had taken medicine; or perhaps a friend had called to see him. But whatever may have been the cause of his absence, one thing is certain, he missed seeing his risen Redeemer. Let not any cause keep you from the house of the Lord which you would not permit to prevent your keeping an important business engagement.

church-attendanceSurely the appointment to meet the Saviour where he has promised to be found by his faithful disciples is, of all appointments, most important, and ought to be most faithfully kept.

Let the house which inspiration designates ” a house of prayer for all people ” (Isa. lvi. 7,) be your chosen resort. When God’s people unite in the language of confession, of thanksgiving, and of prayer, let no trivial or insufficient reason keep you away. With King David say, “I have set my affection to the house of my God.” 1 Chron. xxix. 3.

Take your troubles and difficulties there.

He-hears-our-criesWhen good King Hezekiah received the blasphemous and threatening letter from Sennacherib, he read it, and “went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” 2 Kings xix. 14; repeated, Isa. xxxvii. 14. The act was so beautiful and appropriate that it is twice recorded by two distinct inspired penmen. When Asaph’s mind was pained by the prosperity of the wicked, and by the afflictions of the righteous, and he was tempted to say, “Verily in vain have I kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence” (Psa. Lxxiii. 13,) the mystery was all solved for him when he went into the sanctuary of God. 16—18 verses. Many a burden has been lightened, many a tear wiped away, many a difficulty removed, and many a doubt satisfied, by going up to the house of the Lord, since the days of Asaph and Hezekiah. Be sure you take your troubles, then, where those holy men took theirs! Mourners especially should not stay at home. The greater their grief, the more urgent their need of the consolations of the sanctuary.

But your relation to the church of God, and your profession of faith in Jesus, involve you in something more than an obligation to assemble with the Lord’s people for worship.

46_largeYou owe to Christ, and to the church, the debt of earnest and self-denying work for the extension of the Saviour’s kingdom in the earth. God has made you a Christian that you may be the means of making others partakers of your glorious hopes. You are a part of “the salt of the earth,” that you may season it with religious influences. You are a ray of “the light of the world'” that you may enlighten its darkness. God has led you to embrace the Gospel, that from you it may ” sound out” to your neighbours and friends. The millennium will be brought about, not so much by the labours of splendid and gifted preachers, as by the universal and persistent labours of the great body of disciples, “every man saying to his neighbour, Know the Lord, until all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest.” See Jer. xxxi. 34. Thus shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Now in this blessed labour you are called upon to take a part You have been made alive unto God by Christ Jesus, that you may work for Jesus with all your heaven-born energies.

There is no merit in [salvation for] such labours for the Redeemer. They constitute no part of the ground of your acceptance in God’s sight. God first justifies believers in Christ, and then accepts their labours for Christ’s sake. Your work for Jesus can add nothing to the work of Jesus for you. The basis of your justification was laid broad and deep when your dear Lord exclaimed, “It is finished,” bowed his head, and died. To lose sight of this great truth will involve you in spiritual bondage. You are to work for God, not for life, but as a fruit of the life and acceptance already received from the Saviour.

All life is meant for activity;

and the Divine life is no exception to this rule. Hence work for Jesus is a condition of spiritual health The life of godliness requires suitable exercise, and this is supplied in “teaching every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord.” The function of the Bride, the universal church, and not merely of an anointed ministerial class, is to say to a perishing world, “Come ” to the water of life, and take of it freely. See Rev. xxii. 17. Only as you realise this great end of your effectual calling can your soul be in health and prosper. It is to be feared that too many people join the professing church of Christ without sufficiently realising the great object of their conversion. They seem to think that all their obligations are discharged when they abstain from scandalous sin, and live decent moral lives. As to any direct effort to win a soul for Christ, that is a duty they regard as belonging exclusively to the clergy, and so they never attempt it I trust, however, my young friend, that you have not so learned Christ. Let me beseech you to commence your career as a disciple of your Lord, by devoting yourself to the work of winning souls fat Him. In your own family and household, among your youthful companions, and workmates, and friends, be a humble messenger of salvation by the blood of the Lamb. Oh that I could fire you with a holy ambition to be the means of turning many to righteousness!

tobachurch-sTo be a successful witness to the gospel you must live the gospel.

That you may effectually recommend it by word of mouth, you must honour it by your daily life. Christians are too often the world’s Bible, the only one that unbelievers care to study. They judge of Christianity, not by its sublime facts, doctrines, promises, precepts, and motives, but by the lives of its professors. They study us rather than the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Beware, then, my young friend, of giving the adversary occasion to speak reproachfully of your holy religion. Be as Christ was in the world; then what you have to say for Him will have power with men. Let the mind which was in Jesus be also in you; then, when you meekly and modestly seek to recommend Hut to others, there will be a blessed force in your words.

I do not stop to discuss methods of working. Every case has its own peculiarities. You need not look out for a sphere or a mission. Tour sphere is around you; your mission is to your own kith and kin, to your neighbours and friends, to all whom you can influence by your example, or reach by your labours. You need not go abroad to be a proclaimer of the Cross. You need not indulge in sentimental sighs for ” a mission.” You have a mission; only see to it that it is faithfully fulfilled. You have a work to do which nobody else can do for you, and .which, if you neglect it, must remain undone. Your influence and opportunities are your own exclusively, and no one but yourself can do the work for which they fit you. May the good Spirit of our God lay these thoughts upon your heart and conscience; then the church will be glad for you, and the world will be all the better for your residence in it. Let it be your resolve to leave the world better than you found it.

Need I remind you that it is your duty to study the PEACE of the Church of God?

worship2When Christian people associate together for united labour, the only condition of peace is, that there shall be in their midst mutual yielding and forbearance. Be prepared for any sacrifice, short of the surrender of principle, for the sake of peace. About mere methods of working, and questions of precedence in the synagogue, there should be no strife. Where there is no scripture there can be no conscience involved. Be not like some men whom I have known, who would rend the church in pieces for the cut or colour of a vestment; who would mount a special hobby of their own, and on its back ride roughshod over the necks of the Lord’s people; who, if things were not managed precisely in their own way, would throw up all connection with a work, however God-like. Remember, there is the gracious promise, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee.” Psa. cxxii. 6. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Bom. xiv. 19. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. xiv. 33. “Beat peace among yourselves.” 1 Thes. v. 13. “Follow peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim. ii. 22. Study, too, James iii. 14—18.

Surely any man who can set at nought such earnest and pathetic exhortations as these must be possessed of a very low type of piety.

All considerations of personal importance and dignity should be with us light as a feather, when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary with our regard for the peace of the Lord’s church. Ever be willing to take the lowest place among your brethren. Our Lord teaches us the true greatness of humility in the words— “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Matt. xx. 27. The heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus, has bidden you to the gospel feast: be sure you take the lowest room at the festival: then shall you have honour in the presence of them that sit at meat with you. “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke xiv. 7—11.

Let these principles be specially carried out in your relations to the church with which you are most intimately associated.

That church represents to you the whole mystical body of Christ. Do not content yourself with loud professions of a catholic spirit, while in your own religious community you are a source of discord. Some professors are all love and smiles at meetings of The Evangelical Alliance; but, in the church of which they are members, are notorious disturbers of the peace. Such people put one in mind of the proverbial description ” Saints abroad, devils at home.” Sectarianism is hateful ; but a loud-tongued profession of catholicity, which is associated with a spirit of strife and bitterness in a man’s own spiritual home, is most hateful of all, because most hypocritical. It is your duty to love All who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and truth; but the genuineness of your love for the whole family of the redeemed must be tested by the fervour and unselfishness of your love for that portion of the family with which you have to live.

Never forget the church of God in your prayer!

worshipIn the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to pray that God’s name may be hallowed; that His kingdom may come, and His will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven, before we ask for our own daily bread.  How this order rebukes the selfishness of the closet! How apt we are to spend most of our praying hours in supplications for ourselves; while the claims of the church of God in its efforts to win for Christ a world “lying in the wicked one” are left to be disposed of in a sentence or two at the close. Let not your prayers be animated by such a spirit. Let the key-note in your wrestlings be—”Thy kingdom come.” Seek for the coming of that kingdom in the fulness of its majesty in your own soul, only that you may be a humble instrument of its establishment in the souls of others.

And never forget when on your knees your spiritual guide, the pastor who breaks to you the bread of life. Of all men upon earth he most needs your prayers. How pathetically the mighty Apostle of the Gentiles appealed to the disciples for an interest in their supplications—” Brethren, pray for us.” 1 Thes. v. 25; 2 Thes. iii. 1; Heb. xiii. 18, &e. And if he with all his supernatural endowments needed to be thus remembered at the throne; how much more must uninspired ministers of the present day require such a support! Pray that your pastor may have health of body, vigour of intellect, fervent piety, a deep understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus, the ability to expound that truth wisely and faithfully to men, and that the Holy Spirit may ever bless his ministrations to your own edification and the good of others.

When you are conscious of not hearing the word profitably, pray all the more earnestly for the preacher and yourself.

Praying for your pastor is a more profitable occupation than grumbling against him. Whatever you have to say against him, be sure you first say it to him. Give him an opportunity of fully explaining whatever may have caused yon pain. You may have misunderstood him: others may have misinformed you concerning him; and the least you can do, before speaking disparagingly of him, is to give him an opportunity of vindicating himself. Before you lift your hand against “the Lord’s anointed,” go to the throne of grace, and pray for direction; scrutinize your own heart and motives, and be sure conscience and Holy Scripture warrant the course you propose to take.’ Remember, too, your own inexperience as a young Christian; and never forget, that modesty and humility are specially becoming in youth. Never add to your pastor’s troubles or cares by unkindness, neglect, or indifference; but ever cheer him by your prompt and cordial co-operation. Thus you will be thrice blessed; for you will get a blessing yourself; you will be made a blessing to the church, and your pastor will thank God for you.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Reverend John Stock, 1817-1877, a leading Baptist minister of Victorian times. was born in London in 1817 and educated at University College London. before fulfilling pastorates at Zion, Chatham (1842-1848), Salendine Nook, Huddersfield (1848-1857), Morice Square, Devonport (1857-1872) and Salendine Nook again (1872 till his death in )884). He played a full part in denominational affairs as a Trustee of the Psalms and Hymns Trust, and was an active member of the Baptist Union Council. Shortly before his death he proposed, unsuccessfully at that time, that Vice-Presidents of the Union should be elected by ballot.  He was a visiting Examiner at Rawdon and Manchester Colleges and President of the Yorkshire Baptist Association (1877). 

A prolific pamphleteer and controversialist, his ‘magnum opus’ was A Handbook of Revealed Theology, written at the express request of C. H. Spurgeon and used as a standard text at Pastor’s College. First published in 1862, it ran into several editions, and was translated into Welsh and in part into Japanese. In 1850 he published correspondence between himself and Archbishop Whately on the question of Baptism. Deeply committed on many social and political issues. he was an active member of the Liberal Party. In a sermon preached in 1880 on politics and religion, he affirmed ‘Our political principles should be based on the teaching of the Holy Scriptures’ because ‘the moral principles laid down in the teaching of Our Lord and His Apostles were meant to guide us in every department of life … in retirement. in the family. in the warehouse. and at the polling booth … Nations and governments are bound to act upon the same lines of truth and equity and mercy which every citizen is commanded to observe in his conduct to his fellow citizens. There are not two moral codes – one for private individuals, and another for monarchs and lawmakers and statesmen. During the American Civil War, he campaigned in support of the Northern States, publishing a pamphlet called The duties of British Christians with relation to the Struggle in America, as well as numerous newspaper articles and letters. Probably as a consequence of his exertions, he made a visit to the United States in 1867. Writing of him and his visit, Dr Amos Webster said in an article in America’s oldest religious newspaper, The Watchman, published in Boston, Massachusetts. ‘With a remarkably clear and appreciative knowledge of our American institutions, he not only comprehended the origin of our civil conflict, but with both pen and voice did noble service in his country for freedom and the North, thereby meriting more that cordial reception which was accorded to him here’. He subsequently received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Madison University in recognition of his scholarship and literary work.