Misrepresentation #1: Mr. Bacon represents our dispute as a "tempest in a teapot."
Mr. Bacon appeals to the majority.
Mr. Bacon states,
The understanding of virtually every other scholar, both Scottish and American, would have to be wrong in order for Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton to be correct (Defense Departed).
Though Mr. Bacon may be somewhat comforted that, "many will regard" this dispute to be little else than a "tempest in a teapot," or that "every other scholar would have to be wrong," I am persuaded by the sad history of mankind that the masses are rarely correct. Such appeals invite people's thoughtless acceptance to ideas that are simply irrelevant to the question. Shall we, as Mr. Bacon prompts, believe that these things are relatively insignificant simply because "many people" or "every scholar" considers them relatively insignificant? Such rhetoric pretends to fall in with the crowd in hope of appealing to an already strong prejudice, and thus we must be reminded such appeals do not constitute reasonable evidence. The godly martyrs of Scotland in the, "Killing Times," were well aware of the issues that Mr. Bacon is downplaying, and they bore the brunt of the same logical fallacies employed against them.
David Hackston, honored martyr of Christ died, July 30, 1680, amid great torture and suffering. As he describes the trials he faced before the Privy Council he speaks of the tactics used by his persecutors.
It was cast up to me both at the council and here, that here were not two hundred in the nation to own our cause. I answered, at both times, that the cause of Christ had been often owned by fewer (David Hackston, A Cloud of Witnesses, Sprinkle Publications, reprinted 1989, p. 50).
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32, AV).
O shame on you, Mr. Bacon, for your opening comments! Shame upon anyone who does not regard the testimony of our covenanted martyrs as noble, honourable and glorifying to God. Shame upon anyone who affirms these questions to be of little significance upon the Church of Jesus Christ. If the violence of bloodthirsty persecutors will not change the minds of the martyrs, then appealing to the majority and downplaying the issues over which these faithful servants suffered and died will do nothing to move us out of the bloodstained path of the footsteps of the flock. Rather, such intemperate sentiments will serve only to expose those who set them forth to the charge of being ignorant of history and disrespectful to the memory of the martyrs who died for the Covenanted cause.
Mr. Bacon condemns the Covenanter martyrs as being too rigid, and implies that the Covenanters strayed from the doctrines of Second Reformation Presbyterianism.
Mr. Bacon states:
...the remainder of this introduction to the Steelite controversy will form a Defense of historic, second reformation Presbyterianism against the rigidity of the strict covenanter position (Defense Departed).
In his Defense Departed Mr. Bacon wishes to pit the doctrine of the Second Reformation against the doctrine of the Covenanters. In so doing he exposes his true sentiments by accusing the Covenanters, and especially their martyrs, of holding too rigidly to their principles. Mr. Bacon's own words indicate that the remainder of his introduction is a formal condemnation of the principles for which these martyrs died. While Mr. Bacon would attempt to lead us to believe that only David Steele and a small handful of others have historically held the position he opposes, I contend that this is far from the case.
Matthew Hutchison explains,
Some imagine that the United Societies [the faithful Covenanters GB] embraced only an insignificant number of individuals. Enemies did their best to create the impression at the time [cf. Hackston quote above GB]; and some historians have proceeded on the assumption of its truth. The facts of the case point to a different conclusion, though it is impossible to give exact numbers. This we know, on the authority of Gordon of Earlston, that in 1683 there were eighty societies representing an aggregate of 7000 members exclusive of women. That the numbers did not diminish during the next five years, notwithstanding the fierce persecution, seems evident from the fact, that at the Revolution they mustered 9000 strong on Douglas Moor: a regiment was raised among them in a few days, and another could easily have been obtained had it been wanted. As the Societies were confined to southern Scotland, it is manifest that they must have embraced no inconsiderable portion of the population (Matthew Hutchison, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, 1893, Still Waters Revival Books reprint, 1997, p. 63, emphases added).
Those well acquainted with history and familiar with the issues surrounding the Covenanted Reformation must not allow Mr. Bacon to paint such an unreliable portrait of our covenanted forefathers. Will Mr. Bacon continue to pretend to fly his Blue Banner after downplaying the issues that led to their suffering? Why pretend any longer? The true Blue Banner flies in the face of Mr. Bacon as he disputes against the rigidity of those who died for Christ's Crown and Covenant. His pretence in upholding its colors has now been exposed by the words of his own mouth. While Mr. Bacon's pretended Blue Banner has been forever blackened, we are comforted in knowing that his pretence will never affect our grateful remembrance of the authentic bloodstained banner of the Covenanted faithful.
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah (Psalms 60:4, AV).
This is a pouring of contempt upon our brethren.
The real issues at stake are of the highest concern to any Christian desirous of bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Mr. Bacon's labelling of this dispute, "a tempest in a teapot," is to us a pouring of contempt upon our brethren, and we cannot let it pass without publicly displaying our indignation at such an attack. J. C. McFeeters paints a vivid picture of this socalled "tempest in a teapot" as he describes the horrifying statistics of the twenty-eight year persecution suffered by the Covenanted remnant.
The Fathers have not been forgotten; yea they are still highly esteemed for their heroic struggle, by which every son and daughter has a birthright to the richest inheritance of Christian liberty on earth. The persecution lasted twenty eight years, with few "blinks" to take the chill of horror out of the air. During this time, 18,000 persons, it is said, suffered death, or utmost hardships, for their faith in Jesus Christ. Of this number, 7,000 went into voluntary banishment; 2500 were shipped to distant lands; 800 were outlawed; 680 were killed in battle, or died of their wounds; 500 were murdered in cold blood; 362 were, by form of law executed. We have no account of the number that perished in shipwrecks, or succumbed to the horrors of transportation; nor of hundreds that were shot at sight by the soldiers who ravaged the country for years; nor of the thousands who wasted away through cold, hunger, and exposure in the mountains and moors. Gloomy caves, dripping moss hags, and unmarked graves, were asylums of mercy to multitudes, who are without any earthly record; but their names are written in heaven. Truly Scotland has been consecrated to the Lord. The blood of the martyrs has watered her heather, crimsoned her streams, stained her streets, and bedewed her fields. Scotland is the Lord's. The blood means much (J. C. McFeeters, Sketches of the Covenanters, 1913, SWRB bound photocopy reprint, 1996, pp. 395396, emphases added).
The blood of the martyrs imposes obligations upon posterity from generation to generation. The martyrs deeply felt their responsibility for the Church, her purity, her doctrines, discipline, membership; for her loyalty to Christ, her separation from the world, and her administration in the Holy Spirit. Their zeal for the house of God brought them to the front; their passionate love for Jesus Christ placed them on the firing line. There they met every attack made upon Christ and His House; there they stood for the royal rights of Jesus and the honour of His kingdom; there they fell under the murderous fire, giving place to their successors. These soldiers of Jesus knew how to die, but not how to retreat. They did their work well and necessarily left it unfinished. The victory was assured, though not in sight. The death stricken hands reached the bloodstained banner out to another to be carried forward. This war still rages. The supremacy of Jesus Christ is yet disputed; His royal rights are yet usurped by mortals; His Bride the Church, still halts amid many opinions; the ordinances of grace are unblushingly corrupted; the teachings of the Gospel are adroitly doctored. The attacking forces are active, determined, and numerous, as in the days of the martyrs. The tactics differ, but the fight goes on. Heavy, heavy are the moral obligations, that fall to the successors of those who gave their lives for the truth. To recede would be cowardice, desertion from the ranks, perjury within the Covenant, treason against Jesus Christ. Is this too strong? Listen, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Surely the times call for Christian Soldiers; yea heroes; possibly, martyrs. Do Covenanters feel their obligation to the Lord? (J. C. McFeeters, Sketches of the Covenanters, 1913, SWRB bound photocopy, 1996, pp. 402403, emphases added).
Does the reader agree with Mr. Bacon? Is this really the "tempest in a teapot," to which he alludes? The blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the church, and we cannot sit idly by while Mr. Bacon attempts to mislead his readers to believe that the PRCE is fighting for a cause different from that of the glorious martyrs described above. Mr. Bacon may want to believe that we are saying something different from those champions of the faith, but we shall soon see that our cause is identical to the martyrs of Scotland and the best reformers of the First and Second Reformations.
If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it (Proverbs 9:12, AV).
Those who would label us with such names as "Cameronians" or "Steelites" would do well to remember their faithful contendings, and to honour the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Christ. Dear reader, ask yourself as you read the following account, whether you really want to testify against Richard Cameron as Mr. Bacon has.
...he [Richard Cameron GB] went over to Holland in the year of 1678, not knowing what work the Lord had for him there; where he conversed with Mr. M'Ward [Robert McWard GB] and others of the banished Worthies. In his private conversation and exercise in families, but especially by his public sermon in the Scots Kirk at Rotterdam, he was most refreshing unto many souls. He dwelt mostly upon conversion work, from that text, Matt. 11:28: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" which was most satisfying and agreeable to Mr. M'Ward and Mr. Brown [John Brown of Wamphray GB], and others who had been informed by the Indulged, and those of their persuasion, that he could preach nothing but babble against the Indulgence, cess paying, etc. Here he touched upon none of these things, except in prayer when lamenting over the deplorable case of Scotland by means of defection and tyranny. About this time Mr. M'Ward said to him, "Richard the public standard has now fallen in Scotland; and, if I know anything of the mind of the Lord, ye are called to undergo your trials [ordination exam GB] before us, to go home, and lift the fallen standard, and display it publicly before the whole world. But before you put your hand to it, ye shall go to as many field ministers as ye can find, and give them your hearty invitation to go with you; and if they will not go, go alone, and the Lord will go with you."
Accordingly he was ordained by Mr. M'Ward, Mr. Brown, and Roleman, a famous Dutch divine. When their hands were lifted up from his [Richard Cameron's GB] head, Mr. M'Ward continued this still and cried out, "Behold all ye beholders, here is the head of a faithful minister and servant of Jesus Christ, who shall lose the same for his master's interest, and it shall be set up before sun and moon, in the view of the world." (John Howie, The Scots Worthies, 1781, SWRB reprint, p. 423, emphases added).
On July 22, 1680, faithful Richard Cameron was martyred in Airsmoss. His head and hands cut off and taken to Edinburgh, just as Robert M'Ward had spoken. Before his murderers committed the barbarous act of publicly displaying his head and hands upon the Netherbow Port, they first had one further act of antichristian cruelty to enact.
His father being in prison for the same cause, they carried them [Cameron's head and hands GB] to him, to add grief unto his former sorrow, and inquired at him if he knew them. Taking his son's head and hands which were very fair being a man of fair complexion like himself he kissed them, and said, "I know I know them; they are my son's my own dear son's. It is the Lord good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but hath made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days." After which, by order of the Council, his head was fixed upon the Netherbow Port, and his hands beside it with the fingers upward. (John Howie, The Scots Worthies, 1781, SWRB reprint, 1997, pp. 428429, emphases added).
Instead of downplaying this dispute and appealing to the majority, Mr. Bacon should admit that he is not simply fighting against the principles of David Steele alone. A careful student of church history will easily see through Mr. Bacon's attempts to isolate Pastor Steele from his godly predecessors. Those predisposed to check out the facts will readily see the folly of Mr. Bacon's representations. One simply needs to take the time to read what Covenanters like David Steele believed and practised in order to observe that they were simply upholding the historic testimony of the faithful men who preceded them. If Mr. Bacon would have met face to face with us when we asked him to (see Appendix C), perhaps we could have helped him understand these issues with more clarity.
Observing that Mr. Bacon favours an appeal to the multitude, we will indulge him by appealing to a greater multitude; one, I might add, that is scriptural and not arbitrary. First we appeal our case between Mr. Bacon and ourselves to the first free and lawful General Assembly of Canada and we ask them to judge this matter between us. Upon judging our case, we ask that they take our concerns to the first free and lawful General Assembly of the United States and have our concerns brought to the table. Until this is accomplished (or Mr. Bacon repents) we resort to our only other recourse seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, we appeal unto, "mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant" (Hebrews 12: 2224, AV).
Let Dick Bacon, David Seekamp, Brian Schwertly, and Chris Coldwell speak plainly. Was Richard Cameron a faithful minister or a heretical schismatic? Donald Cargill? James Renwick? Were their disputes a "tempest in a teapot" as well? Were they martyred for holding too strictly to their principles? The words of Mr. Bacon condemn these faithful martyrs as schismatic and in so doing he scorns those who agree with these true churches and faithful ministers. He accuses us of immoderate speech! O dear brother, I speak this to your shame! You accuse us of condemning faithful ministers and true churches? Let the whole world consider who you are condemning when you downplay the importance of the issues for which these martyrs suffered and died. This dispute is much more than a "tempest in a teapot" and our prayer is that you will repent of your shameful minimizing of these issues.
I close this section with a quote from James Renwick, faithful martyr of our Lord Jesus.
Now upon this very comprehensive ground, we withdraw not only from gross heretics, and sectarians, and malignant prelatists.... But in this broken and declining state, even from many Presbyterian Ministers who have overturned a great part of our testimony... which has been signally sealed by the blood of many Martyrs who laying down their lives for this Testimony have been singularly countenanced of the Lord: yet we say, by many of our ministers this in a great measure has been deserted and perverted, by their condemning the Martyrs that died for it, as well as us who have desired to witness for it... (James Renwick, An Informatory Vindication, 1687, SWRB bound photocopy reprint, 1997, pp. 7576, emphases added).
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD (Psalms 83:16, AV).