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A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (Gillespie)

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Naphtali Press

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"Why should a seventeenth century polemical study of 'popish ceremonies' be of any interest to readers in the twenty-first century, unless as a historical curiosity?

The style of such works is complex and off-putting and the issues discussed apparently relics of a bygone day. To draw such conclusions would be a serious mistake. We live in a day when the biblical doctrine of the church is largely ignored, and the resulting ecclesiastical chaos is only too obvious. Though written more than three and a half centuries ago, Gillespie's book gets right to the heart of the matter. Discussions of the right of the church to ordain ceremonies not prescribed in the Bible, the power of civil rulers to involve themselves in church affairs, the true nature of liberty of conscience - these issues and many more receive thorough examination. Adding to as well as subtracting from the requirements of Scripture is shown to be unacceptable. The perplexing issue of how to address 'things indifferent' is considered at length. Careful thought is given to the place of imitating the example of Christ and the apostles in ecclesiastical matters. All these and more are of pressing contemporary relevance.

The style of the book of course offers challenges to modern readers, but Chris Coldwell has done an excellent job of minimizing these difficulties in his painstaking editorial work. Gillespie's treatise merits the careful attention of all who are seriously interested in hearing what the Word of God has to say in relation to the life and worship of Christ's church: so gird up your loins and prepare to engage with a master theologian of abiding value." - Rev. Prof. W.D.J. McKay


"Never did worship 'according to Scripture' receive a more comprehensive treatment; never did the regulative principle receive a stronger defense; never were Reformed liturgical theology and apologetics expressed more convincingly than in the hands of the man often called 'Great Mister Gillespie' in his own day." - Terry Johnson, Senior Pastor, Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Ga.

"George Gillespie's work is especially important because it gives us a glimpse of the thought of a Scot who attended the Westminster Assembly. He is notable for his opposition to the religious ceremonies that the Stuart dynasty tried to impose on the Church of Scotland."

-Hughes Oliphant Old 

"Gillespie's famous book is a vitally important work in the history of the Scottish Reformation, but it is much more than simply that. It has abiding and profound value for all who are committed to knowing, applying, and following the Word of God on the proper worship of the church. With great insight and passion Gillespie pursues the freedom of the church from political interference and from ecclesiastical tyranny as well as the freedom of the individual Christian conscience from the burden of tradition. He rejoiced that the Church of Scotland had gotten 'rid of all such rotten relics, torn rags, and rotten remainders of Popery' and feared that they were now returning by political fiat. He warned, 'there is not a more deceitful and dangerous temptation than in yielding to the beginnings of evil.' This splendid edition makes Gillepsie's demanding work more accessible to the modern reader and encourages careful reading of this vastly rewarding study."

-W. Robert Geofrey, President and Professor of Church History, Westminster Seminary California