The True Doctrine of the Sabbath.

Not open for further replies.


Staff member
If you missed this when it came out in 2015, RHB has this for only $14 ($30 retail). It is $20 postpaid at Naphtali Press; links below. I have only 3 cases left of my portion of the rather large print run (RHB who went all in due to the importance of this work, has the rest, and plenty of them, so help them move some copies and promote the true doctrine of the Sabbath!). All the promo info is below making this as much an information post so posting it here in the Law of God forum.

“For its scope, detail, and erudition, [Bownd's] work on the Sabbath is unparalleled in the Puritan tradition–indeed, perhaps even in the Christian tradition.” Mark Jones, author with Joel Beeke, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.

Currently (posting date) on sale for only $14 at Reformation Heritage Books (for a 600p sewn bound hard back book in dj; a steal of a price). Nicholas Bownd, Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath (Naphtali Press and Reformation Heritage Books, 2015) 592pp. Hard bound, smyth sewn, dust jacket. Edited with introduction and analysis by Chris Coldwell. Retail $30.
Bownd-Selections (84pp, updated PDF).

This book is now in print and the prepublication offer has ended, but pricing remains around or actually below prepublication pricing at both Reformation Heritage Books and here at the Naphtali Press store. There was so much anticipation for this work that NP co-published the title with Reformation Heritage Books in a large print run.

Nicholas Bownd, Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath (Naphtali Press and Reformation Heritage Books, 2015) 592pp. Hard bound, smyth sewn, dust jacket. Edited with introduction and analysis by Chris Coldwell. Retail $30.

No book had more influence in confirming a Sabbatarian “heart” to Puritanism than that of Nicholas Bownd (d.1613). The Doctrine of the Sabbath was the first scholarly treatment defending the concept of the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day, later embodied in the Westminster Standards. Not reprinted since 1606, this influential work is presented afresh in a new critical edition.

For most of his ministry, Nicholas Bownd (1551?–1613) was the pastor of a country church in rural England. Judging from the sermons he published, his ministry exhibited the practical divinity taught by his stepfather, Richard Greenham, which focused on the means of grace. The crucial ‘mean of the means’ whereby all these means of grace were made available to the people of God was the weekly gatherings on the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day. In 1595, Bownd published True Doctrine of the Sabbath, which derived from sermons preached about 1586. This book embroiled him in a singular controversy with a troublesome neighbor, which resulted in the first Sabbatarian controversy in England, and also led to a vindicating expanded edition in 1606. For the last two years of his life he ministered at St. Andrew in Norwich, the highest call a man of his puritan convictions could have attained in those days.

Commendations by Mark Jones, James T. Dennison, Richard B. Gaffin and Joel Beeke.

“It is astonishing that the Puritan Nicholas Bownd’s famous work on the Sabbath, which greatly influenced later Puritanism and the Westminster Assembly, and by extension, Western Christendom for centuries, has not been printed in a critical edition with modern typeface long ago. Not reprinted since 1606, this classic work emphasizes the fourth commandment’s morally binding character, the divine institution of the entire Sabbath as the Lord’s Day set apart to worship God, and the cessation of non-religious activities that distract from worship and acts of mercy. I am so grateful that it is back in print, and pray that it will do much good to restore the value and enhance the joy of the Lord’s Day for many believers around the world.”
—Joel R. Beeke, co-author of Meet the Puritans and A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, and president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“After four centuries of rest, Nicholas Bownd’s famous book on the Sabbath has re-Bownded. Attractively printed, this work is a critical edition of the 1595 version and the expanded 1606 edition. Coldwell has painstakingly collated and meticulously annotated the two so as to allow Bownd’s classic Puritan doctrine of the Lord’s Day Sabbath to be published afresh. Lovers of the Scriptures as interpreted by the Westminster Standards will rejoice. May all glory redound to the Eschatological Lord of Sabbath rest, as it did four centuries ago.”
–James T. Dennison, Jr., author of The Market Day of the Soul: The Puritan Doctrine of the Sabbath in England, 1532-1700; and Academic Dean and Professor of Church History and Biblical Theology, Northwest Theological Seminary, Lynnwood, Washington.

“Those with an interest in developments leading up to the formulation of the Sabbath doctrine taught in the Westminster standards will benefit from this careful documentation and analysis of the views of Nicholas Bownd.”
–Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., author of Calvin and the Sabbath; Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary.

Nicholas Bownd’s work, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath, occupies a hugely significant place among Puritan works on polemical and practical divinity. For its scope, detail, and erudition, this work on the Sabbath is unparalleled in the Puritan tradition—indeed, perhaps even in the Christian tradition. Particularly illuminating are Bownd’s “spiritual exercises,” which clearly had an influence upon the later Puritan attitudes regarding the practical implications of Sabbath-keeping and worship. As an added bonus to the content of this book, the editorial work on this book is first-class, and makes for far more enjoyable and easier reading than a simple re-print.
–Rev. Dr. Mark Jones, Minister at Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA).

From the Foreword

With all the Puritan and Presbyterian books expounding upon the fourth commandment which have been published or reprinted in the last four hundred years, it may be reasonably questioned why it is important to bring yet another work on the nature of the Lord’s Day into print again, particularly when few Christians today either believe, understand or appreciate the true doctrine of the Christian Sabbath. The answer is simple enough. Nicholas Bownd’s books were the first scholarly, lengthy treatment articulating the Puritan Sabbatarian position, and he can fairly be said to have set the mold for the standard argument. The basic tenets he defended are enshrined in that last great set of Reformed symbols, the Westminster Standards. So while he certainly did not invent the doctrine, Bownd can in a sense be called the father of the later Puritan works expounding the fourth commandment. Consequently, his work is of significant historical importance and a new edition is at the very least warranted to aid the study of it. And personally, if for no other reason, I believe a good modern edition of this great work is appropriate out of simple gratitude for the author’s labors in the face of the difficulties of the times and the rather singular persecution he faced.

This project to bring Nicholas Bownd’s True Doctrine of the Sabbath to print in a modern version dates back over twenty years. The source was a poor University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI) photocopy of an equally poor microfilmed example of Bownd’s 1606 revised edition. This required considerable proof reading, and the original having all the problems of a late sixteenth century text made for a tedious job of editing. It was easier to keep shifting focus to other less difficult projects. However, as it turned out in the providence of God, the project needed this delay in order for new research to come to light, revealing more than had previously been in print about Nicholas Bownd. In addition, the editor’s “tool kit” required expanding in order to handle such an old text with the attending necessary research, which other projects afforded over the intervening years. Finally, when the push to get this project on a track to completion was undertaken in the last year or so, a final hurdle presented itself. The discovery of the letter Thomas Rogers wrote to Bownd in 1598 cast all in new light, requiring a late course change and a complete revision of the approach to the text of the book.

For the last nineteen years the intent was to bring Bownd’s 1606 edition to print. However, it became clear that Bownd had made at least one revision based upon a criticism Rogers had made in a 1599 sermon against Sabbatarianism. Using phrases from the surviving notes of that sermon, a few quick searches revealed that while never naming him at any point, all of the main criticisms Rogers made were addressed in the revision. In addition, the description of the 1598 letter, which had never been transcribed, indicated it contained references to Bownd’s 1595 edition. So even before obtaining a copy and transcribing the letter, it was clear that the 1606 text had to be carefully collated with the 1595 edition in order to discover changes directly attributable to Rogers’ criticisms. With a revised critical text noting the additions (herein denoted by large {braces} in the text and in the margins), it became clear that many of the 1606 revisions were made in order to address criticisms made in both Rogers’ 1599 sermon and 1598 letter. This discovery led to a considerable investigation of the dispute between Bownd and Rogers (which is known as the first Sabbatarian controversy in English literature), which resulted in a lengthy but hopefully informative introduction to this volume, now finally completed after all these years.

The text, keyed in the margins to the 1606 edition, has been revised, as far as possible without marring the author’s work, to reflect contemporary spelling, punctuation, and usage. Chapter divisions have been added. Words or insertions supplied by the editor are in [square brackets]. While a few less clear antiquated words or spellings are replaced with the modern equivalents after the first usage (e.g. “entreating [in treating]” etc.), generally changes to clearly archaic spellings are done “silently.” Scripture quotations are italicized, as well as Latin words and some emphasis. While the original use of italics for all manner of emphasis created many difficulties (see the Analysis), I have attempted to untangle and trace all of Bownd’s references. An annotated bibliography is provided noting the library collections available to Bownd, as well as author, subject and Scripture indices….

Contents (there is also a lengthy table of chapters and subtopics in addition to bibliography, scripture, author and subject index).

Contents of The True Doctrine of the Sabbath ix

Introduction xix

Results of the Elizabethan Settlement xxii

The Bownds and Richard Greenham xxvii

Richard Greenham xxix

Nicholas Bownd xxxii

The Ministry of Nicholas Bownd xxxiv

The Market Day of the Soul xxxv

The Works of Nicholas Bownd xxxvi

Conformity and Presbyterianism xl

Bownd’s Advocacy/Rejection of Presbyterianism xliv

Thomas Rogers xlvii

The Works of Thomas Rogers xlviii

Thomas Rogers, Proponent of Conformity liii

Thomas Rogers and the Bury Exercise lvii

Thomas Rogers versus Nicholas Bownd lxi

Assessing Rogers’ Claims, Whitgift’s and Popham’s Suppression lxvi

Rogers’ 1598 Letter to Bownd lxix

Time table of events lxxvii

Objections to the Propagandist Theory lxxxi

Nicholas Bownd Proves Rogers’ Letter is Genuine lxxxiv

Conclusion lxxxv

Analysis lxxxix

Prefatory Epistles, 1595–1606

Dedication (1595) 3

To the Reader (1595) 4

Book One (1606): Dedication 6

To the Studious and Diligent Reader 9

Commendation by Alexander Bownd 12

Andrew Willet to the Reader 16

Book Two (1606): Dedication 22

William Jones to the Author 26

Commendation by Walter Allen 32

Book One: The Ancient Institution and Continuance of the Sabbath 35

Book Two: The Sanctification of the Sabbath 285

Bibliography 449

Author Index 466

Scripture Index 470

Subject Index 474

Commendations 482

Bownd-proofs-2015-03-14 10.14.14.jpg


That looks fantastic, brother.

Unfortunately, living in Canada, that would cost me $51.30 CAD (the $40.00 USD), and therefore I can't buy it.

Is there any chance of these selling out, and disappearing forever?


Staff member
You might check with RHB to see if they sent any quantity to a Canadian seller from whom you could buy. I don't think this is going away any time soon; but you could also ask them how long the price will hold at $14.


You might check with RHB to see if they sent any quantity to a Canadian seller from whom you could buy. I don't think this is going away any time soon; but you could also ask them how long the price will hold at $14.
Okay, I will do that.

What's your personal assessment of this book, Chris?


Staff member
Well, I'm biased since I did all the work on it. I learned, I forget when, sometime in the mid 80s to 90 that it was important and some the oldest of the text files I created date to 92 or 93 I think. I never could get traction and other projects always were easier to get to work on and move along. I finally got moving on Bownd a few years ago, having learned a thing or two (particuarly about transcription of old manuscripts which turned out to be a key thing here having made a significant discovery in the letter of Thomas Rogers that factors in the critical text), and finally got a critical edition done. I was at the point that I didn't want to have significant inventory and approached RHB about copublishing. I was very pleasantly surprised that they were very interested. Beeke's interest was very keen and he had been lamenting no one had ever done a new edition since 1606. Any way, I think it is an extremely important work historically and while it is surpassed in some ways in some areas by later works (later works are more in-depth on positive law which he barely mentions for instance), is nevertheless the one that set most of the standard argumentation. For its age it is far more readible than say, Rutherford's polemics of fifty years later.
Not open for further replies.