The Puritanboard

     Most of my readers will be familiar with the on-line web-site The Puritanboard. The site often carries good, general articles of instruction and edification. At times, however, the contributors seem to be very strict and particular in their ecclesiastical views and their narrow understanding of church and denominational history. I have striven from time to time to visit their site, to offer praise and encouragement for certain positions they represent and to suggest solutions to some of their ingrained problems caused mostly through lack of background knowledge. However, I found entrance into their discussions technically extremely difficult, so I gave up trying. A couple of years ago, I had another go and actually got as far as been registered as a subscriber but found, nevertheless, all channels closed to me as I could not master their intricate system of logging on to what I believe they call ‘threads’. Whatever I strove to do, I was met with a ‘you are not authorised’ sign. I eventually got through to two of their web-managers and asked them to kindly coach me through the necessary procedures but I was told that they had no time for such ‘special treatment’.  

     Recently, however, the Puritanboard has held a lengthy discussion concerning a person bearing my name, yet given a different faith and doctrine and put in a different church background. I have recently striven to introduce the real George Ella to them but cannot get onto their web-site. Not being very computer literate and having my friend and brother Andrew Caudle who does all the on-line work for me on my own site, I am compelled, therefore, to address the Puritanboard through my Bibliographia Evangelica.

 

Silversides and his version of the ‘Free Offer’

     Most of the criticisms I seem to be reaping began with my review of Silversides’ alarming book about his highly individual so-called ‘Free Offer’, which I found far from ‘free’ and no ‘well meant’ offer at all. If that is Free Offer theology, a decent- minded evangelist cannot use it! The booklet reduced evangelism to a farce and gave an entirely false view of the sinner’s state, the preacher’s task and the Being of God. The Puritanboard kindly reproduced it in full.

     Further points I made in reviewing Silversides’ booklet were that he had criticised some of his fellow Presbyterians wrongly, had put forward a gospel of horrible decrees, depicting a mutable God of deceit, and altered the purport, history and doctrines of the Westminster Standards, which, nevertheless appeared to be Silversides’ Bible, albeit in an altered form. So, too, the many church history stalwarts Silversides cited as representing his beliefs, apart from perhaps one candidate, did not agree with him at all.

 

General disagreement with Silversides’ stance

     Now all the critics who declared that my review was a bad review also agreed with me in judging Silversides’ book to be bad. Why then did they not delight in coming to the same conclusion as I did and thus voice their approval? The reason it seems was that I was not one of the boys and came from a different denominational background, which made them suspicious of me. They appear very party-minded and not very irenic in their views of Christian fellowship. So in which ‘category’ do they place me? They hold that I am a Hyper-Calvinist Baptist who lives according to the 1544 First Baptist Confession. Now as a non-Baptist who has written a book entitled Christian Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, rejecting a number of basic modern Baptist errors, I must declare that the 1544 Baptist Confession, after Benjamin Featley polished it up, was a far better Confession than the Second Baptist Ecumenical Confession of 1689 which took in so many ideas from the rebel Westminster Assembly and Congregationalists’ Savoy, so that it cannot really be called ‘Baptist’ at all. Concerning the call of the gospel; the 1544 Baptist Confession deals with it inside and not outside of the covenant as per the WC. This is chiefly because the WC introduces a new form of the Covenant which is closer to Rome than, say, the English and German-Swiss Reformation view to which I hold. The Presbyterians held to two legal covenants, the Covenant of Works and the Solemn League and Covenant, whereas Reformed Christians hold to the one Covenant of Grace. So, too, predestination by the Particular Baptists is not isolated from the atoning work of Christ which is so prevalent in modern Presbyterian preaching, claimed to be based on the WC, which, of course, was pushed through by the intolerant Presbyterians, though the Independents rightly claimed that it was imperfect, impractical and ill-thought out. However, John Gill’s Goatyard Confession comes even nearer to my ideal than the 1544 and Westminster Confessions. Even that, however, has deficiencies when compared with the 15-20 Reformed Confessions before the Synod of Dort – and more when compared with God’s Word which has a completely different view of Christian Baptism than that allegedly borrowed from Pagan and Revisionist linguistics.

 

The Synod of Dort

     Until the Synod of Dort in 1618-19, Reformed churches got on relatively well together but the Synod caused splits amongst Protestants long before it actually sat. In some Reformed states such as in Sweden under Karl IX and Gustaf II Adolf, there was a great deal of tolerance between Lutherans and Presbyterians, indeed, Göteborg around 1611 was a centre of Reformed teaching because of all the British, Dutch, Bohemians etc. who lived there. In Saxon-Anhalt, Hesse, Brandenburg, the Palatinate, Poland, Wetterau, Würtemburg, Bohemia, as well as other East European countries, church union was already under way. John Forbes the Presbyterian Scotsman was, however, doing his best to set the Swedes against each other by his teaching that God is the author of sin. David Pareus of Heidelberg, where the Presbyterians and Lutherans had lived in harmony for three-quarters of a century, protested that there were so many good Reformed Confessions that a further one was not necessary. He had already written to Gustav II Adolf, asking him to help pacify the quarrelling German Protestants. Many protested that the Synod ought to call representatives of all Protestant churches to participate; otherwise it could not be representative of the Reformed faith. Still others protested that it was a politically called conference and not a church conference. As it was, the Synod left out the bulk of Reformed churches but attempted to speak on behalf of them all. The French Church which was mostly inter-Protestant and practiced inter-communion was sadly not allowed to visit the Synod because of the political state of France at the time. When the synod sat, it began at once to denounce the churches it had not called as ‘un-Reformed’ and ruled that all Lutheran churches should be shut down and no new ones allowed to be built. Sadly, modern so-called Reformed denominations merely give their members a most cut-down abridgement of the Synod’s proceedings, picking out digestible raisins and chunks of chocolate for them. Hands up you modern critics of my articles who have actually read all the minutes and resolutions of Dort! What? Do I see no hands? Yet the full Dortian resolutions can be downloaded from the internet free of charge, as I did years ago. I am always shocked to receive critical letters from Presbyterians and Baptists, especially from the States who call me a moron, demented and worse who pretend to act in the spirit of Dort, though they have no idea of what went on there.

 

The Bride of Christ is not a denomination

     I do not belong to a church built around a rite or sacrament but one built on the foundation rock of Christ. To me, a church which calls itself a Baptist Church, a Landmarker Church, a Calvinist Church, an Arminian Church or a Presbyterian Church, appears to have forgotten that churches are to be called The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian and a Denominationalist together is a person who can rarely be true to both Church and Denomination and one who is trying to live in two different worlds at the same time. Like Roman Catholicism, it is too much of a combination of Church and Institution. I also believe that most of the Confessions which came with and after Dort destroyed the unity of the faith once given to the saints. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is open to all who fellowship in Christ’s faith, without denominational trimmings, corsets, snares and fetters. I thus am quite open to fellowshipping with the Puritanboard brethren, should they care to reciprocate in resipiscence. So, too, I have Baptist, Presbyterian and Anglican friends with whom I have most blessed fellowship.

 

The false charge of Hyper-Calvinism

     The second characteristic which the Puritanboard subscribers give their George Ella is that he is a Hyper-Calvinist. This is most surprising after my condemnation of Hyper-Calvinist features in Silversides’ dogmas and after my repeated criticisms of John Calvin and Supralapsarianism, and also after my major theme in writing that every Christian is a missionary and evangelist and each is called to go out into the world preaching the whole gospel to the whole man, keeping nothing back. So too, they once reproduced with approval, my denial of being a Hyper-Calvinist in a New Focus interview, but chacun à son goût. Why do I differ from Hyper-Calvinists? Because of their ideas of not preaching to ‘mixed congregations’ and because of their teaching that God is the author of sin. I admit that they are far fewer than we tend to think. I have great respect for the Gospel Standard Baptists and some of my dearest friends and partners in prayer are members but I still hold the Added Articles to be Liberal and a great hindrance to gospel preaching. Sadly, their new apologists for advertising the Added Articles are not as theological stable as their old theologians such as Gosden. I note, however, that one leading English Presbyterian, domiciled in Scotland who preaches that God is the author of sin, actually calls me a Hyper-Calvinist and an Antinomian, though not to my face, so these terms are obviously elastic. This person I will not name as he is paid enough by public subscriptions to delight in court cases which he does not win. I do not approve of such behaviour by a Christian. On asking this minister why he preaches against me and my Christian friends, calling us Antinomians and Hyper-Calvinists, he denied it outright and answered:

‘Dear George

     Thank you for your full letter. I shall not attempt to reply at any length as I am about to travel shortly to the West to preach. Only one thing surprises me. I do not recall naming you as a Hyper-Calvinist or anything else in any of my sermons. Where did you get this idea from?  It is possible that I have done at some time but I have no recollection of it and it would be contrary to my usual practice. I have sins enough of my own and have little pleasure in attempting to point the finger at others.

Kind regards’

     On receiving these friendly, irenic lines, I thus asked the gentleman to kindly remove his allegations from his web-site found in a sermon preached against critics of his Free-Offer system, which differs greatly from original Reformed principles concerning gospel preaching to the lost. He merely replied:

 

Dear George,

     I reply by referring to Proverbs 17:14.

Kind regards.

     This was, I take it, a plea that contention should cease between us. However, this contender against me still calls me a Hyper-Calvinist over two years later and has still not erased his contentious statement from his website and continues to denounce me as such. Is this not Antinomianism without a mask?

My ‘contender’ thus still ‘preaches’ after making claims he does not explain:

     ‘This is the position taken by the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists, whose origins are in eighteenth century England. Their influential writers include John Gill, the Commentator; William Huntington, SS; William Gadsby of Manchester, the Hymn-writer; J.C. Philpot. It has its advocates today, such as George M. Ella and Peter Meney.

     The generic name for this view is Hyper-Calvinism. To differentiate it with the next objection I call it “English Hyper-Calvinism”, since it originated as a movement in England in the eighteenth century.’

     What the preacher is obviously referring to is the new theology introduced by Baptist Andrew Fuller to which the Presbyterian preacher adheres and the fact that the majority of churches and evangelical newspapers protested against it and were thus called Hyper-Calvinists. Fuller himself stood with his ‘Strict Calvinism’ at the far side of Wesley and Baxter, yet this minister calls him one of the greatest theologians of all time. After reading what my critic had to say against Huntington, I found that he claimed to know but one of his books, a very short ‘easy-reader’. In the same exchange, Iain Murray who has denigrated Huntington no end, claimed, so that he might show me that he knew what he was taking about, that he possessed three of Huntington’s 50-odd books. He did not say ‘I have read’ but ‘I have’. I found, too, that these modern scoffers had also no idea of what Gill and Gadsby taught but some idea of Philpot, whom I do not place in the same high category. One notices that the BOT reprints Philpot but not Gill or Gadsby. One Gospel Standard friend criticised my love of Romaine, pointing out that he spoke of Christ’s offices, which he thought humanised Christ. He claimed that Philpot was more accurate in describing his Saviour’s Being. However, Philpot refers to Christ as a ‘mode’ of the Godhead which is far more theologically dangerous.

My sober view of John Calvin

     Calvin, to my way of thinking, was never thoroughly Reformed and remained under the shadow of his mentors Bullinger and Bucer who were the true founders of what we call quite wrongly, as William Cowper pointed out, ‘Calvinism’, because it is the religion of Paul and the gospel, not Calvin. The Five Points are all right in the right context and corner of the full gospel but no substitute for it and they were worked out sixty years after Calvin’s death in a conference that would have broken Calvin’s heart and that of all true Reformers. Calvin himself sadly remained a slave of Aristotle and the Roman doctrine of the physical ‘substance’ of Christ in the Lord’s Supper all his life. Most stories about Calvin’s power in Geneva are myths. Calvin would have fled from the city-state many times if it had not been for Bullinger who told him to stay put and reform his gospel. He complained that his church would not allow him to reform it and whenever he said ‘Good morning’ in Geneva, the Genevans interpreted him as saying ‘Good night’. Even Calvin’s church order was not of his doing. Beza had to tell the Scottish Assembly that their church members were not converted through their ministry but that of others. Calvin’s best time was post-1559, but then he had written most of his works and died in 1564. Read what a spiritual mess he left Geneva in, besides its financial bankruptcy. Archbishop Whitegift had to dig deep into his own pocket to help them pay their bills and took up a collection amongst the English Bishops for them. Now modern Calvinists call Whitegift their enemy. He was a truer Calvinist in Cowper’s sense than any of our BOT and Founder’s Journal men. Knox describes the chaotic, worldly Geneva of Calvin’s day in his History of the Reformation. He interprets this in a most fanatical way as the beginnings of a new Paradise on earth. His Jesuit Revolution Theology demanded that a state be first destroyed physically before it could be built up spiritually. Remember that when Beza took over, the Council told him to first follow in Bullinger’s and Bucer’s footsteps and when the Scottish Assembly asked Beza to send them a Confession of Faith which they could adopt, he sent them Bullinger’s Confession which they happily adopted. You can read all about this in my various essays and book on Bullinger. Indeed, American Presbyterians always tell the story of the first pilgrims having Calvin’s (still unwritten or untranslated) documents in their pockets when it was the Decades and the First and Second Helvetical Confessions they had with them. I still meet ‘theologians’ who think that these are from Calvin’s pen. Revolution Theology failed in Geneva and failed with far worse consequences during the Cromwellian Usurpation in Britain. The Genevan Council did not allow Calvin to print his compilation of other men’s theology, the Institutes, (a work of great self-contradiction reflecting the views of those from whom it was copied), without also printing Bullinger’s Decades to balance them off. The WC Presbyterians rejected Bullinger, linking him rightly with the Church of England and recommended Calvin and Melanchthon linking them wrongly with Presbyterianism. However, what came of this was that the Presbyterians departed from the Reformed faith, especially in justification and their covenant teaching, and became legalistic Melanchthonians. Anybody today, who departs from Melanchthon, many Presbyterians call a Hyper-Calvinist and an Antinomian which shows what a faulty view of the Reformed faith and even ‘Calvinism’ they have. Funnily enough, Carpenter of the appropriately named Outside the Camp sect, who calls his Gnosticism ‘Calvinism’, has dubbed me a ‘Hypo-Calvinist’ or a sub-Calvinist, which, in the best sense, I probably am.

 

The unfinished Westminster Standards

     Odd, too, is the fact that Puritanboard subscribers who do not know me from Adam, state adamantly that they have evidence that their George Ella knows nothing about the Westminster Standards though I have written often enough about them. Indeed, I keep an exact record of my reading and find that I have read some five hundred books written by the WA members and some thousand books written about the WA and its background. I have followed the WA’s correspondence with the European churches intensely during the last two to three years. I have also read a number of diaries giving day by day private accounts of the proceeding. Added to this, I have informed myself of the times by reading the day by day records of the State Papers and Thurloe’s Papers. If my critics have the same fundus of knowledge behind them, they might be in a position to say that they know more than I do, but from what sources? If they would compare me with, say, Hetherington, who has given a very poor account of the Assembly which has become a Presbyterian standard work on the subject, one will see that I have far out-read him and also studied the essential documents that Hetherington said would be ‘impractical’ for him to study but without which no comprehensive and therefore accurate account of the Assembly proceedings would be possible. These are the Byfield minutes in which he faithfully records the blasphemous boast of the Presbyterians that when Christ spoke of the two or three gathered together in His name, He was not speaking of the Church but of the Presbytery. Finally on this subject, after Bullinger, Hervey and Gill and my family, the man closest to my heart is John Durie, compiler of the Westminster records, Librarian of the St. James Library, Jack of all trades and Cromwell’s right-hand man on the Continent from North to South, West to East. He was the man who urged for the completion of the Westminster Standards after the Presbyterian débâcle and Pride’s Purge.

     Furthermore, I wonder if my critic has read John Durie’s petitions to Charles I, Parliament, Cromwell and Charles II which started in 1631 and continued until 1661, calling for a General Synod of all Protestant churches world-wide. It was these petitions which led to the Westminster Assembly but sadly though Cromwell wanted it to be inter-Protestant, the intolerant Presbyterians would not have non-Presbyterian churches accepted. Durie had to work hard, with no thanks from William Prynne and Co to even have the Independents accepted. Indeed, the Presbyterian Engagement Controversy split the WA down the middle. Durie was actually the only Delegate sanctioned by Charles who was able to stay in the Assembly, though he was called a malignant and Episcopalian by his fellow-Scots delegates. These were jealous because Durie was given full voting rights which they did not gain. He was also made a co-worker and compiler of the Westminster Standards, protesting when the Standards became too intolerant because of Presbyterian participation. As soon as the Presbyterians left or were thrown out of Parliament, Durie campaigned, louder still for Continental participation and Cromwell sent him to Sweden, Germany, Holland and Switzerland to gain their backing. Sadly, Cromwell died just as things were developing nicely. I would recommend my critics to read the over three hundred books and pamphlets Durie wrote concerning his work. I have only got through some 160 yet but am still reading. Soon, I home to publish my bibliography so that my critics and genuine students will be able to catch up on the wonderful blessings they have missed. It is sad that the Westminster Confession has become the Bible of many. Especially as it is mostly an Old Testament spiced with Aristotelian, Platonic and Enlightenment theories as per Rutherford’s Rex Lex.

 

Anti-Trinitarianism has destroyed the validity of the modern Free Offer movement

     I originally tackled Silversides, as I have tackled Johnson, John and Iain Murray, Watts, Hulse, Roberts, Oliver, the Founders Journal men and other cut-down-gospellers because of their watered-down, man-centred, Anti-Trinitarian theology. It is an old adage that if one blames others for obvious faults, they turn the tables by arguing even louder that their critics are the critics with a hatchet. Thus these Anti-Trinitarians accuse me of not preaching faith and repentance to all men everywhere. However, with the assurance that God is with me, I have always done just that and cast my net in most different waters believing that the Lord will in His graciousness drive fish into it. People like David Gay in his two books of slander against me, misquote me by wilfully erasing my references to faith even in the same sentence which they quote from my pen regarding repentance and then have the bare-faced cheek to say that I do not command all men everywhere to believe. A number of Puritanboard subscribers have, however, wrongly deduced that in criticising the quite false, deceptive and un-Biblical ‘Free Offer’ gospel of modern Far-Worse-Than-Finnyism, I must preach less gospel myself. This is quite illogical and they ought to see that I want more pleading with lost sinners, not less. I do not, however, stoop to woo men to Christ by telling them, to use Fullerite jargon, that Christ has provided for their salvation, providing they accept the offer. This never leads to faith or repentance. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ’s sovereign plan of salvation knows no difference between provision and acceptation as both are guaranteed His Bride in the salvation process. Christ died for no one in vain. All that the Father gives the Son are kept for ever by the Son. The Bible tells us about lost sheep, but they are all found. My call is to the lost sheep of the House of Israel but in order that these sheep are drawn out from the rest of the world, they must be selected by the gospel which goes out to all, as a savour of death to some and of life to others. It is the savour of death that Christ uses so that His Bride will choose life. Thus, unlike modern Free Offer gospel-polluters, I do not look them in their unrepentant faces and say that Christ has warranted their salvation, knowing full well that this can only be left to God. Nor do I give them a ‘well-meant’ offer, knowing full well that I do not mean it. Nor do I think that Silversides is correct in thinking that God delights in the death of the wicked.

     I believe that my Puritanboard critics are, perhaps unwittingly, supporting Anti-Trinitarianism in their support of the modern so-called ‘Free Offer’ gospel of deceit and the bad news of a God of three conflicting wills based on it. I believe that God has one will and that Christ came to activate that will in salvation. I do not believe that God with one will wishes to save sinners but with another will condemns them. Heaven is not an asylum for schizophrenics but a means of curing the Old Man to make him a New Man in Christ Jesus. The Free-Offer mongers’ religion is blasphemy of the lowest, vile and cruel kind. The tri-deism of the Fake-Free-Offer men is worse than the papist doctrine of a Queen and King of Heaven as this Roman Catholic Gender duo seems to get on all right in the Vatican Olympus whereas the gods of the Free-Offer men, like Zeus and his next of kin are always at loggerheads and war. Pastors who are so mixed up in their theology can only be called hirelings in their Counter-Reformation propaganda.

     One subscriber believes that I have got lost on what he calls the ‘old lanes’ of the past. Now we must preach new gimmicks and man-made fairy-stories to bring in the sheep. These are hungry and look to their pastors to be fed but these ‘New Lines’, or rather ‘New Lies’ merely produce stone-soup.

 

I would defend anyone charged falsely

     Finally, I have been challenged with siding with Engelsma merely because I defended him against Silversides’ unjust accusations. I defend Silversides, too, against unjust things said of him, though I stand nearer him than Engelsma. However, I refute Engelsma on the same grounds as I would refute those who accuse me of not preaching faith and repentance. Engelsma challenged me on this very subject, claiming that he would give me the last word in his magazine debate on the subject. I sent him ample proof but it was not printed, though shorter than Engelsma’s accusations. Yet he published in another paper that he had challenged me but I had not responded. When I challenged him, in turn, for his dishonesty, he told me that my reply was too long for publication. As a good editor, he could have politely given the gist of it, though it was shorter than his criticisms. What he precisely wanted was proof that Gill taught that evangelical faith and repentance should be preached to all. I thus told Engelsma to turn over the page in the work he was discrediting and he would find just that, giving him page and line. Again, those who cry ‘Antinomian’ are often the ones that perversely perpetuate that evil.

     We Christians, whatever our denomination, who know Christ as their Saviour have enough in common to centre on that in sweet fellowship with our Lord. May our correspondence and fellowship serve to accept one another in the faith which governs and saves and do away with the gimmicks of the devil which divide and rule. I close with the testimony of my heart and my pen and a demonstration of my reasons for my faith in my Redeemer. I give it in an old Celtic metre of my childhood which I find expresses my words best: 

Judgement Overcome By Mercy

A Repentant Sinner’s Plea

Show me mercy, be Thou kind

And take away my evil mind

Release me from all sins that bind

Me to death’s curse

Estranged I go, by sin made blind

From bad to worse.

Law and Gospel reveal my case

I live without Thy holy grace.

When I shall stand before Thy face,

Thy wrath shall earn.

Against Thee I sin and though so base,

For Thee I yearn.

Against my sin, I cannot fight

I feel abhorrent in Thy sight

My futile life is one black night,

Of wasted breath.

Damned for eternity is my plight.

I await death.

Truth and wisdom and righteousness

Are precious things I would possess

But all my deeds Thy ways transgress

And damn my soul.

O Lord remove my guiltiness

And make me whole.

Create in me a spotless heart

May my iniquities depart

Reveal to me the Love Thou art.

Remove all blame.

Turn from Thy wrath, Thy grace impart

Cover my shame.


God’s Light Dispels Sin’s Darkness

The Father’s love helps me to see

The Holy Ghost has set me free

Now Christ my Saviour dwells in me

My sin has gone

Triune grace flows through Thy decree

And rights my wrong

Thank God, my guilt is washed away

There are no further debts to pay

My life-long night is now all day

Through Thy dear light

Thy grace and truth now mark my way

My hope is bright

Lord, help me serve Thee by Thy grace

Help me run Thy heaven-bound race

Help me see Thine all-seeing face

In all I do

Keep me faithful in every case

Help me stay true

Glory be to the Triune One

Holy Spirit, Father and Son

Praise the Lord for salvation won

For my lost state

Praise God for new life now begun

And not too late