Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Reformed Church is Not a New Church

Daniel Cawdrey, one of the Westminster Divines and a minister who was ejected from his pulpit by the Act of Uniformity in 1662, in his book Independencie a Great Schism (London, 1657, pp. 142-143), makes the point that the Protestant Reformation was not the start of a new church, but only the reform of the church of God which already existed.

When Judah was carryed away captive to Babylon, with all her Priests and Levites, and all the materialls of their National Church-state, the Temple destroyed, &c.  It may seem, that their whole Church-State was ceased, as to their Ceremonial worship, for 70 years together;  It might be asked, "How then it was possible to revive that lost Church-State without a miracle?"  The answer may be, That God preserved the seed of that Church at Babylon; partly in preserving the people there, a remnant of his circumcised people; partly in reserving the holy vessels, useful for their worship, and partly in keeping the Line and Genealogy of the priesthood entire; so that when all these were brought back to Jerusalem, they had no need of a miracle, to revive their Church-State; or to build a new Temple; but only to purge and repair the old and to set up the instituted services, in their power and purity.  The application is so easy that the Reader will outrun me:  So, when Antichrist had usurped tyrannically (like another Nebuchadnezer) over all Churches, ruind particular Churches, corrupted the Ordinances of Christ, World, worship, discipline, yet God reserved secretly, some true believers, and some professors, together with so much of his Ordinances, as to Substantials; and necessary ingredients to a Church, a Ministry, and baptism, &c., that when he stirred up the heart of Luther, and other Ministers (like another Zerubbabel) and some people to Separate themselves from the Romish tyrannie and corruptions in doctrine and worship, they needed no miracle to beginne a new Church; but some being ministers of the Gospell, so made in their Ordination, and all being baptized, they did not raise a new Church; but onely purged the old.

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