Wednesday, April 18, 2018

“Regulative Worship” in Baptist Thought

Some random quotations on “the Regulative Principle” from Baptists

First London Confession (1644/1646)
Article 7: “The Rule of this Knowledge, Faith, and Obedience, concerning the worship and service of God, and all other Christian duties, is not man’s inventions, opinions, devices, laws, constitutions, or traditions, unwritten whatsoever but only the word of God contained in the Canonical Scriptures.” (John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Col. 21:18, 23; Matt. 15:9)
Article 8: “The rule of this knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, in which is contained the whole duty of man, is (not men’s laws, or unwritten traditions, but) only the word of God contained [viz., written] in the holy Scriptures; in which is plainly recorded whatsoever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice; which are the only rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be observed.” (Col. 2:23; Matt 15:6,9; John 5:39, 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Isa. 8:20; Gal. 1:8,9; Acts 3:22,23)

Article 40: “The Light of Nature sheweth there is a God, who hath a Sovereignty over all, but the holy Scripture hath fully revealed it; as also that all Men should worship him according to God’s own Institution and Appointment. And hath limited us, by his own revealed Will, that he may not be worshipped according to the Imaginations and Devices of Men, or the Suggestions of Satan, under any visible Representations whatsoever, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scriptures…” (Rom. 1.19, 20. & 2.15; I Chr. 16.29; Psalm 95.6, 7, 8 & 99.7 & 99.5; Deut. 8.6; Psalm 103.7 & 14.6; Mark 7.7; Psalm 99.8, 9 & 106.29, 39; John 4.24; Rev. 9.20)

Chapter 22” “…the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.” (Texts cited in relation to this article of faith are Jeremiah 10:7; Mark 12:33; Deuteronomy 12:32; and Exodus 20:4–6)

John Spilsbery (1593–1668)
“…whatsoever is done in the worship of God, in obedience to Christ, without His command, or apparent example approved of by Christ, is of man, as a voluntary will-worship, after the commandments and doctrines of man; the which Christ testifies against as a vain thing…The holy Scripture is the only place where any ordinance of God in the case aforesaid is to be found, they being the fountain-head, containing all the instituted Rules of both of Church and ordinances.” (Spilsbery, A Treatise Concerning the Lawfull Subject of Baptisme, 1643/1652)

Hercules Collins (b.?-d. 1702)
“It is sufficient that the Divine Oracles commands the baptizing of Believers, unless we will make ourselves wiser than what is written. Nadab and Abihu were not forbidden to offer strange Fire, yet for doing so they incurred God’s Wrath, because they were commanded to take Fire from the Altar.” (Matt. 28.18-19; Mark 16.16; Lev 9.24, 10.16) (An Orthodox Catechism1680)

William Kiffin (1616–1701)
“ part of God’s law, or worship, whether we respect the manner or form, or the matter and substance thereof, is to be altered without the express order and direction of GOD himself...where a rule and express law is prescribed to men, that very prescription is an express prohibition of the contrary.” (Kiffin, A Sober Discourse of Right to Church Communion, 1681)

John Gill (1697–1771)
“…for an act of religious worship there must be a command of God. God is a jealous God, and will not suffer anything to be admitted into the worship of him, but what is according to his word and will; if not commanded by him, he may justly say, Who hath required this at your hands?” (Gill, A Body of Practical Divinity: Or a System of Practical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures, 1796, p. 899)

John Fawcett (1739–1817)
“No acts of worship can properly be called holy, but such as the Almighty has enjoined. No man, nor any body of men have any authority to invent rites and ceremonies of worship; to change the ordinances which he has established; or to invent new ones. This appears to us so clear a case, that we need not to enlarge upon it.The divine Word is the only safe directory in what relates to his own immediate service. The question is not what we may think becoming, decent or proper, but what our gracious Master has authorized as such. In matters of religion, nothing bears the stamp of holiness but what God has ordained.” (Fawcett, Sermon, The Holiness Which Becometh the House of the Lord, April 20, 1808, p. 25)

John Leadley Dagg (1794-1884)
 “It is our duty to maintain the ordinances of Christ, and the church order which he has instituted, in strict and scrupulous conformity to Holy Scriptures…When the finger of God points out the way, no place is left to us for human preferences.” (Dagg, “Duty of Baptists,” in Manual of Theology, Volumes 1-2, 1859, p. 300)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892)
“‘Thus says the Lord’ is the only authority in God’s Church. When the tabernacle was pitched in the wilderness, what was the authority for its length and breadth? Why was the altar of incense to be placed here, and the brazen laver there? Why so many lambs or bullocks to be offered on a certain day? Why must the Passover be roasted whole and not boiled? Simply and only because God had shown all these things to Moses on the holy mount; and thus had Jehovah spoken, ‘Look that you make them after their pattern, which was shown you on the mount.’

“It is even so in the Church at the present day; true servants of God demand to see for all church ordinances and doctrines, the express authority of the Church’s only Teacher and Lord.” (Sermon, Sunday Morning, September 25, 1864, “Thus says the Lord”—or, The Book of Common Prayer Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary)

James Madison Pendleton (1811-1891)
It may be laid down as a principle of common sense which commends itself to every unprejudiced mind that a commission to do a thing or things authorizes only the doing of the thing or things specified in it. The doing of all other things is virtually forbidden. There is a maxim of law: Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.* It must be so; for otherwise there could be no definiteness in contracts between men, and no precision in either the enactments of legislative bodies or in the decrees of courts of justice. This maxim may be illustrated in a thousand ways. Numerous scriptural illustrations are at hand; I will name a few. God commanded Noah to build an ark of gopher-wood. He assigns no reason why gopher-wood should be used. The command, however, is positive, and it forbids the use of any other kind of wood for that purpose…The institution of the passover furnishes a striking illustration, or rather a series of illustrations. A lamb was to be killed—not a heifer; it was to be of the first year—not of the second or third; a male—not a female; without blemish—not with blemish; on the fourteenth day of the month— not on some other day; the blood to be applied to the door-posts and lintels—not elsewhere.” (Distinctive Principles of Baptists, pp. 18-19 1882)
* “The expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.”

David Wise (date unknown)
“The church is to observe and uphold the commandments of Jesus Christ. We have not been given any authority to add to or take away from the commandments of Jesus Christ for our conduct in the Church, but rather our commission is to observe and keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and the ordinances of the Church in the exact original manner that they were given and prescribed by Jesus Christ.”

“We affirm that God regulates his worship by insisting upon the non-negotiable elements of worship. We deny that it is ever right to admit into the public worship of God elements because he has not forbidden them. Worship is always a matter of what God commands, never a matter of what he has not condemned. Worship is always a matter of what we must do, never a matter of what we may do.”

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