Were all the Westminster Divines "Covenanters"?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
Would the label "Covenanter" apply to all the Westminster Divines? Partly I ask because I had thought that those denying the mediatorial kingship of Christ over the nations were not Covenanters, but I have seen Covenanters claim some of the Divines who did so as their own. What's the proper use of the term?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Would the label "Covenanter" apply to all the Westminster Divines? Partly I ask because I had thought that those denying the mediatorial kingship of Christ over the nations were not Covenanters, but I have seen Covenanters claim some of the Divines who did so as their own. What's the proper use of the term?

They were Covenanters in the original sense of the term, not in the later "Reformed Presbyterian" or "Cameronian" sense. Some of our earlier divines believed in mediatorial kingship in a manner similar to modern RPs, while many others - most notably, George Gillespie, did not. The issue is an extra-confessional one and it is a great shame that sectarian spirits - on both sides of the debate - have taken it upon themselves to make it a mark of orthodoxy when it ought to have been left as an open question.
 
Last edited:

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
Nowadays, when we're talking about "Covenanters" without elaboration, would it generally be assumed that we're talking about RPs/Cameronians? And, is the original sense of "Covenanter" synonymous with affirming the establishment principle?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Nowadays, when we're talking about "Covenanters" without elaboration, would it generally be assumed that we're talking about RPs/Cameronians? And, is the original sense of "Covenanter" synonymous with affirming the establishment principle?
Today in generally saying Covenanters, you are dealing with reformed Presbyterians post-Westminster.

I believe all Covenanters believed in the establishment principle. It’s the view of Westminster.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
They were Covenanters in the original sense of the term
ALL Westminster Divines? I thought Jeremiah Burroughs, for example, was an Independant. Samuel Rutherford (Letter to Lady Boyd 1644) argues that Burroughs and other Independents 'hinder the work' because they 'are mighty opposites to presbyterial government'.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
The original sense is one who swore the Solemn League and Covenant. That includes most members of the Westminster Assembly, including some congregationalists.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
ALL Westminster Divines? I thought Jeremiah Burroughs, for example, was an Independant. Samuel Rutherford (Letter to Lady Boyd 1644) argues that Burroughs and other Independents 'hinder the work' because they 'are mighty opposites to presbyterial government'.

Philip Nye, an Independent, preached in favour of the Solemn League and Covenant (see various posts in the link to my blog). It is a misconception that all the early Covenanters were advocates of the presbyterial government. While that was mostly true of Scotland, it was not true of all who swore the SL&C in England. In Samuel Rutherford's opinion, Jeremiah Burroughs hindered the work of the covenanted reformation, but Burroughs himself would have denied that accusation.

One member of the Westminster Assembly who later dissented from the SL&C was Daniel Featley. I cannot think of any others off the top of my head.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
@Stephen L Smith - speaking of Jeremiah Burroughs, he makes one allusion to the Solemn League and Covenant in his Irenicum (I am quoting from the 1653 edition on EEBO-TCP):

But oh that the Lord would send his Angell, yea his Spirit to us, to convince us of our evil, that we to this day have not joined in sure league one with another, but are thorns in the sides of one another: ... (p. 253)
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The original sense was swearing the national covenant in 1638 wasn't it? The Covenanters at that early point was an even broader group that could include many perhaps most royalists who were fed up with Charles I's management at that juncture. The SL&C was too far for such, like Montrose who switched sides at that point. Most others, including a majority of ministers in the Kirk of Scotland, stayed quiet (or perhaps not; see recent research on the royalist resistance in Glasgow). The leadership couldn't purge most of these or the church pulpits would have been empty. This illustrates that the true Covenanters were a minority and the movement only succeeded because it was broader earlier and then succeeded by holding power, and also would prove Wodrow's opinion given later on why so many so easily conformed at the restoration.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Philip Nye, an Independent, preached in favour of the Solemn League and Covenant (see various posts in the link to my blog). It is a misconception that all the early Covenanters were advocates of the presbyterial government. While that was mostly true of Scotland, it was not true of all who swore the SL&C in England. In Samuel Rutherford's opinion, Jeremiah Burroughs hindered the work of the covenanted reformation, but Burroughs himself would have denied that accusation.

@Stephen L Smith - speaking of Jeremiah Burroughs, he makes one allusion to the Solemn League and Covenant in his Irenicum (I am quoting from the 1653 edition on EEBO-TCP):

But oh that the Lord would send his Angell, yea his Spirit to us, to convince us of our evil, that we to this day have not joined in sure league one with another, but are thorns in the sides of one another: ... (p. 253)
Thanks for the clarification Daniel. I wondered if Samuel Rutherford would have seen the original WCF as more consistent with a Covenanted Reformation, and the Savoy Declaration (and the American Revision of the WCF) as being inconsistent in this regard, particularly over the Church/ State issue. I admit this is not an area I have looked at in detail but I have heard Reformed Baptist pastors argue that the original WCF is very consistent in its church state relationship.
 

CovenantPatriot87

Puritan Board Freshman
Would the label "Covenanter" apply to all the Westminster Divines? Partly I ask because I had thought that those denying the mediatorial kingship of Christ over the nations were not Covenanters, but I have seen Covenanters claim some of the Divines who did so as their own. What's the proper use of the term?
Somehow the scotch commissioners: Gillespie, Henderson, Rutherford, and I'm pretty confident Robert Baillie, all deny mediatorial dominion in their writings. They are definitely two kingdom (confessional 2 kingdom that is).
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top