Corporate Sanctification - by Dr. John Brown of WamphrayArticles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
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But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. – Revelation 2:25
For there is a vast difference to be put betwixt a time wherein the church is advancing in a course of reformation, and a time wherein she is declining and sliding back from that degree of reformation unto which she had already attained. In a time wherein the church is but coming out of darkness, and the day is but beginning to break up, many things may then be comported with and tolerated which may not be submitted unto after the church hath got all these abuses reformed. Every believer and every church is bound to stand fast in that which they have attained unto, and not to cede in a hoof: so that Christians living in a time wherein the church is but beginning to wrestle up from under the heap of error and corruption, may be allowed to do many things which must not be dome when the noontide of the day is come. In the time of the reformation begun by Luther and others, many things might have been comported within the church (reformation being a gradual motion that hath but small beginnings and risings) which now, since the reformation hath been carried on, through the blessing of God, to that degree it was advanced to, cannot be allowed. When God hath wonderfully, by his mighty power and outstretched arm, brought a church to a great length in reformation, it will be the duty of that church, and of the members thereof, to adhere to that degree unto which they have attained with all perseverance. It will be lawful for the church which is but coming up the hill to stand at such a step until they gain another, when yet it will not be lawful for the same church to go backward after they have advanced. The truth once bought should never be sold. So then the consequence is null. Their forefathers stumbled not nor did scruple at the doing of such or such things; therefore those in this generation who have advanced, through the blessing of God, unto a farther degree of reformation, should not scruple either. It is a poor consequence to say. The posterity may return backwards because their forefathers could not advance further. Much more may be seen when the sun is up than in the twilight-
Therefore the scrupling of honest people now doth no way condemn their forefathers; but, on the contrary, the steadfastness of their forefathers, in standing to the degree to which they had reached, and their endeavoring to advance, will condemn this generation for backsliding. In their days those abuses and corruption were not remedied,— the church was not then freed of that yoke of oppression,—-and further, their after consent unto such ministers made up this defect; but those in this generation are not at liberty to give or grant their after consent, because they are engaged to stand to the work of reformation, and to own it in all its parts.
John Brown of Wamphray, An Apologetical Relation, pp. 145-146.