Following is a short excerpt from A Sermon by Thomas Boston preached at Ettrick in the Year 1708

Copyright © 1997 Naphtali Press

How our own church was thus troubled in the time of former Presbytery, is evident from the writings of worthy men of that time, against separation: so we find an Act of the Assembly, 1643, appointing to search for books tending to separation. I cannot but particularly remark an Act of the Assembly, 1641, sess. 10, against impiety and schism, wherein they charge “all ministers and members of this kirk, to endeavor to suppress all impiety, and mocking of religious exercises.” And upon the other part, “That, in the fear of God, they be aware, that under the pretext of religious exercises, otherwise lawful and necessary, they fall not into error, heresy, schism, scandal, self-conceit, and despising of others, pressing above the common calling of Christians, and usurping that which is proper to the pastoral vocation, contempt or disregard of the public means,” etc.

This I take plainly to be meant of what we call fellowship meetings, which have been so much mocked by wicked men on the one hand, and abused on the other hand to schism, etc. But the Assembly, 1647, sess. 19, in their directions for secret and private worship, and mutual edification, for cherishing piety, for maintaining unity, and avoiding schism and division, which are ordinarily bound in with the Confession of Faith, towards the latter end of the book, they discharge these meetings altogether, as you may see in the seventh direction, where they say, “Whatever hath been the fruits and effects of meetings of persons of divers families, in the times of corruption and trouble, yet such meetings of persons of divers families (except in the cases mentioned in the directions), are to be disapproved, as tending to the prejudice of the public ministry, to the rending of the families of particular congregations, and (in progress of time) of the whole kirk.”

I bring not in this to show my own judgment anent these meetings, but to let you see there was a spirit of separation going in these days as well as now: and how the fire of division left not this church till she was cast into the fire of persecution, is too well known. O that it had from that time left us!

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