‘17th Century’ Category

William Ames’s Holy Logic

April 15th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Eminent Christians, Philosophy, Puritans

By Ryan Patrick Hoselton

One of the few things I remember from my freshman philosophy class is learning about the syllogism. The syllogism is a logical tool used to deduce a conclusion from a major and minor premise (for example: A: All students wear red. B: John is a student. C: Therefore, John wears red). You’ve probably seen it before, but have you seen it used as a formula for holy living?

The Puritan theologian William Ames (1576–1633) believed that the syllogism—when used rightly—offered considerable moral guidance, for it contained the “force and nature of conscience (I.3).”[1] Ames defined the human conscience as “man’s judgment of himself, according to the judgment of God of him (I.1).” The syllogism provided the means for the conscience’s operation of accusing, excusing, and comforting the moral agent. It consists of three elements:

  1. The Proposition: The proposition fulfills the role of the major premise. The Latin term Ames employed is synteresis, meaning a source for principles of moral action.Ames also referred to the proposition as a “light” and a “law.” God’s will and commandments furnish this “storehouse of principles.” While nature can often lead men and women in moral living, God’s revealed will is the only perfect rule of conscience, illuminating mankind’s moral duty (I.4–7).
  2. The Witness: the witness, which Ames also termed the “index,” “book,” “review,” or “assumption,” functions as the minor proposition. The witness is a subjective statement about the self for the purpose of considering one’s moral condition in reference to the proposition. It measures the moral agent alongside the law. The moral state of the human will is compared with the standard of God’s will (I.21–25).
  3. The Conclusion: the conclusion, also referred to as the “judgment,” derives partly from the proposition and partly from the witness. In the conclusion, “God’s commandment and man’s fact are mutually joined together.” The conclusion passes the sentence, or “application,” of either comfort or condemnation for the man or woman in light of the major and minor premises (I.28–32).

In sum, “in the Proposition God’s Law is declared, and in the Assumption, the fact or condition of man is examined, according to that Law; so in the Conclusion, the sentence concerning man is pronounced according to his fact…by virtue of the Law that hath been declared” (I.28).

Ames provides two examples. The first delivers accusation but the second comfort:

1. [A] “He that lives in sin, shall die”
[B] “I live in sin”
[C] “Therefore, I shall die”

2. [A] “Whoever believes in Christ, shall not die but live”
[B] “I believe in Christ”
[C] “Therefore, I shall not die but live (I.3)”

For Ames, the objective of the syllogism was to assist men and women in assessing their moral condition in light of God’s commandments and in conforming their wills to God’s will. Ultimately, it shows us how desperately short we fall, pointing to our need to rest faith in the Christ who followed God’s will perfectly.

[1] William Ames, Conscience with the Power and Cases Thereof (London, 1639). You can access the text at this link.


Ryan Patrick Hoselton is pursuing a ThM at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaclyn, and they are the parents of one child.

A Puritan plea for intolerance and a Puritan imprecatory prayer

April 12th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Church History, Puritans

By Michael A.G. Haykin

It was Oliver Cromwell who once noted that every sect cries for toleration, but once they have it, they will not give it to any other body of believers. He knew the heart of all too many of his fellow Puritans only too well.

A good example would be Nathaniel Ward (1578–1652), a graduate of that bastion of Puritanism, Emmanuel College at Cambridge, and one of the foremost Puritan ministers in Essex. After Ward came to New England in the 1630s he wrote The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America (London, 1647), in which he refuted the charge that the New England Puritans were “a Colluvies of wild Opinionists” and stated that “all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other Enthusiasts [i.s. fanatics], shall have free liberty to keep away from us,” for they were “adversaries of [God’s] truth” and as such deserved no toleration. Ward was convinced that religious toleration was a stratagem of the devil so as to “disstate the truth of God.” In fact, his “heart naturally detested” “tolerations of divers religions, or of one religion in segregant shapes.”

We love the Puritans for many things, but not for this, and we thank God there were other Puritans like Cromwell who were of a different mind.

I have another thing against Ward: he did not like the Irish. He described them as the “very Offal of men, Dregges of Mankind,” and went so far as to pray for the soldiery of Cromwell’s Irish campaign: “Happy is he that shall reward them [the Irish] as they have served us, and Cursed be he that shall do that work of the Lord negligently, Cursed be he that holdeth back his Sword from blood: yea, Cursed bee hee that maketh not his Sword starke drunk with Irish blood” (“A Word of Ireland” in The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America). He is obviously reacting to stories of Irish atrocities in killing Scots Presbyterians in northern Ireland. But such imprecatory prayers breathe a spirit utterly foreign to the Spirit of Christ.


Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

Preaching from the “Spiritual Sense”

March 27th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Pastoral Ministry, Puritans

By Evan D. Burns

The Puritan John Owen argued that preachers must have “experience of the power of the truth which they preach in and upon their own souls….  A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul.”[1]  So his resolution was: “I hold myself bound in conscience and in honour, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of any one article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, ‘I have believed, and therefore I have spoken.’”[2]

Would that the Holy Spirit raise up more preachers who would resolve never to preach a text unless they have already tasted its spiritual sense.

[1] Owen, Works, XVI: 76.

[2] Works, X: 488.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.


Are Baptists Reformers, Radicals, or Restorationists?

March 25th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Historians, Puritans, Reformation

By Nathan A. Finn

If you spend much time studying Baptist history and thought, you know that a perennial debate concerns Baptist origins, early theological influences, and any bearing those topics might have on the nature of Baptist identity. Some scholars argue that Baptists are second or third generation reformers who are rooted in a mostly puritan identity. Barrie White and Tom Nettles come to mind as exemplars of this view, which is the majority position among historians. Other scholars argue that Baptists, though clearly emerging from English Separatists, are at least influenced by the evangelical wing of the Radical Reformation. William Estep and Ian Randall are two representatives of this school of thought. Still other historians argue that Baptists are evangelical restorationists: Doug Weaver makes this case. Some Baptist scholars opt for an eclectic or polygenetic approach to this question, notably Curtis Freeman.

I wonder to what degree one’s own theological and/or spiritual presuppositions play into how a scholar views this issue. Granted, none of the aforementioned categories are Landmark, so presumably their historiographies aren’t totally theologically driven. Still, does one’s understanding of issues like predestination, ecumenism, church and state, and church and culture affect where one “lands” on this question? I think this is at least possible in some cases.

For my part, I can see why different scholars champion each of these approaches. The historical genesis of the earliest English Baptists was most definitely in English Separatism and by the time of the Civil War the English Baptists were thinking in broadly puritan categories. However, at least some of the earliest General Baptists and perhaps a few of the earliest Particular Baptists had some affinity with some Anabaptists. And, of course, both Anabaptists and Baptists held to baptistic ecclesiologies, which would at least lend itself to the understandable (if not always charitable) assumption that the groups were connected in some ways. Baptists on the whole might not be restorationists, but there is no doubt there is a restorationist streak among some Baptists—how else does one explain the spiritual pilgrimages of John Smyth and Rogers Williams or the existence of the Independent Baptist movement? These factors are why I resonate with a more polygenetic approach to early Baptist theological identity, while still holding to English Separatist historical origins.

How do you think we should think about Baptist origins and/or identity? Are we puritans who got straightened out on the sacraments? Are we the more respectable wing of the Radical Reformation? Are we sane restorationists? Or, especially since the early eighteenth century, are we really just dunking evangelicals? I’m thinking out loud more than I am making any particular arguments, so I would love to hear your thoughts about this question.


Nathan A. Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also an elder at First Baptist Church of Durham, NC and a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.


An Orthodox Catechism: New Book Edited by Michael Haykin and Steve Weaver

February 17th, 2014 Posted in 16th Century, 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Puritans, Reformation

By Steve Weaver

Michael A.G. Haykin and I have edited Hercules Collins’ An Orthodox Catechism (1680). This catechism was itself a revision of the 1563 Heidelberg Catechism loved and used by Protestants world-wide. This edition by Collins edits the section on baptism in a way suitable to a seventeenth-century Baptist. Dr. Haykin and I have edited this historic catechism for a modern audience. We have also authored a historical introduction that explains the significance of the catechism along with Collins’ rationale for his edits.

Reformed Baptist Academic Press is now accepting pre-orders of quantities of 10 or more of An Orthodox Catechism

The product page for the book is up on the RBAP website, but you will have to wait until the book is in stock to order individual copies (should be available this week). The book retails for $12.00, but is available at a special price of $9.00 directly from the publisher. However, for churches or individuals who order 10 or more copies, the price is only $6.00 per copy. You pay shipping and $1.50 handling. These pre-orders must be paid via check. RBAP will invoice you via email. You need to contact RBAP directly to receive this offer.

The book is also available on Amazon for $10.80. Please note that the Kindle edition listed is not our edition, but a transcription of the unedited original.


Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 14.

Puritan Manliness

February 5th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Puritans

By Evan D. Burns

John Owen has been called the John Calvin of England, and he is arguably the greatest of all the Puritan writers.  Summarizing Owen’s spirituality, J.I. Packer compares contemporary evangelicalism to Puritan spirituality with three points:

Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigour, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks.  This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not.  The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians.  It is worth noting three particular points of contrast between them and ourselves.

First, we cannot but conclude that whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing.…  We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.  Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us….

Then, second, we observe that whereas the experimental piety of the Puritans was natural and unselfconscious, because it was so utterly God-centred, our own (such as it is) is too often artificial and boastful, because it is so largely concerned with ourselves….  The difference of interest comes out clearly when we compare Puritan spiritual autobiography… with similar works our own day.  In modern spiritual autobiography, the hero and chief actor is usually the writer himself; he is the centre of interest, and God comes in only as a part of his story….

Third, it seems undeniable that the Puritans’ passion for spiritual integrity and moral honesty before God… has no counterpart in the modern-day evangelical ethos.  They were characteristically cautious, serious, realistic, steady, patient, persistent in well-doing and avid for holiness of heart; we, by contrast, too often show ourselves to be characteristically brash, euphoric, frivolous, superficial, naïve, hollow and shallow….[1]

[1] J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 215-218.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Coming Soon: New Book on Abraham Cheare by Brian L. Hanson and Michael A.G. Haykin

January 29th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Books

Waiting on the Spirit of Promise

Coming soon from Pickwick Publications (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers), Waiting on the Spirit of Promise: The Life and Theology of Suffering of Abraham Cheare. This work introduces modern readers to the life and theology of seventeenth-century English Baptist Abraham Cheare. This work not only offers original analysis of Cheare’s theology of suffering, but also two primary sources by Cheare republished for the first time for the modern reader.

This volume will be the the second in a new series with Pickwick,”Monographs in Baptist History,” edited by Michael A.G. Haykin.

The Evangelistic Fervor of a 17th Century Particular Baptist

July 24th, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Steve Weaver

When Andrew Fuller was wrestling with the question of whether or not the gospel should be preached indiscriminately to all, he found a model for promiscuous gospel preaching in the seventeenth-century English Particular Baptist John Bunyan. Fuller noted that Bunyan, contrary to the contemporary Particular Baptist examples of preaching he knew, regularly addressed the unconverted directly and appealed to them to trust in Christ’s saving work. Fuller would eventually realize that the hyper-Calvinistic approach was an intrusion into Particular Baptist life and not faithful to its original heritage. Seventeenth-century Particular Baptists preached the gospel to all, calling upon all to believe and repent.

HC Funeral Sermon pageAlong with Bunyan, Fuller could have also read the writings of men such as Benjamin Keach, Thomas Harrison, William Collins and Hercules Collins. Each of these men were convinced Calvinists soteriologically, subscribing to the Second London Confession of Faith. Yet, each of these men pleaded with sinners to be saved. In his funeral sermon for Hercules Collins, John Piggott commented upon the evangelistic zeal of Collins by saying that “no man could preach with a more affectionate regard to the salvation of souls.”[1] He later called the regular attenders of the Wapping-street Church who remained unsaved as witnesses to the gospel fervor of Hercules Collins: “You are witnesses with what zeal and fervour, with what constancy and seriousness he used to warn and persuade you.”[2] Piggott then began to plead with the lost present himself by crying out, “Tho you have been deaf to his former preaching, yet listen to the voice of this providence, lest you continue in your slumber till you sleep the sleep of death.” He then closed with these forceful words:

You cannot but see, unless you will close your eyes, that this world and the fashion of it is passing away. O what a change will a few months or years make in this numerous assembly! Yea, what a sad change has little more than a fortnight made in this congregation! He that was so lately preaching in this pulpit, is now wrapped in his shroud, and confined to his coffin; and the lips that so often dispersed knowledge amongst you, are sealed up till the resurrection. Here’s the body of your late minister; but his soul is entered into the joy of his Lord. O that those of you that would not be persuaded by him living, might be wrought upon by his death! For tho he is dead, he yet speaketh; and what doth he say; both to ministers and people, but “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh?”[3]

Historical evidence such as this should put to rest the claims of some that Calvinism necessarily inhibits evangelistic fervor. Hyper-Calvinism, indeed, is an error that must be rejected by Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike. Those who refuse to call upon all sinners to believe and repent are not only disobedient to the clear teaching of Scripture, they are also not living up to the best of their Calvinistic Baptist heritage exemplified by men such as John Bunyan, Hercules Collins, and Andrew Fuller.

[1] John Piggott, Eleven Sermons, 236.

[2] Ibid., 240.



Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a junior fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 2 and 14.

Why read an obscure Baptist pastor from the seventeenth century—Abraham Cheare?

July 1st, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Michael A.G. Haykin

The history of the Baptists’ reception of their own past is a fascinating one in its own right. Most of the Baptist works of the seventeenth century were never reprinted and consequently a significant amount of their thought was obscure to their eighteenth-century heirs. To be sure, there was a certain amount of reflection on the past by eighteenth-century authors like Thomas Crosby (1683–c.1751) and Joseph Ivimey (1773–1834), but it was the Victorian Baptists who really began to delve into Baptist history and that for a variety of reasons: the Victorians in general were fascinated by the past; in England this exploration of Baptist history was linked to the realization of the strength of the Nonconformist cause and became a vehicle to express Baptist pride; while, in America it was used by many to prove (or disprove) the theology of Landmarkism. Then came the twentieth century, which was probably the worst of all centuries for remembering the past. After World War I the ambience in the west was increasingly one in which the past was seen as old lumber to be discarded to make way for new perspectives, in the very same way that Victorian Gothic buildings were being leveled to make way for Art Deco and postmodernist structures. Even in the renaissance of interest in the Puritans that has been taking place in the past fifty years, both in regard to academic scholarship and to popular literature, it seems that the Baptists have been forgotten. Nearly all of the Puritan figures who are being studied or read are either Presbyterians or Congregationalists. With the exception of the celebrated John Bunyan (1628–1688) and to a lesser degree, Hanserd Knollys (1599–1691), William Kiffin (1616–1701) and Benjamin Keach (1640–1704), the Baptists of the seventeenth century have been largely forgotten. Thankfully this is changing, however, as Baptist scholars are rediscovering their forebears. And among these forebears is the subject of this post, Abraham Cheare (1626–1668).

Title page of a book by Abraham Cheare

Why should an early twenty-first-century Christian take the time to learn about Abraham Cheare and read his writings? Well, first of all, suffering for religious beliefs, as he did for eight years till it killed him, is not foreign to the modern world. Around the world, there are numerous contexts where religious toleration is all but non-existent and men and woman have to count the cost if they wish to be public about their convictions. And increasingly in the west an intolerant cultural elite are targeting the Church and seeking to muzzle Christian witness. Here then, Cheare can help us enormously, for Cheare was a Puritan and after 1660, when the Anglican state church sought to extirpate Puritanism, Cheare and many others knew first-hand what it was to suffer for Christ’s sake. His example and writings in this regard are tremendously helpful for Christians undergoing the same today.

Then, Cheare, above all things, sought to be guided by the Scriptures, not simply when it came to church polity but in all of his life. His life and writings exemplify what “being biblical” looks like. In this regard, then, he is a quintessential Puritan, for Puritanism was above all things a movement that sought to be Word-centered. Modern-day Christians would not cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ the way Cheare does; but his passion to be found living in accord with the Scriptures is certainly worthy of imitation.

And simply reading the past for its own sake is important, for there we see God at work. To quote Richard Baxter, the Puritan contemporary of Cheare: “[T]he writing of church-history is the duty of all ages, because God’s works are to be known, as well as his Word… He that knoweth not what state the church and world is in, and hath been in, in former ages, and what God hath been doing in the world, and how error and sin have been resisting him, and with what success, doth want much to the completing of his knowledge.”[1]

[1] The Life of Faith in The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, ed. William Orme (London: James Duncan, 1830), 12:364.


Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

“Being Baptist”: An AFCBS Conference in Sarnia, Ontario

April 30th, 2013 Posted in 17th Century, 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences

Click image to enlarge.

On June 1, 2013, Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin will be leading a conference on the theme of “Being Baptist: Reflections on a History” at Sovereign Grace Community Church in Sarnia, Ontario.

Conference Schedule:
9:30–10:30am    Where did Baptists come from?
10:50–11:50am  Baptists and the challenge of the age of reason
1:00–2:00pm      Revival and the Baptists in the 18th century
2:20–3:15pm       Samuel Pearce: a Baptist hero

Contact Information:
Sovereign Grace Community Church, Sarnia, ON
Pastor Glenn Tomlinson
365 Talfourd Street, Sarnia, ON N7T 1R1
tel. 519-344-6100 email: glenntomlinson@cogeco.ca