Thomas Boston on the separatists

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I have been remiss of late when it comes to sharing blog posts. Hence, I am running behind at bit, so please excuse the dump of multiple posts today. This one is from Thomas Boston's Memoirs, relating to his dealings with separatist brethren:

... Being set down, I was resolved to divert disputes, at least a while, with some discourse of practical godliness. Wherefore being asked, “What news?” I said, that news were hard to be got here, the place being so far remote from towns; that it was like Jerusalem; Psalm 125:2; which brought us at length to the discourse of communion with God; concerning which S. H. gave his opinion, that it consisted in doing the will of God, keeping his commandments. I told him, that all communion was mutual, and therefore it could not consist in that; and shewed, that actual communion with God, which we ordinarily call communion with God, consists in the Lord’s letting down the influences of his grace on the soul, and the soul’s reacting the same in the exercise of grace. O, says he, that is extraordinary; wherewith I was stunned. I told him, it was that without which neither he nor I would be saved. How will you prove that? said he. So I was put to prove it to him.

Thereafter he brought in the matter of the separation; told, that he understood I was an enemy to them, and preached against them. I acknowledged, that I judged their way was not of God; and therefore, when it fell in my way, I did preach against it. And understanding that lie meant of a note I had at Morbattle sacrament, I desired him to tell me what he heard I had said. He shifted this; and I told him, viz. that I exhorted those that had met with God at this occasion, to tell them that it was so; and that they thereupon, according to the spirit of the gospel, should say, “We will go with you, for we hear the Lord is with you.” J. L. said, if that were true, that the Lord were with you, we would join with you. Mr. St. having no will to make that the determining point, told me, that he knew not but the Lord was with the church of the Jews in time of great corruption. To which I answered, And neither did Christ himself separate from them in that time; and urged them with that, Luke 4:16. After other shifts, they were at length brought to that desperate answer, That Christ was the lawmaker, and therefore not imitable by us. ...

For more, see:

 
I'm having trouble following this quote. Can you provide some context?

Apologies Rich, I am only seeing this comment now. Basically, Thomas Boston had some trouble with hyper-Covenanters in his ministry, preaching a sermon against them on one occasion, which you may find on the Naphtali Press website. The above quote relates to a face-to-face encounter that he had with the followers of John MacMillan. Rev. MacMillan had left the Church of Scotland to join the Reformed Presbyterians. Boston considered their separation from the established church on the basis that it was insufficiently Covenanter to be schismatic and unlawful.
 
Rev. MacMillan had left the Church of Scotland to join the Reformed Presbyterians.
Is it not more accurate to say that he was deposed by the Church of Scotland?

I think that is an important distinction when considering a charge of being schismatic:

"His views of the binding force of the covenants were even at this time akin to those of the suffering remnant of Cameronians, but he was nevertheless ordained minister of Balmaghie on 18 Sept. 1701. At an early stage of his ministry he protested against 'the corruptions, defections, and errors of the church government,' and his relations with the presbytery grew more and more strained, until his brethren found themselves under the necessity of deposing him, 30 Dec. 1703, for disorderly and schismatical practices. There being no question as to Macmillan's morals or orthodoxy, it is doubtful whether the Kirkcudbright presbytery was competent to depose him." (Dictionary of National Biography. Volume 35 (1893), p.232).
 
Is it not more accurate to say that he was deposed by the Church of Scotland?

I think that is an important distinction when considering a charge of being schismatic:

"His views of the binding force of the covenants were even at this time akin to those of the suffering remnant of Cameronians, but he was nevertheless ordained minister of Balmaghie on 18 Sept. 1701. At an early stage of his ministry he protested against 'the corruptions, defections, and errors of the church government,' and his relations with the presbytery grew more and more strained, until his brethren found themselves under the necessity of deposing him, 30 Dec. 1703, for disorderly and schismatical practices. There being no question as to Macmillan's morals or orthodoxy, it is doubtful whether the Kirkcudbright presbytery was competent to depose him." (Dictionary of National Biography. Volume 35 (1893), p.232).
Do we know exactly what corruptions, defections, and errors of the church government he was protesting (and what actions of his were considered disorderly and schismatical)?
 
Is it not more accurate to say that he was deposed by the Church of Scotland?

I think that is an important distinction when considering a charge of being schismatic:

"His views of the binding force of the covenants were even at this time akin to those of the suffering remnant of Cameronians, but he was nevertheless ordained minister of Balmaghie on 18 Sept. 1701. At an early stage of his ministry he protested against 'the corruptions, defections, and errors of the church government,' and his relations with the presbytery grew more and more strained, until his brethren found themselves under the necessity of deposing him, 30 Dec. 1703, for disorderly and schismatical practices. There being no question as to Macmillan's morals or orthodoxy, it is doubtful whether the Kirkcudbright presbytery was competent to depose him." (Dictionary of National Biography. Volume 35 (1893), p.232).

Yes, I think that is a fair point. While I oppose separatism in the abstract, these complexities make me reluctant to press the "s" button in specific cases ("s" being schismatic).
 
Wikipedia has a surprisingly lengthy entry - probably a good summary to start. There is a PhD paper with several chapters devoted to MacMillan and his compadres here.
What's this whole issue about alliegence to Queen Ann? The wiki article seems to suggest that it was the main issue.

What really confuses me about this period (as someone who admittedly dosen't know that much) is the united societies prior to MacMillan joining them choosing to stay seperate even though they had 0 ministers.
 
What's this whole issue about alliegence to Queen Ann? The wiki article seems to suggest that it was the main issue.

What really confuses me about this period (as someone who admittedly dosen't know that much) is the united societies prior to MacMillan joining them choosing to stay seperate even though they had 0 ministers.
She would not subscribe to the Solemn League and Covenant and was a supporter of episcopliainism. See pp.14, 138, 146-148, 159-180

Keep in mind this is when the Act of Union between England and Scotland was being worked out, so the threat of presbyterianism in Scotland being engulfed by the ways of the Church of England was very real in the mind of many in the North.
 
What's this whole issue about alliegence to Queen Ann? The wiki article seems to suggest that it was the main issue.

What really confuses me about this period (as someone who admittedly dosen't know that much) is the united societies prior to MacMillan joining them choosing to stay seperate even though they had 0 ministers.

Recommended resource here. This post contains two family camp talks by Gavin Beers. The first talk is on the mixed Covenanter reaction to the Revolution Settlement, which sounds like what you are looking for; the second is on the CoS and RP churches since that time.
 
She would not subscribe to the Solemn League and Covenant and was a supporter of episcopliainism. See pp.14, 138, 146-148, 159-180

Keep in mind this is when the Act of Union between England and Scotland was being worked out, so the threat of presbyterianism in Scotland being engulfed by the ways of the Church of England was very real in the mind of many in the North.
were alliegence oaths framed in such a way as to potentially require disobedience to the law of God and/or one of the covenants?
 
I’dunno … I’m still caught up in contemplating the simple wonder of this:

“…actual communion with God, which we ordinarily call communion with God, consists in the Lord’s letting down the influences of his grace on the soul, and the soul’s reacting the same in the exercise of grace.”
 
were alliegence oaths framed in such a way as to potentially require disobedience to the law of God and/or one of the covenants?
They did not view it possible to swear allegiance to any person or government that denied or did not maintain the precepts of the SL&C. When they swore "to preserve and defend the King’s Majesty’s person and authority" they immediately qualified that by stating that this was in the context of "in the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms" (SL&C.3 - see also .6).
 
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