Category Archives: Polity

“We may be satisfied that our constitution of church order is the very best in the world, and yet be lamentably cold in the feelings of our hearts towards Him” by John Newton

“I hope your soul prospers. That is, I hope you are less and less in your own eyes and that your heart is more and more impressed with a sense of the glory and grace of our Lord.

Oh, with what emotions of shame and grief, or wonder, love, and joy should we look first at ourselves and then at Him. We may be very orthodox, skilled in defence of the five points, satisfied that our constitution of church order is the very best in the world, and yet be lamentably cold and formal in the feelings of our hearts towards Him.

Indeed the Congregationalists and Baptists, who are both equally satisfied that they possess the perfect model of the tabernacle to a single loop or pin, need a double portion of grace to prevent their over admiring the supposed excellency of their forms.

There are a few of them however who know that the best forms are but forms still and remember that the Lord abhorred His most express and positive institutions, when the worshippers rested in them. They are sensisible that the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth ANY THING but a new creature (Galatians 6:15).

And are therefore hungering, thirsting, and pressing after the substance, life, and unction of the truth, that it may influence their whole spirit and conduct, fill them with humility, love, benevolence and peace, and subdue every angry and selfish temper.

I hope you are of the number of these.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 128.

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“Our Master is holy” by John Owen

Explication XV. Holiness becometh the house of the Lord for ever; without it none shall see God. Christ died to wash His church, to present it before His Father without spot or blemish; to purchase unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

It is the kingdom of God within us, and by which it appeareth unto all that we are the children of the kingdom. Let this, then, be the great discriminating character of the church from the world, that they are a holy, humble, self-denying people.

Our Master is holy; His doctrine and worship are holy: let us strive that our hearts may also be holy. This is our wisdom towards them that are without, whereby they may be guided or convinced; this is the means whereby we build up one another most effectually.”

–John Owen, “Eschol: A Cluster of the Fruit of Canaan; Or Rules of Walking in Fellowship, With Reference to the Pastor or Minister That Watcheth For Our Souls,” in The Works of John Owen, ed. William Goold, 24 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnson & Hunter; 1850-1855; reprint by Banner of Truth, 1965), 13:86.

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“Her exalted destiny” by W.B. Johnson

“The church of the Lord Jesus is the chosen agent for the exhibition of the manifold wisdom of God. The unfolding, the clear and full display of this wisdom, will necessarily present all the attributes of the divine Being in their harmonious, their sublimest operations.

These operations will develop the scheme of that ‘salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.’ It is not surprising then, that the church in her progress to full maturity, presents to the view of angels those things into which they desire to look.

If the church in the changes through which she passes to the completion of her honored destiny, attracts the gaze of ‘the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,’ she should be no less an object of intense regard to ‘all men’ on this earth.

But to those who are found in her membership and her ministry, her interests, her success, her honor, should be most dear. With those, her spiritual nature and constitution, her high obligations, and exalted destiny, should be subjects of profound study and growing importance.”

–W.B. Johnson, The Gospel Developed (1846) as quoted in Polity: A Collection of Historic Baptist Documents, Ed. Mark Dever (Washington, D.C.: 9Marks Ministries, 2001), 166.

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