Alexander Henderson on the unity of the Westminster Standards

Alexander Henderson wrote a document in 1640 that was published in 1641 under the title Arguments Given in by the Commissioners of Scotland unto the Lords of the Treaty perswading Conformity of Church Government, as one principall Meanes of a continued peace betweene the two Nations (J.R. De Witt, Jus Divinum: The Westminster Assembly and the Divine Right of Church Government, p. 40). It was published by William Hetherington in his History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, Appendix I, pp. 381-392 under the title “Our Desires Concerning Unity in Religion, and Uniformity of Church Government, as a Special Mean to Conserve Peace in His Majesty’s Dominions.” In it, Henderson makes the argument that division within the church, particularly on the subject of ecclesiastical government, is such a great hindrance to the advancement of God’s kingdom in the earth, that uniformity in faith, doctrine, worship and government, agreeable to the word of God, ought to be the chief aim of those whose care it is to lead and guide the church. Henderson writes:

We do all know and profess, that religion is not only the mean to serve God, and to save our own souls, but that it is also the base and foundation of kingdoms and estates, and the strongest band to tie subjects and their prince in true loyalty, and to knit their hearts one to another in true unity. Nothing so powerful to divide the hearts of people as division in religion; nothing so strong to unite them as unity in religion; but the more zeal in one religion the more firm union. In the paradise of nature the diversity of flowers and herbs is pleasant and useful; but in the paradise of the Church different and contrary religions are unpleasant and hurtful. It is therefore to be wished that there were one Confession of Faith, one form of Catechism, one Directory for all the parts of the public worship of God, and for prayer, preaching, administration of sacraments, etc., and one form of Church government, in all the Churches of his majesty’s dominions.
De Witt notes (ibid, pp. 40-41):

“The statement reads like a prospectus of the work of the Westminster Assembly was to undertake nearly three years later.”


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