Monday, January 26, 2009

Christians Must Be Precisians

Gisbertus Voetius, Selectae Disputationes Theologicae, "Concerning 'Precision' in Interpretation of Questions 94, 113, and 115 of the [Heidelberg] Catechism," in John W. Beardslee, III, ed. and trans., Reformed Dogmatics - Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology Through the Writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretin, p. 319:

The object [of precision] is the practice of piety or obedience according to all the parts, actions, grades and circumstances that God's word requires. Therefore, the following are to be directed in precision: (1) our thought and faith in all concerns of religion (Lk. 8:18; Phil. 1:9-10); (2) our observance of all things, both natural and legislated, pertaining to the worship of God, adding nothing, taking away nothing, leaving out nothing; (3) observance of all things which are necessary for the practice of love and justice toward our neighbor, and toward ourselves; (4) observance of all things which pertain to our particular vocation; (5) resulting from this, control of thought, word, action, and behavior in this world, in the presence both of those who are within and those who are without [the church] (1 Cor. 10:31-32)...

Richard Alleine, on Eph. 5.15, in Vindiciae Pietatis; or, a Vindication of Godliness, in the Greatest Strictness and Spirituality of it, from the Imputations of Folly and Fancy, together with Several Directions for Attaining and Maintaining of a Godly Life:

1. Christians must be Precisians.

2.. Precisians are no fools:, or Christians of an exact, and circumspect life are, whatever the world accounts them, truly wise men. This latter observation it is which I intend to insist upon.

Beloved, I am, entering upon a discourse on a sort of people, of whom we may say, with those Jews,” Concerning this sect, we know that it is every where spoken against; (Acts 28: 22; ) and who, with the Apostle,” are made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and -to men;” (1 Cor. 4: 9; ) concerning whom, heaven and earth are divided, and the world is divided within itself; of whom God says,” the world is not worthy;” of whom the world say, they are not worthy to live; of whom GOD says, they are the “apple of mine eye;” of whom the world say, “they are a sore in our eye;” whom GOD accounts his jewels; whom men account” the filth of the world,” and” the offscouring of all things;” of whom GOD says, they are the “sons of wisdom,” but men say they are fools. And as God and men are thus divided, so are men no less divided among themselves. Some few say concerning these, as they of old concerning CHRIST,” They are good men;”_ others say,” No, but they are deceivers of the people.” A Precisian, with the most, is grown into a proverb of reproach, a mark of infamy. To be a drunkard, a fornicator, a swearer, is no reproach, in comparison of being noted for a Puritan.

Well, but let us inquire a little more narrowly into this sort of people, about whom the world is thus moved, and has been in all ages. In order hereunto, I shall show you,

First, What a Precisian is; and Secondly, prove to you, against all the world, that he is no fool, but a truly wise, yea, the only wise man.

Touching the former, What a Precisian is, a Scripture Precisian, let me first tell you, to prevent mistakes, who he is not.

1. Not a Pharisee, a painted sepulcher, whose religion is a mere show; who has the form of godliness without the power; who is pure in his own eyes, and yet not cleansed from his filthiness; who is exact about the punc*tilios of religion, and hath a great zeal about the lower and more circumstantial matters, and neglects the weightier things of the law. This is not be.

2. Not an Enthusiast, properly so called; (though that be a vizard put upon him by some, as the hides of beasts were put upon the Christians of old; ) not an Enthusiast, I say, whose religion is all fancy, imagination, enthusiasm, the dreams and visions of his own heart. Neither is this he. Christianity is not a castle in the air, but is a building that has foundation.

3. Not a Phrenetick, no son of violence or contention, who, not knowing what spirit he is of, calls for fire from heaven, to set all in a combustion, if every thing be not exactly fashioned according to his own mind. Neither is this he.” The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable. The servant of the Lo RD must not strive, but be gentle.”

By a Precisian, I mean, a sincere, circumspect Christian; one whose care and endeavor it is” to walk uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel;” who, withdrawing himself from the fellowship, fashions, and lusts of the world, and denying himself the sinful liberties thereof, does exercise himself to keep a good conscience towards GOD and men.


  1. Thanks for the post; it was a needed blessing. Hope all is well, brother.

  2. You are very welcome. I'm doing well, by God's grace, and I hope you are too!