The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

Opening its doors more widely to disaffected Episcopalians, the Roman Catholic Church has established the equivalent of a nationwide diocese in the United States that former Episcopal priests and congregations can enter together as intact groups, the Vatican announced Sunday.

Catholic Church Unveils Order for Ex-Episcopalians – NYTimes.com.

The official statement:

On behalf of so many pilgrims of Catholic unity who have looked forward to this day, I wish to thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for this priceless gift, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. I pray that we who will come into full communion through this Ordinariate will bring the Holy Father much joy through our love and faithful service to the Catholic Church. To His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl and His Excellencies Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Robert McManus of Worcester: thank you for laying this good foundation for the Ordinariate. To His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo-thank you for your generous hospitality in providing for our principal church and a place in the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary for the formation of our future clergy. And, personally, to His Excellency, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, who brought me into the Church and ordained me: my wife and I love you dearly. You all represent so many people who have worked so hard to bring the Holy Father’s vision to reality!

I ask for your prayers for me and for those who will become members of the Ordinariate. There is so much to learn, and it is a steep learning curve. Be patient with us as we embark on this journey. Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws, and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer. But pray too that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition. The Holy Father has asked us to bring this patrimony with us: “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” . Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset: Anglican spirituality has always emphasized the need to be gentlemanly in all of our relationships. May you see in us always the virtue of courtesy!

The parishes and communities of the Ordinariate have been called, not to live in relative isolation, but to be fully engaged in the life of the local diocese; not to be assimilated, but to be integrated into the rich life of the Catholic Church. This Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter must be, above all else, an effective instrument for evangelization. But Jesus taught us that the unity of Christian people is the essential condition for evangelization (John 17:21). So this must be our hallmark:to build bridges, to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation, to be a sign of what Christian unity might look like. And gaudete in Domino semper (Philippians 4:4) to be joyful and happy Catholics!

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is an historic moment in the history of the Church. For perhaps the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century, a corporate structure has been given to assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors. But I would like to go back a little further, to the end of the 6th century, to see that this is not such a new thing. Pope Gregory the Great writes to St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, recently arrived from Rome, to urge him always to be a gracious and patient pastor in the way he gathers his flock. Anglicans love to read these letters, preserved in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, for they are a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands. The decree which this day establishes the Ordinariate begins with these words: “The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. As such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the people.” In what Pope Benedict has given us today, I hear the voice of Pope Gregory the Great: “For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things”(1.27). What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is!

Fr. Jeffrey Steenson
Houston, Texas

I wonder what this will do for the conservative splinter group which split from the Episcopal Church…

I suspect that if Rome ever does this for Methodists, and at the moment, there really is no reason to do so, then the United Methodist Church will soon cease to exist in any meaningful way….

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13 Replies to “The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter”

  1. basically its just member harvesting, on a massive scale. At least, that’s how it seems to me.. and then it would seem unlikely that a WHOLE church including congregation would just leave the anglican church and become catholic.. that would be like all the democrats in washington becoming republicans en masse..

  2. They’re repeating what they already did in the UK a couple of years ago. Some priests have certainly taken them up on the offer, and I gather some congregations have joined, but I don’t know the details. It all seems a bit cynical to me – member harvesting is a good phrase for it. I wait to see what happens when Rome tries to enforce something that is not what they expected – being part of Rome means accepting Rome’s authority, and that may have implications down the line.

    I’m assuming your little dig about the UMC is a dig, unless the UMC is very different from the British Methodist Church: we do have a (relatively small) Methodist Sacramental Fellowship and some pretty high church Methodists, but they are a small minority in terms of the whole church, and those whom I know would never in a million years consider going to Rome. Heck, they won’t even join the Anglicans, so what chance does Rome have?

  3. As a Roman Catholic myself, I’m a bit concerned, the reason being is that my Church seems to be gathering in mostly conserative [whatever than means…] and disaffected splinter groups, which in the end might not prove so beneficial for those of us who who grew up in the Catholic Church and wish to see the nastiness that these disaffected groups often bring with them, out of our church.

  4. One positive is some married Anglican priests becoming married Catholic priests wherever this happens across the world, and so is another small step in doing away with celibate priests.

  5. I don’t think it’s that simple. But I guess having more married priest on our pulprits would be beneficial in the sense that they tend to connect with their audiences more than celibrate preist do on certain issues. I know this first hand, since one of the two preist who serve my parish is married. Though he [along with the other] are converts from the Episcopal churches, not the Anglican.

  6. What part of Scripture don’t you understand, Watt?

    On this Rock
    God’s Firm Foundation
    A. In the tenth generation after Adam, man had become so wicked that God decided to destroy him. But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD. He and his family were saved when all others were lost.
    B. A few generations after the flood, man rebelled again. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth'” (Genesis 11:4).
    1. Notice how egotistical they were: “Let US build OURSELVES a city, … let US make a name for OURSELVES.”
    2. They excluded God from their plans. He confused their language and they ceased building the city.
    3. “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
    C. Ten generations after the flood there was a man who sought a better city. Before God called him, he lived in the great, modern metropolis of Ur. It was a wealthy trading city with a population of about 500,000. It had a school system, writing and advanced mathematics. But its inhabitants did not serve the one true God, but Nanna, the moon god, and his wife, Ningal.
    1. When God told Abram to leave this worldly city, he left.
    2. In Hebrews 11:8-10 we learn why.
    “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac, and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the City which has Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”
    3. Abraham was seeking a city with better foundations than any city on earth. God has prepared a heavenly homeland for the faithful (Hebrews 11:16).
    D. Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, became the father of a chosen nation, Israel. After 400 years in Egyptian bondage, they were led out and given a law by Moses. Later David was chosen as their King, and God promised that one of his descendants would establish an eternal kingdom.
    E. Many generations passed. God sent prophets who told of the One who was coming. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4). The kingdom of God was at hand. Admittance to the heavenly city which Abraham sought would be provided by one of his descendents.
    F. Jesus, the son of Mary and the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem. When He was about thirty, he began His ministry and chose twelve men to be His emissaries.
    G. “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it'”(Matthew 16:13- 18).
    H. Jesus promised to build His church on a Rock, a Rock so firm that even the gates of death’s realm would not overcome it.
    1. As He later declared in the Revelation: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (1:18).
    2. Jesus built a church that defies death.
    I. In times of turmoil when God’s children in great numbers are being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14,15), let us keep in mind that the Church of Christ is built on a Rock.
    J. God has always been a Rock of Refuge for those who trust in Him.
    1. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” we read in the beautiful song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4. God blessed His people, but when Israel grew fat “he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15). “Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you” (Deuteronomy 32:18). In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul identifies the spiritual Rock from which Israel drank in the wilderness as the Christ, God’s Anointed.
    2. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, spoke these words of praise in prayer: “There is none holy like the LORD, for there is none beside You, nor is there any Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).
    3. After David was delivered from his enemies, he sang a song of praise. “And he said: The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my Shield and the Power of my salvation, my Stronghold and my Refuge” (2 Samuel 22:2, 3). “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a Shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a Rock, except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:31, 32). “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!” (2 Samuel 22:47). (See Psalm 18.)
    4. In Psalm 62 David says:
    “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my Salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (vs. 1,2). “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my Salvation and my Glory; The Rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (vs. 5-7).
    K. Jerusalem on Mount Zion was an earthly representation of that Heavenly City Abraham was seeking. In Isaiah’s day the rulers of Jerusalem had rejected God’s word and had made a covenant with death. The city was doomed. But God promised something better for the faithful remnant of His people (See Isaiah 28:5,13-15). “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a Stone for a Foundation, a tried Stone, a Precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation'” (Isaiah 28:16).
    L. Jesus Christ is this Foundation Stone in Zion.
    1. In 1 Corinthians 3:10,11 Paul says no one may lay another foundation: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other Foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
    a. Christ is the Foundation of His Church.
    b. Unfortunately many religious bodies and organizations have been formed in the name of Christ, which are not the church that Christ built; they have a different foundation.
    c. What did Jesus say about a similar situation among the Jews in His day? They also were divided into many religious parties and denominations. Jesus joined none of them and had harsh words for the sectarians.
    “Then His disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew. 15:12-14).
    d. If you are a member of a religious body founded on someone or something other than Jesus Christ, you are blindly following the blind and you will fall into a pit. In the Final Judgement your group will be uprooted and cast into the fire.
    e. Christ is the only foundation. Let us put our trust in Him: “As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a Stumbling Stone and Rock of Offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33).
    2. In a slightly different figure, Christ is called the Cornerstone:
    “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a Chief Cornerstone, Elect, Precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is Precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The Stone which the builders rejected Has become the Chief Cornerstone,’ and ‘A Stone of stumbling and a Rock of Offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed” (1 Peter 2:6-8).
    a. Notice what determines whether Christ is for you a Stumbling Stone or the Cornerstone: whether you trust Him or whether you are disobedient to His Word.
    b. Under this figure, the inspired apostles and prophets are also in the foundation. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the Household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone, in whom the whole Building, being joined together, grows into a Holy Temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a Habituation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
    c. The apostles and prophets are in the foundation because of their relationship to the Cornerstone. After His ascension Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach them all things (John 14:26) and to lead them into all the truth (John 16:12, 13). The teaching of the apostles and prophets is the teaching of Christ Himself through inspiration.
    d. For this reason we also read in Revelation 21:14 “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
    M. What does it mean in practical terms that the Church is built on the Rock?
    1. We already have an indication in the passage that said Christ is a Stumbling Stone for those who are disobedient to the word.
    2. Jesus explains what it means to build on the Rock.
    a. Luke 6:46-49 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
    b. It is simple really. The Church on the Rock is the Church that does what Jesus says.
    c. Matthew 7:21-27 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness. Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
    i. Are you building on the Rock or on the sand?
    ii. The Church built on Christ is the Church that obeys Christ and His apostles.
    3. In 2 Timothy 2:16-19 Paul warns: “But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the Solid Foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
    a. Jesus is building His Church on the Rock. God’s solid foundation stands.
    b. Notwithstanding all the profane and vain babblings, all the cancerous false doctrines that overthrow the faith of some, the Solid Foundation of God will stand forevermore.
    c. The Lord knows those who are His. He knows who is building on the Rock and who is building on the sand. He knows who believes and who is disobedient.
    Conclusion
    A. Are you seeking the City with Foundations whose Builder and Maker is God? The foundation has been laid: Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Build on the Rock. Do what Jesus says.
    1. “Coming to Him as to a Living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and Precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a Spiritual House” (1 Peter 2:4,5a).
    2. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn who are registered in Heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the Blood of Sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).
    a. If you are in the Church of the Firstborn registered in heaven,
    b. and if “you make your calling and election sure” … “an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10,11).
    3. “Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28,29).
    4. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the One to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
    Names for the Church
    A. In the New Testament believers are called by many different names. Each Biblical name has an important meaning. Some names refer to believers as a group, as a church; others refer to them as individuals.
    B. There is no one ‘official’ name for Christians, either as individuals or as a group. Since there is but one Church in the New Testament, in most cases it is simply referred to as ‘the Church.’
    C. In our time, however, there are many unscriptural denominations, which wish to distinguish themselves from each other.
    1. This has resulted in the invention of many unscriptural names.
    2. In most cases these names focus attention on worldly matters, such as a certain city or country, a certain man, or some organization or doctrine.
    3. Scriptural names give God the glory by focusing attention on God and Christ.
    4. It is significant that religious bodies of human origin usually wear unscriptural names.
    5. The Scriptures contain 40 or 50 names for believers, which are of Devine origin. Christ’s church wears them all.
    6. Most denominations, however, wear names of human origin. This makes clear to all that they are not the church which Christ built.
    D. We can only briefly mention a few examples of designations for individuals. They are called:
    1. Disciples, because they are His followers and students. A disciple lives according to the example and teaching of his Master (John 8:30-32).
    2. Believers, because of their trust in God and their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour (1 Timothy 4:10).
    3. Christians, because they belong to Christ (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:14-16).
    4. Saints, because they have been sanctified (made holy) by the blood of Christ, and are dedicated to God (Philippians 4:21, 22; Hebrews 10:10).
    5. Children of God, because He is their Father and they are His heirs (Galatians 3:26, 27; 4:6, 7).
    6. Brethren, because they are children of the same Father with Christ as their older brother (Hebrews 2:10- 12).
    7. Friends, because of the love they have for one another (3 John 15).
    E. What is the significance of various Biblical names for believers as a group?
    1. Most commonly they are called ‘the Church.’
    a. ‘Church’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which means ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation.’ This word indicates that they form a group, an association, a fellowship. ‘Church’ refers to the people, not to a building or a religious government.
    i. The word sometimes refers to the entire Church, composed of all true followers of Christ of all nations and of all times, as when Jesus said: “On this Rock I will build My Church.’
    ii. ‘Church’ in the singular can also refer to a local congregation. For example, “the church which was at Jerusalem’ (Acts 8:1). When several congregations in a certain area are meant, the plural form is always used: for example, ‘the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria’ (Acts 9:31).
    The phrase ‘the church at Rome,’ for example, is not found in the New Testament because there were several congregations in Rome (Romans 16:5,14,15). The letter is addressed to ‘all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints’ (Romans 1:7).
    iii. In Scripture ‘church’ is never used in a denominational sense, as though there were different kinds of Christian churches.
    b. Often there is a descriptive phrase with the word ‘church.’
    c. The next most common term, except for simply ‘the church,’ is ‘the church of God’ (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 3:5,15). The plural is also used (1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4).
    d. The expression ‘churches of Christ’ is found once (Romans 16:16). Although plural, it is used in a universal, or at least indefinite, sense: “All the churches of Christ greet you.” The singular ‘church of Christ’ is not found in the New Testament. We find ‘the churches of Judea which are in Christ’ (Galatians 1:22), ‘the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 2:14) and ‘the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1).
    e. In a few passages, those who are in the church serve as the designation: “all the churches of the Gentiles” (Romans 16:4), “all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33) and “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:22).
    f. The location is often indicated prepositionally, for example: ‘the church in Cenchrea’ (Romans 16:1), ‘the churches of Galatia’ (Galatians 1:2) ‘the churches of Judea’ (Galatians 2:22) and ‘the church that is in their house’ (Romans 16:5).
    2. The Church is the Body of Christ.
    a. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4,5).
    b. “And He is the Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the Preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).
    c. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
    d. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
    e. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16b, 17).
    f. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful”(Colossians 3.15).
    3. The Church is the Flock of God.
    a. Jesus told His followers: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:12).
    b. Each local congregation is a flock with elders as shepherds. Paul admonished the elders at Ephesus:”Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28, 29).
    c. Christ is the Chief Shepherd. Peter told elders: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1- 4).
    4. The Church is the Household of God.
    a. To believing Gentiles Paul wrote: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
    b. To the Galatians Paul wrote: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those of the Household of Faith” (Galatians 6:10).
    c. And Peter warns: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the House of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
    5. The Church is a Spiritual Building, a Holy Temple, a Habitation of God.
    a. “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).
    b. As living stones we are being built up a Spiritual House (1 Peter 2:5). We are a Chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, His own Special People, the People of God (1 Peter 2:9,10).
    6. The Church is the Commonwealth of Israel.
    a. When Gentiles are in Christ Jesus they are no longer “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12).
    b. “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
    c. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary about Christ: “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).
    d. In Christ, God made a completely new covenant with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8, 10).
    e. Only in Christ are the prophecies fulfilled that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
    f. One must be a New Creation in Christ to receive the blessings of peace and mercy pronounced on the Israel of God (Galatians 6:15, 16).
    7. The Church is Christ’s betrothed Bride.
    a. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
    b. God used this figure when He spoke through Hosea of the restoration of Israel: “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:19,20).
    c. After the fall of Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, in Revelation chapter 18, John hears the voice of a great multitude saying:
    “‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:6-9).
    d. Then we have the glorious words in Revelation 21, after the first heaven and the first earth have passed away:
    “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (vs. 2). [Compare this passage with Hosea 2:19-23 and Romans 9:24- 26.] After John hears a loud voice from heaven proclaiming that God is making all things new, he continues in verse 9:
    “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
    And in the Spirit John sees the City of God where “those who do His commandments” may enter through the gates (22:14), where the Lord God gives them light, “And they shall reign forever and ever” (22:4). “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!'” (Revelation 22:17a).
    8. Members of the Body of Christ are Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
    a. In Daniel 2:44 it was foretold that God would set up an Eternal Kingdom during the days of the Roman Empire.
    b. John the Baptist, Jesus and His disciples during His ministry, all preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7).
    c. Jesus said to His disciples: “there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28); “till they see the Kingdom of God having come with power” (Mark 9:1).
    d. After His resurrection Jesus said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”(Matthew 28:18).
    e. On Pentecost Peter said that Christ was raised up to sit on David’s throne and that He was exalted to the right hand of God as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:30- 36).
    f. To the Colossians Paul wrote: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love” (1:13).
    g. We are in the Kingdom in the sense that we are citizens of the Kingdom. Jesus told Pilate: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). As Paul wrote “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). At the last trumpet we shall be changed (vers 52). This is why Paul says in Philippians 3:20,21:
    “For our Citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His Glorious Body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
    h. This is why Peter admonishes us:
    “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10,11).
    i. In this confidence Paul wrote:
    “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His Heavenly Kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:18).

  7. J C Philpot’s letter of resignation from the Church of England
    March 28 -1835

    Mr. Provost:

    I beg leave to resign the Fellowship of Worcester College, to which I was elected in the year 1826. This step I am compelled to take because I can no longer with a good conscience continue a Minister or a Member of the Established Church.

    After great and numerous trials of mind, I am, as I trust, led by the hand of God thus to separate myself from that corrupt and worldly system, called the Church of England. Her errors and corruptions, as well as her utter contrariety to a Gospel Church as revealed in the New Testament, have been for two or three years gradually opening upon my mind. But though I have thus slowly and by degrees obtained light from above to see the Established Church somewhat in her true colors, it is, I confess, only but very lately that the sin of remaining in her has been forcibly laid upon my conscience. I have felt of late that, by continuing one of her ministers, I was upholding what in the sight of the holy Jehovah is hateful and loathsome.

    I have felt that, by standing up in her pulpit, I was sanctioning a system in principle and practice, in root and branches, corrupt before God. I have felt that I was keeping those children of God who sat under my ministry in total darkness as to the nature of a true Gospel Church. I have felt that both I myself, and the spiritual people that attended my ministry, were, in principle and system, mixed up with-the ungodly, the Pharisee, the formalist, the worldling, and the hypocrite. And thus, while I remained in the Church of England, my principles and my practice, my profession and my conduct, my preaching and my acting, were inconsistent with each other. I was building up with the right hand what I was pulling down with the left.

    I was contending for the ‘power’-while the Church of England was maintaining the ‘form’. I was, by my preaching, separating the people of God from ‘the world lying in wickedness’-and the Church of England, in her Liturgy and Offices, was huddling together the spiritual and the carnal, the regenerate and the unregenerate, the sheep and the goats. I was contending for regeneration as a supernatural act wrought upon the souls of the elect alone by the Eternal Spirit-and the Church of England was thanking God for regenerating every child that was sprinkled with a little water. True prayer I was representing as the Spirit’s work upon the soul, as the groanings of a burdened heart, as the pouring out of a broken spirit, as the cry of a child to his heavenly Father, as the hungering and thirsting of a soul that panted after God. The Church of England tied me down to cold, hackneyed, wearisome forms, in which I prayed for the Royal Family, the Parliament, the Bishops, and all sorts and conditions of men, with scarcely one petition that the Spirit would rule in a regenerate heart.

    My soul was pained and burdened within me at hearing the wicked and the careless take into their lips the sweet petitions of David in the Psalms. I heard around me those who I knew from their life and conversation had never for a moment spiritually felt the pangs of a wounded conscience, say, ‘I stick fast in the deep mire where no ground is; I am come into deep waters, so that the floods run over me’. I heard those who never desired or longed after anything but the gratification of their own lusts and covetousness, repeat aloud, ‘Like as the deer desires the water-brooks, so longs my soul after you, O God’. Those that were dressed up in all the colors of the rainbow, I heard saying, ‘As for me, I am poor and needy’. Graceless men who had never felt a drop of the Spirit’s teachings, and who outside of the Church swore, jeered, and scoffed, would cry in my hearing, ‘Take not your Holy Spirit from me’. Adulterers and adulteresses repeated aloud, ‘I will wash my hands in innocency, and so will I go to Your altar’. While the self-righteous Pharisee would sound in my ears, ‘I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and will make mention of Your righteousness only’.

    Thus the gracious and blessed experience of God’s saints was mocked and trampled upon, and the fervent prayers and breathings of the Spirit in contrite souls were profaned by the ungodly taking them into their unhallowed lips. And all this I was conscious was not a casual occurrence, or such as arose from the unsuggested will of individuals, but was the deliberate principle and system of the Church of England. I saw it was so by her teaching every child to say he was made in his baptism ‘a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven’. I saw it was so by that system of responses which she enjoins upon all the congregation to make, and again and again has my soul been burdened at hearing the wicked little children around me mock God by shouting out the responses, as they had been systematically trained to do by ignorant ministers, parents, school-masters and school mistresses.

    Being for the last three years a hearer and not a reader of the Liturgy, I have been compelled at times to close my ears with both my hands, that I might not hear the mechanical cries of the children, one of whose responses they always thus worded, ‘We have left undone those things which we ought not to have done’. I have groaned within me at hearing the ungodly around me thus mock God, and so far was I from joining in the dead and spiritless forms of the Prayer Book, that I could only secretly pray, ‘Lord, deliver me from this worldly and unholy system’.

    Every dull and dry prayer seemed to lay a fresh lump of ice on my heart, and when I got into the pulpit, nothing but the hand of God, to whom I cried for help, could take off that deadness and barrenness which these wearisome forms had, in a great measure, laid upon me. At times, too, when I viewed the gettings up and sittings down, the bowings, the turnings to the East, the kneeling in this place and standing in that, and the whole routine of that ‘bodily service’ with which the blessed Jehovah was mocked, I could not but look on the whole as a few degrees only removed from the mummery of a Popish mass-house.
    But though I felt, and at times could groan beneath the wretched formality of the Church of England, I was from two motives chiefly kept within her. One was, that I desired to be useful to the children of God in a dark neighborhood, with whom I had been connected for nearly seven years, and of whom some professed to derive profit from my ministry. The other was altogether carnal, and, though hiding itself in the secret recesses of my heart and therefore unperceived, was doubtless of much weight with me. This was the desire of retaining that comfortable competence which my Fellowship secured. My heart, I freely confess, has often sunk within me at the prospect of my already weak health terminating in confirmed illness, with poverty and need staring me in the face. I was also praying for an opening from the Lord to show me my path clearly, as, though I was determined neither to accept preferment, nor take another curacy, I was unwilling to throw up my ministry until the ‘death of the very aged incumbent.’ Lately, however, I have been brought to see ‘that I must not do evil that good may come’, and that if my conscience was fully convinced of the sin of remaining in the Church of England, no clearer or more direct intimation of the will of God was needed.

    Thus have I laid open the inward workings of my heart, and the experience through which I have been led, in order to show that the resignation of my Fellowship and Curacy, and secession from the Church of England, is no sudden and hasty step, but the gradual and deliberate conviction of my soul.

    But besides these particular evils under which I especially ‘groaned, being burdened’, as being brought into continual contact with them, I have felt that by continuing in the Establishment I sanction and uphold every other corruption that is mixed up with so worldly a system.

    Thus I must sanction-the union of Church and State; the putting of the King in the place of Christ as Head of the Church; the luxury and pomp of the bishops; the giving away of livings for electioneering purposes; the heaping of office by ungodly parents on ungodly children; the system of tithes (I cannot but wonder how men who profess spiritual religion, and call themselves Evangelical ministers, can take tithes from carnal and ungodly farmers; no, as I have known some do, screw them up to the highest pitch, and even employ legal means to enforce their payment; while others of the same name and pretension exact tithes from gardens watered by the sweat of the laborer, and enforce burial and similar fees from the poor, when they themselves ride about in their carriages and phaetons. Of this I am confident, that they are not taught thus to act by the Blessed Spirit, who guides the regenerate into all truth, makes the conscience tender, and gives compassion towards the poor and needy. The New Testament authorizes no other payment to ministers but free and voluntary offerings; and thus all tithes, fees, and dues are part of that ‘mystery of iniquity’ of which Babylon, the mother of harlots, is the head); the principle and practice of Ecclesiastical Courts; the manufacturing of ministers by the gross at the Bishops’ ordinations, and all that mass of evil which has sprung out of a worldly and wealthy Establishment. When Christ has bidden me ‘call no man Father on earth’, and not to be called myself ‘Rabbi’, and ‘Master’, and consequently by no title distinctive of priesthood or ministerial office, I must sanction the decking out of His professed ministers with the trappings of Antichrist, such proud titles, I mean, as Reverend, Very Reverend, Right Reverend, Most Reverend, Father in God, My Lord, Your Grace, and the like.

    As a minister of the Establishment I must also sanction that abominable traffic in livings whereby ‘the souls of men’ are bought and ‘sold’ (an especial mark of Babylon, Rev. 18:13), and knocked down to the highest bidder by the auctioneer’s hammer. Thus the whole system, in its root, stem, and branches, manifests itself to a renewed and spiritual mind as part and parcel of that Antichrist and Babylon which the Lord foreshowed His servants should arise, and from which He calls them to come out and be separate.
    As a member, too, of the University, and Fellow of the College, I am unavoidably and necessarily mixed up with many evils, which I am convinced are equally hateful to God. Thus, in this capacity, I must sanction the whole principle of a University, as needful to qualify men to become ministers of Jesus Christ. But who that knows experimentally the sovereignty of Jehovah in choosing His ministers will not feel it to be dreadful presumption thus to train up unregenerate men to stand forth in His holy name?

    The call to the ministry is as sovereign as the call by grace. And Jehovah will take the tinker from his barrow, and the cobbler from his stall, and send them to preach His Word, as he took Elisha from the plough, and Amos from ‘gathering sycamore fruit’. By continuing, therefore, a member of the University I tacitly set aside the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which can alone qualify a man for the ministry, and substitute a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and such mere ‘letter-learning’ as is called Divinity. But by doing this I necessarily reject as ministers some of God’s most eminent and deeply-taught servants, as Bunyan, Deer, and Huntington; and exalt in their room unregenerate men, who were never taught a single truth by the Eternal Spirit.

    And as, by continuing a member of the University, I sanction its principle, so in some measure do I sanction its practice. What that practice is, let those testify who have passed through the various stages of Undergraduate, Bachelor, and Master of Arts. But where in all that practice do I see the marks of Christ, or ‘the footsteps of His flock’? Can they be traced in the drawing rooms and dining rooms of the Heads of Houses? in the Common-rooms of the Fellows? in the breakfasts, wine-parties, and suppers of the Undergraduates? What, I would ask, is usually heard in the latter but shouting, and singing of unclean songs, or conversation on the boat-race, the steeple-chase, or the fox-hunt? And what is commonly heard in the former but the news and politics of the day, and all such trifling, and sometimes even unseemly conversation, as is the mark of the soul that is ‘dead in sins’? Where among all these, either professed ministers of Jesus Christ or such as are training to be so, is the name of the Savior, or the voice of prayer heard? If anywhere, it is among a few despised undergraduates, who have enough religion to see the open evils around them, but not enough grace or faith to separate from the system altogether.

    And who that knows the University will not allow the following to be a faint sketch of the course run by most of her children? Initiated in boyhood in wickedness at one of the public schools, those dens of iniquity, or at a private school, in some cases but a shade better and in others worse, the youthful aspirant to the ministry removes to College, where, having run a career of vanity and sin for three years, he obtains his degree. Fortified with this, and his College testimonials, procured without difficulty except by the very notoriously immoral, and those who have shown some symptoms of spiritual religion, he presents himself to the Bishop for ordination. Examined by the Bishop’s Chaplain on a few commonplace topics of divinity, and approved, he is ordained amid a heap of other candidates, without one question of a spiritual nature, one inquiry as to his own conversion to God, or one serious admonition as to his motives and qualifications for so dreadful a work. The cold heartlessness and technical formality usually displayed by Bishop, Chaplain, Archdeacon, and Registrar, with the carelessness and levity of most of the candidates, can never be forgotten by one whose heart God has touched, and who has witnessed the solemn mockery of a semi-annual ordination.

    But further, as a Fellow of a College, I am connected with a body of men, who, however amiable and learned they may be (and if I forget the kindness of some of them I would be ungrateful indeed), are yet ignorant of Jesus Christ. Their acts as a body I am a party to, and indirectly, if not directly, sanction. Thus I help to give away college livings to unregenerate men, though I may know in my own conscience that they are not even called by grace, much less to the work of the ministry. I am a party also to giving testimonials indiscriminately of good life and conduct to be presented to the Bishop by the candidates for ordination (the document requiring the college seal), as well as to the electing of Fellows and Scholars for their classical attainments, and thus thrusting them into the ministry, and, in a word, to the whole system of education pursued, which, as a means of qualifying men to be ministers, I believe to be hateful to God.
    In short, I am mixed up with a society of men whose life and conduct, however amiable, moral, and honorable, are not those of ‘the poor and afflicted’ family of God. No other way, then, have I to escape these evils, to ‘keep myself pure, and not to be partaker of other men’s sins,’ than by fleeing out of Babylon.

    Lastly, I secede from the Church of England because I can find in her scarcely one mark of a true church. She tramples upon one ordinance of Christ by sprinkling infants, and calling it regeneration (the Word of God allowing no other than the baptism of believers, and that by immersion); and profanes the Lord’s Table by permitting the ungodly to participate. The true Church is despised; but she is honored. The true Church is persecuted; but she is a persecutor. The true Church is chosen out of the world; but she is part and parcel of it. The true Church consists only of the regenerate; but she embraces in her universal arms all the drunkards, liars, thieves, and immoral characters of the land. She christens them, she confirms them, she marries them, she buries them. And she pronounces of all for whom she executes these offices, that they are regenerate, that ‘all their sins are forgiven them’, that they are ‘the servants of God’.

    If perhaps on a dying bed any doubts and convictions should arise that all is not right for eternity, she sends her minister to visit them, and ‘to absolve them from all their sins’. And having thus lulled their fears, and deluded them to die in peace, she quiets the rising doubts of their friends at the mouth of the grave, by assuring those who ‘this our brother is delivered out of the miseries of this sinful world’, and is ‘committed to the dust in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life’

    Oh! could the dreadful veil that hides eternity be for a moment lifted up, we would see that thousands, whom the Church of England is blessing, God is cursing; and that tens of thousands whom she is asserting to be ‘in joy and felicity’, are at that moment ‘lifting up their eyes in hell, being in torment’. And while she thus speaks peace and comfort to all that will call her ‘Mother’, although unregenerate and dead in sins, she in her canons excommunicates and pronounces ‘guilty of wicked error’ all that are enlightened of the Spirit to declare she is not a true church, and separate from her communion. What is this but to remove the ancient landmarks of truth and error; ‘to call evil good, and good evil; to put darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter’?
    At the same time, she shuts up and seals the mouth of all her ministers, and ties them down to say what she says, and to deny what she denies, by compelling them to ‘give their sincere assent and consent to all and everything contained and prescribed in and by the Common Prayer Book, and to promise that they will ‘conform to the Liturgy as by law established’. And if any of them are haply taught of God the things of Christ in their own souls, and having grace and faithfulness to preach what they have tasted, felt, and handled; contradict in the pulpit what they assert in the desk, they are frowned on by Bishops, despised by the clergy around them, and hated by all the worldly part of their parish, until at length the powerful convictions of an enlightened conscience force them to deliver their souls by fleeing out of Babylon.

    But I am told that the Church of England is the only true church; that she derives her sacraments and ministers in a direct, uninterrupted line from the apostles, and that to secede from her is to be guilty of schism. But where are the outward marks of this only true church? Where are the ‘signs’ of these successors of the apostles, as ‘wrought among us in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds’? (2 Cor. 12:12). Are they to be found in lordly Bishops, proud and pampered dignitaries, fox-hunting, shooting, dancing, and card-playing clergy? Or are they to be discovered in those mere moral and outwardly decent ministers, who, after their solemn vow ‘to lay aside the study of the world and the flesh’, busy themselves in classics, mathematics, history, modern languages, natural philosophy, divinity, and everything and anything but to know Christ in their own souls?

    Where are the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit visible in men, who, not being able to utter a word but what is written down, either copy their sermons from books, or forge out of their own heads a weekly lecture on stale morality? Where are the seals of their commission, whereby they ‘approve themselves as ministers of God, by pureness, by knowledge, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left’? (2 Cor. 6 : 6, 7).
    But, perhaps, these outward marks of the successors of the apostles may be discovered in the Evangelical clergy, by some esteemed so highly. What are these, however, as a body, now generally doing but making common cause with the worldly clergy, whom in their hearts they consider to be neither Christians nor ministers, to uphold an unholy system? They are for the most part compounding their sermons out of Simeon’s dry and marrowless ‘Outlines’, looking out for preferment, buying and selling livings, training up their unregenerate sons for the ministry, and ‘putting them into the priest’s office that they may eat a piece of bread’.

    Who among them can give a clear and decisive account of his call by grace, or of his call to the ministry? What description can they give of the entrance of the law into their conscience, bringing with it guilt, condemnation, and death, and of a deliverance by the inward revelation of Christ and the application of the ‘blood of sprinkling’? The greater part are violently opposed to the fundamental doctrines of unconditional election, particular redemption, imputed righteousness, and man’s helplessness. And those who do set forth the doctrines of free and sovereign grace preach them with such dryness and deadness as clearly show that they were never wrought into their experience by the blessed Spirit. Under their ministry the ‘spiritual children’ of God will not sit; for knowing little or nothing of the work of regeneration, and the trials, temptations, or consolations of the people of Christ, they cannot approve themselves to the consciences of the spiritual, either as called by grace or as sent to preach the gospel.

    Thus, with perhaps a few and rare exceptions, the Clergy of the Church of England, whether Orthodox or Evangelical, correspond to that description given by the Holy Spirit, Micah 3: 11: “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the Lord and say-Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”

    And need we wonder if, as is the priest, so is the people? The congregation of the High church, or Orthodox clergy, as they proudly call themselves, consists, with possibly a few exceptions, of none but open sinners, self-righteous pharisees, and dead formalists. In this ‘congregation of the dead’ the blind lead the blind, and all their weekly confessions, absolutions, prayers, praises, services, and sacraments are, as they will one day find, but one continual mockery of the blessed God, who requires of His worshipers that they ‘should worship Him in spirit and in truth’.

    Of those who sit under the ministry of the Evangelical clergy, the greater part in no wise differ from ‘the congregation of the dead’ described above, being attracted there by the superstitious charm of the Parish Church. Of the remaining part, there may be a few seeking souls who range over these barren heaths, until fairly driven from them by starvation, or brought off by tasting the green pastures and still waters of gospel grace under an experimental minister. The rest are mere formalists, with an evangelical creed in their heads, but without any grace in their hearts; or, if the minister be a high Calvinist, such ‘twice dead’ doctrinal professors as never felt the plague of their own hearts, never had their consciences ploughed up by the law, never loathed themselves in their own sight, and were never ‘plunged in the ditch until their own clothes abhorred them’.

    Humble, lowly, contrite souls, who are deeply acquainted with the workings of grace and of corruption, whose consciences have been made tender, and who have landmarks of the dealings of God with them, cannot long continue where they have fellowship with neither minister nor people. And, indeed, so opposed is the whole principle and practice of the Church of England to the work of grace upon the souls of the elect, and ‘to simplicity and godly sincerity’, that a minister, who is not a hypocrite or a formalist, must, when he has reached a certain point in Christian experience, either flee out of her or awfully sin against the convictions of his own conscience. He may remain in her as a presumptuous dead Calvinist; he may take the highest tone of doctrine, and preach Sunday after Sunday about assurance of personal salvation; but if once he describes the work of the Spirit on the soul he must, at a certain point, either come out of her or, by remaining contentedly within her pale, manifest himself a hypocrite in experience, of all hypocrites and of all hypocrisies the most deceiving and the most dreadful.
    Can a man, for instance, who has known the work of regeneration in his own soul, and whose conscience is made tender by the blessed Spirit, go on long to lie unto God by thanking Him for regenerating infants? Can he who has been sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and been fed with His flesh, continue long to give the elements of His body and blood to the unbeliever, the self righteous, and the ungodly? Can he who has tasted the covenant of grace, and experimentally entered into the everlasting distinction between the sheep and the goats, go on long to mock God by declaring at the grave’s mouth of every departed unbeliever, swearer, and drunkard, that he is a ‘brother’, and is ‘taken to be with God’?

    Notions in the head, however correct, doctrines, however high, a presumptuous confidence of salvation, however loud and lofty, may allow a man thus to trifle with the living JEHOVAH. But a tender conscience, a godly fear, and a trembling sense of God’s holiness and majesty, such as the blessed Spirit works in the soul, must sooner or later bring a man out of this dreadful mockery.

    From this worldly and unholy system I now SECEDE; and blessed be the name of God Most High, who has poured light on my eyes to see these abominations, and given me, I trust, a small portion of that faith of Moses whereby ‘he was willing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season’. For sooner far would I die in a workhouse, under the sweet shinings-in of the eternal Comforter, and His testimony to my conscience that I am born of God, than live and die in ease and independence, without following Jesus in that path of trial and suffering which alone leads to eternal life.

    But my long relationship with yourself, as Head of Worcester College, and with my brother Fellows, will not allow me thus to dissolve my connection with you without faithfully WARNING both you and them of your present state before God. What marks, then, are there in you, or them, of that new birth, without which none can enter the kingdom of heaven? What signs have you, or they, of a broken and contrite spirit? What marks of ‘the faith of God’s elect’? What inward discoveries have you, or they, had of the blood and righteousness of Christ? What testimony of the blessed Spirit to the pardon of your sins, and to your adoption into the family of God? ‘If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His’, though a sound classic, an acute mathematician, or a learned divine. And to have been professed ministers of Jesus Christ will only add to your condemnation, if you and they live and die in your present state of unbelief and unregeneracy.

    I am weak and ignorant, full of sin and compassed with infirmity, but I bless God that He has in some measure shown me the power of eternal things, and by free and sovereign grace stopped me in that career of vanity and sin in which, to all outward appearance, I was fast hurrying down to the chambers of death.

    With all due respect to you as Provost of Worcester College,

    Yours faithfully,

    J. C. Philpot

    1. Pip, it’s obvious that you have found this blog and for some reason, you think that you now own it? Not sure, but please do not copy and past. If you have something to say, use your own words

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