A SERIOUS CALL TO DEFEND THE GOSPEL--by Edward Leigh (1602-1671)

I recently acquired a copy of Edward Leigh's Complete System of Divinity (1654), one of the very few (and scarce) Puritan Systematic theologies.  In the Epistle Dedicatorie, he gives a serious call to all Christians to defend the gospel.  We would do well to hear Leigh's plea in our day with so many distressing doctrines.

"Shall the heretical party be so active for Popery, for error, and shall not the orthodox be as studious to hold fast and hold forth the truth? Let magistrates make the interest of Christ, his truths, his worship, his people, their great interest; let them discountenance gross errors and damnable heresies. Let ministers preach down, pray down, live down those abominable doctrines now among us. Let all the people of God study fundamentals, labor to establish the truth, and in their places oppose falsehood, Libertinism, and all horrid blasphemies, and pray earnestly to God, that he would cause the false prophets and the unclean spirits to pass out of the land (Zec. 13:2); and I should yet hope (though our care be very sad) that God would continue his gospel still among us in power and purity, though by our sins we have forfeited a great mercy..."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Sorry about the earlier deleted comment - you can remove it and this line too!)

    Nice find! Ever since I read Muller (4 vol. PRRD) and noticed how often he referred to Leigh, I've been wanting to get some of his stuff! Let me know if you ever see more stuff by him.

    And, of course, great quote!


  3. I found an online version of this book here http://rarebooks.dts.edu/viewbook.aspx?bookid=1494
    after Pastor Gordon showed me his wonderful edition, I just had to read more!

    Book (IX) on the Moral Law is especially good and Leigh also has a section of interest on the ordinance of Psalm Singing.

    When Leigh references D. Burgess on page 629 of the online book which corresponds to page 609 actually of the book itself, I wonder what "Burgess" would he be referencing concerning music/psalm singing/ceremonies/etc?

    Anthony, Cornelius, Daniel Burgess?

    Probably not Daniel, I think he would have been only five years old?

  4. Shane, this is a big thick folio, of around 800 pages plus tables. What makes it really interesting is that Leigh gathered all the best Puritan and Reformed scholars and collected their thoughts on the various loci. So, along with his comments, there is a plethora of other amazing citations making it quite a collection. So I can see why Muller used it so much. I will keep my eyes peeled.

  5. Thanks for the heads up, Kevin. My guess is Anthony Burgess since his influence seemed to be well- received abroad.

  6. The all-wise Wikipedia indicates that there was another Daniel Burgess, "chaplain to Horace Vere and father-in-law to William Ames."

    Besides this "D. Burgess", there is also the possibility of the reference being to "Dean Burgess", as in an academic title.

  7. Chris Coldwell is probably correct that the reference would be to Dr. John Burgess [1563-1635]. His three extant works are:

    Three titles show up on WorldCat for John Burgess [1563-1635]. Yale preserves a copy of each title and no other libraries worldwide indicate at this time have any of these among their holdings.

    1. An ansvver reioyned to that mvch applauded pamphlet of a namelesse author [i.e. William Ames] : bearing this title: viz. A reply to Dr. Mortons Generall defence of three nocent ceremonies, &c. the innocency and lawfvlnesse whereof is againe in this Reioynder vindicated .... London : Printed by Augustine Matthewes for Robert Milbourne, 1631. 15 p. leaves, 75, 654 [i.e. 648] p.; 19 cm.

    2. Covell, William [d. 1614?] and John Burgess, A briefe ansvver vnto certaine reasons by way of an apologie deliuered to ... the L. Bishop of Lincolne. At London : Printed by G.S. for Clement Knight, and are to be sold at his shop in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Holy Lambe. 7 p.l., 160 [i.e. 158] p.; 18 cm.

    3. The lavvfvlnes of kneeling in the act of receiving the Lords svpper : wherin (by the way) also, somewhat of the crosse in baptisme ... London : Printed by Augustine Matthewes for Robert Milbourne, 1631. 5 p. l., 120 p.; 19 cm.

  8. I posted this also on the Puritan Board trying to round out the thought or consensus concerning psalm singing.

    Dr. Rowland Ward is helpful here, he writes,

    "There was no consensus among the Reformed as to the precise meaning of the term 'psalms, hymns and spiritual songs' in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

    a. Some make no special comment on the terms so far as whether they were inspired songs or not (eg. John Davenant (Colossians, Latin 1627, 1630, 1639, English 1831); John Diodati (Annotations, 1642, 1643 etc.) and John Trapp (Epistles, 1647).

    b. Some considered the three-fold term referred to material agreeable to Scripture teaching but not necessarily songs embedded in the text of Scripture. Those who thus allowed for new songs included the Englishmen Thomas Cartwright (On Colossians, 1612), Paul Bayne [d. 1617] (On Ephesians 1643, 5th ed. 1658), and Edward Elton (On Colossians 1612, repr. 1620, 1637). We could add the learned Scot, Robert Boyd [d. 1627] (Ephesians, Latin 1652); and the English Baptist hymnwriter, Benjamin Keach (The Breach Repaired, 1691, 2nd ed. 1700).

    c. Some regarded the terms as referring to inspired material only (inclusive of the Psalter). These included Nicolas Byfield (Commentary on Colossians, 1615, repr. 1617, 1627, 1628, 1649); Jean Daille (On Colossians, French 1643, English trans. 1672); John Cotton of New England (1647, repr. 1650) and the Scottish Commentator, James Fergusson (Colossians, 1656; Ephesians, 1659). Fergusson seems to restrict the meaning to Old Testament songs.

    d. Others regarded the three-fold expression as referring to the Psalter alone. Thomas Ford (1598-1674), a member of the Westminster Assembly, is of this mind. Likewise Cuthbert Sydenham (1622-54), Presbyterian minister at Newcastle, advances this view in his 48 page tract on what he terms one of 'the two grand practical controversies of these times' (the other was infant baptism). To the same effect is the Biblical scholar Francis Roberts (1609-75) in his Clavis Bibliorum, 3rd ed. 1665.

    This mixed tradition of interpretation is a further confirmation that the statement in the Westminster Confession, a consensus document, was not designed to bind the conscience as to the precise extent of the material of praise in the worship service.

    In 1673 an edition of the Scottish Psalter was published in London with a preface signed by 25 of the leading ministers of the age, including John Owen, Thomas Manton and Joseph Caryl. They state:

    'Now though spiritual songs of meer humane composure may have their use, yet our devotion is best secured where the matter of words are of immediately Divine inspiration; and to us David's Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms which the Apostle useth, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16.' We know Thomas Manton was not opposed to uninspired materials of praise in public worship (see his Commentary on James at 5:13), but the signers obviously stood in the line of the earlier Calvinistic Reformation. The Psalter was envisaged as the norm of praise, but commonly was not underpinned by an argument for it alone."

    For the full article see;

    1. Excuse me. I'm looking for Edward Elton. I would like to know his biography.

  9. I think it is at least clear Westminster was taking a practical exclusive psalmody position, and others argue more strongly they were more than that. See
    and Matthew Winzer's review of Nick Needham in The Confessional Presbyterian journal available for purchase as an article in PDF here (he also offers some correction on Manton's view):

  10. I do not want to detract from Edward Leigh's book "A Serious Call to Defend the Gospel" with this 'psalm singing' side issue.

    Therefore, I have reposted Dr. Royland S. Ward's article, "Should the Psalter be the
    Only Hymnal of the Church?"
    on the Puritan Board again.

    My first attempt to post this article did not go through for some reason?

    It should be posted here on the Puritan Borad Moderated Sub-forum for topics and questions dealing with Exclusive Psalmody http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/

    I have also linked the complete quote of Thomas Manton on James 5:13 there also - the one to which Chris Coldwell was concerned above.

    Now back to Edward Leigh...